Honduras In Three Parts: Kayaking Roatan

Sea kayaking the island of Roatan was the main reason I vacationed in Honduras.  A week of kayaking in Caribbean paradise?  80 degree weather and 78 degree water?  Absolutely!  When I found the trip online, I knew this was a trip I had to take.

Roatan is surrounded by the second largest barrier reef on the planet (only Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is larger), which makes for excellent protected water to paddle in.  For snorkelers and divers, it makes for some of the best marine life viewing anywhere.  I’ve never considered diving (the ocean terrifies me) but this trip got me thinking “hmmm… diving….”

How bad can life be when this is how you are spending your day?

How bad can life be when this is how you are spending your day?

Unfortunately, getting to Roatan was a bit challenging.  Up most of the previous night with, uh, stomach problems (to put it delicately), the 30 minute ride down the rutted dirt road from Omega Lodge was rather unpleasant.  Normally boat rides are relaxing for me, but in my condition the 60 minute ferry ride to the island became another weight loss event.  Thankfully, my guide Michael met me at the ferry and immediately did his best to get me rehydrated and ready for the next day’s kayaking.

Our base was on the eastern end of Roatan, away from the tourist craziness.  Quiet and relaxing!

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The weather was incredible, the other guests a lot of fun, and the scenery was beautiful.   We paddled rocky shores, white sand beaches, near the reef, and through mangroves.  With only 3 guests and the guide, it was an ideal group size.

Michael, the owner/guide of the company, is also a kayak instructor, and spent time on a few days teaching us paddling skills.  At first I was a little frustrated, as I was there for paddling not lessons, but in the end I loved it.  I went from being freaked out by the idea of flipping my kayak, to doing it on purpose for fun.  I also became a better and more efficient paddler.  Now I just need another paddling vacation to further practice my new skills!

Possibly the world's coolest mangrove.

Possibly the world’s coolest mangrove.

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Sometimes the creatures on land were as fascinating as those in the water.  Our base for the week had a resident population of vampire bats (common in Central America).

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One day we found a Rhinoceros Beetle, intimidatingly large, but completely harmless.

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My interpretation of the cliche' dock and water shot.  This falling apart dock was particularly photogenic.

My interpretation of the cliche’ dock and water shot. This crumbling dock was particularly photogenic.

Roatan is one of the Bay Islands, and unlike mainland Honduras, English is the primary language.  One of the largest groups on Roatan is the Garifuna people, who are descendants of Caribe, Arawak, and west African people.  They have a unique culture and language that I would love to interact more with.  Not surprisingly considering their home, they have a very ocean-based culture.

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Snorkeling was also part of the trip, though not as large a part as promised or as we hoped.  The two times we went however were spectacular.  I’m still not fully comfortable with the idea of snorkeling, but I am learning to enjoy it.  I definitely WANT to enjoy it fully!

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One of our paddling trips was through this mangrove channel that bisected a nearby island.  Swimming here was sheer bliss.

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Mangroves are full of great wildlife – lots of birds, fish, and other fun creatures like this HUGE stingray that we passed over.

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We also paddled to a few deserted beaches.

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This small island used to be owned by Captain Morgan. Yes, THAT Captain Morgan the rum is named after. Locals refuse to spend the night on it, believing it to be haunted.

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Here’s a 2 minute video of some of the kayaking adventures.  I hope you enjoy it.

Unfortunately I can’t lay claim to the best photo of the trip.  One of the other guests, Kim, took what I think is the money shot.  This photo I think captures the essence of sea kayaking perfectly for me.  Peace, tranquility, exploration.

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Have you been to Roatan?  Want to go?  Any suggestions for other sea kayaking destinations for me to explore?

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