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Just returned-loved Roatan

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Mobile, Alabama
posts: 56
reviews: 6
Just returned-loved Roatan

We just returned from our first trip to Roatan and wanted to share our thoughts and experiences.

Our Group

Six of us. Two couples in our 50s with a recent high school grad and not quite as recent college grad.

Accommodations

After extensive research, we chose a house in the Turrets in West Bay called Gecko Loco. It seemed to offer the best of all worlds. The house had two master suites, both with king beds and a turret area with a single and a full/queen for the "guys." There was also a study area on the second floor that had additional sleeping, but we didn't need/use it. The house is located on the ridge above West Bay Beach and is beautiful. There are decks galore all around the house and you can see both sunrises and sunsets from this location. It is air conditioned, but we spent many hours on the outside decks with just the wonderful breezes to cool us. The owners seem to have thought of everything and I can't think of any amenity that was missing. The neighborhood pool provided the opportunity for a quick dip while waiting for the rest of the group to finish their afternoon siestas. I would happily return to Gecko Loco again.

Transportation

We rented two cars from Joe at Caribbean Rentacar. The cars were reasonable and Joe was at the airport to greet us when we arrived. A few days into our trip, we had a dead battery and a phone call to Joe was all it took to get us fixed. During the process of getting the battery charged, DH mentioned that he was interested in doing some flats fishing from shore. After getting the car back in working order, Joe took DH and the "guys" to a beach where he knew bonefish were. Not only did he show them the beach, he also loaned them some fly rods. We brought our own spinning reels with light tackle, but it meant a lot that he was willing to loan us his equipment in case we needed it.

Food

Probably our favorite experience was on Sunday morning at Entre Pisca y Nazca in Sandy Bay. Their Sunday brunch was the best I have ever experienced anywhere! We were the only patrons in the restaurant and I'm hoping we were just early. Hopefully it picked up after we left. Our waitress was delightful and we were trying so hard not to be obnoxious food gorging machines. See, the brunch is all you can eat. Not buffet style, but order off the menu style. Oh but what a menu they have. We were all trying to keep things moderate and our sweet waitress sensed our distress and just started bringing out "samplers" of just about everything. It suited us perfectly, so we could all have a little taste of everything. The fruit juices were fresh, the mimosas were wonderful, the service exceptional. The dinner menu looked great, but we never made it back to Sandy Bay at the right time to take advantage of that. If you're anywhere near Sandy Bay on Sunday, this is the place to start your day!

Another favorite of ours was having Blackie, a local lady, and her husband come cook for us. She provides several options, and we chose the coconut shrimp, breaded snapper, rice, beans, plantains, and lemon pie. The food was awesome and they were such sweethearts! We had a ton of leftovers so we were able to enjoy several meals.

The Thirsty Turtle at Banarama seemed to be our go to place when we couldn't figure anything else out. We had lunch the day we arrived, the hamburger special on Sunday night for the crab races and fire dancers, and the 2 for 1 pizza on Monday was great for carryout! Really good quality pizza.

Snorkeling

We spent most of our time down by where the Grand Roatan is being built. The walk in beach access is easy and security was present, so we felt comfortable leaving our belongings for short periods of time. Through the week, we got to know the sales managers, bartenders, and security staff and they invited us to enjoy the use of their chairs while we were there. Of course, we bought a beer or two or twelve from them while we were there!

Typically, we would drive down from our rental (3 minute drive at most) and park at Infinity Bay. The parking was plentiful and access through the resort was easy. No one seemed to mind us cutting through and the security guards were friendly.

Other Activities

Sand Blasters Dune Duggy-As we mentioned earlier, we rented vehicles from Joe at Caribbean Rentacar. Joe is also the owner of the Sand Blaster Dune Buggy tours. We spent a fun filled afternoon with Joe and his guides on the Off Road excursion. We were blessed with rain early in the morning before our adventure, so the mud pit was a true muddy experience! The ride was good dirtily fun and the views were amazing. I highly recommend this!

Steel Pan Alley-Probably one of the most rewarding things I've ever done on vacation! In the space of 1.5/2 hours, the six of us managed to learn three songs on the steel pan drums and actually didn't sound too bad! The school is run by a retired music teacher who started the school with her retirement funds about eight years ago. Tuition is free for the students and the price for visitors to attend goes toward the school as well as to her student "teachers." Additional tips are split equally among the students teaching that day. My student teacher couldn't have been any more than 9 years old, yet he had a great understanding of the tempo and notes. We would definitely do this again!

Fishing-We went out for a half day with Ronny and Forrest of Ronny's Barefeet Bar in West End. They picked us up at 6 am (gasp) from the Infinity Bay dock. The winds had been strong the entire time we were there, and they didn't let off while we were fishing. This made for a rough trip, but we had a good time. Ronny had warned us ahead of time that is would be a little "wet." The fishing was not the greatest, but I blame the weather, not the guides for that. We still managed to catch tuna and Ronny prepared it for us back at his bar. There is nothing better than eating fresh caught grilled fish on a lovely beach in the Caribbean. Life just doesn't get much better!

