Roatan, Honduras is increasing in popularity. This was evident on my last trip to Roatan as I strolled down West Bay beach among many glistening bodies catching the sun and waves. Granted the majority were probably from the cruise ships, but it still felt crowded. Same with West End. Since the road has been paved it just doesn’t seem so laid back. Although I had flown into the airport several times, visited the ferry terminal, and had a beer in Sandy Bay, most of my time in the past was spent West.
Roatan is huge. Over 30 miles long and 5 miles at its widest, I had only seen less than a few miles at best. This trip I was determined to explore Roatan’s Other Side.
After scanning some reviews, I decided to stay at Clarion Suites Roatan at Pineapple Villas for a few nights and then take it from there. This hotel is situated about mid-island (from the paved-road perspective) near French Harbor. Very reasonably priced, it is a full service hotel, residential condo complex complete with onsite amenities including spa and 2 restaurants. It is not on the beach. But I was done with the beach-for now. A quick ride from the airport landed me at reception. I chose to stay in a one bedroom condo-poolside.
After a quick dip, I scoped out the rest of the place. In a four story “clubhouse” of sorts, were a spa, which included work-out facility, sauna, steam room, and hot tub, not to mention the salon and massage room. Outdoor pools looked like something from a magazine. Nice. Up one floor was a restaurant, the Pineapple Grill, and top floor was Herby’s Sports Bar. Well I was floored. This sports bar was something I would have never expected in Roatan, or anywhere for that matter. I saw a Guinness on tap and decided to stay for a minute and watch the game. I grabbed a turkey wrap and headed back to the condo to chill out and sit by my own personal waterfall.
The next day I rented a car to explore. The front desk made the arrangements and the car was delivered. I was headed East. With only one main road, Roatan is fairly easy to navigate. I turned down every road and came to a few dead ends, a few resorts, and a few fishing villages. One had a small white church reminiscent of Little House on the Prairie. One had a rickety dock serving fish and rice and beans where you could feed the turtles they were raising in a pen. A few remote roads led to smaller beach-side resorts like Camp Bay. A few rooms and a private secluded beach with no other buildings as far as the eye can see gave the feeling of utter remoteness and is probably what the West used to look like. At the very end of the road was Port Royal. An uninhabited harbor with an abandoned house on a small hill overlooking the water.
From there I could make out the tip of the East End and see Roatan’s “other islands” Barbareta, Morat, and Helene. I made a mental note to look into exploring these islands on another trip. On my way back to my condo, I turned into Oak Ridge to have a late lunch at BJ’s, a restaurant that kept coming up in conversations. So I checked it out. Lionfish on the menu! Had to try it and help promote serving lionfish. If you don’t know about the invasive lionfish read more here. After filling my belly, I headed back to relax in the hot tub before calling it a day.
I returned poolside to collect my thoughts and plan my next few days based on my explorations. My itinerary included chilling at Little French Key, diving at Camp Bay, and a round of golf next door. At the end of the week all were checked off my list. Little French Key was amazing and exceeded my expectations. Although I am not an avid golfer, I partake now and again and the Black Pearl was immaculate. Diving was similar to sites on the West side but with the knowledge that few people explore there gave a new feeling to the experience.
I have now become a convert. Roatan has turned into a much larger place for me to explore. Not only an island paradise for relaxing on the beach, but for exploring, speaking broken Spanish, and enjoying the duality of East and West.
To inquire about Little French Key see http://www.littlefrenchkey.com/
For booking your golf outing http://www.pristinebayresort.com/
and diving at Camp Bay http://www.campbayresort.com/.
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