Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Roatán - A Hidden Jewel!

This past summer we took our yearly family vacation to a little known destination, Roatán, Honduras. I had read about Roatán in a few diving magazines and all of them talked about how it is a hidden treasure...an up and coming dive destination...a beach lovers paradise so of course I headed down to my local dive shop, Divers Cove, to get the real scoop from my friends.  Everything I found out about this tiny island just convinced me that we had to go.  Convincing the rest of the gang was another thing.  Everyone in the group kept asking where the heck is Roatán and it was only fitting to find out that that is their island slogan -- "Where the F*@K is Roatán ?"  So here's a little geography lesson I gave my family.  Roatán is part of the bay islands and is located just off the coast of Honduras in the Caribbean.  It's sandwiched in between the islands of Útila and Guanaja and is the largest of the Bay Islands -- it's also home to the second largest reef in the world (the Great Barrier Reef of course being the largest) so you know the diving was bound to be incredible -- and it was! The people and the food were also incredible (FOOD TIP:  try the signature dish called Baliada from the lady with the stand in the West End - they are the best on the island and you can't beat the price!)

The ocean landscape was absolutely amazing - there were canyons, deep drop offs, shallow reefs for diving or snorkeling, wrecks, and an abundant sea life. The visibility was incredible and the water the most amazing color of blue and the best part was the water was warm enough that you didn't even need a wet suit.  We were fortunate to hook up with a local boat captain, who we dubbed the mayor, because he knew everyone and everything about the island.  He took us to the best dive and snorkel spots and even scheduled a shark dive for us with the Waihuka Dive Center.
Shark Dive  - Feeding Frenzy!

Amazing shark dive with the
Waihuka Dive Center!
Doing a shark dive has been on my bucket list for quite a while, and while I still dream of diving with great whites, this shark dive was awesome!  The dive center took us down to about 75' deep to a shelf.  Once the whole group was down he gave us the signal to swim with the black tip reef sharks (about 25 of them) if we dared, take pictures or just stay behind the scene and relax.  Just when you think it couldn't get any better it was lunch time for the sharks.  We then had to stand back against the reef wall while the sharks waited for the prize inside the bucket to open up and that's when the real fun began....the feeding frenzy was on!  I was awe struck at how quickly the sharks settled down once all the fish were gone and then the new frenzy began -- the divers frenzy to search for shark teeth while the sharks were still around!  Its funny how you grow up with the idea that being in the same area as shark means only one thing -- you are on their menu but that's really not the case.
Sign Up to Save the Shark
Now I'm not saying shark attacks don't happen but they are not the norm. What I found truly amazing to see is how beautiful and graceful they are when they swim, how one second they are swimming next to you and in a blink of an eye they're gone.  Diving amongst them truly reinforced the idea of how we need to preserve and protect these beautiful creatures.

The best part of this little jewel is that there is something for everyone to do.  Whether you're a beginning diver, an expert diver, or just want to snorkel, go down a zip line, or just lay on the beach at Sandy Bay this island is definitely worth the visit! 
So...Diveonauts Dive!
Written by:  Rick Suarez, Jan 31, 2012

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