At the end of a most delightful diving holiday on Guanaja, my wife and I became involved in one of the worst examples of “dive planning” we have ever come across, in which we played the part of rescuers to a hapless trio of poorly prepared and inadequately trained divers. We were diving with Bo Bush and had just surfaced after a deep wall dive called Bayman Drop. We were at a fixed mooring about one kilometre off Soldado Beach on the north shore, not far from the canal to the airport; as the three of us climbed back on board Bo’s dive boat we heard cries of distress. A couple of hundred metres away we could see an inflated red safety “sausage” and a swimmer with a raised hand, the universal divers’ signal for “Help!” We quickly stowed our gear, fired up the engine, dropped the mooring and raced over to the swimmer. As we closed in, we could see it was someone in a wetsuit, possibly another diver in need of assistance. It was “Captain” Brian Rowland. We then made out another safety sausage and a red gas tank further away with two other divers in the water. We hauled “Captain” Brian on board and headed over to the other two fellows, brothers from South Carolina and Georgia and staying at the “Guanaja Island Club”; one could swim but the other was a non-swimmer. As we approached them we could make out the shape of a small submerged boat sitting on the coral reef in about 3 metres of water.
Over the next 30 minutes we managed to get everything from the water and on board Bo’s dive boat, including the three divers and all of their gear (tanks, weights, fins, masks, snorkels, plus), lines and the anchor, the motor and gas tank from the swamped boat, and even someone’s camera seen floating away. “Captain” Brian does not have a dive boat; he had rented this small dinghy (less than 4 metres long) to take two guests on a spear fishing expedition. One of his guests had some diving experience, the other brother (the non-swimmer) admitted to having very little.
We have been diving on the Meso-American Barrier Reef in Cuba, Cozumel, Roatan, Utila, Little Corn Island and Guanaja over the last 10 years and, like most diving visitors, respect the notion that for conservation you do not touch anything; you do not touch coral, you do not remove species from the water, you observe – that’s it. Many jurisdictions have established protected Marine Parks, but that doesn’t alter the basic premise; take only photos. In all of our Caribbean diving we have never seen ‘divers’ like “Captain” Brian with gloves, a dive knife, a spear gun and two groupers (one still impaled on the spear, and in its death throes). Yes, we hauled them into our rescue boat too!
This “resort owner” had taken two inexperienced Americans about 1 km from the beach in an offshore wind and choppy seas, and anchored a tiny rented boat they were supposed to be diving from to the coral reef. While they were spear fishing, the dinghy was swamped by a couple of waves and sank to the bottom. There was no built-in buoyancy, no life jackets, no bailer; the guys had to use their BCs for flotation and try to hold on to the anchor line jammed into the reef to prevent them from being washed out to sea. After we had them all on board with all their gear, Bo rigged a line to their submerged boat and carefully manoeuvred his craft to allow him to accelerate and pull the sunken vessel to the surface. By the time we had returned the three souls to the Guanaja Island Club, their boat needed little more than some bailing to keep it afloat.
“Captain” Brian should never have attempted to go diving from such a small boat in the ocean. He should never have taken inexperienced divers so far from shore without suitable equipment. He should not advertise on the Internet that he is a capable dive master. If we had not been diving relatively nearby, and he hadn’t managed to get close enough to be heard by us, the three of them would have been pushed offshore by the strengthening southeasterly winds and the next landfall would have been the Mexican coast about 350 km away!
It was a sickening incident to have witnessed and its stupidity still haunts us. If you value your own life – do not dive with the man who runs the Guanaja Island Club; “Captain” Brian Rowland is not worth the risk.
This place is a total scam. If you see a good review, know that it must be a plant. I was just there and am so mad. I was swindled out of all my money. I paid in advance for 12 days. I couldn't take it after 2 days and I am a very tolerant person and spent time in some pretty ***ty conditions in the military but this was suppose to be a vacation. They don't tell you that it is a dysfunctional husband and wife running the place by themselves, they have no boat for transportation on an island that requires one to get around, there is electricity only when the generator is running (a couple hours a day if you are lucky), no warm water, bugs are horrible, food is bad, and they will argue in front of you. Then they will con you into "going into town" paying for the water taxi and making into a shopping trip for them, dragging you around with them. I was even made into a babysitter for their kids. I would never in a million years recommend this place to anyone. I used all my money to go on this "dream" vacation and then had to use an emergency credit card to pay for another place. And they tried to keep me there by telling me that no one had electricity all the time but it was lies. Graham's place or anywhere else you go on the Island is a 100% better. Please do yourself a favor and don't fall under the same scam as I did. This is a married couple of scam artists that own some beach front that get tourists in there and then hide behind refund policies so they don't have to give you any money back. I am out all of my money. STAY AWAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
You are completely trapped, there is no cell phone coverage and no way to call for a water taxi. You can make the hour and half hike to the next village to get a ride but they have no way to travel. The only reason they have internet is because I brought him a new wireless router. And he still won't refund me any part of my money.
My husband and I choose this as our 'unplugged' Romantic Vacation”. I had checked out all of the resorts and hotels and I liked The Guanaja Island Club. We spent 9 days in one of their hillside bungalows and it was heaven. This is the perfect place for doing nothing but relaxing and the only dilemmas you have are what water activity you want to do or what food you are going to eat.
The snorkeling and diving are great. The best snorkeling we saw was right in front of the resort - tons of colorful fish. This was truly one amazing experience. Staff is amazing, always accommodating, always smiling. The place is heavenly Swimming is great - the water is blue it feels like a swimming pool and just the right type of cool. Bed is very comfy; bathroom has a shower with good amenities. Out of the dive shops on Guanaja, Bay Islands, Honduras, The Guanaja Island Club stands out mainly because of Brian, the manager. When it’s briefing time, he is all business. When it’s time to set up your gear, he is helpful and meticulous. But after that, it’s all fun. A trip on his boat is not a long and arduous ride the reefs are not more than 5-6 minutes dock to the mooring buoys. Book your trip directly with Brian or Carolina, who is very accommodating and will set up a package to meet your needs. From beginner to experienced diver, Guanaja is a great place to dive and The Guanaja Island Club is a perfect way to do it. The beach area is covered with coconut palms swaying in the breezes, very relaxing. We went on two excursions with Brian’s boat. One was the bar cruise that we did in the late evening into the night hours. We stopped by several local bars for cocktails and conversation with the locals. Lots of fun. The other tour was an all day tour of the villages all around the island. Great for photos!
The entire resort was really a great place to be. Remember a "Resort" is a full service facility where not only are you provided with accommodations but everything else is also available. Activities, restaurants, bars etc… The Guanaja Island Club has a great private white sand beach, Fishing pier, Beach diving, swimming area, Fishing, boat tours, guided hikes, Restaurant, Bar, small gym, concierge services, wifi internet service, private cabanas and everything is “in House” This means that they have their own boats and guides and nothing is outsourced. B&B’s and Hotels are usually places that you receive accommodations and possible a meal but not much more. On Guanaja since it’s remote you don’t want to get stuck in a place where you become like a prisoner and have to always travel to get a dive boat or meals or even go to the beach. Some highly rated places on Trip advisor don’t even have beaches, bars or access of the property without renting a boat.
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