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Historical and cultural stuff on Roatan

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Historical and cultural stuff on Roatan

Hey all. A couple of friends and I will be staying in the west end for a few days in February. I like to do cultural and historical stuff along with the beach and snorkeling stuff, any recommendations? I've heard Punta Gorda is a Garifuna village, is that interesting? How about pirate stuff or museums or old forts? Thanks!!

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1. Re: Historical and cultural stuff on Roatan

Wiseman,

Punta Corda is need. I suggest to hire a guide for Punta Corda. We went there last year, but felt a bit 'lost' without a guide. I can not recommend one, maybe someone else can.

Oak Ridge offers some boat tours to the mangroves, where they tour some pirate hideouts.

Hope this helps!

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2. Re: Historical and cultural stuff on Roatan

Thanks! How about forts or any old or historic buildings?

Vancouver, Canada
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3. Re: Historical and cultural stuff on Roatan

Roatan is not much for visiting historic sites. To the best of my knowledge there is no fort. There are however some ship wrecks for divers, if you count that as historic sites.

People come mostly come for snorkeling/diving/as cruise ship passengers.

This is not to say that Roatan's history is very interesting. Punta Gorda and Port Royal/Oak Ridge are your best bets in my humble opinion.

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4. Re: Historical and cultural stuff on Roatan

Thanks! Good to know. I'm looking forward to it in any case, definitely plan to snorkel/relax/eat/drink

Menlo Park...
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5. Re: Historical and cultural stuff on Roatan

no the Boston Symphony is not scheduled to play on Roatan. Though I'm sure they would enjoy "playing" there as much as any of us. If you seek to explore authentic island settlements, I would suggest villages on the outer islands rather than Punta Gorda or certainly in preference to Oak Ridge. So there's Cayos Cochinos and the settlement on Guanaja. Maybe Helene at the east end of Roatan proper. these three require special arrangements as well as time and money. You could visit Helene on a dive trip. Or get a small boat to explore the canals in Jonestown. As far as I know helene is still the place without electricity.

Calypso, North...
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6. Re: Historical and cultural stuff on Roatan

As far as remnants of pirate era fortifications, most have been plundered for building materials, leaving even the un-discernible foundations overgrown, these may be found with guidance in Old Port Royal. On the private Fort Cay (also in that area) there are recognizable stone walls and fortifications.

These are so far off the path that the mention if them is just academic. No less inaccessible are the sea caves on the NE, and there really isn't much to recommend the arduous trip. On Helene or Moratt, just East of Roatan (all but contiguous) many years ago I saw a fresh water well and some evidence of ancient rock piling.

Not much remains from what was a very tenuous outpost in pirate era ventures. This area was active at the late end of that historical moment and the coming advent of "civilization" built of wood quickly supplanted any short term efforts at stone fortification.

There is some "crystal skull" history on Roatan, one local denizen and witness thereto is still on the island.

Edited: 4:36 pm, February 04, 2014
Minneapolis...
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7. Re: Historical and cultural stuff on Roatan

The history of Roatan - though not very visible in artifacts, building, fortifications and such - is complex and interesting. This is one of those cased where you read a bunch to make sense of the history, then use your imagination as you travel the length of the island.

And then you talk with people. The history is embedded in the descendants. Briefly...

I've never met a person with strong Native heritage - the first residents were Paya Indians (or Maya, Lenca, or Jicaque... all Pre-Columbian mainland cultures). After Columbus came, bringing "civilization" - and epidemics - the Native population was largely eliminated.

The Spanish and British worked through the area from roughly 1550 to 1750, with Spanish treasure ships being tempting targets for British "privateers" - legal pirates during war periods, often just plain pirates at other times. Again, I've never met anyone claiming pirate heritage... pretty transient bunch.

But you will find Garifuna descendants... from the Black Caribes (African slaves who inter-married with island Natives and created a hybrid culture) who had a period of independence from European control on some Caribbean islands. The Garifuna were used as pawns in the ongoing wars between the British and the French. Eventually the British took a bunch of them captive - legend is that the British felt that since they'd been independent for too long, they would never make good slaves again - and brought them to Roatan in 1797 as kind of an island prison. Later most of the Garifuna were moved to the mainland, forming communities along the coast in Honduras and Guatemala. Their language and traditions retain a strong sense of Africa.

The traditional majority population of the island trace their ancestry to the Cayman Islands and Jamaica and similar areas. The British ended slavery in the 1830s and whole families came to Roatan seeking land and opportunity. I can't tell the difference between people with Garifuna African heritage and Jamaican African heritage... but the Islanders will tell you they can see a difference. These families gave Roatan a tradition of English that is in contrast to mainland Honduras.

More recently, as the tourism on the island has developed and people from North America, Europe, and other developed areas move to Roatan, the local populace is not sufficient to fill all the jobs and an influx of mainland Hondurans has occurred. They speak Spanish and there is some tension between the more traditional English speaking residents and the newer Spanish speaking residents.

and then there are the tourists and cruiseshippers and expats and folks just looking for an island paradise...

So... interesting history, and best experienced not so much by visiting sites as by having beers with residents...

Front Royal...
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8. Re: Historical and cultural stuff on Roatan

Great post, thanks!

9. Re: Historical and cultural stuff on Roatan

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