Stop! If you have not read part 1, go here first! https://jkeithhowie.com/2017/02/05/getting-legal-in-roatan-part-1/
After a couple of days in Roatan, I can use just one word to sum up our impression of this place and that word is WOW! It is very much to our liking and style. It is very casual, safe, US money works everywhere, people are friendly and not to plentiful, lots of restaurants, English is widely spoken and even the busses are easy to use.
This place has no high-rises lining the beaches, in fact most of the buildings are around three floors tall so it hides in the jungle and adds to the beauty of the place.
We were in Coxen Hole for a poke-around and were walking down a narrow sidewalk on a busy street. As is the way in much of Latin America, there was a telephone pole located right in the center of the sidewalk. A woman with a small baby was approaching from the other direction and we met right at the telephone pole. We stepped back to allow her through and as she passed us, she flashed us a big smile and in perfect English said “thank-you”. Now that may not seem like much but it typifies our experience with the locals approach to tourists here. It is most pleasant to be in such a place.
This place is a major dive center. There are many boats dedicated to the support of divers and tourists that want to see the reef and its inhabitants. This is where the reef that begins around Cozumel, Mexico and runs down the coast past Belize, ends. We have snorkeled the reef in Belize but here, the reef is only a few yards from the shore so access is easy and the beaches on this side of the island are nicely protected by it.
Most everything is right on the coast here so travel between towns is often more convenient by water taxi. We wanted to see a town called West Bay, don’t confuse it with the name of our town, West End. West Bay is on the western tip of the island, about 12 kilometers from us. A bus which is a small van that can carry around 10 people costs about US$1.25 and would take about 20 minutes. A water taxi makes the trip in 10 minutes for US$3.00. Don’t take it if you don’t want to get your feet wet when you land on the beach at West Bay! There is no dock.
Our interest in West Bay was quickly replaced by relief that we were not staying there! It reminded me of the beach at Cancun, Mexico during a very busy spring break. It was wall to wall people jamming the beautiful beach and the resorts are crammed right next door to each other. The overall appearance of the place is tremendously improved by the low-rise construction. Most resort properties have a narrow beach front but are deep, with the buildings set at 90 degrees to the beach. Not too good for beach views! While the beach was beautiful, the volume of people and vendors was excessive and prices are a bit higher. We also discovered that vendors there are more aggressive than where we were staying. We walked the length of the beach and headed inland for a coffee.
Our little hotel, Mr. Tucan is small, as many hotels are. It is just 10 rooms now but they are building on to it. There is an open patio between the two rows of rooms that is perfect for socializing with your neighbour and viewing the bay, through the palm trees. Many of the guests there were Canadian so it was interesting to compare notes with others about what they experienced, did, and thought of the place. The rooms are small but adequate. The beds are high enough to almost need a step-ladder to enter them.
We were sad to leave such a beautiful place but eventually, you have to go home, or in our case back to Panama. Our flight was at 13:45 so we headed to the airport in lots of time, remembering our friends problem with Air Panama at Bocus del Torro. Again, we received a pleasant English-speaking agent and headed through security to the departure lounge. The lounge was busy with several flights waiting to leave, including a 737.
Our Air Panama Fokker arrived early and deplaned only 25 passengers. Quickly the plane was groomed and we 16 people were boarded. We departed half an hour early. It only took about 30 minutes to turn the aircraft around. Impressive!
Once back to Panama, our flight path took us down the canal from Colon to Panama City. The weather was a bit cloudy but there were some opportunities for photos from the air.
Our visit to Roatan, Honduras left us appreciating a new destination we had never traveled to. We really enjoyed this visit and the food. We set out to eat seafood and did so almost exclusively. In the future when we need a trip to reset our visa date in Panama, Roatan will be high on our list. Finally, legal in Panama!