Here’s my top five of Roatan…
1) Sunsets. Obviously the sunsets have to be top, it happens everyday and never gets any less spectacular. It always looks different depending on where you’re sat, the clouds, etc. I love it and Roatan definitely boasts a few to remember!
2) The beaches. White powdery sand littered with beautiful shells really is the Caribbean dream and you can find it on Roatan. For secluded beaches perfect for skinny dipping head to the East end beaches like Camp Bay. For hustle and bustle and bars and restaurants head to West bay and for a spot of peace and quite where you can survey the beach for conch shells visit Marbella on the North side.
3) Friendliness. Where ever you go on Roatan people love to wave and say hello. I guarantee if you find the biggest, meanest looking local you can, and give him a wave, the tough exterior will turn into a beam of pearly whites and frantic waving.
4)The Rum! Of course this had to feature on the list. Thanks to our good friend Robert Van der Weg, Roatan now has it’s very own rum. Prior to October 2011 Flor De Cana from Nicaragua dominated the rum market on the island but since Robert launched Pirate’s Grog five months ago, Roatan’s rum has changed this. Coupled with some Canada Dry and some freshly picked limes from our lime tree, there really is no better alcoholic beverage… and only time will tell if this rum will ever come to dominate the UK too *positive thinking*
5) Finally, the weather. It has rained, so much in fact a few weeks after worried we were stranded at the house for three days! But most of the time there’s been clear blue skies and bright sunshine, and boy are we glad we didn’t have to endure the British winter. Sporting a golden tan, a bikini and shorts is the way I like to spend December to February!
1) Country music! 100% top of this list. We couldn’t believe it, we flew 5000 miles for reggae and got country, wtf?! Friday and Saturday nights the locals party to Reggaeton and Dancehall, something we endured for the first month or so but after realising our arse shaking wasn’t quite up to scratch and the pain of listening to feedback and horrendous distortion we gave that a miss too. The strong American influence has not only bought a Wendy’s and an Applebee’s to the island but with it came country music and lots of it. Lucky for us we found a little Italian bar that loves to pump out Techno. We even had a special treat when a big Ibiza DJ came to stay for a spot of diving and played a three hour set for free, shame there was only six of us dancing while the rest of the West End headed for Karaoke : |
2) The cuisine. For whatever reason, the island doesn’t have mush of a cuisine. The two things readily available are Baleadas and Pastellitos. After my fifth baleada in my first week, I vowed never to eat another. Choking on chicken bones, picking hairs out and having to cover it with hot sauce to add taste is not my idea of a meal. If you’re interested in giving it a go, it’s pretty much the only thing served in any local restaurant and consists of a tortilla, mushed refried beans and tasteless island cheese. My advice would be to try out the pastellitos, more like a cornish pasty but again avoid the chicken, unless you don’t mind choking on a bone, and go for the Carne (mince) Keep your eye out for a barbecue street stall, this is about the only tolerable island food where you can pick up a piece of fried pork, some potato salad, baked beans and a tortilla for £3.
3) Cruise ships. The island has enough space for four cruise ships to dock, this means thousands of cruise shippers pour onto land for around six hours from Monday to Friday. Not only is this an inconvenience traffic-wise and everywhere generally being more busy, but it’s having a devastating effect on the reef. The reef circles the entire island and to get these boats in they have cut large chunks of it away which means the reef will continue to die as it spreads along from where they’ve cut. People all argue over whether it’s beneficial, money-wise they’re bringing mass tourism which means more money for infrastructure, schools etc but in reality only a small amount of this actually filters down to the locals. The prices have become sky-high, to the point where we struggled to afford many things, let alone the islanders who make $15 to $100 per week.
4) The internet. This caused us huge issues when we arrived as a couple of companies have a monopoly. There’s often disputes over tower space which we result in satellites being pulled down so signal comes and goes in different areas. There’s no landline connection so modems are the answer, but with an allowance of 5GB per month for around £18 it was a nightmare.
5) Weird people. This made our stay very enjoyable in some cases but it’s safe to say Roatan has it’s fair share of nutters. From being padlocked in a house with a machete wielding mad-man to strange sexual requests it’s been eventful to say the least. If they’re not outright crazy they’re running away from something, escaping a dark past or broken relationships. On the plus side we’ve definitely found our spot to hide out if everything goes Pete Tong.
And.. The Achieved
1) As most of you know we have completed the Advanced Diver course which was at the top of our list of must-dos whilst travelling. We totally fell in love with diving, we went as deep at 40m, visited a shipwreck, fumbled through a night dive and have seen creatures we’d only seen on a David Attenborough show. This would be our most recommended activity for anyone visiting Roatan.
2) I’ve grown my eyebrows back! After getting my hands on a pair of tweezers at the tender age of 13, I was left with half an eyebrow, one worse than the other. So after a massive commitment of four months and no plucking I now have two full eyebrows again. Yipee!
3) Podemos hablar un poco de español. Believe or not we are finally getting there, we can understand numbers when we’re asked to pay for things, we can order dinner in a restaurant and general other useful things. And if all else fails hand signals will help you figure it out. We’ll be stopping in Nicaragua for six weeks as the lovely Ollie Ryan will be heading out in April, so for the next month we’ll be taking lessons in Leon and Granada to make sure we have a decent grasp before hitting Colombia.
4) A business. Having drunk our fair share of rum (x10) since hitting the Caribbean we decided it was only right we try and make this a productive activity. Thus we’ve spent many hours with the owner, writing a business plan, researching and setting up the manufacturing process in the UK and brainstorming marketing ideas. We even got creative with the camera and made our first few marketing shots. Coconut? Haha maybe not!
5) Now this one isn’t strictly true but we’re getting there… Our fear of spiders and millipedes has been conquered! We faced hundred of millipedes who liked to shelter in the garage when it rained and would occasionally wander in under the front door. And as you’ve seen we’ve also faced a lot of tarantulas, although the preferred method is to smash them to pieces rather than pick them up and throw them outside – we’re still working on this one!