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“Alone again in paradise!!”

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Coral Bay Dive Resort
Ranked #6 of 6 Hotels in Guanaja
Reviewed April 26, 2009

This past six months we found ourselves the sole clients of two resorts that specialize in scuba diving: Riding Rock Lodge in San Salvador, Bahamas (Christmas 2008) and Guanaja, Bay of Islands, Honduras (Easter 2009). Both had outstanding diving opportunities; we did 24 dives over 2 weeks at Christmas and 13 dives at Easter. Though we were the sole clients for most of the time, we enjoyed the undivided attention of the dive masters and boat captains in each location. In San Salvador, we swam with hammerheads and enormous eagle rays. In Guanaja we encountered nurse sharks daily in the caves and lava tubes. We also enjoyed great drift dives in each location. In San Salvador, diving starts at 9:00 am, and in Gauanja, it starts at 8:00 am. But there were enormous differences in the two venues.

Access. San Salvador has a 12,000 foot paved airfield that can land Air Buses from Paris destined for the Club Med. We arrived on a small turboprop from Nassau. Guanaja is served by a ‘ferry’ from Roatan Island’s Oak Ridge Bay. The trip east to Guanaja sails into the prevailing wind and can be a rough two-hour passage. Wear a bathing suit: you’re going to get wet. The return passage is much smoother, and half an hour shorter, but it isn’t any dryer.

Tap water. You can drink the tap water on Guanaja. On San Salvador, every one on the island drinks bottled water. What comes from the tap is brackish.

Food. Here Riding Rock has a decided edge. The kitchen and dining room in the morning are busy with fishermen getting a java to start their day. At lunch, there is always a cup of chowder and a sandwich. And there are always two choices of entrée for dinner. Even if there are only two guests! At Coral Bay Resort, the Honduran coffee and fresh fruit are superb. Other than that, the less said about the food, the better. See previous reports. You won’t have to diet after Coral Bay.

Pools. Coral Bay Resort has one of the finest pools in the Bay of Islands: nearly eight feet deep with a view of Bonnacco Town off-shore in the harbor. Riding Rock’s pool needs some paint. Both are fresh-water.

Extra-curricular activities. Both locations have bars that attract local people. The beer is cheaper in Guanaja ($2.50) than in San Salvador ($6.00). At Riding Rock, there is an interesting trip around the island with a stop at the antique light-house, but aside from that, there isn’t much to do or see (shopping at Club Med?). On Guanaja, I’d recommend visiting some of the quaint watering holes. At Manatee Bay, you’ll find a delightful bar that stocks great German beer and provides great meals. It’s a hit with the yatching set. There’s also a nice bar at the West End Lodge. There is a great hike on the west end that takes you to some outstanding views of the island. We never got to explore the other hikes but we did have a great tour of Bonnacco Town—five or six acres of high density housing, schools, government offices and shops on three islands. Like a poor-man’s Venice. At Riding Rock, you’ll find terrific internet service. But in Guanaja, you’ll probably end up going to town ($2.50 water taxi) to use the services there; the dive shop’s service is free but it isn’t that fast. There are only 5 km of roads on Guanaja. Boat travel is essential.

The rooms. TVs, A/C, fans, and hot water are standard at both Riding Rock and Coral Beach. Riding Rock is motel-style; Coral Beach is cabanas.

The Diving. Neither island has been over-run by generations of divers. Both dive operations are small scale with boats than can handle 8-10 people at a time. San Salvador is mostly wall-diving with profiles in the 80-130’ range. At Guanaja, most dives are in the 60‘ range. There is no barometric chamber in Guanaja, so the dive profiles are quite conservative (save for a 100’ wreck dive). Both dive masters were extremely knowledgeable about local conditions and created a lot of confidence. Guanaja Island is split by a canal that gives easy access to both the windward and leeward coasts. There are wall dives, caves, lava tubes and extensive flat reefs. And unlike San Salvador, there are no exotic lion fish.

In both operations, the dive and the hotel sides of the business are managed separately. We were in Guanaja when Conquest Tours went bankrupt. The dive manager, Bill Blakey, was extraordinarily helpful in sorting out the situation. We got back to Toronto with Sky Service airways as scheduled. If we went back to Guanaja, we’d stay longer in Honduras to explore the hiking and the Mayan ruins at Copan. If we went back to San Salvador, it would be in the summer when the water is calmer and clearer. If you are looking to avoid the crowds, you couldn’t ask for better locations. But, like us, you might be the only people there!

