References and Recommendations, Roatan—December, 2009

Would we come back here again? In a heartbeat. The diving in Roatan was good, the service at Barefoot Cay was great, and their accomodations were excellent. The power is 110 volts so you can bring all your electronics (from the US), everyone takes dollars, and most folks speak English. Like Bonaire, it's a comfortable place to be and Barefoot Cay was comfortable indeed.

We were content to park it in an all-inclusive resort that is relatively remote. Others might prefer the bustle of the West End. Even so, we heard that it was about a half hour walk to the town of French Harbour where you can do some shopping. I imagine they probably had some night life too.

While we able to drink the water out of the tap at the resort, which provided its own safe water source, you have to be more careful with the food and water in the rest of the island. Similarly, we didn't have to worry about theft on the Cay, but you do have to be careful elsewhere.

The sand flies ate up some folks, although they didn't seem too bad to me. The groundskeeper actually rakes the sand daily to kill their eggs. Impressive. They also spray a natural pesticide against the sand flies and mosquitoes. While our stay wasn't bug free, I thought it was pretty good considering it was the wet season. It was certainly less buggy than it was in Belize. Steven and Denise reported that they didn't have many sand flies in Belize in March, and another Roatan guest said that he noticed a big drop-off in the Roatan bugs in March as well.

In summary, when I go back to Roatan, I'd certainly go to Barefoot Cay. I'd also try to go in March, in between the sand flies and the heat of summer. And maybe see some whale sharks too.

This following lists includes places to stay, things to do, see, or avoid that I picked up from the message boards, or that I learned for myself.

Recommendations

Recommended Resorts

Here's a map that shows Roatan and most of the resorts below, as well as the TripAdvisor Roatan hotels page.

Not Recommended

Off-gassing Activities

Responses

Here are some reviews from the kind folks on ba_diving:

Date: Mon, 16 Jan 2006 00:07:55 -0000
From: Dave Aronovitz aka BabaSCUBA

CoCo View has several duplex units built out over the water on piles.
More deluxe than a "palapa". I have stayed in them and enjoyed it.
Great resort and usually a great bargain.
    
Date: Mon, 16 Jan 2006 18:08:15 -0000
From: Mark Michaelsen

Anthony's Key resort has those along with an excellent dive operation.
Coco View also has them but on the other side of the island. Better
beach diving at Coco View, fewer bugs and quieter at Anthony's Key.
Can't really go wrong at either.
    
Date: Mon, 11 May 2009 10:05:52 -0700
From: Chuck Berg

I spent 6 days at CoCo View Resort on Roatan in October of 2004, and
it was the best dive trip ever! I did 21 dives at an average of 59
minutes per dive.

They have a great system there. Each morning, the boat leaves the dock
and goes East (or West, I don't remember) to a "named" dive site where
you a dive master provides a guided tour. Then on the way back to the
dock, the boat will drop off any divers that want to swim back along
the wall. The wall ranges from about 20' to deeper than you can dive,
and you're free to dive at any depth you want, and take as much time
as you want getting back to the resort. I rented a digital camera on
one dive, and spent an hour and twenty-five minutes between 30 and 45
feet on my way back. After lunch, the boat heads out the other
direction, and repeats the process. There is also unlimited shore
diving and night diving.

The accommodations are not the Four Seasons, but still quite
comfortable. And the food was plentiful, and pretty good as well. I'd
go back in a heartbeat!
    
Date: Mon, 11 May 2009 10:29:27 -0700
From: Wayne King

The latest issue of Undercurrent has a report on a resort on the east
end of Roatan. The east end is kind of off-the-beaten-path from the
other resorts like Anthony's and CoCo View which are more in the
center or west of center. It sounded like a pretty nice place with
good diving and not as crowed. I will check into it more the next time
I am going to Roatan. If you can get a copy of Undercurrent it's worth
a look.
    
Date: Mon, 03 Aug 2009 15:42:12 -0400
From: Jeanie Rekow

If you leave your gear in your room (or out of sight), make sure to
check ALL your hoses. Hoses are hard to come by (and expencive) on
some vacation spots. Maids & workers have been known to switch your
new hose for an old one. Paint or mark your hoses clearly. Have a
great trip.
    
Date: Tue, 04 Aug 2009 00:47:15 -0000
From: Vadik Yoffe

Bring high concentration DEET spray. The mosquitoes are not too bad,
but the sand bugs are quite a nuisance. Anti-itching cream will be
handy as well.
    
