Written by ext212 on 13 Jun, 2006
What we will find during our stay in Roatan is mediocre food with prices comparable to New York City. Each bill comes with a 10% tax and a steep 12% service charge. We tried five restaurants during our 4-day stay before we gave up and…Read More
What we will find during our stay in Roatan is mediocre food with prices comparable to New York City. Each bill comes with a 10% tax and a steep 12% service charge. We tried five restaurants during our 4-day stay before we gave up and hired a water taxi driver to take us fishing so that we can catch some fish. If we can’t get a decent meal on the island, well, we just have to get it ourselves! Here's a quick rundown of the restaurants we tried:Forster’sWest BayAs soon as we checked in Bananarama, we walked on the beach in search of our first Honduran meal. We found it at Foster’s down the beach. The fried red snapper was perfectly crisp coated in a light batter and served with a simple salad of iceberg lettuce and tomatoes. The rice was fluffy and the beans filling. The conch ceviche was so delicious; I don’t think it lasted on our table for more than five minutes after it was served. Our bill came out to more than $30 with two beers—a little pricey for two dishes but the food was pretty good that we didn’t mind. Everything was going well until our waiter returned to ask for more money. We pointed out that we already included the 12% service charge but he argued that the 12% goes to the cook, not to him. Ahhh, our first night in Honduras and the local is already trying to screw us over. How endearing and how awful it is for the more honest and humble waiters on the island. Bertie’s CreoleWest EndWalking around in the heat left us hungry for lunch before 11am. The local Honduran spots recommended by the water taxi driver were still closed so we ended up at Bertie’s Creole right in front of the small rotunda on the main street of West End. Bertie’s second floor space was our respite from the sun. Unfortunately, the menu had nothing Creolan at all. We ordered fried chicken for $8 and fish soup for $5. The chicken tasted like a chicken McNugget and the soup looked like a Cup Noodle with fish bits in it. The restaurant at the Mayan Princess ResortWest BayThe Mayan Princess is one of the concrete buildings along Roatan’s West Bay. All of the resort’s facilities are for guest use only but they open the restaurant to the public. We decided to avoid the fried chicken because we didn’t want another one that looked like a fast food meal so we ordered the $9 Cuban sandwich and the plate of penne pasta for $8. (The waiter didn’t know what pasta I wanted until he asked me if I was thinking of the “penny” pasta.) The Cuban sandwich was pretty good although I could barely call any food “dinner” especially when it’s held together by a toothpick. The pasta, well, let’s just say the resort didn’t have an Italian grandmother cooking in the kitchen. La PalapaWest BayFrom the same owners of the condo being built right behind it, La Palapa is the quintessential island bar on the beach with the no-nonsense bartenders who can make you fruit drinks spiked with the cheapest liquor. When you’re on island mode, you can’t ask for anything else; anything cold is good enough to drink.You can order burgers, fries, fried plantains, or chips with homemade salsa with your beer. But what earned La Palapa points from this discerning reviewer is how they cooked our fresh fish for us to eat with our beers. We asked the owners if we could ask their chef to cook for us and they only told us to make sure we tip her nicely. Funny enough that when we asked the cook, she told us to ask the owner since she doesn’t know if she can use the kitchen’s oil and gas for food not sold at the bar. We brought two freshly caught red snappers one time for lunch and a grouper for dinner the next day. Both were done so well that La Palapa became our default bar to go to for lunch, some time in the afternoon, during sunset, and after dinner. Good customer service goes so far for me even on Roatan. Tamales LadyWest EndOkay, it’s not a restaurant but a lady walking around West End carrying a basket full of what she calls tamales. They aren’t exactly tamales because instead of masa wrapped in corn husks, she used soft tortillas to wrap chicken, beans and cheese. For 35 limpiras, or $3, for three pieces, I couldn’t have asked for anything more. We sat under a tree on the beach and ate three of them under three minutes. My only problem is that I didn’t find her until our very last day.Fried Chicken LadyWest EndIs it a restaurant if the lady cooking at the grill is under a tent? After eating stuffed tortillas, we walked around to get a drink. We came across the white tent in front of the Baptist church on West End and watched the lady grill chicken legs. She was selling them for 75 limpiras, about $4, with a plate of rice and beans and a small Coke. Next to her grill was a plastic table and a couple of chairs. I sat on one of the chairs and my boyfriend positioned himself on top of a crate to eat—the other Honduran lady reading the gossip pages of the local paper couldn’t be bothered to get up so we could eat on the table. It’s okay, though, because the chicken was finally the Central American chicken I’ve been craving the last few days.Velva’sWest EndThis was the restaurant our water taxi driver recommended to us when we asked him where we can get local Honduran food. For our last night, we caught it open for business. The menu is more varied than the other restaurants on the island—their snappers were available blackened (seared in very hot oil) or in tomatillo sauce (a Central American version of Provencal with tomatoes and onions)—that’s two more choices from the usual “fried”! We ordered both but to my chagrin, the waitress told me they ran out of fish the same time she served me the replacement: shrimps. If she told me that they didn’t have any more fish beforehand, I would have ordered something else because I’m not a big fan of shrimps. Alas, I’m a tourist just like everyone else, so I sucked it up and ate it. The blackened fish was on the salty side. We were fighting for the potatoes and the boiled carrots to avoid high blood pressure after dinner. Close
Written by SaraP on 08 Sep, 2006
Your alternatives to Roatan are Utila (c29 km) or Guanaja (c70 km) from the Honduras mainland port of La Ceiba.