  • Stayed: April 2009, traveled as a couple
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3  Thank TGB40
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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2 - 8 of 9 reviews

Reviewed April 25, 2009

Coral Bay Dive Resort is a beautiful place and it’s not just the hillside cooled with fresh sea air or the sunbathing iguanas, palms trees and pineapple plantation that make it so. For our group of 25 the people made all the difference. Lovely people staff Coral Bay and we felt genuine kindness and kinship.

However, there is very little else positive to report. My fiancée and I met with Bill Blakey, “NAUI Instructor #3875 - looking after the sales -marketing and dive operations”, in Toronto before leading our wedding party to Guanaja.

Bill assured us that the resort was capable of handling our event. We discussed a list of things; meals, day trips, diving instruction, beach wedding ceremony, a pig roast, gift baskets of rum, cigars, water etc..

Nothing went as planned. Nothing.

Upon arrival Bill handed us an additional bill for nearly double what we had discussed in Toronto, some guests were staying in below standard rooms while others enjoyed beautiful hillside cabanas. There were so many disappointments – I could write a book.

The diving was a disaster. We paid for and were promised certifications. That didn’t happen. (nor did kayaking, bone fishing or guided hikes) The boat broke down 3 times during the week. Non-certified divers were diving to depths of nearly 100 ft – admittedly these adults should not have taken such risks. We did have 2 diving accidents. A non-certified diver ended up with squeeze mask, another diver ran out of air and had to make an emergency ascent. Gauges were faulty. BCD’s didn’t work. Fish identifying was non-existent.

Everything seemed to be falling apart. So, we pooled our resources, asked for help and that Bill stay away. Things happened. There is a very capable wedding planner in Bonnaca - who organized us a crazy cake, lights floating in the pool, an arch to walk though and beautiful decorations. Bonacca has everything - a world of resources that enabled us to turn things around.

Our wedding day was beautiful. I got married on the sand, with the sea washing around our toes to my best friend and together with old and new friends, watched the full moon rise over the ocean.

Fortunately, our creative and (for the most part easy-going) group made the most of the week. Our close friend, who also happens to be a chef, spent a day with the kitchen staff and sourcing food from the resort property and the sea to cook up a feast. Fresh mango salsa and fish, corn tortilla’s, beans and rice, bbq – it was amazing and the staff, their families and our group shared a wonderful meal. Otherwise the food was very, very average. Unbelievable considering the property supports many fruit trees and is right on the ocean.

Guanaja holds a very special place in my heart but I would never recommend going to Coral Bay Dive Resort as long as Bill Blakey is involved.

It was an adventure of a lifetime for some of our not-so-adventurous guests and two of our friends have returned to Honduras and another is headed back with Firefighters Without Borders. Great things came out of the trip – I just wish Bill had of been more honest with us.

A further note: Guests waited 4 hours on the hot tarmac for a plane that we charted to take them off the island. 2 weeks later on the mainland we ran into the pilot who got us all there – he told us Bill never paid him.

AND, we never got our wedding papers – so we’re not legally married.

  • Stayed: May 2008
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6  Thank NicoleCroz
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 1, 2009

We've just returned from Coral Bay, and can definitely recommend staying there. Let me start with a few important points.

1.) bug spray is NOT optional... the sand feas/no-see-ums can be vicious
2.) you CAN drink the water from the tap without worry
3.) you CAN eat the food you are served, including salad, without worry
4.) they currently do not take credit cards
5.) there is NO ATM on the island, so bring more cash than you think you'll need
6.) they have a bar with popular booze, but the local rum and banana soda is great!
7.) if you're prone to sea sickness, taken 1 bonine each evening, and half to a whole dramamine each morning..you'll be fine!
8.) sunscreen is pretty much mandatory...

I think that about covers the most important items that people want to know!

Our trip started with emails to Bill at Coral Bay..Bill was always responsive, and answered all my questions (and there were alot of them). We made arrangements to be picked up on Roatan by boat upon arrival. There was a slight issue with the taxi driver who was picking us up to take us to the boat.. no way were 6 adults and all our dive gear fitting into one little taxi... he called a friend and problem solved! The boat trip was supposed to be in the big dive boat, but it had overheated that morning, so we went in the dory. The seas were pretty flat, so there was no problem getting wet. If the seas are rough, and you're taking the dory you WILL need the rain gear they provide, but you'll probably still get wet!

We ended up towing the dive boat back to Guanaja from Pidgeon Cay, so the whole trip took about 4.5 hours (about 12 miles). It was a lovely sunny/rainy day, and traveling slowly gave us the chance to view an incredible water spout, as well as pass close to some really bucolic islands. I didn't mind the trip at all.

