Saturday, May 8, 2010

Islands of Paradise

When I last left you, I was on the hunt for a snorkel and mask in Utila. Having found what I was looking for, experience duly tucked under my belt (metaphorically speaking, of course), Sam and I decided it was time to move on from Utila.

Our original idea was to catch a sailboat to Roatan, another island in the Bay Islands, the day after we arrived in Utila, but it turned out that Captain Vern wasn't sailing that next day. We ended up staying a few days longer in Utila, since we were enjoying our stay at Rubi's Inn, so when we were ready to go, we were happy that Captain Vern had space available on his catamaran. I've spent very little time on sailboats, aside from searching them when I was a customs inspector, so was quite excited about the trip. We were exceptionally fortunate, as it turns out, because due to a war between a new tour company and the ferry company, Captain Vern was being put out of business and we caught his last sail between the islands.

The trip was incredible. I'm not sure how big the boat was, maybe 30 feet, beautiful catamaran and the weather was perfect. I didn't get the perfect picture, as Vern kept the engine running due to our fellow passengers having a flight to catch (seriously, people, when on a timeline, why take a sailboat? sheesh). But the sails were up, the Caribbean was that shade of blue that exists nowhere else on the planet, and I spent a great deal of time learning how to stand up and move around without falling over. I managed to drink most of a cup of coffee, with very little spillage, and eat a plate of bacon and eggs. I call the trip successful.

We arrived at Roatan at 11ish in the morning. Vern docks at a hotel in the West End of Roatan, a popular destination for divers and beach-goers, and got us a great rate at the hotel. We had a room right on the beach, facing west, so we saw a beautiful sunset. Unfortunately, they were booked for the next several nights, so we moved to a place called Seagrape Plantation Resort, which was more expensive but absolutely perfect. Our cabin was also waterfront, with a "yard" of dead coral (it seems that the ocean just stopped rising that high, leaving behind lots of coral reef), and a sidewalk that extended right into the reef in the sea. We rented snorkel gear and spent time each day investigating the incredible sea life and coral reef right off our doorstep. I am hooked on snorkelling and think that one day soon I might have to take the plunge (so to speak) and try scuba diving. One day, I went out with the dive boat at Seagrape and snorkelled while others were diving, getting an even better view. I saw a sea turtle! It was fantastic.

Roatan is quite different from Utila. It's got better beaches, but is waaaayyy more expensive. It does, however, have the perfect beer cozies, and we are now the proud owners of neoprene wetsuits for our beer cans. They are tie dyed in bright, pyschedelic colours. I loved Roatan and think that for those looking for a relaxed, beach vacation, it's a great place to go. Utila is smaller, with fewer beaches, but is internationally renowned for its scuba diving schools, as it's quite inexpensive. You can learn to dive, accommodation included, for $250 for a 4 or 5 day course. There are dorm-style hostels in Utila for $4 per night. Our first night was a $12 per night ($6 each) hotel room with fan and private bathroom, the other nights $25 for a much nicer room, compared to $60 at Seagrape.

We caught a flight from Roatan to Tegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras, on Tuesday morning, and made our way to Los Brasiles, a small island off Ponteloya, near Leon, in Nicaragua, arriving Wednesday night. We are staying at the small eco-resort owned by a friend of Sam's, Surfing Turtle Lodge ( We will be here for a few days more, I think, and I will save my post about the lodge till we are ready to leave, as I want to a) have a full experience to write about, because I think this is a place worth writing about, and b) go swimming now.

Surf's up... catch ya later.

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