Roatan, Bay Islands, Honduras

by Susan on April 29, 2012

April 10, 2012

We left Guanaja around 6:30 a.m. for the 36 nautical mile trip to Roatan.   There were many options on Roatan where we could take our boat.  We could have stayed there for weeks visiting all the beautiful bays and cays but due to time constraints we decided to just focus on French Cay Harbor and West End Bay, two favorite cruiser hangouts.  We arrived shortly after noon, which was perfect timing since it gave us good light to navigate the reef and shoals.  As we were approaching we saw Debbie and Craig (Teal Sea) in their dinghy heading toward us.  They came out to greet us and to guide us in through the reef as we headed into the Harbor.  We were delighted to see their happy faces.  It is such a welcome to see familiar, friendly faces in new, unknown places.

After we got anchored, we headed over to Frenchy’s 44 Restaurant with Teal Sea and Island Dreamin’ for lunch and got the scoop about the nearby facilities, grocery stores, etc.

Lunch at Frenchy's 44 with Teal Sea and Island Dreamin'

In French Cay Harbor, there are two marinas.  The private Fantasy Island Resort and the recently opened Brooksy Point Marina.  Apparently, Fantasy Island raised their prices so high that cruisers responded by boycotting them.  Soon afterwards Brooksy Point Marina was opened offering a more cruiser friendly marina in the lagoon behind Fantasy Island. Brooksy Point offers 18 slips with med tie mooring, dinghy dock, showers, self-service laundry (one washer and one dryer), trash disposal, Sky TV, wi-fi, fuel runs, a weekly run to the local grocery store, and social gatherings everyday.  For a $15.00 weekly fee, those at anchor like us can also use their facilities.

Brooksy Point Marina

Brooksy Point Marina

Brooksy Point Marina

Brooksy Point Marina

We were excited to hear that there was an Eldon’s Supermarket close by.   Provisioning was top on our list as we had not had access to a well-stocked store since we left Bocas del Toro.   Teal Sea led the way as we dinghied out of the anchorage toward where the large fishing vessels were docked.  The owner has been kind enough to allow cruisers to tie up to his dock and walk through his property to the path which leads to Eldon’s Supermarket.   Our provisioning trips are definitely a little more involved than getting into the car, driving to the market and parking but it is amazing how inconveniences can be overlooked when they are necessary for your basic needs.  And it always is an adventure since every port is different.   I felt like a kid in a candy shop when we walked into the supermarket.  It was as close to a Ralph’s Market as you could get, offering a variety of foods we had not seen in some time.  We filled our cart in no time, forgetting we still had to carry all of it to our dinghy and find room for it in our little fridge but where there’s a will, there’s a way and those challenges were overcome.

Later we hooked up with Elly and Wayne on Zeppelin.  The last time we saw them was in Bocas del Toro (they were our dock  neighbors).  They fell in love with Roatan and have decided to make it their home for the foreseeable future.  Having already spent months here, they also offered a wealth of local information.

There are  a few other places worthy of note which are within dinghy distance in the anchorage.  One is the privately owned Little French Key, a little island paradise owned by a lovely family from California.  Although the owners of Little French Key cater mainly to the cruise ship guests, they do welcome cruisers who want to enjoy their little piece of paradise.

Little French Key

Enjoying Little French Key

The same family owns the Frenchy’s 44 Restaurant on the other side of the anchorage.   Our boat was anchored in between the two.   We frequented Frenchy’s often.   We liked the food and the ambiance and especially enjoyed Wednesday Karaoke nights when a group of us would go and compete for the prize given to the winner chosen by audience applause.  Anyone who’s heard me sing Karaoke knows I can’t hold a tune but after a couple of drinks I forget I have no talent and eagerly grab the mic to belt out the few songs I feel comfortable singing.    One night, I actually won the prize – a candlelit dinner for two at the restaurant.   We had so much fun.