We were met on the dock by Bill, and the resort staff immediately took our luggage to our cabanas...there was no waiting around for check in and paper work...we stayed in cabana #1, which was right next to the beach and town of Pelican Bay, and we thought we'd be bothered by the music coming from the bars on the other side of the hill, but no such problems..between the sound of the wind, and the waves, we slept well all week. The birds and rooster and ducks at dawn are another issue, however, but we were almost always up to see the sunrise anyway..those black birds are LOUD!

The cabanas are rustic, but the beds were comfy, and everything except the plug in the bathroom worked just fine. We did have to ask for blankets after the first night, which was cooler than expected, but they were provided immediately, and from then on sleeping was great. The cabanas don't have glass windows.. they have screens and wooden slats that open and close.. this was just fine as it allowed the breezes in. There was an AC unit, which we didn't need, and a fan, which we did use. Power went off at 4am each morning and came back on at 8am promptly. We were told that this was for maintenance..
not sure if this is a year round maintenance window, or just happened to be when we were there. We took advantage of the power being off to go outside and look at the incredible black night sky..do it.. you'll see why.

The showers are heated by this little unit that attaches to the shower head and is plugged in. It only heats the water when the water runs through it, so it quite energy efficient. We took showers in the late afternoon, after diving. No power in the morning means cold showers, if that's your choice. We had no lack of hot water in the afternoon, though.

Irma, the cook, also met us when we arrived and asked what kind of food we liked to eat. We were pretty flexible, so she fed us a variety of local foods, including fresh eggs from the resort chickens, bacon, sausage, fruit, tortillas, pasta, beef, pork, rice, black beans, grains, lobster soup, tamales...I found the food to always be delicious, although if you're a big eater, you'll probably need to mention that, since there often was only what you were served, and nothing extra. We supplemented with nuts brought from home, and queso blanco and crackers purchased at the local grocery. I don't think anyone ever went hungry, though. Breakfast, lunch and dinner were served promptly each day.

The resort itself is pretty... the cabanas nestle in a little curve of the hill, and the grounds keeper Rufino, has done an excellent job with the gardens.. they are full of tropicals, and very well tended. Orchids cover some of the trees, the hummingbirds frequent other flowering trees..there is a little fresh water stream that the ducks seem to like. There is a nice freshwater pool that we pretty much swam in after every afternoon dive, to rinse our wetsuits...plus they are easier to get off in the water!

The resort is at least partially self-sustaining, and working on becoming moreso. There is a large pineapple field, bananas, vegetables, chickens (for fresh eggs), and a small fresh water pool where Tilapia fish are being raised. Rufino takes care of all of this! There are also two dogs, Chiquita the watch dog, and YoMonkey, the awfully cute, but Muy Malo puppy. They have one cat named Samir, who is lovely and friendly... he is frequently found with Rufino, as he goes about his business of the resort.

"Have a mouse, we'll give you a cat"...one night my sister noticed a mouse in her room in the middle of the night, and the next day mentioned it to the staff...Rufino brought down Samir, who got to spend the night with my sister in her cabana, and who took care of the problem as well!

Coral Bay is also safe.. I never once felt uncomfortable or unsafe.. we left money and cameras in our rooms every day, with no problems. we locked our door when we weren't in our room, but others in our group did not. The gates to the resort are also padlocked at night, and the whole resort is surrounded by a fence. We did bring in our wetsuits at night, but not for the safety, but because there is a serious dew each morning, and the point was to dry them out. I don't think I would leave my BC out, though... no sense in tempting.

We went into both the town of Pelican Bay, and Bonnaca, and I felt perfectly safe in both placed... the people were all quite friendly, and it's easy to make friends. You can get most modern products at the stores, although to get to Bonnaca means taking the water taxi. If you have to take one, have Bill call Pinky, and he'll take care of you.

The only road is on the west side of the island between Savannah Bight, and Mangrove Bight... we did not visit either of these towns. Everything is reached by boat, and an arial view of the island, shows that most people live either at the edge of the water, or over the water on stilt houses.

Overall I would recomment Coral Bay for those who like a little adventure, and who are willing to get away from it all. It's pretty rustic with no frills, but for us it was just right.

