May1st for 11 days to West Bay, Roatan staying at Paradise Oceanic, which is the high rise building of the Paradise complex. Kudos to manager Marvin at the front desk for a great job at explaining everything and making things happen that needed attention!
I will post a separate review on snorkeling/scuba at West Bay as well as a Picasa web album incl video clips.
This is the newest resort facility on the island, adjoining Bananarama and Infinity Bay resort/condo. High rise with 32 modest rooms w/balcony,
no frills (think Best Western)...small bathroom, little storage, only 2 double beds even though site and billing shows 2 queen <sigh>.
Hotel provides sm frig w/ refillable water bottles...bring a nalgene and 2# sealed ice mix + snacks.
Breakfast buffet included was very decent, but same every day, incl omelet station. They need to cool juices w/o diluting with ice.
For all inclusive (liquer incl) they have three buffets except when low occupancy where you eat at bar/grill select menu.
Liquor on island has 18%tax but typically included in advertised prices at bars.
Fifth floor hosts bar + grill, sheltered pool, great view, nice breeze
Commentary on lack of elevator 1/2 true...mid week they did have it running.
Restaurant is air conditioned, 10yr old, modern and poolside.
Grounds on older Paradise Beach nicely maintained, construction started on new fancy pool (see facebook).
They currently have 8 villas (very large), 16 suites, 16 reg rooms in Beach section.
They will be tearing down three villas near new pool, and building new ?high rise (s).
The hotel is situated on the nicest section of the beach. They have lounge chairs and kayaks available in front of beach B&G.
It is a short walk to the south part of the beach that has fantastic snorkeling. If you ask at the beach bar, they will give you
the password for free wifi (like most eateries) so you can relax in a lounge and check your email.
The two pools are very nice, not very large but certainly pleasant and both have lounges and tables around them.
Palapas available for shade on beach.
The room costs are low, but facility is upscale compared to cheapest "bungalows" nearby.
Older Paradise Beach is 10% less cost, but well maintained, and upgraded with whisper quiet A/C.
List price on all-inclusive upgrade (incl drinks, but breakfast is already incl) is unreasonable ($500pp), but deals on vacation express is viable.
NOTE on locality:
The resorts here are NOT mega-resorts ala Riviera Maya, etc.
They are all on small lots but you are never far walk from beach.
Some have no pools, let alone swim up bars, no "recreation staff" for aerobics, beach games, nor sailboats/windsurfers, no fancy shows, limited bar menu,
few manicured gardens, and most restaurants are open air (some with paddle fans) at the beach while it is hot and humid all year round.
Some threads complained about beach hawkers, but we found them courteous and pleasant.
There were also negative comments on heavily armed guards all over the beach, which we feel is a great overstatement.
Yes, there are a few security personnel and a few local police around only on occassion, and only a few had sidearms...it is NOT a police state as some had implied.
Most beach side restaurants have daily meal specials and happy hour drinks @ 1/2 price or local beers @$2 vs $3 reg price.
Bucket of 5 beers + ice typically $12 all day.
A meal here consists of the main course and two sides, limited to same six items...forget bread/rolls...or water for that matter.
Remember that local food is cheap ie lobster tails, shrimp, snapper.
Best meal at Paradise B&G deal is Sunday bbq/2, incl 2 beer $27 + 15% tax. Thisty Turtle had 1/2 rack ribs @2/$25 +tx,
whereas Beacher's was our favorite overall and always incl tx....diff nights: two lobster tails + free cocktail @$16, three lobster tails $18, whole fish $12.
Foster's was second best with bbq/2 @$16 + tx (or bbq/4@$35...go figure ???), shrimp @$12 +tx, two tacos/salad w/beer /2 for $16 +tx.
Bottom line...you can get dinner <$20 incl drink and bring snacks for lunch, since lunch menus will cost $10+.
CAUTION: We used Discovercard ( no international transaction fee) and although the exchange rate was 19l/$ last year (until Dec), they locally use 21l/$ (0.048) now,
but the bank rate is actually at 19.1 (0.052), so we got charged extra 10% over the advertised prices... a ripoff!
Check rates at http://www.xe.com/currencycharts/?from=HNL&to=USD&view=1Y
Bottom line: use cash to get US$ advertised rates and remember that the official tipping rate is 10%.
For snacks, we brought (all sealed pkgs) Sam's granola bar pkg, 2 # peanuts, box cheeseits, ice tea, etc....local banana chips were great!
Most nights there are live bands, fire show, trivia, etc along the beach.....but everything gets rolled up after 9pm...take water taxi ($3.00pp) to West End for night life, but you need taxi to get you home, since water taxis have no nav lights.
Now to the prime activity.... the beach!
Smooth white sand going out 50+ feet w/o any coral shards to beat up your feet. Water was calm as a lake 90% of daytime and the sun shines with breeze blowing along the beach.
From the dock nearby at Infinity south to Black Rock, there is a series of reefs and channels starting about 150ft from shore only 4ft deep, leading out to the final wall
reef about 150+yds out. Depths vary from near the surface to 40+ft deep.
The area for snorkeling extends another 1/2mi past Black Rock to the southernmost point of Roatan, or in other terms, 100's of acres of snorkeling reef. There are numerous scuba dive
operators from Las Rocas at the north end to Infinity at the southern end.
Search on scubaboard.com for details/reviews/recommendations on dive ops and divesights.
While standing on the dock, I have never seen such crystal clear water, nor such an expanse of shallow continuous reef close to shore.
For those wanting thrill ride besides the water taxis to West End, there are parasailing, fishing excursions, whale shark snorkeling 20 miles away at Utilla ($250 pp), sailboat sunset
cruise w/open bar, snorkeling trips by boat (why bother??)
To be quite honest, if you don't snorkel or scuba dive, and all you want is clean white sand, I can't see why you'd want to come to Roatan.
There is no siteseeing to speak of, a rinky dink airport (walk from tarmac, one screening station), expensive for what you get, much better deals/accommodations/food elsewhere at lower price. That said, about 95% of patrons do NOT snorkel, much to the surprise of fellow divers.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Paradise Oceanic Hotel: Sandy white beaches; relaxing on sun-loungers under cooling parasols, served by Cayuco Beach Bar & Restaurant. Inviting, cobalt Caribbean; gentle sea breezes, tropical gardens. Plunge pool; sipping chilled Champagne at The View, Roatan’s only rooftop bar, overlooking the glorious West Bay Beach. Refreshing Mojitos; seafood platters, fine dining. Snorkelling and scuba-diving right from the beach. Doing nothing at all: Your Freedom to Choose at the Hidden Jewel of the Caribbean! ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Paradise Oceanic Hotel Roatan, Bay Islands, Honduras