Honduras was our third port of call on our Carnival Cruise and another unexpected one, as our itinerary kept changing when the ship had another hurricane to avoid. It was funny because when we first received the letter with the changes the Wednesday had ‘Isla Roatan, Mohogany Bay’…. Yeah but what country is that?!? When we managed to get wi-fi on board we googled and realised we’ll be going to Honduras. The Honduras mainland has a reputation for being a dangerous place, with gang violence and robberies, I wondered if that had something to do with them not mentioning the country?
Isla Roatan never felt unsafe to us, it’s a small island of about 90 thousand that relies on tourism and has a large police presence. Their first language is English so organising our day was easy.
When our ship docked at Mahogany Bay we headed up to the top deck to have a look; it was gorgeous. The weather was perfect and from the ship we could see lush jungle along the coastline and how crystal clear the ocean was. After breakfast we left the ship and headed away from the port after a good tour or transport deal. There were people everywhere answering questions and offering transport. We ended up hiring a van and driver and we could go anywhere we wanted. It cost us $40USD per person, there were 6 of us on the cruise, so all up that was a lot of money for 7 hour van hire (this was port #3 so we’d learnt fast that everyone seemed to inflate the prices for anyone coming off a cruise ship).
Anyway, we got our van and all jumped in, then a lady followed us on and asked “can I sit here”? We were like “Yeh”, but all kind of looking at each other as if to say, “but who the hell is she”!!!! Then she introduced herself as our guide or “babysitter”, she explained she’s here to help us throughout the day, answer questions and make sure we are back in time for the ships departure. There was never any mention of a guide, nor did we want one, but the van was already moving and we didn’t have the heart to tell her “mmm no thanks, out you go”.
How we spent our day:
Daniel Johnson’s Monkey & Sloth Hang Out.
We had found this place on Trip Advisor, it was in the top 10 things to do in Roatan and also mentioned that we could hold a sloth. Amazing! No way we were going to miss that. Daniel Johnson’s Monkey & Sloth Hang Out is a small recuse centre for exotic animal, some of these animals used to be people’s pets or have been brought over from the mainland after their habitat was destroyed by deforestation. This was a beautiful place that didn’t at all feel like a zoo, the staff really appreciated the animals and aimed to educate all visitors on each species and why they ended up there. They have 7 three-toed sloths on the property, none of which are kept in cages. They roam free in the mangroves, being the world’s slowest mammal’s the staff weren’t too worried about them disappearing. This is also one of the only places in Central America that you can actually hold a sloth. After we’d seen all the animals, one of the staff picked up one of the sloths from the trees and brought him over. I was so excited, I’d never seen one in real life before and they were so gorgeous, they almost looked fake. We were told how to position our hands, then one at a time we each got a little cuddle.
Entry was $10USD per person and the money goes back to improving the animals enclosures and feeding them. I highly recommend visiting, this park was lovely and not at all like one of those horrible ‘for profit’ animal parks.
From there we drove 40 mins to West Bay Beach. This is said to be one of the best beaches on the island. The beach is lined with all-inclusive resorts and was full of tourists. Access to the beach was via the resorts, we paid $10 to enter though one and there were a few different packages to choose from. Ours included use of the deck chairs, toilets, shower and of course the beach (but not the pool).
Along Roatan lies the second largest coral reef in the world, so we were excited to check it out. The Snorkelling right in front of the resort wasn’t very good, Lawrence and I swam straight out but only saw grass. We had a bit of the swim and sun-bake then decide to get a boat to take us out to the reef. All along the beach were people selling activities and tours, plus a few little market stalls. We paid $10USD each for a boat to take us to a good snorkelling spot, for as long as we wanted. After leaving the beach we quickly realised we had been ripped off (of course the guy who took our money wasn’t in the boat). The boat literally went further up the beach and stayed very close to the shore. **Hot Tip** all you need to do is walk up the beach to the Grand Roatan Caribbean Resort and swim straight out (as long as you’re an ok swimmer, it’s very manageable), no boat required and you’ll have saved yourself $60. This was so annoying because it was very dishonest, they obviously would have known we didn’t need a boat but failed to mention that. But I know… it’s a poor country and they have to make a living somehow!!
Thankfully this snorkelling spot was incredible. Great visibility, so many fish and the brightest coral. It was a massive area with a big drop off. Really awesome.
Throughout the day we found we were constantly pulling money out, more so than the other cruise ports and this got very frustrating. Our guide was lovely though and it was great to learn from her about Honduras. At one point she had been telling my mum that she doesn’t get a wage, just relies on tips and actually has to pay the van company $10 for them to allow her to be a guide to their customers. So then we felt bad and made sure we gave her a good tip.
I feel Roatan wouldn’t be like the ‘real’ Honduras, just a little tourism bubble, but we all had a fun day and I defiantly recommend getting out and exploring the island. It was very safe and easy enough to get around. If you didn’t want to venture out far from the ship, the cruise terminal was massive. There were heaps of shops and also a resort which cost $10 to enter.