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Roatan or Utila for family with only child?

Michigan
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Roatan or Utila for family with only child?

Here's my quandry: Utila looks much better suited to my and husband's taste in vacation spots than Roatan. My concern is if our 10 year old will get bored/lonely. He's great with Caribbean/snorkeling/beach/adventures vacations (doesn't need to be "entertained")...but the days get long if he doesn't have another kid(s) to socialize with.

Last year was our first vacation without another family. We rented a condo with a pool, which was perfect since my son could have a little pool time everyday to hang with other kids. Any similar situations in Utila? What are the odds there might be other kids at, say, the Mango Inn? We like to stick with a $100/night budget if possible, and I can live without a kitchen if the cost of eating out is as cheap as it sounds. Also would prefer on the beach with walk-in snorkeling. We're avid snorkelers but not divers, although I'm tempted to look into lessons...

TIA!

Utila, Honduras
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1. Re: Roatan or Utila for family with only child?

i prefer utila but it's much quieter than roatan.

there's very little chance of other kids at mango inn, i don't think i'd recommend it anyway (getting kind of shabby), despite the fact it has a pool (rare on utila). i'd urge you to look at rentals, i'm not sure of costs but try slumberland on the edge of town, if being in town is important. better still get another couple and rent the amazing pineapple house on treasure beach with its own beach and coral reef ( the best beaches and snorkeling are all out of town on utila. that's where all the nice rental properties are ie. pineapple house or the cabana on jack neal beach).

another great option is to rent sandy cay, your own little desert island with a nice simple house and amazing water , beaches and scenery.

if all else fails, the lighthouse inn in town is really nice.

Edited: 2:47 pm, October 18, 2010
The Dalles, Oregon
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for Guatemala, Belize
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2. Re: Roatan or Utila for family with only child?

We love both Utila and Roatán (and Guanaja for that matter) but I find myself recommending Roatán more because there's just so much more to do there. Utila has limited access to decent beaches and the shore snorkeling, though good, is more difficult to find and access than on Roatán. On Utila you'll find a long street with shops and hotels on both sides; the ones that are on the water don't have a beach but are set on piers. The vast majority of visitors are twenty-somethings there to dive and party. We enjoy the quieter part of town by the bridge leading to the old airport and find the best fishing and snorkeling off that way, but I don't really picture a kid enjoying it there - sorry!

Most people who don't think Roatán sounds like their kind of place are worried about the cruise ships and fancy resorts but it's a fairly large island with lots of variety from very secluded to funky town to gorgeous post card beach. In addition to easy access to shore snorkeling in many areas you're much more apt to find kids hanging out there and rentals are plentiful. There's great hiking, an iguana farm, a place with ziplines (not my thing), and a Garifuna village.

My photos and travelogues are linked below if you're interested. Have a great trip, whatever you decide!

flickr.com/photos/staceyholeman/collections

Michigan
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3. Re: Roatan or Utila for family with only child?

Thanks for the suggestions! I think Roatan would probably be best for us, but now that I read more about the sand fleas, I think we'll have to go somewhere else. :( All biting bugs LOVE my DH and DS, and they both get allergic reactions to bites. I'd hate to have our vacation ruined by something like that.

Hopefulist, I see you went to Isla Mujeres recently. We were there in 2005 and we've always talked about going back. I wonder if they'll have boat trips to that new underwater sculpture: underwatersculpture.com/pages/gallery/evoluc…

I'm also looking at locations in Belize but I think Ambergris would be too built-up for us, Caye Caulker too mellow for a 10-yr-old, and Placencia looks relatively expensive. Fortunately the research is half the fun for me, so I'll just keep on looking!

The Dalles, Oregon
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for Guatemala, Belize
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4. Re: Roatan or Utila for family with only child?

We haven't had a problem with sand flies on Roatán but it can happen. We enjoyed Caye Caulker, though it's much more expensive than the Bay Islands in our experience. Good chance for connecting with other kids there, I think. You can't snorkel from shore there, really, which is part of the reason we prefer Honduras.

I agree on the research part. Our trip next summer will be WONDERFUL (4 weeks split between the Guatemalan highlands and Roatán) but the planning part is done - poor me. ;-)

Happy trails,

Stacey

Connecticut
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5. Re: Roatan or Utila for family with only child?

Hopefulist, BTW, you are our Fairy Godmother of Travel. Our family has taken two trips to Belize and Guatemala with a young child (with food allergies and who isn't that hardy) and thanks to your advice (I followed your posts with rapt attention) we had a fantastic and very adventurous time.

