Posted by: Sailing Camelot | April 5, 2013

Roaming Roatan

True to form, the originally planned two-week stop has been stretched to twice the length.

Sometimes I wonder why we even make plans at all… We’ve been in Roatan for a month now!

I blame it on the weather…

Let’s just say we’ve been waiting for the perfect conditions to leave, and we’ve been particularly picky on what would be considered perfect …

It’s hard to tear ourselves away from this place: we’ve been spoiled senseless here at Barefoot Cay Resort and Marina    and we took a liking to that…

It’s healthy every now and then to take a break from the cruising life; Barefoot Cay is the perfect place for a vacation, and it was time for us to enjoy a second honeymoon… I have about a thousand more excuses to justify our prolonged stay, but do I really need to?

I mean, come on, just look at this place and give me one good reason why we should leave!

Camelot at rest at the Barefoot Cay Marina

Camelot at rest at the Barefoot Cay Marina

The whole resort is tastefully designed for the guests' comfort

The whole resort is tastefully designed for the guests’ comfort

This is mostly where we spent our days...

This is mostly where we spent our days…

The POOL!

The POOL!

Our floating home, conveniently parked about 30 feet from the pool

Our floating home, conveniently parked about 30 feet from the pool

Peaceful corner to relax just three steps from the boat

Peaceful corner to relax just three steps from the boat

The mini-ferry connecting you to land stops here

The mini-ferry connecting you to land stops here

The narrow channel separating the resort from the rest of the island

The narrow channel separating the resort from the rest of the island

The building housing the Dive Center, more accommodations and shops

The building housing the Dive Center, more accommodations and shops

The Mini Ferry

The Mini Ferry

The Palapa, picturesque and relaxing spot

The Palapa, picturesque and relaxing spot

Besides, we both fell in love with the resident Parrot of Barefoot Cay.

Chacarron Kennedy, a star in its own right, is the only bird I know who has its own Facebook page – and boasting a lot more friends than I have!

He has free reign of the Cay, but prefers to hang out on the trees surrounding the pool area.

Hello, I’m Chacarron Kennedy!

Hello, I’m Chacarron Kennedy!

Starting usually around 5:40 in the morning with his calls, he would delight and entertain everyone within earshot with his antics.

Totally camouflaged and comfortably perched on a thickly leafed Mango tree branch, he’d greet us with a British accented “Hello” followed by a “Pretty Bird!” that sounded almost like his own personal introduction.

Chacarron stealthily observing the scene

Chacarron stealthily observing the scene

Tom kept him happy by feeding him peanuts and occasionally slipping him a French fry (which he prefers over watermelon). 

I know you have French fries there! Give it up, buddy.

I just KNOW you have French fries there! Give it up, buddy.

St Francis feeding his new feathered friend

St Francis feeding his new feathered friend

Aptly nicknamed St Francis for his affinity with any living animal – domesticated or not , Tom developed a strong bond with this feathered sweetheart. 

Chacarron’s vast repertoire also includes a bone-chilling frightening manic laughter that had me looking over my shoulder more than once… But since he’s a cutie, he gets away with anything.

He sure made our days at the pool quite entertaining!

Oh, yummy! I love peanuts!

Oh, yummy! I LOVE peanuts!

And I enjoy them down to the last crumb…

And I enjoy them down to the last crumb…

Contrary to popular belief, we haven’t just been dillydallying by the pool every day – not that there would be anything wrong with that!

We thoroughly explored the island with Ken Johnson, a local driver and knowledgeable guide, who took us from one end to the other and anywhere in between.

Ken guiding Tom on another adventure

Ken leading Tom on another adventure

The two ends of Roatan couldn’t be more different. The West End is the busy, renowned party zone, quaint but extremely touristy, catering mainly to the younger crowds and aging hippies. Definitely worth visiting, but not quite our style.

One of the colorful buildings in the West End.

One of the colorful buildings in the West End.