Both are of course also surrounded by vast coral reefs with prolific undersea life and diving/snorkeling is their mainstay for visitors. Utila is known the…Read More
Your alternatives to Roatan are Utila (c29 km) or Guanaja (c70 km) from the Honduras mainland port of La Ceiba.
Both are of course also surrounded by vast coral reefs with prolific undersea life and diving/snorkeling is their mainstay for visitors. Utila is known the smallest of the major islands in the group and claims to the least expensive. They were "discovered" by Columbus in the early 1500s and later settled by Cayman Islanders (which is partly why both Spanish and English are spoken there). Guanaja has no roads and locals travel by boat, including a channel which islanders call, "the cut", allowing access from the south side to the north without having to go all the way around.
Utila claims to have over 60 different scuba diving sites, including caves and numerous wrecks (such as the famous "Halliburton"), and is also famous for divers encountering whale sharks when they migrate past the islands (the whale shark is the world's largest fish at 12-18m, a slow-moving and harmless zooplankton, snapper egg, and shrimp eating fish which grows up to which is quite majestic to behold close up.
At the SW end of Utila are a small collection of tiny islands, some just 100 feet across and 1-2 feet above sea level. The 2 main Cays, Suc-Suc (Pigeon) and Jewel Cay, are inhabited by local fisherman and the descendants of the Cayman original settlers who arrived here from in 1836.
There’s a regular passenger ferry running twice a day from La Ceiba or you can fly on one of several daily flights (not all of which are direct).
Both islands are far less developed than Roatan and don’t have the same numbers of chain outlets or large-scale hotels (though there are some luxury resorts and their number is increasing quite fast). You’re much more likely to hook up with a local than a new-ish arrival as most are run by local families or people living here.
Written by dcrates on 20 Feb, 2006
We had the fortunate experience of staying at The Sante Wellness Center over Christmas, 2005. We arrived there by a short boat ride (2 minutes) from across the bay where Leon, one of the owners of the Center, greeted us and picked us up. Once…Read More
We had the fortunate experience of staying at The Sante Wellness Center over Christmas, 2005. We arrived there by a short boat ride (2 minutes) from across the bay where Leon, one of the owners of the Center, greeted us and picked us up. Once at the center, what first struck us was the peacefulness and solitude of the location. Only birds and waves crashing could be heard. Fortunately, we were the only ones there for the week, so we had the pick of the place to stay. We choose a larger room nearer the pool and shoreline and attached to the main house. Excellent choice as the sunsets were great from the hammock and the friendly house dogs would come to greet you daily. Parrots and toucans squawked regularly to remind you that you were in the tropics. Snorkeling was absolutely the best from this location, since we were the only ones on this beach. Complete solitude and beauty.The Center caters to cruise ship people coming to visit the island for the day. Regardless, our accommodations made us feel like we were visiting a close friend's home, or relatives. The room was very clean with all the comforts of home. The staff was well trained and very courteous. We never once felt pushed or rushed in the midst of people coming and going for treatments.The spa itself is first run, and could hold itself to any spa of this kind in the United States. I had a full body massage by the professionally trained staff, and I never have felt better. My girlfriend had several treatments, including Thai Massage and facial treatments that were like heaven to her.Angela, a co-owner with Leon, is an excellent hostess and always provided what we wanted, and allowed ample privacy always. We had several meals at the Center, and they were excellent! Incredible BBQ shrimp, hearty breakfasts, and drinks were always available.Their knowledge of the island is indispensable and if you need a suggestion on activities, they are right there with the real scoop on a location's value.All in all this was an excellent, relaxing trip.http://www.santewellnesscenter.com/ Close
Written by swylie17 on 24 Jan, 2005
Like I said in the overview, it rained, A LOT. We literally had a total of 6 hours of sunshine - for the entire week! The rest of the trip was cloudy and rainy. We knew it was rainy season, but give…Read More
Like I said in the overview, it rained, A LOT. We literally had a total of 6 hours of sunshine - for the entire week! The rest of the trip was cloudy and rainy. We knew it was rainy season, but give me a break! The locals confirmed that it was raining more than usual, and to make it worse, the three days before we got there and the day we left were gorgeous. Oh well, that just reconfirms that I really want to go back, just not during rainy season!
