If you follow me on Instagram then you already know that I just got back from being in Roatan for a week. Since moving back to Montreal from New York City, I’ve been way less inspired by my surroundings. Don’t get me wrong, I love Montreal, it’s a beautiful city, but it’s just not the same. Once winter hits, all I want to do is stay inside and hibernate. Needless to say, I haven’t been taking many photos and this blog has been suffering a bit… I guess all I needed was little change of scenery and a few cocktails!
I went to Roatan with literally zero expectations. This trip was mainly to visit my mom and stepdad who just started living there for 6 months out of the year. I didn’t even think it would feel like travel to be honest. I was definitely eager to check out this warm, tropical island, off the mainland of Honduras. A place that my mom’s been raving about for over a year now, but I wasn’t really thinking beyond that. Having no expectations going in was the greatest thing ever, because – as you know – it’s the best way to truly enjoy something. I wish it was an easier thing to do in general, don’t you?!
Roatan blew me away from the moment I stepped off the plane. Everywhere I turned there was something even more beautiful to experience and the sunsets were no exception. They were definitely the showstopper every night. I took so many photos of them. Honestly, I’ve never seen anything like it, even the locals continue to be wowed by them night after night and that says something…
I kept hearing about how the island’s beauty and relaxed vibe kept people coming back for more, or even moving there permanantly. It happened to my parents! There was even a couple who after a few hours on the island decided to come back and buy a house! It seems to put a spell on everyone who steps foot on it. It’s a good thing that I am the kind of person who takes her responsibilities very seriously. If it weren’t for my job, which I enjoy, I probably would have extended my trip for who knows how long. So mom, you were right… keep raving about Roatan because it is pretty amazing. And yes you’re living the dream. And yes, we are ALL jealous!
So, my trip actually started with an abrupt landing on one of the shortest runways I’ve ever seen. Terrified, the cabin clapped with joy as the plane came to a halt. We were kindly informed that this was a very standard landing procedure and the pilot had actually done his job really well… ok, so that was the beginning of so many “odd” things that I would soon realize was normal for Roatan, and that actually made it even more charming.
I think it was when I got off the plane onto the tarmac and I was smacked in the face with humid tropical air that I realized this wasn’t going to be just a visit with my parents… To my right was this tiny little building they called an airport and to my left was the ocean! OMG I am in Central America! A place I never had the opportunity to visit before! It suddenly hit me that I was about to Travel again!
There were so many novel things to see, and so much to learn about in terms of the culture and way of life. So much differed from what I was used to. I soon realized that the island was filled with interesting people with amazing stories. It didn’t matter where they were coming from, everyone had a personal reason for being in Roatan and everyone had a deep and unique love for the island.
The week really flew by and was crammed with all sorts of adventures. From snorkelling and visiting horses to drinking my favourite cocktails on the beach and dancing the night away to a live band at a bar on the edge of the ocean. There was never a dull moment. Most of our time was spent in West End and West Bay, a more touristic part of the island, filled with popular bars and restaurants right on the beach. There were also a ton of little shops and plenty of hotels. Luckily my parents had rented a car for the week, so we got to explore a decent amount of this small island. Side note: driving in Roatan is like something out of a video game. There are no rules and you are constantly trying to avoid a person, animal, pot hole or random unidentified object in the middle of the road. People pass each other freely, stop wherever they want and for whatever they want. Stopping in the middle of the “highway” to grab a snack from the side of the road is the norm. People just wait calmly behind the stopped car, or pass without a fuss and without resentment. Road rage doesn’t exist and honking is more of a kind gesture. How nice, right? Every town we got to visit on the island was more unique than the next and every person we met was warmer and friendlier than the last. The island felt like one big family!
On our day trip to Havana Beach Club I got to meet these beautiful horses. Some of which were rescued from the mainland and given a second chance on the island. There was the option of taking a ride on the horses around the beach and through the water. I didn’t get a chance to do that but I did take some time to pet them and take photos of their beautiful faces. One horse in particular seemed to take interest in me and followed me around the gated area as I walked around snapping photos.
We made our way out to a small town called Oak Ridge one day. It was only 40km away but took us one whole hour to get there, which is standard in Roatan (read about the roads above). It has a unique and beautiful charm to it. The waterfront is lined with adorable multicoloured homes that were literally perched over the deep blue water. A small-town band played at a local bar where people came and went by boat. At one point I was told to go take a look at the washrooms and to bring my camera. I was surprised to find that the toilet was literally a seat on the ocean… remember one of those odd things I mentioned earlier? This makes the list. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t really want to go swimming near this bar.
There were two places I got to know really well. The Grand Roatan Resort where I enjoyed this delicious Pinã Colada seen above – several times I might add – and Kismet beach at the Meridian which is located in walking distance from where my parents are living. The Grand was perfect for snorkelling due to the fact that the reef is so easily accessible and the waters are so calm and clear. There are always plenty of people around and did I mention they make the worlds best Pinã Colada? I know that’s a serious title, but it deserves it. The Kismet is one of those hidden gems on the tip of the island. Since very few people know of it’s existance, it feels like your own private beach. Most of my photos are from there. I took a ton of pictures of the Ironshore; a fossilized reef wall that jets out from the beach, where you can find tons of crabs and iguanas perched on its sharp edges. Not only is this ancient reef beautiful to look at but it has tons of gorgeous vegetation all around it. I couldn’t resist climbing it to take pictures and I have a few scrapes and bruises to prove it. So worth it! Don’t you agree?
My mom and I snorkelled a lot while I was there. It was my first experience snorkelling and I heard that it’s the second largest reef in the world and one of the most beautiful to snorkel and dive in. While I have nothing to compare it to, I was definitely blown away by its beauty. Nothing comes close to the feeling of swimming along the reef looking at all the little details at the bottom of the ocean floor when all of the sudden it drops off into a huge blue abyss that goes on for miles and miles. All you can think of at that very moment is – wow, we are so small in the larger scheme of things, and – is this real life??? There is a whole world under the sea that I can’t wait to explore! I would love to learn how to dive next time I go down there. (Cherie – you’re coming with us!)
One of the things on the island that stood out the most for me was the amount of dogs roaming the streets. Many of which are strays. This is Buddy (above). He is an island dog that was adopted by an expat who lives next door. Unlike most dogs back home, Buddy spends the majority of his time outdoors. While I know that he is very loved and well taken care of, all I wanted to do was let him come inside with me and snuggle because that is what I am used to. He was such a sweetheart, I fell in love! There are dogs all over the island and I swear, they have better street smarts than I do! They look both ways before crossing streets and know how to swerve between cars. It’s pretty incredible to see, but a little sad. I wanted to bring them all home with me…
It was such a treat to be able to spend a week in Roatan! Not only did I get to enjoy a tropical vacation with my mom and Larry but I also got to see my pal Oscar! Poor little guy has been dealing with so many health issues, so he couldn’t come with us to the beach like he usually does. He just sat at the door waiting for us to get back.
I really can’t wait until the next time I can visit again. There was so much I didn’t get to see on this short trip. So many things I didn’t get to capture with my camera, and a ton more memories that are just waiting to be created! Thank you Cherie and Michael for sharing your beautiful house with us! See you soon, you beautiful unexpected paradise!