Saturday, June 15, 2013


I'm using this site now for updates on the Honduras and Guatemala adventures of 3 retired girlfriends - Susie, Jennifer, and Stacey - and (for the 1st week) 2 Mikes. Here's our itinerary as it stands now (you can click on it to make it bigger).

1st stop: the island of ROATÁN which sits on the 2nd largest reef system in the world. We like the other main Bay Islands off Honduras, too - Utila and Guanaja - but on Utila there's not much to do if you're not diving or fishing, the beaches are not as nice, and it's more difficult to access snorkeling from shore. Guanaja is harder to get to and significantly more expensive with limited lodging options.

Roatán is a large, mountainous island just over an hour by ferry from La Ceiba. Many of the locals are expats or caucasian descendants of pirates and English is widely spoken. Most days are sunny and clear in June since the rainy season tends to start in the fall.
There are beautiful beaches,
rural roads with colorful wooden houses,
built up areas with resorts and fancy condos, rough-around-the-edges local towns, and cute touristy towns with streets lined with restaurants, shops, and dive companies.
There are secluded areas, too, and other spots of interest including an iguana farm

and the Carambola Reserve, a great place to hike through indigenous forest with beautiful views of the water from the top.
There's a Garifuna village called Punta Gorda that provides cultural shows, 

Gumbalimba Adventure Park which has a variety of wildlife and adventure options including a large zipline tour, and Anthony's Key Resort which has dolphin interaction activities and a small Roatán history museum. 

One new activity I'm looking forward to is steel drum lessons at Steel Pan Alley

There are more ideas and links here.

For me, Roatán is mostly about relaxing and being in the water - the beaches are beautiful, the snorkeling from shore is amazing, and the diving is excellent; it's also one of the cheapest places anywhere to dive - 10 dive packages are just $300. I've reserved 10 dive packages (which we can add to if we want) with a newish dive shop called Scuba Roatán. It's run by a local man (with over 7000 dives under his belt!) and his wife and gets great reviews on Trip Advisor.

I've pasted a few favorite Roatán photos below and you can see more photos and links from our 2011 visit here.
We've decided the town of West End is the best base for this trip - close to restaurants and dive shops, nice beaches and walk in snorkeling. We'll be staying at Posada Arco Iris on Half Moon Bay, just a minute or 2 from the dive shop.

After 6 nights on Roatán, the girls will head by ferry to LA CEIBA on the mainland. The Mikes will spend 1 more night on Roatán and then head home.

La Ceiba itself isn't very attractive in my opinion but the minute you head south of town you're in the Pico Bonito (Beautiful Peak) and Nombre de Dios (Name of God) mountains.

Mike and I had a blast years ago at Omega Lodge, nestled in the mountains about half an hour from town; it makes a great jungly base for outdoor adventures. The grounds are lovely and they have nice touches like hammocks, handy fruit, orchids, and a pool. La Ceiba is HOT; since Omega is in the mountains it's a bit cooler but the pool still comes in handy.

They have excellent guides and equipment and offer rafting trips on the Cangrejal River (if you squint you might see yellow rafts amid the house-sized boulders). Omega Lodge folks will pick us up at the dock and that's how we'll spend our afternoon.
If the weather cooperates, we'll be able to stop during our rafting trip and hike to some of the local waterfalls.
Normally lodging in the Creek Cabin and bunk house (which share bathroom facilities and a gorgeous outdoor shower) is free when you pay for an adventure. 
They also have more upscale, funky apartments and offered to upgrade us free of charge to 1 of these - yay!!
The restaurant has a variety of options at different price points - we really enjoyed the food. The lack of alternatives or a self serve kitchen means meal costs are higher than most places we stay, but we'll just have 3 meals there.

The next day after breakfast we'll be picked up at Omega Lodge by a private driver named Miguel Martel; he'll take us to San Pedro Sula where we'll connect to a 1st class Hedman Alas bus heading to COPÁN RUINAS; we'll arrive around 7pm, just after dark.

Copán Ruinas is a cute colonial town in far western Honduras with a nice market area and parque central (town square). At an altitude of 1800' it can get warm during the summer months but is rarely hot; it may go days without rain but afternoon or night rains are fairly common that time of year.
It's famous for the beautiful Maya ruins which are walking distance from town.
There are 3 nice museums: an archaeological museum on the parque central,
a wonderful Maya Interpretive museum a few blocks up the hill (that's my favorite Honduran Spanish teacher, Yesenia),
and a gorgeous sculpture museum near the ruins.
There are other options in the area we might want to make time for, as well, including beautiful hotsprings....
....and hikes to Maya sites in the hills outside of town. This site, Los Sapos (The Toads) may have been a birthing site 1000 years ago; it is on the property of Hacienda San Lucas, a working hacienda and a great place to take in the views over a glass of lemonade or a nice meal.

The village of La Pintada is further along the same path that leads to Los Sapos from the hacienda.
Macaw Mountain Bird Park and Nature Reserve is a beautiful place to hike and interact with exotic birds.
To the west of town there used to be a nice butterfly place with a huge netted enclosure; I read it was closed awhile back but might be reopened by the time we're there.
For lodging in Copán I've decided on a newish place called Hotel Mary with an attached restaurant; they both get great reviews on Trip Advisor. Cost will be about $45/night/double - we'll need 2 rooms. My friend Roxy Ortiz (a world class archaeologist/naturalist and Preclassic Maya expert) will be joining us. Big YAY!

After 3 nights we'll leave Copán Ruinas for Guatemala with Roxy. Hit "Newer Post" at the bottom to skip to a blog page for that part of the trip.

If you're wanting more information, the bottom 3 links in the LINKS list (above right) are a good resource and the Moon Handbook to Honduras is the guide of choice for Honduras.

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