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2017 vacation: Roatán Honduras

On previous trips to Honduras, we heard people constantly singing the praises of Roatán as a snorkeling/scuba diving/vacation paradise. We don't do scuba, but snorkeling and vacationing sound good. So we chose Roatán as our destination to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary. We stayed in the Grand Roatan Resort in West Bay.

Snorkeling, West Bay beach.
The coral reef is right off shore in West Bay, and the resorts are right next to the beach. So the first day I just waded out from the beach and was in the middle of coral and fish. This video was shot maybe 50 feet off shore, in water about 10 feet deep. So, great views of coral and fish with some pretty easy snorkeling.

The maps show an area called "Mandy's eel garden," which has eels (obviously) and bigger fish. People we asked didn't know much about it. We eventually found out that it's farther out, where the reef drops off and becomes much deeper. We didn't do that: sounds like it requires either Scuba or really experienced snorkelers. At dinner we heard divers talking about seeing barracuda and other big fish, so sounds like it's really great if you're into that sort of thing.

Snorkeling trip - coral1.
We also took a snorkeling trip: boat from the beach at West Bay, past West End, not too far from the dolphin place at This was a spot maybe 1/2 mile offshore, where the coral seems to go on forever. The coral ranges from almost at the surface to 10 to 20 feet deep here. So just swimming on the surface you get great closeup views of the coral and the fish. A few times I had to stop and plan a course to get over and through the coral without bumping into it. Bumping into it is something you really don't want to do, both to preserve the coral and to avoid injury.

One word of caution here: the water here isn't very deep, but it is too deep to stand up in. The tour took us several hundred feet from the boat, so you really need to be comfortable with swimming and using snorkeling gear. If you have any misgivings, be sure to talk to the tour operator about floation aids before you sign up.

Capuchin monkeys in Gumbalimba park.

Just down the road from West Bay is Gumbalimba Park They picked us up at the resort, and had a guided tour of the park. There are lots of iguanas, parrots, and capuchin monkeys. We have photos of parrots sitting on our shoulders, and monkeys climbing and jumping on us. For the park tour, we were grouped with a woman from California, her son in a stroller, and her father from China. Not sure I would want to drag a stroller through a park like that, but they managed without much trouble. It was fun to watch the son's reaction to seeing the parrots and monkeys up close.

Jumping capuchin monkeys in Mayan Eden.
We signed up for a driving tour, to see the rest of the island, beyond just the beaches. One of the stops on that tour was Mayan Eden or

More monkeys! Got a great video of a monkey jumping from one person to another. They feel surprisingly light when they land, even though they are jumping several feet - maybe a mechanical engineer would like to study how they use their tails and such to control their flight and landing.

We were part of a group of 4 for this tour: the other couple were honeymooners from Costa Rica. One of the monkeys pretty much adopted Victor. After this jumping video it decided to just stay on his shoulder through the rest of the park tour. We finally had to take it off when we got back to the car to continue the trip.

The coffee critter in Mayan Eden.

Still at Mayan Eden, this is what I call the "coffee critter." They "process" the coffee beans for "Cafe Luwak", as described here:", in case you're interested.

Flamingo Cultural Center.

Before the trip, we heard about the Flamingo Cultural Center, so we contacted them and arranged a tour and visit. Audrey Flores, the director, was very helpful and set things up. The center is devoted to helping the Garifuna people and preserving knowledge of their culture.

This video is of Audrey showing Ginny how to grate cassava root using a traditional grater made from a piece of wood with embedded sharp rocks. Ginny thought it worked as well as or better than the graters we use. Audrey showed us the whole long process of turning cassava into bread.

Mangrove tunnel tour.

Audrey also arranged for Richard McNab ( to pick us up at the resort and give us a tour of the area. We really enjoyed the tour: Richard's ancestors have been on the island for many generations, so he knows the history (and is related to a high percentage of the population). It was really interesting to hear about the history and see the non-touristy parts of Roatán. Part of the tour was a boat ride along the coast, including the mangrove tunnel.

About the pirate history on Roatán.

And Richard is on TV! The travel channel has a series "Caribbean Pirate Treasure," in which Ashlan and Philippe Cousteau cruise around the Caribbean looking at pirate-related stuff. The episode "Roatan's Lost Pirate Treasure" is about the local legends of buried-found-reburied pirate treasure still hidden somewhere on the island. This snippet is Richard telling us about the show.

After we got home we found that it originally aired on 9/27/17, but we were able to download and watch it from on-demand. Richard shows up for a lot of the middle part of the show. Great views of the eastern part of the island (that we didn't get to visit) and nearby reef. Spoiler: they didn't find the treasure.

Other videos are available on my Youtube account at

Last modified $Date: 2017/11/10 15:19:51 $