Just landed back in the snow after a week with Marek, Nico, Edward and Cuba. What a pleasure. These folks love what they do and take you in. Marek was incredible. With Jana back home having their daughter, he ran it all - smoothly but not effortlessly. What a worker.
This is not the West End with the restaurants, canopy tours, porpoise swims, cruise ships and bars. This is a destination - and well worth the drive past Oak Ridge where the pavement ends. Your rental Hyundai Eon will get you there just fine in first and second (and sometimes third!). An upgrade to something heftier will give you confidence but not speed.
Shorts, T's and flops. Leave the rest at home. All the snorkel and dive gear is there and on the boat ready for you each morning. Your dives will be just you and your guides and only minutes from the dock. All the other divers are down in the West End.
My wife and I had not dived in 10 years and Nico was professionally caring and instructive and each dive was more challenging. Just like riding a bike - it all came back. A (new) friend took the Advanced Open Water course with Nico and enjoyed it greatly. This is an exceptional place to train if you are not yet certified or wish to advance. Edward is the local with the most dive experience but content to captain or guide as the need demands. Most all our dives were just the two of us with either Nico, Marek or Edward to guide. They limit the boat to 10 but only our all day trip to Pigeon Cay had 8 with 6 divers and two snorkelers. There is a patch of coral near the dock and worth the snorkel with plenty of lobsters, fish, moray eel and supposedly a turtle though not present for us. It looked like one could kayak out to the reef about 300 yards out but we were content to read, nap, eat, drink and hang out during the breaks.
On assurance that I was a windsurfer, Marek offered the house's (limited) equipment. The wind enticed several attempts but not strong enough to lift my aging bulk for a water-start. Edward and Nico were all over me to help rig.
Kayaks are on the dock ready to go. The ski boat was gone for repair but seemed superfluous. I might have skied on the one calm day just to show these young guys how its done.
Marble Hill Farms only accommodates about a dozen guests on 26 acres. We preferred the Casitas to the tree houses. (Casita #3 is the best but all are pretty comparable). The Casitas are huge. It was explained that the place was designed as a kids summer camp that never took off. These are bunkhouses with a bed on one side and a living room on the other. Walking past, another seemed like it had two bedrooms. #3 has the kitchen and dining area down a flight of stairs in a screened porch and a small empty indoor pool! Wha? Couldn't explain that one.
They mention kite surfing on the website but I was disappointed that it was not on-site. Windsurfing and kite surfing apparently can be arranged 15 minutes further down the road at Paya Bay but I lacked the energy to relocate.
The Crow's Nest Restaurant is the best (and, admittedly the only) choice (unless you wish to cook for yourself - see below). Otherwise, it would mean a dark drive down a rough road home. Cuba runs a great operation. Great but not fancy. The fish soup is the best - my friends all raved about it (along with the other fish dishes) but I am not a fish guy. It is on the expat weekly circuit which says a lot about the quality and, I'd guess, impacts the menu. This is a hard-partying group and easy and fun to engage. My favorite - the Philly Cheese Steak. It ain't Pat's but this is the Caribbean and as good in its special way.
Each of the Casitas have a kitchen with table and chairs. The tree houses are essentially one standard size yurt-type room with kitchenettes. To provision, stop at Eldon's on the road to French Harbor but the road sign to the town is behind a tree coming from the airport. Turn around after you leave town and you will see it on the way back. It is nice to have a few beers or the makings of some Gin and Tonic's for sunsets out on the dock above the dive shop.
We took several road trips further east and had a fun trip to La Sirena for lunch at Camp Bay and another for a hike in the National Park. There is no real beach at MHF. Sunbathing is done on the deck. The Camp Bay public beach (about 15 minutes in second gear) is gorgeous and "not crowded". There were two other people on 1km of beach - but you have to know where the entrance down to the beach starts off the road. You get used to the road and the homemade speed humps. Other than the Canadian ex-pats, this is the local end of the island. It was a joy to see the umbrella shaded ladies going to church and the kids in uniforms going to and from school.
Safety. Don't worry. We read the report (on TA) of folks who thought to enjoy the entire island off of their cruise ship and were accosted at gunpoint on the road in their rental car. On our drive from the airport we were accordingly wary at first but got no sense of any such behavior. On all of our trips, everyone was friendly (including the ex-pats). Go slow and wave (and keep the dust down). Marble Hill has a guard on the grounds at all times that Marek said is really unnecessary - but he acknowledged, perhaps because he is known to be there. On the West End, the police are quite evident but likely only to keep the partying in check.
So, if you want to party with the cruise folks, go to the usual Caribbean entertainments and shop for souvenirs, the West End is a better choice. Now that I think of it, we declared nothing on our Customs form. There was not a souvenir available. If you want to dive and relax and feel a part of a lovely island, Marble Hill Farms is exceptional. There are not many places like this left.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Marble Hill Farms, a rustic eco-lodge, is a 26 acre property situated on the East end of the exotic island of Roatan, Honduras. A peaceful paradise awaits you in the tranquil gardens and startling blue Caribbean waters that encompass the pristine coral reef. Here you will find quiet stillness and natural beauty all around. The sights, sounds and scents of our tropical fruit gardens will be sure to cast their spell as you find yourself captivated by hummingbirds, iguanas and other island creatures that make their home at the farm. Marble Hill Farms is a place for those who are ready to get away from stress and step into a truly relaxing experience. Whether you are dining in the treetops at The Crow’s Nest, diving our playground of coral reef, flying on a kite board, or enjoying a swing in a hammock, you will find yourself leaving behind the frantic pace of your every day life and slowly catching the quiet rhythm of the island. Visit our Facebook page for updates and specials! ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Marble Hill Farms Hotel Roatan
- Marble Hill Farms Roatan, Honduras - Bay Islands