I just liked the name of this shop in French Harbor

I just liked the name of this shop in French Harbor

If you ever find yourself in the neighborhood, stop HERE!

If you ever find yourself in the neighborhood, stop HERE!

Entrance to the cantina. Great food and atmosphere, and a view to remember!

Entrance to the cantina. Great food and atmosphere, and a view to remember!

Under the municipality of Santos Guardiola, The East End couldn’t be a starker contrast: it is much less wealthy than the rest of the island and a lot quieter.

There are no resorts here, no fancy developments, no tourism, and a lot less cash flow. This rugged, beautiful, primitive side of the island is lush with thick vegetation and so utterly quiet in places, you can hear yourself breathe! I’m told the scuba diving here is truly magnificent.

The rugged beauty of the East End.

The rugged beauty of the East End.

The small village of Oak Ridge in the distance

The village of Oak Ridge in the distance

I cringe at the thought and I hope I’m wrong, but I fear it’s only a matter of time before this place, too, gets torn apart to make room for yet another huge resort…  

The water channels of Oak Ridge

Pretty Oak Ridge

Pretty house in Oak Ridge

My favorite house in Oak Ridge… Had to be yellow!

The water channels of Oak Ridge

The water channels of Oak Ridge

Cruise ships stop in Roatan every week on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and the island gets flooded with tourists. We learned fast that those days are better spent in the quiet cocoon of our resort…

It was fun to be tourists! We took a whole day excursion to Cayos Cochinos on a fast boat, a welcome change for us to see someone else in charge!

Our Fast Boat for the day

Our Fast Boat for the day

Capt Greg on Go Baby Go (that’s the boat name). Boy, can she GO!

Capt Greg on Go Baby Go (that’s the boat name).
Boy, can she GO!

Cayos Cochino’s Scientific Research Station

Cayos Menor Scientific Research Station

The long dock at Cayo Menor

The long dock at Cayo Menor

It also served as a reminder of how privileged we are as cruisers, being able to visit spectacular places in all privacy with our own boat… We tend to take it for granted at times.

 I enjoyed the day, but it was definitely strange being part of a pack of tourists.

Our Welcome Committee at the village on Cayo Grande

Our Welcome Committee at the Garifuna village on Cayo Grande

The kids of Cayo Grande gather around Tom

The kids of Cayo Grande gather around Tom

Fishing fleet of Cayos Cochinos

Fishing fleet of Cayos Cochinos

There are only 9 private homes on this island populated entirely by Garifuna Indians

There are only 9 private homes on this island populated entirely by Garifuna Indians

Tom insisted on visiting the dolphin research facility at Anthony’s Key Resort , a big resort on Sandy Beach on the West side of Roatan where tourists are welcome to visit and interact with these splendid creatures.

Anthony’s Key Resort

Anthony’s Key Resort

Makes you want to BE there, doesn’t it…

Makes you want to BE there, doesn’t it…

Accommodations at Anthony’s Key

Accommodations at Anthony’s Key, complete with hammocks on the porch.

I was dead set against it: after enjoying the sight of thousands of dolphins roaming free during our travels, I thought it would be sad and pointless to observe dolphins in captivity, Marine World style… As it turned out, I couldn’t have been more wrong!

Meet Dixon, our Dolphin Guide.

Meet Dixon, our Dolphin Guide.

I could swear he’s flirting! Or maybe he just wants to play…

I could swear he’s flirting! Or maybe he just wants to play…

It was quite an experience. The dolphins are kept in very spacious and deep pens, and are taken out often into the open sea for roaming and frolicking. They have the option to return to the pens or just keep going in the wild… To my great surprise, they all choose to follow the lead boat back to the pens.

