It may not seem possible to those that are following along with my seemingly never-ending coverage from this adventure, but my four months in Central America felt like they truly flew by. As my plane touched down in Roatan, it felt like just yesterday that I’d landed in Managua. It was a meaningful place to end my trip.
In 2010, I visited Honduras for two weeks — it was the cheapest and easiest place to get to from the Cayman Islands, where I was spending the summer working as a photography intern. I spent two weeks diving on Roatan, partying Utila, and rafting and ziplining at a jungle lodge outside La Ceiba. Five years later, I found myself back in Central America, and in a fun little full circle twist, I decided to end my trip using that same flight route in order to visit my ‘ol photography guru Heather, who is now a close friend and frequent travel buddy.
I loved that first trip to Honduras, but outside of Copan there weren’t many other new destinations in Honduras left that I was absolutely itching to visit. There was, however, a person — my girl Rika, who I’d been online friends with for years but had yet to meet in person. As soon as I booked my flight out of La Ceiba, I knew a meet up in her adopted home of Roatan would be in order.
Rika knows everyone who’s anyone and knows everything that’s anything about this little island. At first, I was just planning to crash with her — by her invitation, of course — but then, shortly before I arrived, she asked if I might like to check out some of the island’s most beautiful boutique hotels instead. TWIST MY ARM, RIKA. Twist my arm.
And that’s how I found myself, after another travel day from hell (stay tuned to a future roundup for a recap of that particular disaster), melting into island bliss at The Beach House.
I knew from my previous week on Roatan — when my ex-boyfriend and I had balked at the price of the local hostel and spontaneously rented a spare room from a local divemaster — that bohemian West End was much more my style that built-up West Bay. Yet The Beach House is the perfect blend of the best parts of both, laid back and luxurious.
Basically, I was pretty pumped to find that those looking for gorgeous digs needn’t relegate themselves to West Bay to find them. With studios starting at $95 a night, it’s a pretty darn decent deal for being beachfront in the Caribbean. Roatan in general is one of those fantastic destinations that offers Caribbean perks at Central American prices.
With a private dock, a waterfront restaurant and bar, and a cute beach boutique, The Beach House is a one-stop shop for style. West End is loaded with amazing restaurants and chilled-out beach bars, yet I think it would be hard to tear oneself away from The Landing, where I had some of the best salads and specialty cocktails of the trip.
Speaking of salads, Rika and I had a big ‘ol laugh over comparing the food photos we put on Instagram versus the food photos we very pointedly don’t. Like this gorgeous mango avocado salad lunch I enthusiastically posted, and the carbohydrate bonanza dinner monstrosity that we devoured privately in shame — until now. Sorry Rika!
When we weren’t at The Landing, I loved that we were walking distance from West End’s best dining and nightlife. Neighboring Utila might be known as the party island, but Rika showed me that Roatan knows how to get down as well. We had one very fun Saturday night out, a decision that we did pay for for most of Sunday. Unlike some tropical destinations (ahem, Koh Tao), Roatan actually does have a distinct weekend where the bars and clubs are significantly more lively than they are on weekdays, which vacationers should take into account.
At least we had a gorgeous place to recover in the next day.
Three nights in West End went by in a blip, but we didn’t linger — Rika wanted to show me the East side of the island, which on my previous trip I’d only breezed through by motorbike. This time, we camped out at the beautiful Barefoot Cay, a mecca for divers and design lovers between French Harbour and Brick Bay.
Barefoot Cay sits on a teeny four acre private isle just a stone’s throw from shore, but you still need to hop on a thirty second boat ride to reach it, which I think just increases the charm. In my next post, I’ll show you some of the beautiful dive sites we visited while diving with the Barefoot Cay boat. But first, a look at the sweet little island that we decompressed on, pre and post-dive.
Our room was a one-bedroom suite with a separate living room, full kitchen, spacious porch, and small desk area in the bedroom — perfect for editing photos after a dive! Barefoot Cay is somewhat isolated and so having a kitchen onsite is a nice way to mix in some low-key homemade meals with the ones offered in the onsite restaurant, though those were so good I admit they’d be hard to pass up.
I can’t imagine a more beautiful base for a week of diving — or just relaxing.
Unfortunately, the weather was not on our side for my week in Roatan — again, stay tuned to a future roundup for all the details — but suffice it to say that it seriously messed with my plans (and my head!) Turns out, a freak weather pattern hitting Central America was going to wreak all kinds of havoc on final days, forcing me to flee Roatan early rather than get stuck there, and nearly canceling my flight to the Cayman Islands and causing me miss the festival I’d specifically planned my trip around. That stress kind of followed me throughout the week, as did the ominous dark skies warning of the storm to come. Between the bag weather and the crop burning on the mainland, we rarely had a blue sky or a hint of sun.
Yet we still layed out under the muggy skies — can’t blame a couple of girls for tryin’!
Gorgeous as the Barefoot Cay pool may be, there was another spot that captured our attention more — the palapa. We spent hours here, snorkeling and swimming, reading and hammock swinging. And of course, goofing around with my underwater camera.
So, it turns out this trip to Roatan wasn’t about doing and seeing it all. But you know what? I’d done that once before, and that’s the beauty of going back somewhere for the second time. Instead, this trip to Roatan was about soaking up my last few days in Central America in style, checking out two gorgeous hotels on each side of the island, and endless giggles with a fun new friend.
And while it was unintentional, I feel like we nailed the perfect Roatan itinerary — a few days in West End checking out the lively restaurant and nightlife scene, and a few days over on the East coast enjoying some solitude and scuba.
Stay tuned for one more post about our diving adventures,
my final dispatch from Central America!
Many thanks to The Beach House and Barefoot Cay for hosting me in Roatan. As always, you get my honest thoughts and opinions regardless of who is footing the bill. And muchas gracias to Rika for being the best tour guide a girl could ask for!