Bugs

A few of us experienced the sand fly/sand flea/no see'um bites, but none of us had any reactions and the bites seem to disappear within 24 hours. I used baby oil for the no see'ums when I thought I was getting bit, and deet wipes in the evening. I think I experienced one mosquito bite the entire trip. I'm not saying that this is the norm, but we were staying in a pretty high elevation with sustained winds and the bugs just were not a problem for us. That being said, I would still bring and utilize whatever was necessary on future trips.

Money

We took some 100s, and 20s along with credit cards. The 100s were accepted at places where our totals exceeded 100, but we didn't try to use them to pay for smaller purchases/activities. The 20s seemed to work well. We didn't have any trouble getting change back even if it was broken into dollars and lempiras. Credit cards were accepted at more places than expected and even American Express and Discover were accepted at the larger resort/restaurants. The only potential problem we encountered was with our newer Chase Sapphire card that didn't have the larger raised numbers. For items that required an imprint with the older manual machines, the Chase card would not imprint so we had to use another type of card. Not a problem, just not anticipated.

Misadventures

Into every perfectly planned vacation a little misadventure will fall. For me, it was the failure of two underwater cameras. My Canon D10 starting leaking around the cable input seal. I was able to get four underwater pictures and then capoot. Fortunately, the battery and disk area still maintained a good seal, so the few pics I had were salvageable. My Olympus SW 720 was my back up and on the last day, everything I shot was blurry. Once I got home, it seemed to correct itself.

While I would like to have a photo journal of my experiences, I have to realize that the true experiences are already in my heart and my head and I'm really not a good enough photographer to truly capture the moments. So, I'll keep the pictures in my head, the feelings in my heart, and use the pictures I do have to remind me of how blessed I was to have the experiences.

Crime

Not a pleasant topic to discuss, but the warnings still need to be heeded. On a quiet beach with no one apparently around, members of our group had an iPhone, flip flops, a video camera, and water shoes taken from a beach bag. As previously discussed on this forum, the crimes are generally those of opportunity. We were on a deserted beach, away from the tourist areas and we were not vigilant because we thought we were the only people around. We walked the beach and only realized upon our return that the items were missing.

But, with that being said, we never felt unsafe in our travels around the island. The people of Roatan are friendly and helpful. The theft was disappointing, but did not change our overall opinion of Roatan.

Overview

I would hop a plane tomorrow to get back to Roatan if I could. Till then, I will have to be content trying to plan our next vacation there. We have experienced many destinations in the Caribbean and so far Roatan is our favorite!

Alabama
posts: 71
reviews: 5
11. Re: Just returned-loved Roatan

Great trip report. We stayed at Infinity Bay during our March 2012 visit and plan to go back next March. Your report gave us several ideas for new things to try when we return.

Vivian, Louisiana
posts: 14
reviews: 1
12. Re: Just returned-loved Roatan

Great read! thanks

Nassau, New...
posts: 4,419
13. Re: Just returned-loved Roatan

Liked reading about your trip - the steel drum lessons sound like a lot of fun! Thanks.

Vancouver Island...
posts: 336
reviews: 34
14. Re: Just returned-loved Roatan

Great trip report, thank you for sharing.

If I could make a constructive suggestion - an indication of prices would make reports much more useful, even recognizing that they can become outdated. How much for that wonderful-sounding brunch, or the ATV excursion. The information would make reports even more useful for others.

Again, thanks.

NJ
posts: 207
reviews: 3
15. Re: Just returned-loved Roatan

I am gonna try that Steel Pan Alley when I go back in February ! Thanks so much!

The Dalles, Oregon
Destination Expert
for Guatemala, Belize
posts: 6,833
reviews: 137
16. Re: Just returned-loved Roatan

Yes - great tip! I'll be heading to Roatàn with high school band friends next summer and adding this active music element will be perfect! I'm all set - Garifuna drumming classes in Belize in March and steel drums in July! :-)

Philadelphia...
posts: 7
reviews: 2
17. Re: Just returned-loved Roatan

Where is Steel Pan Alley located. The website gives a vague location, (take the road next to Tiffanie Tower, look for the sign). Where on the island is this ? We stay on the East end and I am trying to figure out how far that would be from where we stay. Thanks!

Saskatoon, Canada
posts: 597
reviews: 1
18. Re: Just returned-loved Roatan

To give you a general idea, it's between Coxen Hole and Flowers Bay. We went there two years ago and had a good time. I do not remember the specific directions that we had to find the place, but it wasn't too hard. It's a few hundred metres off the main road, and I remember big ruts......

Mobile, Alabama
posts: 56
reviews: 6
19. Re: Just returned-loved Roatan

It is between Coxen Hole and Flowers Bay. When we called to set up the lessons, Deborah, the instructor gave us fool proof instructions based on where we were staying. She gave us plenty of landmarks and we found the property easily.

The turnoff is on the road between Flowers Bay and Coxen Hole and we turned inland at a landmark (Tiffanie Tower, which she described very well). As I recall, we drove up the road, past a ball field, bearing right at the fork and continued on for a few hundred yards. The building is pretty easy to spot from there. A student was already there waiting and told us where to park.

Hope everyone will try this cultural experience.

T-shirts are easy to bring back, but memories are even easier!

Nassau, New...
posts: 4,419
20. Re: Just returned-loved Roatan

>>T-shirts are easy to bring back, but memories are even easier!<<

Nice one, mystkl1 :)

Don't suppose there are going to be photos.... :)

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