Victor Bodden has a variety of tour activities. If none of them meets your needs, you can design your own "Best of Roatan" tour. We have used his guides for private tours twice, from cruise ships.
First, if you come into Mahogany Bay, you have to walk over the hill to meet your private tour, but there is a $2 a person taxi service from the port, if you so desire. Bodden Tours was waiting for us when we arrived.
Our guide this year, Tex, speaks English as his first language, which was helpful. We had done some research and knew basically what we wanted to do, but took Tex's advice on order and recommendation for lunch and some other sights. He is a native of Roatan and full of information about the culture, history, current economy and lifestyle, most informative.
We went to a school in Punta Gorda first, with three backpacks full of school supplies that we brought down with us. Check www.roatanchildrensfund.com for information on clinics, schools, orphanages that need supplies and volunteer power. There's a link on Victor Bodden's website www.boddentours.com. We went to a school last year with supplies and the "Gracias" we got from children in such need was hugely rewarding; so we decided to do it again. This school is mostly Garifuna children. Every American kid should see this environment so they can appreciate what we have! No electricity, windows with no glass, tables and no chairs, books that are shared and worn beyond belief. But the teachers are dedicated and start the day with songs and upbeat activities to engage the children. School is not mandatory, but those who go are dedicated. We spent about an hour there, then went to an exhibition of the Garifuna culture. This was very contrived for tourists, but interesting nonetheless. We arrived before the main tour group from the cruise ship, so had a chance to chat with the historian and ask a lot of questions.
When we went to the tour company office to pay, we chatted with Victor briefly . His attitude is that there are no strangers, only friends we haven't yet met. He is very dedicated to customer service and satisfaction. Adjacent to the office is another activity that is contrived for tourists, "Victor's Monkey Business." It's a small zoo through which a guide takes you and tells about the caged animals. The highlight is going into big cages with white faced Capuchin monkeys to play. They hop to and fro, landing on your head, neck, shoulders, arms, handbags, whatever, and are really fun. Worth the $5 extra fee.
We saw a lot of other sights on the small island of Roatan, and had a wonderful lunch at a restaurant overlooking Half Moon Bay. Our last stop was at the cameo factory. We didn't buy anything, but were interested in how they are made. The sales girl was part of the owner's family and delightful. She knew we weren't going to buy, but was very friendly and informative.
The cost for the tour was $40 per person, just two of us, for the day. We had our own guide, for a personally designed tour in a comfortable air conditioned van. We did pay for Tex's lunch and tipped him in addition. This is definitely the way to see the most in Roatan, and the guides are friendly, proud of their island and knowledgeable and ready to share with tourists. I'm sure there are other good tour companies as well, but we've had great luck with Bodden Tours two years in a row, so would definitely use them again and recommend them.
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