  • Stayed: March 2009, traveled as a couple
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3  Thank Stef4115
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 29, 2008

My family and I, 2 daughters, future son in law and my wife (non-diver) visited from Dec. 5th-12th. We arrived via direct charter from Toronto to Roatan, taxi to a port on the far end of Roatan (Oakridge), then a ferry ride, by 37’ Punta Dory the 30 miles to Guanaja (this was also our dive boat for the week). The ferry ride takes about 2- 2 1/2 hours. They asked if we wanted rain gear, we thought they were joking, until we hit the 15 miles of open ocean between the 2 islands. It can get pretty rough, but the dory is designed for these waters and handles the waves pretty well. Well the 2 guys who decided to forego the raingear were soaked when we arrived at the resort dock in Guanaja.
The resort is located on a small bay on the south side of the island. The island is quite unique, in that it is quite hilly, some over 1000’ in elevation. This results in one side of the island sheltered from the wind and much calmer. The island is approx. 3 ½ miles wide and 11 miles long, but there is a narrow point close to the center of the island, where they have dug a channel (about 1.2 miles) joining the north and south sides. The entrance to the channel is only ¾ of a mile west of the resort, so dive sites on both the north side and south side are easily accessible and usually one side or the other will be quite calm. 8000 of the 10000 inhabitants live in Bonnaca. Bonnaca is actually 3 abutting cays that cover 3 acres that have about 4 acres of housing built on it. Bonnaca is about .4 miles directly out from the resort and is easily accessible by water taxi for $1 US each way. Almost all the inhabitants speak both Spanish & English. Since there are only two roads on the island, most transportation is by water taxi.
The resort is located in a small bay with 35 acres of property starting at the shoreline going up the side of a hill. There is a centrally located main lodge with covered open eating area with kitchen next door. There is also quite a large pool with bar area next to it. They had the bar open for us every afternoon from about 4PM on (the local Honduran beer Salva Vida is very good-highly recommended). They can accommodate about 30 guests in 14-15 individual cabins built into the side of the hill. The cabins are various sizes; some with two queens and each have a refrigerator. Each cabin has a spectacular view of the ocean and the morning sunrise. They are not air conditioned, but have screened windows with louvered wood blinds on three sides. There are fans in each room, usually a nice breeze and cooler air off the hills that settles down at night. We really didn’t miss the AC. Rooms are pretty similar to ones that I have stayed in at F-Island in Roatan. The grounds are very nice and they were continually doing maintenance while we were there- there is a babbling stream flowing down from the hills through the center of the property. (Guanaja is the only Bay Island with its own fresh water supply). They grow some of their own coconuts, pineapple and bananas on the property. Our vacation trip included all of our meals. The cook (Erma) asked us at the start of our vacation what we liked to eat and all of us were quite satisfied with the quality of the meals. There was always lots of fruit and plenty of variety - seafood and Mexican/Honduran.
The dive operation (DiveTime) is separate from the hotel and is located at the dock in front of the resort. We stored all our gear at the dive shop. We used the dory for the week (there is also a larger dive boat that can handle 20-30 divers) – it was quite adequate for the 4 of us diving along with the divemaster (Peter) and Bill (owner). Peter has been diving Guanaja for 20+ years and knows the 38 moored dive locations very well and continually amazed us with how he could spot various types of sea life. Our dive group all are AOW or higher and all had our own equipment. This was our first experience diving with the steel tanks that DiveTime supplies. We all thought they were great since they are so much more compact than aluminum - I dropped from carrying 10 lbs of weight to 4 lbs by the end of the week. The guys did three a day (17 dives for the week) and the girls decided on two a day and sunbathing for the afternoon. We usually did two tank dives in the morning, came back in for lunch, then one dive in the afternoon. We dove 17 sites all around the island- the direction of the wind usually dictating which direction we headed. The channel through the island made it very easy to dive both sides. We also found that each of the 4 quadrants of the island had very different reef structures- some volcanic in origin. The diving, although similar to Roatan was much more varied with some very dramatic swim-thru’s and caverns -better than Mary’s Place. Visibility was about the same as I have found in Roatan or Belize diving at the same time of the year in the Caribbean. Lots of sea life- Spotted eagle rays, nurse sharks, turtles, spotted and moray eels, lobster, crab etc.. – something different every dive. I understand that very soon the 38 marked dive sites will be protected by law from fishing.
We did not get too involved in the night life (with all the diving we were usually asleep by 9 and up at 6:30)- although there is some to be had in Bonnaca. The resort staff were tremendous- very accommodating- they even volunteered to take my wife on some outings to some old towns on the far side of the island while were diving. For the more adventurous you can go hiking up in the hills. For the non-diver, quite a few of the afternoon dives were to shallower reefs that also had very good snorkelling.
The week went by very quickly and we were very sad to leave this lovely resort – I guess Guanaja did not want us to leave either as a storm blew in while we were down for our last dive for the week. The storm closed the entire area to boat and air traffic for 36 hours. We ended up spending an extra day when after hugs from all the staff, we were able to make the run by boat back to Roatan. For this return trip, we didn’t need to be asked twice if we wanted the rain gear. As we got close to Roatan our boat was surrounded by a pod of about 12 dolphins that followed us for about 10-15 minutes-what a way to finish off the trip. Our only glitch for the week was the storm which resulted in our missing our charter flight to Toronto. The charter company did take care of getting us home safely on scheduled flights from Roatan-Houston-Atlanta-Toronto. I would highly recommend this little resort for anyone looking for a fairly inexpensive but serious diving holiday and look forward to a return visit.