We are hoping to go to Roatan in March, partly because we are attracted to the ability to snorkel from the shore. I would love to stay within walking distance to the shore snorkeling, and wondering if you have any advice. I see Westbay recommended frequently for this reason, but I'm a bit put off by the possibility that the area will be swamped by visitors from the cruise ships which will be there most of the days we will. Is this a mute worry? Are there any other areas you'd recommend with shore snorkeling that might not be on the shore excursions circuit but that aren't totally isolated? Our child is 8, so it's nice to be around people...

I appreciate all of your posts so much, they have been most useful. You must be very very good at leading these groups through CA, I can't imagine a better blend of common sense mixed with appreciation for authentic travel.

Connecticut
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29 posts
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6. Re: Roatan or Utila for family with only child?

Hopefulist, BTW, you are our Fairy Godmother of Travel. Our family has taken two trips to Belize and Guatemala with a young child (with food allergies and who isn't that hardy) and thanks to your advice (I followed your posts with rapt attention) we had a fantastic and very adventurous time.

We are hoping to go to Roatan in March, partly because we are attracted to the ability to snorkel from the shore. I would love to stay within walking distance to the shore snorkeling, and wondering if you have any advice. I see Westbay recommended frequently for this reason, but I'm a bit put off by the possibility that the area will be swamped by visitors from the cruise ships which will be there most of the days we will. Is this a mute worry? Are there any other areas you'd recommend with shore snorkeling that might not be on the shore excursions circuit but that aren't totally isolated? Our child is 8, so it's nice to be around people...

I appreciate all of your posts so much, they have been most useful. You must be very very good at leading these groups through CA, I can't imagine a better blend of common sense mixed with appreciation for authentic travel.

The Dalles, Oregon
Destination Expert
for Guatemala, Belize
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12,410 posts
328 reviews
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7. Re: Roatan or Utila for family with only child?

What a day brightener - thanks for your kind words! We tend to pick places that are a bit away from the popular spots so I'm not much help, sorry to say. I know there are some good options just outside of West End, which would put you in a quieter area but close to restaurants, etc. Try searching "West End Roatan" here on Trip Advisor, and check out the recommendations in the Moon Handbook (my favorite for Honduras). Seagrape, Halfmoon Bay, and Arco Iris are places that come up a lot on the Thorntree Forum.

After a couple of weeks in Guatemala we're spending a week each at these 2:

On Camp Bay Beach:

tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g292019-d187526…

In Sandy Bay:

tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g292019-d607516…

Keep me posted! Our trip is all planned so I must live vicariously through other planners. ;-) Happy trails!

Connecticut
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8. Re: Roatan or Utila for family with only child?

I am also planning a spring trip to Roatan (on the same budget as yours) also with one child and after lots of searching this is what I've decided. First, I looked at the cruise schedule: cruisett.com/ports.php?PortID=606&date=31 and purposefully have not booked any hotels in West End or Westbay during the times the ships are in. We are first staying in Sandy Bay, at Blue Bahia which looks like it has a nice pool, good snorkeling right there, and good restaurant. They are in the same general area as AKR so we will go to a dophin show and RIMS while we are there, and the Carambola nature reserve. We are also hoping to catch a fish and cook it in Blue Bahia's smoker (haven't asked about this yet), Then we are going to stay in Westbay at WestBay Lodge, which looks good for kids. Very close to snorkeling but away from the crowds, also good food, and a small pool and animals to keep kids entertained. Then we are thinking of going to CBBAL for a couple nights for some specific snorkel trips (they will pick you up and there is food available there). Instead of renting a car, we will stay at different places and take advantage of their good snorkeling on location..... When are you going? I can let you know how it works out.

The Dalles, Oregon
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for Guatemala, Belize
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9. Re: Roatan or Utila for family with only child?

Sounds like a wonderful plan! I'll be on Roatán in July; whether you head there 1st or not I'll look forward to your trip report. Happy trails!

JENSEN BEACH
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10. Re: Roatan or Utila for family with only child?

iguanas...I think you will be very happy w/ Blue Bahia. Kent will most likely be happy to smoke some fish and your son can safely wander around the beach nearby and is sure to enjoy other kids. We enjoyed West Bay for our first visit to sort of scout the island. Ended up spending the most time on boats fishing and exploring and at Sandy Bay to get away from the crowd (small compared to many island spots but more than we like). Looking forward to Camp Bay next trip! Enjoy