Roatan June 17 to 24 2017
I hate airlines, I would say Delta specifically because I usually fly Delta but they are all the same. They are oversell flights, shrink legroom and charge too much for tickets. That is why when I can use frequent flier miles for a trip it is all that much sweeter.
I was able to use frequent flier miles to get to Roatan. Unfortunately, I had a 6:30 am flight out of MSP so I had to get up in the middle of the night.
I was going to Roatan because my wife was in Italy doing a food and wine tour with her girlfriends. Several of them were turning fifty so they decided to celebrate with an Italy trip. There are some advantages to ageing like a fine wine.
I have to admit that I feel lucky that I am able to chase my passion for diving when my wife is enjoying a trip with her friends.
Customs and immigration was packed so it took me about an hour get through. The wait wasn’t awful but because it was all divers so we had a lot to talk about.
My Room at Mr Tucan
I took a cab to my hotel, Mr Tucan. Check in was easy and fast. The people there are really nice, almost everyone on the island was. The hotel is in a good location. My room was nice. My only complaint is they did not tell me that breakfast at the small restaurant next to the hotel was included.
The Beach Across from Mr Tucan
It is recommended that you take malaria meds when you go to Roatan. Per the forums on Trip Advisor the only place they don’t spray for mosquitos on Roatan is near the dump so chances are very low that you would get malaria but I am not going to take my chances with malaria because of what I read on Trip Advisor.
I took the generic form of malanone and it kicked my butt. I was tired the entire trip. I couldn’t remember shit and I had to nap every afternoon. I was supposed to take the malanone for a week after I got back. I felt so bad that I saw my doctor for any alternatives. He checked me for a fever. I didn’t have one, so he told me I could stop taking the meds. It took over a week after I quit before I felt normal.
A Salva Vida at Sundowners
I was really disappointed in the food. My favorite meal was the grouper sandwich at Iron Shore in West Bay. I had to take a water taxi to get there. I shared the lettuce from my sandwich with the iguanas that came around looking for a handout. The grouper sandwich was one of my favorite meals in Roatan.
Grouper Sandwich at Iron Shore
Iguana at Iron Shore
West Bay Beach
Breakfast at the Bean Crazy was included with my room and it was the only consistently good meal I had. Unfortunately I wasn’t told that breakfast was included when I checked in. I discovered my breakfast deal when I ate there and they asked me my room number.
I got mildly sick from two of restaurants. I stopped a Cannibal Café for a late dinner. I was missing Mexican food so I ordered chicken tacos. I bit into the taco and something tasted rotten so I ate the black beans and left the tacos. I felt ill the next morning.
I also got an upset stomach when I ate at The Beach House. I was over half way through my vacation and I hadn’t had anything good for dinner. The Beach House was a little more expensive than what I wanted to spend but I was desperate for a good meal. I had a burger and it was average at best. When I woke up the next morning I had an upset stomach. Luckily I travel with Pepto-Bismol tablets. A couple of them and I was as good as new and could go diving.
I ate a Palapa Papa’s a couple of times. It is a cool looking restaurant that is built on stilts over the water. They recommended the chicken wings. I am not a big wings person so I balked but they finally talked me into it. The wings were so bad that I probably would not have eaten them but they seemed so sure I would like them. When I was sitting at the bar I saw cockroaches crawling on the bar. It is the tropics so I wasn’t completely creeped out but I would prefer not to see cockroaches where I am eating.
Splash Inn is the big dive hotel in West End, it also has a restaurant. It was packed every night when I walked by so I hoped it would be good. I ate there one night, I had pasta puntenesca. It was spicy which is good but otherwise the puntanesca was just average.
The dive sites were so close that we came back to the dive shop between dives. There was a noodle shop over the dive shop that the divers ordered lunch from. I didn’t want to eat between dives but everyone was raving about the food so I finally tried it. The noodles were great. If they were open for dinner I would have eaten there the rest of the week.