Date: Mon, 11 May 2009 22:13:47 -0000
From: Mark Michaelsen

Stayed at Bay Island Beach Resort on the north side of the island back
in '03. We enjoyed it. The island is pretty 3rd world off the resorts.
It can get rough. But the diving was very good. The reefs seemed quite
healthy to me on both south and northern shore dives. Ditto on Mary's
Place and Calvin's Crack....excellent dives. The fish life didn't seem
as abundant though as Cozumel, thus we typically go there instead as a
result when we warm water dive. But it's worth seeing and diving in my
opinion. So much variety and beautiful underwater structures....couple
of wrecks as well. They offer a shark dive if you're into that sort of
thing.

Someone mentioned bugs? Definitely bring Deet. We tried everything,
Cactus juice, SkinSoSoft, and some others I can't remember. But the no
see ums, as they are called, are everywhere when the breeze stops
blowing. You may not see them but they can sure see, or smell, you. We
were bitten to pieces after 8 days.
    
Date: Sat, 19 Sep 2009 13:03:20 -0700 (PDT)
From: Alex Lewis

Hi Bill,

I included my thoughts below... I just went to Roatan last month and
had a GREAT trip. Other advice I'd add is don't eat ANY raw
vegetables. I got food poisoning and have been sick for almost a month
and on a ton of pills.

On the update of food, I highly recommend the Red Hot Chili Pepper in
West end. Best food I had all trip. The dining cabanas on the beach,
across the road from the restaurant, we great and the food was really
good. Fair drink prices as well. I thought dinner at the Vintage pearl
was overrated.

Many of the places are so isolated including meals is really their
only option since there's no where else to eat. :p The exceptions are
places in West Bay and West End.

I stayed at Bananarama and Paya Bay. I thought Paya Bay was horrible
and would never go back. Their website is filled with lies and BS.
Banarama, on the other hand, was great. Small dive groups, usually
just me and 2-3 other people. However they only went to dive sites
within ~5 min boat ride of the resort. You get to see a lot of cool
places like hole in the wall, but all the same there were some further
away places I would have liked to have visited.

Although I think Barefoot Cay might be the best overall resort it's so
ioslated I don't think I would have been happy without spending a good
bit of time in West End.

I found Cactus Juice (available all over the island) worked better
than DEET for the sand flies and no-see-ums.

LOTS of small stuff. I thought people were joking when they said bring
a magnifying glass under water... They weren't. Overall it was like
diving in an aquarium, fish EVERYWHERE! A lot of fun and I'd recommend
it. As an FYI though I brought a 3mm wetsuit I never put it on. the
water was just too warm to need it.

[You] couldn't go wrong with CoCo View, Barefoot Cay or Bananarama. I
just thought CV and BC were too isolated to really experience the
island, though their dive ops are probably a bit better than
Bananarama's.
    
Date: Mon, 21 Sep 2009 08:43:19 -0700 (PDT)
From: Hardy Childers

Hi Bill,

Not sure I can add much, but... A couple of years ago I stayed at
Fantasy Island and found it to meet all my needs. Quite inexpensive
(modest but clean), good food, excellent dive operation, have a great
plane and ship wreck within an easy swim (same one CoCo View - just
across a small bay - advertises), and which you can do any time of day
or night and they will run you over to the dock you dive from. With
Fantasy Island we hit all the major dive sites (including Mary's
Place). We also spent some time on the West End where there are some
excellent restaurants and good souvenir shopping (but a good ways
away) and my buddy and I had a really great time on a zip line outing.
I went in March and had NO problems with noseeums. We had no problems
with lost or exchanged equipment and left it on the deck quite a lot.
Maybe just lucky, and of course I never leave my dive computer out
like that. Also... I had a little mask squeeze one day and the on site
doc was knowledgeable and helpful. They also have (at least had) a
chamber on site.

Have a great time.  The diving will be great.
    
Date: Wed, 23 Sep 2009 09:31:56 -0700 (PDT)
From: Kevin Goldsberry

I've only been to CoCo View. The food was included, and it was good to
very good except the vegetarian lasagna on Wednesday night which was
just bad tasting but NOT sick making.

Water and some sort of juice with every meal. Soda or alcohol you pay.
Several half price evenings allow stocking up on sodas, rooms have
small refrigerators. There is a "snack store" on site as well with
limited selection.

Very friendly and organized staff (dive and resort), no one messes
with your equipment.

I had a great time, scheduled to go again in March.
    

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