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“So close....” 3 of 5 stars
Review of Uncommon Adventures - Roatan

Uncommon Adventures - Roatan
Punta Blanca | East End, 49617, Honduras
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Ranked #133 of 178 Activities in Roatan
Type: Tours, Adventure
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Owner description: From our lovely private lodge on Roatan in the Caribbean, we host sea-kayaking, standup paddleboard and snorkeling day-trips out into the gorgeous reefs as well as hiking in the jungle and rafting trips on whitewater rivers on the mainland of Honduras. We provide personally fitted gear, kayaks and paddleboards to suit any skill level, from beginner to advanced. We offer a full range of locally sourced gourmet cooking, guiding, and instruction. 2014 marks our 32nd year in business. (From our other lodge in Beulah, Michigan, we offer kayak and SUP day-trips along the Sleeping Bear Dunes Area and other Great Lakes locales. Please see our other listing for info.)
Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska
Top Contributor
199 reviews 199 reviews
27 attraction reviews
Reviews in 82 cities Reviews in 82 cities
133 helpful votes 133 helpful votes
“So close....”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed February 14, 2013

This is a tough trip to review, as we had some unique challenges, and I suspect we had a different trip from what others have experienced. Three of us (all strangers) had signed up for the 7 day lodge/kayak Roatan trip. I arrived sick, with a stomach bug that affected 2 of my 7 days. Michael was sick through the week, and that absolutely affected the trip in a negative manner.

The positives: When we were on the water, this was some of the best kayaking I've ever done. The scenery was great, the water beautiful, and it was just... lovely. The first day Michael started us with a skills clinic, and he continued to give us tips throughout the week. At first I was frustrated as I was there to paddle, not take lessons, but I ended up appreciating the increase in my skills and comfort level (I went from fearing flipping my boat to doing it on purpose for fun). Michael is an excellent cook, using local ingredients, and makes excellent meals. He worked hard to meet the food quirks of each of us. The "farm" that guests stay at is quite nice and very relaxing. While not luxury, the cabins are extremely comfortable. Michael uses "real" sea kayaks (as opposed to beginner-oriented sit-on-top models), and high end paddles, which is great. The last 2 days of the trip were magical - lots of time paddling, beautiful locations, and a great afternoon of snorkeling. Had even 1 more day been like these 2, this could have been one of my best trips ever.

Now, the negatives, of which there were too many. Much of this I believe is based in him being sick, but when we paid $300/day, I feel like other solutions should have been found. Michael assured each of us that we would snorkel nearly every day, but there was always some reason most of the days that it didn't happen - he'd tell us in the morning to bring our gear, but then later "we can't because...". We only snorkeled twice, and the 2nd time took coaxing from 2 of us. The amount of padding time the 1st 3 days was pretty minimal - 2 hours in the morning, then a long break at the farm, then maybe an hour or so in the afternoon. On Wednesday of the trip, Michael hired a boat - probably the slowest dory on the island - to take us and our kayaks to Pigeon Keys. We were being passed by other boats all day, and the (slow, leaking, hot, uncomfortable) boat was unable to get us to our destination. We spent nearly 5 hours on the dory, but less than 2 hours paddling our kayaks. It was basically a miserable wasted day. When the group raised our concerns about the trip that night, Michael became defensive, saying "there are no boats available." (then why were we seeing lots of other faster boats with guests?) The next day we did take a different boat back to our kayaks, and it was at least 4 times faster than our previous boat, and far more comfortable.

I can certainly appreciate that he was under the weather during the week and that made him grumpy, but I felt like we were being scolded much of the time (don't kick sand, don't carry the boat that way, don't get in the boat that way, listen to me when I tell you something). It was occasionally very uncomfortable and awkward. One afternoon he wanted to show us standup paddleboarding, but he spent so much time wanting to teach us skills on them that it took any fun out of the experience. Since there were only 2 paddleboards, and 4 of us, when he monopolized the time on the boards it was quite frustrating. Paddleboarding is not difficult to just tool around with, so it was mystifying why he limited our time on them so significantly.