The Anchorage - Looking Out From the Dock at Frenchy's 44; Little French Key is On the Other Side of Our Boat

Karaoke Night

Duet

Another place that is worth a visit is Arch’s Iguana Farm.   Mr. Arch started the farm about 18 years ago to give the iguanas a safe place to roam freely without having to worry about being the main ingredient in someone’s stew.   There are presently approximately 2700 iguanas on the property. The cruisers usually take their vegetable scraps to the farm to help feed them.  Apparently, you can pet these guys but I wasn’t brave enough to do it.

Arch's Iguana Farm

Blending Right In

Would You Reach Out to Pet This Guy?

We ended up staying 16 days in French Cay Harbor, one week longer than anticipated due to a cold front that came in causing potentially dangerous conditions on the water.   During our stay, we got into a routine, listening to the net in the morning to learn who was checking in, who was checking out, special events happening, weather reports, items for sale, etc. etc.  Afterwards, the day might include yoga under the palapa at Little French Key, provisioning at Eldon’s, a day at Little French Key, a visit to the iguana farm, laundry, one of the many gatherings at Brooksy Point Marina like pizza night, dinners at Frenchy’s 44, especially on Wednesday nights for Karaoke, snorkeling or diving, or just visiting with friends.

We had every intention of spending some time at West End Bay but soon after we arrived in French Cay we learned that the mayor at West End was removing (or had already removed) the 20 mooring balls in the Roatan Marine Park banning cruisers from mooring or anchoring there because, rumor has it, he has decided to build a marina.   Most of the boats were leaving and coming to French Cay.   They then slowly started returning to West End.  No one really knew what the status was.  Island Dreamin’ decided to take their chances and go there but we decided to stay put.  We did take a day trip there by cab to check out the town we had heard so much about and to do some shopping at Mares Scuba Shop.  I was determined to get some scuba gear that fit so that I could enjoy a dive or two during what was left of our trip.

West End

West End

West End

Got My Scuba Gear

As always those vicious no-see-ums are a problem here too.  That’s why you see us wearing cargo pants all the time.  We usually always have a layer of bug juice on but rarely could we find relief once bitten.  While at West End Bay, we finally found something that really seemed to work on the bites.

Half of the Product Name

The Other Half

Once back to French Cay Michael and I went snorkeling with Teal Sea to break in my gear.  All seemed to be working just fine though I was having a little trouble getting used to my fins.  They seemed huge compared to my snorkeling fins.   A couple of days later, we went on a dive with Zeppelin. As much as I was looking forward to the dive, it wasn’t a good experience for me.   I didn’t notice so much near the surface when I was snorkeling but as we submerged I couldn’t keep the fins from slipping off my feet.   I spent the whole dive struggling to keep them on.  I was able to return the fins but did not have time to shop for another pair or have time for another dive.  Very disappointing considering we were in an area known for its first class diving.

Although we were unable to take photos during our dive, I am going to post some photos that were taken by Zeppelin during some of their dives here.   Wayne and Elly are both PADI certified,  have become very familiar with the dive sites in Roatan and have channeled their passion for diving into starting their own dive company here.   I encourage you to check out their website (which is listed under our links) where you can see these and other photos and get even more detailed information about Roatan and their dive company.  They might just have an offer you can’t refuse.

 


Finally the cold front passed and we took advantage of the opportunity to head for Puerto Morelos, Mexico.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

mike April 22, 2013 at 10:56 pm

Belting out the songs….I can imagine.

Such fun. Hey I have an iguana that looks just like that gray one. Do they bite? He was sitting on my drying clothes on the patio chair and I shooed him away with a broom though, he was a good size and awfully cute.

I have been to Roatan, years ago, in the 80’s. Beautiful place and I went diving there also.

Par May 6, 2013 at 8:57 am

God, it shound like fun. I especially like the part where you can sing Karoke after a couple drinks. I am the same way. Infact the only time I have sung is after a few drinks. Your pictures are fantastic. Catcha yah later.
Love yah!
Pat

Pat May 6, 2013 at 8:59 am

Oh, I have found that regular amonia works well on bites used with a que tip. I think it also makes them go away faster. Depends on how quick you rub it after you get bit. Sometimes I feel like I smell like rotten eggs. lol

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