Aerial View: The Bottom Key is the Dolphins Home

Aerial View: The Bottom Key is the Dolphins Home

Training Pen

Training Pen

Dolphins coming to greet us

Dolphins coming to greet us

True, there were a few demonstrations for the amusement of the tourists of how well the animals are trained, but mainly to demonstrate these animals’ great intelligence. The emphasis here is definitely “Dolphins rule, humans observe”.

They can “walk on water” with their powerful tail!

They can “walk on water” with their powerful tail!

Total Tourist Shot, but a great memory nevertheless

Total Tourist Shot, but a great memory nevertheless

Dixon the Dolphin and Tom in a Public Display of Affection

Dixon the Dolphin and Tom in a Public Display of Affection

  Any activity, from the photo op to the swim with the dolphins sessions were organized with the animals’ comfort in mind, limiting the amount of people to avoid stressing these wonderful creatures.So we watched, listened and learned. We swam and interacted with them, or rather let them interact with us as much or as little as they wanted.

Tom (St. Francis), spent the longest time in the water and was constantly surrounded by playful dolphins.

Tom trying to blend in with the family of dolphins…

Tom trying to blend in with the family of dolphins…

Is that an eye connection, or a potential head-on collision?

Is that an eye connection, or a potential head-on collision?

An 8 months old puppy particularly followed him around closely, occasionally bumping him on the sides to elicit attention.

Baby Dolphin to the left, Mama to the right and Tom trying to keep up…

Baby Dolphin to the left, Mama to the right and Tom trying to keep up…

Pity that taking underwater photos was not allowed, or I’d have some very fun shots of those two at play!

Me, well, I didn’t get much dolphin attention, but was quite content observing in awe.

This was possibly the highlight of our visit in Roatan, and an incredibly magical experience.

Their skin feels like thick, wet rubber!

Their skin feels like thick, wet rubber!

Dolphin Boy reluctantly getting out, escorted by his friends

Dolphin Boy reluctantly getting out, escorted by his friends

Roatan, boasting the second largest reef in the world – the Meso-american Barrier Reef  – is also a haven for divers; in fact, most of the tourists visiting Roatan come here specifically to dive. 

Like every other diver, I was itching to go so we organized a session with Barefoot Cay’s excellent Dive Center .

Unfortunately the dive had to be cut short, thanks to an old ear injury sustained a long time ago during a careless dive. The pain was unbearable, so I decided not to push my luck and abort the dive… How I hated to be the party pooper! Sadly, it seems that my diving days may be over. No matter, I’ll always have snorkeling!

Smooching Fish!

Smooching Fish!

The menacing Lion Fish

The menacing Lion Fish

I'm still happy to see beauty, even if only at snorkeling depth!

Plenty of beauty to see even only at snorkeling depth!

Eventually the perfect weather window was forecast, we ran out of excuses to stay.

But we both already said that we’d like to return next year.

Typical Roatan living room

Typical Roatan living room

Fishing docks in Punta Gorda

Fishing docks in Punta Gorda

Yes, Roatan will do that to you… Make you itch to return.

Punta Gorda scene: yet another relaxing vista

Punta Gorda scene: yet another relaxing vista

The beach at Punta Gorda, East End, Roatan

The beach at Punta Gorda, East End, Roatan

But for now, we’ve seen enough. 

We’ll leave Roatan and take a straight shot to Puerto Morelos, Mexico – should take us more or less 40 hours.

I’ll report from there in a few days.

Ciao!!!

Goodbye, Relaxing Roatan!

Goodbye, Relaxing Roatan!

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Responses

  1. I’m drowning in tax forms….wish I were there.

  2. hey we loved Roatan as well. by land last year while touring from El Salvador. Good to hear from you-alwway check your blog. Love it. Thanks. we are in Isla Contadora, Perlas Islands Panama getting ready to leave White Shell at Taboga for the summer..back to Canada then on to Ecuador next season. Have a guestion: did you service your YANMAR in Panama? Where? were you satisfied? Our engine will need a 1000 hr check soon.

    Thanks for the info…..God Bless you both


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