C-Level Pizza was my go to for dinner. It was cheap, easy and usually good. I had pizza by the slice and a beer. It was decent pizza. I talked to the owner on two different occasions. He was an American and he had a crazy Italian wife that kept stopping by the restaurant. They always had drama, since she wasn’t my wife it was very entertaining. The one time I had dinner when the owner wasn’t there I got cold hard pizza. Otherwise the pizza was good.
I am not a picky eater but the food in West End Roatan was mostly terrible. I can’t think of a vacation where I had worse food.
The Dive Shop
I read reviews about dive shops before arriving in Roatan and when I walked past West End Divers I liked the dive shop so I booked diving for the next day. That is the way I usually do it. I spend days researching dive shops and then I pick the one that looks good when I walk past.
Unfortunately, it was a weird dive shop. The dive masters were good and the boat was nice but there was a group of divers that appeared to know each other and hung out together not mixing much with the few other new divers on the boat.
I talked to all of them but the nicest person in that group was a Delta pilot. Because of his schedule he regularly got a month to spend diving in Roatan. He stayed at a cheap Air B and B and would get cheap diving at West End Divers since he dove a lot and knew the owner.
I found out towards the end of my vacation that the one diver that was the least friendliest and made it clear that he didn’t want to have much to do with anyone that wasn’t in "the group" was actually the owner of West End Divers. I wish I had a photo of my face when he told me that he was the owner. I am sure my jaw dropped. Most shop owners talk to the divers and making sure they are having a good time. This guy couldn’t care less.
The diving was just average, I expected better. The conditions were the amazing part of diving in Roatan. There was almost no current. I am used to diving in Mexico where the current can vary between mild to extreme. The visibility was spectacular too. The lack of current keeps the particulate in the water to a minimum so visibility was probably twice as far as an average dive in Mexico.
I liked the Odyssey wreck dive. It was deep though, the bottom was at 110 feet. We were not allowed inside the wreck. We saw an eagle ray on the approach to the ship.
I did have a bucket list experience on the way to the Odyssey. A pod of dolphins joined us, and a couple other dive boats, on our trip to the dive site. They road wave at the bow of the boat and darted between dive boats. They would swim on their side and look up at us they swam alongside the boat.
Swimming With Dolphins in the Open Ocean
After about ten minutes the dive master told us we could put our fins on and join the dolphins. I grabbed my GoPro and went in. I didn’t have my snorkel so it made it hard to swim and scan the water for dolphins. One of the dolphins stopped to play with a diver in our group. Another dolphin came within a yard of my GoPro as he swam past.
Compilation of My Dives in Roatan
Would I Come Back?
Roatan is easy to get to. I flew from MSP to ATL and then directly into Roatan. I really liked the people in Roatan. They were very friendly, I had several people just walk up and start a conversation.
If I came back I would stay at West Bay instead. There aren’t as many Restaurants and bars as West End but there would be enough options for a week. The beach is beautiful there and the snorkeling is great.
I don’t plan on a return trip at this time but under the right circumstances- extremely reasonable airfare and lodging in West Bay, and if friends wanted to dive here, I would come back.
If I came back I would deffinitely get better malaria meds. I took the generic version of malarone which is a combination of two malaria meds and it made me feel terrible. That is one of the listed side affects, that and liver damage. Luckily, I hope, liver damage wasn't a problem.
Before I left for vacation I went to the Minute Clinic at CVS to get my malaria meds. It was just easier than making an appointment with my doctor. The PA waffled between malarone and doxycline (antibiotic) but decided to give me the malarone. I saw my doctor when I got home because I felt run down and awful during the entire trip and when I got home. He said he would have put me on the antibiotic. It makes more sense to me. It might have killed whatever was in the food that made my stomach upset.
Any antimalarial can cause liver damage, or so they say. I believe it depends how healthy your liver is and how much you drink or expose yourself to other liver toxins. Regardless, they are hard on the liver and the last thing I want to do is damage my liver on vacation so I plan on limiting the need for malaria meds.
The whole malaria issue had made me rethink what countries I want to visit when I retire. I am definitely going to avoid places that I have to take malaria meds, unless the diving is great there. The other issue is dengue fever. It is more prevalent than malaria and there isn’t a prophylactic medicine to take for it.