Before we left the UK I had booked a trip through the Shore Excursions Group who are based in Florida. It was the first time I had booked an excursion that was not through the cruise line so I was a little apprehensive but excited at the same time.
We had our instructions on where to meet depending on whether we docked at Coxen Hole or Mahogany Bay. Lucky for us we docked at the beautiful Mahogany Bay pier and as soon as we were able too we left the ship and made our way out to find our guide. Her name was Cynthia; she was happy, bubbly and very friendly. She took our tickets, asked our names and showed us to what would be our chariot for the day. The trip was titled private Roatan on the wild side which breaks down to my friend, our guide, me and a whole lot of one very small island!
The trip was very scenic, I actually have fallen in love with Roatan and can’t wait to return but, as beautiful as the scenery was we were here to see the animals!
Our first stop was the Iguana Farm, because it was raining we knew there would not be half as many Iguanas on land level as there would be had the sun been shining but, we were not disappointed they were still pretty much every which way you turned and some were HUGE!! Initially it was a little overwhelming as they definitely weren’t afraid to get up close and personal with you but after a moment to take in your surroundings it was quite nice, aside from the smell. I was actually more concerned about the Turkey’s that were running around. I’m not a fan of large birds; I have had one too many unpleasant altercations with Geese in my lifetime to take my eye away from anything with wings for more than a second!
We took pictures, petted some of the iguanas then made our way further into the farm where we also found 2 monkeys, turtles, a hen and her chicks then right at the bottom you could actually go to the water’s edge and feed lobster and other marine creatures. It was a very small place and a little odd but I thoroughly enjoyed it. I also liked the fact it was an iguana sanctuary, they were safe there as in some countries they are still considered a delicacy for ones table.
From here we took in more of the island, its beauty and its unrelenting potholes!! I will never complain about the state of some of the roads in Britain ever again. Some of the potholes in Roatan an Elephant could have disappeared into, I kid you not!
Our next stop was the one I had been waiting for, our next little animal sanctuary but, it was here they had the Capuchin white faced Spider Monkeys and I was desperate to get in and meet them.
We had a guide for our little tour who told us about each and every animal they had their including a baby deer that had been born at Christmas and was aptly named Noela. Other animals included Toucans, Parrots, Squirrels and a few others that I can’t for the life of me remember what they were. One apparently was part of the canine and bears families, had a long nose and stood on its hind legs. It was a lovely looking little thing but he liked to bite people so we couldn’t touch him.
As we approached the monkeys they started to get excited and clearly knew we were fresh meat that they could taunt and use as climbing frames. Our guide opened the door to their enclosure and in we went. The second we were in they were on us and they were adorable.
They made little squeaking noises amongst themselves and sat on our heads and shoulders eating their sunflower seeds. Occasionally they swapped between my friend and me and were not bothered in the slightest where on you they landed.
We actually spent time in two different enclosures with different monkeys but of the same species. It really was an awesome experience, they were gentle and would hold your hand and touch parts of your face as though they were trying to figure out what an ear or something was. I can also say thankfully there were no accidents of the toilet variety!! That had been one thing I wasn’t too excited about, just in case! But they were very good.
From here we made our way along to the West side of the island and took in West End and West Bay. The weather by this point was a lot worse, the rain was bouncing off the pavement, the potholes had turned into swimming pools and the wind had picked up a lot. West Bay had been a place I wanted to see, possibly swim and snorkel but sadly this was not going to happen. Although the weather was rubbish the area still had a charm to it.
Eventually it was time to head back to the ship. Our tour was supposed to last if I remember correctly 3 hours but our guide had made it very clear there was no time limit. The money for the trip had been paid and she wanted us to enjoy the island. If that meant we spent 6 hours instead of 3 then that was not a problem and would not cost any more money, she didn’t always stick to the time frame because what if her guests want to take in something else or stop at the beach for an hour. She didn’t want them rushed she wanted them to enjoy the island she called home. In all I think we were out just over 4 hours. Cynthia dropped us back at the port; we thanked her and said our goodbyes.
The weather was still dreadful but we had a lot of time before we sailed so we made our way down towards Mahogany Bay Beach where we knew there were bars and restaurants. We grabbed a quick bite to eat then decided to have a look around the small stalls and shops within the port complex.
It was a lovely complex too; everything you could need was there including a Fat Tuesday’s which passengers and crew made full use of! Some had clearly been there all day, the alcohol had been flowing and by this time the Karaoke machine was in need of having its plug cut.
We decided eventually that we should head back to the ship, change and then come back out and join the people in Fat Tuesday’s…..yes, we wanted in on the action (all but the karaoke action) so off to the ship we went. We got straight onboard, ran up to the cabin, quickly changed and freshened up then made our way back down to the gangway on deck 4. Sadly, this would be the closest we ever got to Roatan again. The heavens had well and truly opened just as we wanted to leave. On our way back to the ship we had passed a friend of ours. She was no more than 50 feet away from the gangway and she came back to the ship drenched. We took one look at her, one look out the door and decided it had to be cocktails on deck 12 instead.
Roatan seems to gain a mixed reaction, some people love it and some people hate it. Honduras is not a wealthy country and that was evident in many places. That however is what I appreciate about travel. I don’t want to flock to the nice bright shiny stores and specific tourist built resorts and so on, I want to see the REAL side of places, where people live and work. To me, that is travel and Roatan showed me plenty.