Friday, June 6, 2014

The Bay Islands of Honduras

The View from the Peak
There are several islands off the Northern coast of Honduras, the major ones being Roatan, Guanaja, and Utila. Earthling landed in Guanaja after 360 miles, 75 hrs passage from Providencia. When we rounded the North Eastern tip of Honduras, the winds changed against us blowing from west and made the passage much longer. I was fortunate to have my friends, Marcin & Darius as crew, especially since the autopilot would not cooperate at all the time and somebody had to be behind whelm! 
Marcin behind the wheel
“Guanaja” is another less visited island by outsiders. Which makes it more pure and quiet. This place is 45 squre miles (55 Sqkm) in size but most of the people live in the main town of Bonnaca, which is less than one square mile cay. It’s interesting that there is so much land around but people prefer to live close to each other! The houses on Bonacca are mostly build on stilts. Some refer to it as the Venice of the Caribbean, I wouldn't go that far! There are absolutely no cars or scooter on Bonacca. 
Checking in to Honduras for sailors is very cheap ($3 pp.), which gives Honduras a big plus to stop at! When you go a shore to check in, you will probably be greeted by Red (Rojo)! He is a local friendly guy that is working like an agent. Helps the boaters to check in, find things and he is a source of information. In these smaller islands, many are trying to be a guide and make a buck, and be aware if you get a quote for one thing, it might change by the time it’s done! That’s common in many less developed places. 
There is one airport in Guanaja where Darius flew out of to Ceiba and further to San Pedro Sula. Flying in and out of these less visited islands can be a pain sometimes. It took Darius over two days to get back to Chicago. However, in the sister island “Roatan” there are daily nonstop flights to and from Houston!  
The mountain across Bonacca (800ft Altitude) is a good steep hike, and when you get up there, the view over the cays and the different shade of blue is breath taking and spectacular. One could sit here for hours and watch over the ocean!
The best hikes are up to waterfalls and in Guanaja, there are a few of them, but it’s on the north side of the island. The fastest easiest way to get there is to hire a lancha (motor boat) through the canal by the airport. If you are adventures like these Earthlings, then you anchor off “Savannah Bight” and walk 2 hrs on the only road on the island by “Mangrove Bight” and on the beach through the jungle to the secluded waterfall.  

The main dock on Bonacca
Houses on stilts

Walking through the narrow streets of Bonacca
Central Strip in Bonacca
More Houses on Stilts

Rojo is walking into his house
Rojo's Nephew Playing with Fish
Going to the Airport
Graham's Cay
Dunbar Rock (Posada)
The Best Shower
Following Guanaja, Marcin and I sailed down-wind to the tourist capital of the bay Islands, Roatan. This long narrow landscape (100mile2) has many coves that are beautiful and perfect for anchoring. Some of them are secluded but Earthling anchored in the largest one where all the cruisers are, close to Fantasy Island in the French Harbour. Roatan has a different vibe; there are mostly Americans that come here for vacation and for diving. The long reef barrier around Roatan makes it to a diver's heaven. Roatan also offers several beautiful long sandy beaches, which of many are occupied or owned by resorts and hotels. 
While Marcin was departing from the airport, I got an opportunity to rent a scooter from a local person. For the following two days over 200 miles was driven up and down the hills through towns and around Roatan!
West Bay, Roatan
West Bay, Roatan
The East View on Roatan, Santa Elena, Isla Morat, and Isla Barbareta 
Camp Bay, Roatan
Parrot Tree Beach Resort and Marina
A View of the Village of Sandy Bay
Roatan Divers in West End, owned and operated by Swede Karl
Boats from Coco View Resort
Sleeping Iguana at the Sanctuary

Love from the Bay Islands