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.
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