Several years ago, we planned our first trip out of the country. At that time, Charlie was the only one who knew how to SCUBA dive, so we wanted to go somewhere that he could get underwater, but I would still have a great time on the beach.
Our initial plan was to go to Belize as we had heard so much about it from friends and, from what I could see online, it was beautiful. I then watched an episode of House Hunters International, and they were in Roatan, Honduras. I was hooked! I did my due diligence online and searched for flights, places to stay, things to do, the whole enchilada. After a few weeks of researching and planning, we were off to Roatan.
Roatan is one of many islands off the coast of Honduras. It is well known as a SCUBA diving destination since the Mesoamerican Reef is right off its shores. From zip lining to SCUBA, there is something for everyone in Roatan.
The flight to Roatan from Houston is a smooth 3-hour flight. We typically fly United Airlines for this trip as they are the only direct flight from Houston, where we live. Other airlines fly from Houston with cheaper rates; however, they are also longer flights that typically have layovers in El Salvador or Guatemala.
Where We Stay
There are many places to stay in Roatan with a wide range of price points. We choose to remain at Bananarama Dive Resort, which is in the West Bay area of the island and have stayed there on every trip since.
It is not a large, 5-star resort by any means. The resort caters to divers and has a fantastic dive shop, which I’ll get into later. The rooms range from a straightforward “studio” to a multi-level condo type of accommodation to stand-alone cabanas.
We have stayed in 3 different types of rooms, and I must say that the cabanas are, by far, our favorite. They are stand-alone, so there are no shared walls and typically have a hammock and chair on the porch for lounging, reading a good book, or enjoying your morning coffee. Nestled among beautiful plants and trees, they stay shaded and cool, even in the Caribbean heat.
The staff at the resort are indeed a wonderful group of people. Each time we return, they remember us and greet us with open arms (they hug us when we arrive). From the front desk to the housekeepers and everyone in between, they all are kind and caring people who want every guest’s stay to be memorable.
The Dive Shop
Of course, besides the beautiful scenery and fantastic staff, SCUBA diving is one of the main reasons we return to Roatan year after year. The waters around the island are crystal clear, and the average water temperature hovers right around 78, which makes diving, swimming, and snorkeling very comfortable.
The dive shop team at Bananarama are some of the best on the island. Like the rest of the resort staff, they remember us year after year. I did my open water diving certification in Roatan, and Marco, the dive shop manager, was my instructor, and he was so patient while teaching me.
The staff is very knowledgeable and super patient, even with people like me who have only been diving for a few years. They take the time to learn each person’s capabilities and limitations and cater to the dives around that.
They do not run “cattle car” dives. Instead, they limit each dive group to no more than eight people to ensure everyone is safe. Coupled with the dive masters and their genuine passion for diving and love of protecting the reef and ecosystems makes, diving with them is so much fun and always an adventure. Read all about Charlie’s diving experience in Roatan here.
Where To Eat
The bar staff at the Thirsty Turtle is terrific and always serves up yummy and robust adult beverages. Whether you are thirsty for a beer or something more exotic like the famous Monkey La La, they have it covered.
There are three restaurants on-site that range from fine dining to brick oven pizza. The Thirsty Turtle is not only the bar, but it’s also the restaurant that serves up some tasty food right on the beach. One of the items on the menu that I can’t live without during my stay is the Lobster bites. If you stop in at the Thirsty Turtle, make sure you try them.
The Vintage Pearl is a fine dining restaurant with one of the island’s most extensive wine cellars, and, despite the term “Fine Dining,” you take your shoes off at the front door, which is fun. The menu changes daily since the seafood is fresh from the Caribbean. While reservations are helpful, it is not required. The atmosphere is lovely, and you can choose to sit inside where it is comfortably cool or outside on the patio and enjoy the sounds of the ocean.
Last but certainly not least is the only wood-fired, brick oven pizza joint on the island, Pizzarama. They serve up some of the tastiest pizza I’ve ever had at an affordable price. You can also take advantage of some daily 2 for one specials and share with the new friends you will have made while on the island.
While there certainly are many beautiful islands to visit in the Caribbean, Roatan was our first and will always be our “go-to” when we can’t decide where we want to head next or need to get back to our “Happy Place.”