This island has one paved road, no stoplights, and no streetlights. While there were some bigger houses, most of the island seemed to be poor. We arrived after dark, and I must admit, we were really worried about what we had gotten into. The cab took us from the airport to our cabanas, and at night it looked like we were in the middle of nowhere! Once we arrived at our cabanas, all doubts were removed when we looked out from our deck over the ocean.
Roatan is a diver's paradise. There are more dive outfits than anything else on the island. I believe the saying is, "Diving put Roatan on the map." We choose to go with Coconut Tree Divers. They were a great group. We were staying at Coconut Tree Resorts, so our dives were $15 a piece! That is an unbelievable price. That included all of the equipment rentals as well. I think the dives are only $20 if you’re not staying at the resort. My brother and sister got certified there for $150 each, including the dives! Anyone that has gotten certified knows how great of a deal that is.
Other than diving, we did a canopy tour, which was a tour through the jungle and down to the beach via zip lines. It was a lot of fun. I recommend doing this - and bringing your camera.
There was also a lot of shopping along the streets of West End. There were small family-owned shops with all kinds of wood carvings, cigars, hammocks, T-shirts, etc. We picked up a few gifts and souvenirs there.
One day we rented scooters and went exploring around the island. This was great! We stopped off for lunch, snacks, pictures, and groceries on different parts of the island. Scooters are probably the best way to get around the island.
Whenever I do get back to Roatan, it will probably not be on a family vacation again. This island is really geared towards scuba diving. My family did have a great time (even with all the rain), but we wouldn't go back for a family trip. While I did enjoy where I stayed and who I dove with, I would probably try Anthony's Resort if I went back. I stopped by that resort, which seemed really nice. I didn't compare prices, so I am not sure of the price difference.
If you are looking for a scuba diving trip, I think Roatan has to be considered. The reefs are fantastic and there is a great culture to enjoy on the island.
Written by beachlover1952 on 03 Apr, 2006
We have been to Cozumel and the Hawaiian Islands. The water and snorkeling in West Bay Beach has them all beat. The clear, calm water and the close proximity to the second largest reef in the world makes this one of the best places to…Read More
We have been to Cozumel and the Hawaiian Islands. The water and snorkeling in West Bay Beach has them all beat. The clear, calm water and the close proximity to the second largest reef in the world makes this one of the best places to snorkel for the novice and the experienced. You can simply swim 50 yards or so and start snorkeling your way to the reef, where there is a drop-off wall about 100 to 150 yards out. You can also take a kayak out with friends in tow and snorkel as well. The reef is so lively and the fish are abundant. The key is that you are not elbow to elbow with tourists. Close
Three adults and four teens got open-water certified in 5 days, and it was a blast. We used Reef Gliders in West End, and they were great. The price was $200 per person, which is a bargain. I can not imagine a better or easier…Read More
Three adults and four teens got open-water certified in 5 days, and it was a blast. We used Reef Gliders in West End, and they were great. The price was $200 per person, which is a bargain. I can not imagine a better or easier place to get certified. They water was sooo calm, and the dives were very close to shore as the reef is right there. Awesome experience. We saw HUGE schools of fish, green sea turtles, as well as Morey eels. Visibility was great. Close
Written by sendtobrad on 22 Jun, 2005
Well, I imagine that if you are looking into going to Roatan, you already know that the diving is good. I did my first wreck dive and really enjoyed it. The only site I liked better was the Palancar Reef, and it is probably only…Read More
Well, I imagine that if you are looking into going to Roatan, you already know that the diving is good. I did my first wreck dive and really enjoyed it. The only site I liked better was the Palancar Reef, and it is probably only because it was my first really nice reef dive. Phil and I both took courses and were both really impressed with the level of service and knowledge of the staff. We also had the photos in this review taken by a diver who regularly works with this agency, and I highly recommend him. The photos speak for themselves. You can contact Coconut Tree divers at firstname.lastname@example.org or divingonroatan.com. Close
If you like just relaxing on the beach and watching sunsets and frolicking in the water, this is the place for you. The sand is white limestone, and the water is warm and clear as a pool. On most days we would take our lounge…Read More
If you like just relaxing on the beach and watching sunsets and frolicking in the water, this is the place for you. The sand is white limestone, and the water is warm and clear as a pool. On most days we would take our lounge chairs and place them in the water just off the shore line... other times we just floated in tubes and rafts with drinks in hand, with the Ipod playing tunes, off the beach. Close