Location: The Bay Islands of Honduras are just 90 miles south of Belize on the second largest barrier reef in the world. Many of the natural features that people visit Belize to see are actually much more abundant in Honduras without some of the negative aspects of tourism.
Time Zone: Central
Getting There: It usually works best to book your best fare to a gate city like Miami (MIA) or Houston (IAH) and then book your international leg to Roatan(RTB) from there. We often use websites like "Cheaptickets.com" for our domestic leg and book directly for the international leg. Travel agents are not recommended unless they are very familiar with Central American travel. Fees and schedules change daily, so this is general information. For up to the minute info, call the airlines directly or check the web.
Roatan has an international airport that receives nonstop flights on weekends from Miami, Houston, and Milan. It is served by the following airlines: American, Continental, TACA (www.Taca.com ; link opens in new window) and Aero Honduras (www.Aerohonduras.com ; link opens in new window). TACA is the most common carrier and has daily service from Miami and Houston through San Pedro Sula. TACA is also the airline that American and Continental connect with in San Pedro Sula to get you to Roatan. Average cost from Miami RT is $400-450, but specials are always being offered. Cost from Houston on TACA is about $500 and is non-stop on Saturdays and works great for our trip schedules. AeroHonduras (previously SolAir) offers a good non-stop service for the 140 minute flight from Miami with very good connection times. They only travel to Roatan from Miami non-stop on Fridays and have a Saturday return. This works well for most of our trips and simply means you get in a day early…we'll help you find lodging that day if you like. People most often fly in on Saturday's with Taca (stops en-route at San Pedro Sula) and return on the following Sunday nonstop to Miami.
Other Costs: Airport Exit tax is $25 (cash) when you leave and may be a baggage security fee. Local taxi costs are published at an airport rate sheet, but are usually negotiable.
Overstays and Trip Extensions: We encourage you to come early or stay late. It's a wonderful country and you'll want more time. Our overland trips are designed to work as natural extensions to our Reef Weeks and you'll get a $100 discount for combining them. E-mail us for lodging and local travel recommendations. We'll help any way we can.
Scuba: Roatan is known the world over for it's diving and for those coming early or staying late, we can recommend good dive companies. Getting Open water dive certified with excellent instructors on Roatan costs from $150-$250 and we'd be happy to help arrange this before or after one of our trips.
Culture: Afro-Caribbean, English settlers of the 1700's, Spanish mainlanders and numerous European and American Expats.
Topography: Mountainous tropical forest to the edge of the sea.
Climate: Fall is hurricane season, but during summer (Feb/Mar/April), daytime highs can range to 90, evenings in the low 70's with a seabreeze. Summer is the dry season, so rain is infrequent and sunscreen a must. This is also some of the best snorkling/diving time with 80 ft. visability in 82 degree water. Let's not even talk about how good the fishing is! I do hope you like seafood.
Food: Island food is typically small red beans and rice (not at all spicy), corn tortillas, coconut bread, chicken stewed with peppers and saffron and seafood. I cook some island style and mix it with some other Caribe flavors. You may enjoy vanilla banana pancakes, pinto gallo (a Costa Rican breakfast), lobster paella, coconut grouper, conch stew, spicy shrimp pasta, snapper in fresh fruit sauce or traditional stewed chicken. Healthy fresh foods prepared this way take a little time, but there's always time for good food. We only patronize restaurants we trust and most of your food is carefully prepared to western standards by your guides. Vegetarian or non-seafood tastes are easily accommodated.
Kayaking: Experience in helpful, but not mandatory. You can develop your skills with a ACA certified open water instructors throughout the week as you learn to handle a sea kayak in wind and waves. Being on a tropical island in the tradewinds does present some great opportunities for gentle paddling as well as rough water paddling without the dangers of cold water. You can also learn how to snorkel right out of your kayak on a fantastic living coral reef!
Language: Although Spanish is helpful, most islanders speak English.
Passport, Visa and Immunizations: You need a current passport and your visa is issued on arrival. A recent tentanous booster and Hep. A shot is a good precaution against third world adaptation problems. You need to do this a few weeks in advance. Check with a travel medicine clinic or the CDC website (link opens in new window) for up to the minute info. Malaria--although uncommon, some people choose to take chloroquine as a preventive measure.
Critters: Biting insects--sand flies or no-see-ums can be nasty when the wind dies, but it is predictably at dawn/dusk and clothing does the best job. We usually choose to sleep in on buggy mornings and do an inside "happy hour" during the short evening bug period. Snakes--yahoo, there are no poisonous snakes in the Bay Islands! Disreputable American Real Estate agents abound and are the worst pests in the islands.
Have we ever done this before? Have we ever done this before? I developed this program for Slickrock Adventures, a well known outfitter that operates a variety of good programs in Belize. I ran it for two winters and it was taken over by two other guides who ran it for another season before abandoning it in favor of their more profitable programs in Belize. I've guided other winter paddling destinations in New Zealand and the Everglades for many years and this is my favorite. Mountains, coral, tropical forests, fun local culture, great paddling....its got it all. Other questions? Call your guide toll free: Michael Gray (866) 882-5525.