I went on this trip to yes, relax, but mostly for paddling and snorkeling. I chose this trip over an earlier one because Michael said "this trip will be for paddlers; we'll be on the water a lot." Unfortunately, with the exception of the final 2 days, that absolutely did not happen.

Are you interested in a trip with lots of down time (at $300/day), with relatively low amounts of paddling, and some fantastic food? This trip is absolutely for you. If you are looking for more time on the water and away from the home base, think carefully before booking. The 7 day trip is $2000 (not including airfare and tip), and I definitely did NOT get my money's worth. Which is a shame - I was looking forward to a fantastic week in Caribbean paradise, and it absolutely could and should have been that.

Visited February 2013
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Yakman60, Owner at Uncommon Adventures - Roatan, responded to this review, March 8, 2013
Kevin, I'm sorry that you felt shorted for this particular week. Between my being under the weather at first and then a poor choice of shuttle boat (which was, in fact about four hours...which was really two hours too long, agreed), you really didn't get the paddle week we'd both hoped for. Weather that week was also a large factor on some of the paddling and that you could have allowed for a bit better in your evaluation. Wish I could control that or know everyone on the island with a boat, but I just simply don't...even after 18 years experience with the place. I do really feel like you missed some good paddle time here, so if you do decide to join us again, I'd be happy to comp you for three days of the week, so that you can get some of your paddle time back....there are some places that I'm sure you would have liked to see under different circumstances. I'd be happy to extend that offer on one of our other destinations as well.
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12 reviews from our community

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English first
Dobbs Ferry, New York
Top Contributor
249 reviews 249 reviews
116 attraction reviews
Reviews in 102 cities Reviews in 102 cities
77 helpful votes 77 helpful votes
“Water water everywhere and you are on the water a whole lot”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed March 26, 2012

You are on and in the water almost all the time.The trip is a heavily kayak oriented adventure to many parts of the island, with continuous snorkeling opportunities. The organizer is experienced, safety conscious and can teach many ways to improve your skills. Your stay is on a farm that does produce jams and mustards you can take home. The quarters are neat 2 level casitas with two bedrooms sleeping 4 and a common bath area. Food is nicely prepared and mostly provided on site using local seafood and vegetables with a couple of restaurant dinners at a nearby (5 minute walk) local restaurant. The best aspect of our trip was provided by the guide Andi who with her interaction and hands on explanations especially while snorkeling, educated you to the local marine life. It elevated the entire experience to a different level. There is nothing to do as to an after dinner bar. Importantly, a word to insure you are prepared for tropical "no see um" insects. 100% Deet will not work and having Benadryl or a like kind of medication (also anti itch powder) is important in case you get a reaction(some did). Scuba Diving is also on site for an additional cost and it might be wise to make specific arrangements upon arrival to insure you can book at the time(s) you desire. As a positive, you will be in a small group and as a whole its a neat trip.

Visited March 2012
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Bala, Canada
Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
4 attraction reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
“Excellent trip for paddlers/snorklers”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 25, 2012

The Roatan trip with Michael Gray’s Uncommon Adventures fulfilled my desires exactly. I had a chance to paddle three different boats – a Valley Avocet, a Valley Nordkapp and a Current Designs Sirocco. Each boat taught me something new/different.

The week’s program was well planned. Initially, Michael got us fitted into boats and we had a delightful check out paddle along the coast of the North shore of Roatan, through a bit of mangrove, followed by a paddling skills review. Next was a gentle check out of our snorkeling equipment/skills on a reef next to our home dock with the assistant guide, Andi Schluker-Ryon (a graduate reef ecologist).

The next day we paddled to a tiny island reef and Andi took us on another snorkeling exploration. This was followed by a paddling skills class focusing on the bracing and sweeping skills useful to learn rolling.

The next day the really marvelous part of the trip began. The dive boat associated with our home base, Maple Hill Farms, was loaded with our kayaks and gear and we travelled some 30 miles to the Pigeon Cays, off of the east end of Roatan. The Pigeon Cays are two tiny islands surrounded by reef. We snorkeled, looked at coral and fish and Andi explained and dove and pointed out various corals and fish. We all were delighted. We lunched. We enjoyed the wind and view and shade, and continued to be delighted. Then we paddled in 10-15 knots wind perfect for working on downwind paddling skills and swam at a glorious sand spit along a channel leading to the North side of Roatan. After another couple of miles, we left our boats under the watchful care of some shore residents and were picked up by the dive boat which returned us home.