  • Stayed: December 2008, traveled with family
    • Value
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    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
5  Thank Acmescuba
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 29, 2008

I had just received my PADI certificate in Oct. 2008, and never having done any ocean dives before, I wasn't sure what to expect on my first dive vacation. I know I can not compare it to any other dive resort, as this was my first...but for a first time diver, both Bill, our host, and Peter our dive master, made my experience a truly memorable one! The equipment was top notch, the dive sites were full of life and adventure, and we had 3 dives a day. Safety and well planned out dives were always at the top of their lists.
We were picked up on Roatan and taken to the resort on Guanaja island by the resort staff....it is approx. an hour and a half by boat, and if you don't have your sea legs....I would advise flying over to the island if you can. Our round trip to and from the island was absolutely fine....at most we had 10ft swells to contend with. I was hoping for dolphins which have been known to travel along side the boat!
The list of reefs we dived were numourus, and the marine life we saw was spectacular. Even on overcast days with heavy winds we still managed relatively good visability. On clear sunny days we had amazing visability! Huge green moray eels, really large baracuda, hawkbill sea turtles and rays were just some of the marine life we witnessed. The corals were vibrant and full of life, and with all of Peter's experience he was able to pin point our best dives for each of the day's adventures.
The resort itself is situated high up on a hill side...with several individual cabbana's...all with wonderful views of the ocean. The resort staff were all extremely friendly and helpful, and if we needed anything, all we had to do was ask.
Meals were prepared punctually in the morning, afternoon and night...our cook asked us on the first night if anyone had any allergies or food likes or dislikes, and then prepared her menu accordingly. The food was really good and varied.
Bill arranged for us to take hikes up to a waterfalls, and visit the well populated neighbouring cay Bonacca, for a guided tour one afternoon which was very interesting. There some of us used the internet and some of us stocked up on snack foods at the local stores.
I would advise bringing some bug repellent as the sand fleas and bottle flies were out in full force. Also the resort does not accept credit cards at this time, and since it is a remote island, there are no "corner stores" or shops in the immediate area.
The resort is small...at most I believe they could accomodate 24 divers??....so if you like having the pool all to yourself in the afternoon, after all those wonderful dives! Then this is the place to be. I loved watching the wild parrots flying around the hillside canopy in the background as I relaxed by the poolside.
I truly enjoyed my stay at Coral Bay, it was the best introduction to ocean diving I could have hoped for! Just makes me want to do more dive vacations!
Thank you Bill and Peter for taking such great care of us!!

  • Stayed: December 2008, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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    • Check in / front desk
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    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
3  Thank PipCheedwell
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 21, 2008

If you want to see lots of healthy coral and marine life, go to Guanaja. After diving around the Caribbean, I can say Guanaja has some of the most comfortable, pristine, and yet diverse diving. Everything from shallow sand spits, to walls, and lava tubes.
Pedro Andrade and Bill Blakey, at Coral Bay Resort were great to work with and dive with. Depending on where you go around the island you get a very different dive experience. Snorkeling was great also, primarily on the North side. Watch out for sand fleas on the North side beaches, but no problem on the South Side. A little bug spray and you can sit out all evening at Coral Bay.

The staff at Coral Bay is great, they really take care of you, no matter the size of your group. One thing, they may recommend the boat ride from Roatan, but if you are traveling in the afternoon, you will be more comfortable staying a night on Roatan and using Sosa airlines to fly to Guanaja. If they can get more reliable ferry service with Roatan that will help.

The resort is still in its first year, so they are shaking out a few problems. But if you are a diver, then get down to Guanaja for some great diving.

6  Thank DiverScientist
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 18, 2014 via mobile
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Stayed: October 2014, traveled as a couple
Thank javiylorna
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Coral Bay Dive Resort

Address: Guanaja Island, Guanaja IB2101, Honduras
Location: Honduras > Bay Islands > Guanaja
Hotel Style:
Ranked #6 of 6 Hotels in Guanaja
Number of rooms: 165
Also Known As:
Coral Bay Dive Hotel Guanaja

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