The next day the dive boat ferried us back to where we had left our boats. We moseyed through a mangrove channel and lunched on a dock. A couple of participants paddled out to a nearby reef and drift-snorkeled while others walked along the shore to examine a dugout canoe. Then we retraced our route through the mangroves, surprising a small caymen which flopped noisily into the water. We continued our downwind journey ending at a Tikki bar on stilts over the water where we again left our boats. This evening we were taken by taxi van to our home base.

The van returned us to our boats the next morning. This last morning, we worked our way downwind to a splendid, long, sand beach where Michael taught us about surf landings and launching in perfect conditions for practice without putting life and limb at risk. After lunch, several of our group worked on assisted and unassisted rescues and others swam lazily in the perfect waters. After a short paddle to our home bay, several people, led by Andi, tied their boats to a mooring buoy and looked at a reef of exceedingly healthy soft coral. One could have been snorkeling in a photo from the National Geographic Magazine!

One of the highlights of the week were evening mini-lectures by Andi about coral and fish. Andi is a born teacher and had us hanging on her every word with delight.

Michael is an excellent chef (and has written a book on camp cooking). He fed us exceedingly well with local produce and fruit – and, in particular, pineapple to die for.

The facilities where we stayed at Maple Hill Farm were functional and adequate for our purposes and we ate at their farm’s restaurant for two excellent dinners.

The paddling/snorkeling trip the Uncommon Adventures program was exactly what I was looking for. The east end of Roatan is empty of tourists, boasts healthy reefs, interesting fish, absolutely splendid paddling conditions and is an experience I would very highly recommend to other paddlers/snorkelers.

Visited March 2012
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Sumter, South Carolina
Senior Reviewer
9 reviews 9 reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
“Paradise Adventure in Roatan”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 18, 2012

For several years a highlight of the East Coast Canoe and Kayak Festival has been attending Michael Gray's exciting presentations of past Uncommon Adventures and dreaming of an adventure of our own. That dream came true for my wife and me in Roatan.
The freshest and most imaginative five star meals, wonderful scenery and snorkeling, kayaking adventures beyond compare- all without the challenges of camping! What more could you want? Only one thing I can think of...return trips to experience more UNCOMMON ADVENTURES!
Longing for our next trip with Michael,
Tillman in SC

Visited March 2011
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Yakman60, Owner at Uncommon Adventures - Roatan, responded to this review, February 20, 2012
Thank you for the thoughtful comments. I look forward to seeing you and Beth again this April in Charleston! Tell her that I have indeed learned to make those big German pancakes! Clients like y'all are why I have the best job in the world!
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Bloomington, Illinois
4 reviews 4 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
“Three trips with Uncomman Adventues, and each one was the best.”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 21, 2012

First trip: A week on Roatan, Honduras; warm water paddling at its best. Michael plans everything, cooks only fresh local products, and does so with perfection. I couldn't believe it. He was buying sea food from spear fisherman right off the end of the dock! The cabin was wonderful, the sound of surf in the distance was great, and this was the most relaxing trip I've ever taken. I'm about to go back for more.

Second trip: Ferry from Charlevoix MI to the Beaver Island archipelago on Lake Michigan, with three nights of camping, four days of paddling. This more primitive trip gave Michael a chance to showcase his reputation as a back country chef. He is famous for this skill area, and literally "wrote the book."

Third trip: A full week of paddling and camping in Isle Royale National Park that is actually closer to the Canadian north shore of Lake Superior than Michigan where we met for the ferry departure. Changing weather conditions and the companionship that develops from such a trip makes this one a favorite. Each day was different, but the friendships remain the same. As always, all preparation was expertly accomplished in advance, and Michael actually fished for our dinners. He is expert with a line, and expert when he prepares the catch of the day. It can't be better than this!

Visited March 2011
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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