Just one of the many things to do in Coxen Hole, this is one of the stores built for the cruise ships that dock on Roatan. The girls running the store enjoyed, as many young people on the island do, being on the "bad end" of a camera. Unfortunately, I didn't get any good digital shots of her.
Flying Magical Beach Chair
In my mind I had envisioned the Flying Magical Beach Chair as something needed to get passengers from the cruise port to the beach so I figured it must be a really long walk and that the incline was really steep, otherwise why would they install what was essentially a ski lift?
After seeing the actual Flying Magical Beach Chair, I'm a little perplexed at why they built it, the walk from the entrance to the chairlift and where it ended up was about 5 minutes on foot and while there was a slight incline, it certainly wasn't like the mountain I had imagined.
The website says it's $12 for an all day pass, I guess you could use it multiple times if you were to go back to the ship for lunch and then back to the beach
A short distance northeast of Coxen Hole we saw two different shipwrecks, both many years old, gathering rust in Dixon Cove.
Although we could see the ships fairly well from the road, I was not content to take a photo from there. Forgetting that I'm not as agile as I once was, I crawled under a barbed wire fence and followed a faint path through an overgrown field down to the water's edge to get a better view. I won't do that again. Not only did I get stuck on the barbed wire, but I was also attacked by a swarm of small biting insects which seemed to love my juicy bare legs. But for all my trouble, and in spite of it being a cloudy day, I did get a fairly decent picture.
To learn more about these and other shipwrecks around Roatan Island click in the website below.
Upachaya Paddle and Snorkel
We really enjoyed the kayak/snorkel trips that we've taken in a couple of other Caribbean ports so we decided to book with Upachaya for their paddle/snorkel excursion. They pick you up at the cruise port and drive you to the Upachaya Resort 6 miles from Mahogany Bay, 3 miles from Coxen Hole. We had 12 people on our trip, some of them from our cruise ship, a couple from a cruise ship at Coxen Hole and a couple that were staying on the island. As we were leaving, another group was arriving.
The 1st part of the trip is kayaking through a mangrove, then out to the sea where you paddle out to a reef for snorkeling. The kayaks are 2 person ocean kayaks, we spent about an hour kayaking but it wasn't strenous as we had different levels of experience on our tour, we weren't challenged at all.
The kayaks were anchored in about 4 feet of water but you need to be able to pull yourself back into the kayak (to the man I mooned, hopefully my lily white butt didn't blind you!). The reef here was gorgeous but I really wished that our guide had stressed the importance of staying away from the coral, I witnessed one of our group wipe a section of it out and my husband watched another destroy a different section. They were both inexperienced snorkelers, it was clear that they were having a difficult go of it.
After snorkeling we kayaked back to the resort, the Canadians led everyone but us in the wrong direction but we kayaked back through the mangroves and beat them all back. Lunch was provided afterwards, because it's an ecoresort almost everything served was healthy and it was all vegetarian.
The kayak/snorkel trip was $60US, we had to put down a $25 deposit per person on PayPal and we paid the remainder in cash.
While I thought this was a nice trip, I don't know that I picked the best thing to do on Roatan. I'm not sure if I feel that way because I've already done a couple of similar trips, the one on Antigua I really enjoyed, and it was a "been there done that" thing or if the trip itself was lackluster. Our kayak/snorkel guide was very young and didn't do a great job of keeping us all together. While I applaud hiring locals to lead the tours, I didn't think this young man was particularly suited for the work.
Well, of course, on Roatan,...
Well, of course, on Roatan, one must dive!!! If you are traveling to Roatan, look up a local dive store in your hometown, and get certified! The diving in Roatan is quite good, and it's hardly worth the trip down there without seeing what the island has to offer under its azure tide. The dive shops are plentiful on the island, and many are part of a bigger hotel. Coco View, Fantasy Island and Anthony's Key Resort are three major dive operations in the area. The dive shops are well-equipped and Anthony's Key even has a recompression chamber. Diving in Roatan is safe, with decently cared for equipment and good dive masters. It's really worth the money spent!
- Diving and Snorkeling
Statue to Jose Santo Guardiola
The largest of the two statues in Coxen Hole was to Jose Santo Guardiola. Santos (1816-1862) was native Honduran who served as a general and later became President of President of Honduras from February 17, 1856 to January 11, 1862. He became the only President of Honduras to be assassinated while in office and was killed by his personal guard.
Santos belonged to the Conservative Party, but his administration was considered to be one of most liberal in Honduran history. He granted freedom of press, suffrage and movement. Santos also maintained good relations with the British which helped facilitate the incorporation of the Bay Islands and the La Mosquitia region into the nation of Honduras.
Statue to Francisco Morazan
The smaller statue in the park at Coxen Hole consisted only of a bust mounted on a white pedestal. The only inscription was the name "Francisco Morazan." I wondered, does everyone already know who Francisco Morazan is and therefore no further inscription is needed - or have they already forgotten who he was, so no further inscription is possible?
Upon doing a little independent research I learned that Francisco Morazan (1792-1842), was a native of Tequcigalpa, Honduras, who once served as President of Central America. He unsuccessfully fought to maintain the unity of the nation which splintered into separate states through civil war.
Morazan later served as President of Costa Rica, and from that position tried to once again unite the Central American states. He was assassinated before he was able to accomplish that goal.
Get Lost on a Mountain!
My Lonely Planet guidebook mentioned Carambola Gardens and used quotation marks when referrring to "the summit", thus suggesting that "the summit" was nothing more than a small hill just waiting to be frolicked upon by skirt-and-flip-flop-wearing lazy bums like myself. I think the quotation marks may have been a typographical error, as Carambola Gardens most definitely DO have "a summit", which is neither fit for frolicking nor fit for flip-flops.
Located about five minutes by taxi outside of West End, Carambola Gardens are a private, pay-for-use park, with a MOUNTAIN (make no mistake) at the center. In essence, the trails are nearly impossible to find because they are so poorly marked, and the climb up to "the summit" is longer and steeper than your guidebook lets on. Myself and four other people who I chanced upon at the entrance walked for nearly forty minutes just looking for the path to summit! We had to go back to the information center to find out where the path actually began, and from there it was another thirty minutes up a steep, poorly maintained path to reach the lookout point. Along the way we saw little lizards that "fly" from tree to tree, some fairly large rodents (see my Cannibal Cafe tip under Restaurants... no... really!) and lots of butterflies. At the top, the view of Anthony's Key Resort is fairly good, and if you bring binoculars you will be able to watch swimmers and snorkellers interacting with the resort's dolphins. There is supposedly an Iguana Wall somewhere in the park, but once you see the map you'll understand why we weren't able to find it!
Carambola Gardens aren't bad- just don't be fooled into thinking they're a good place for an easy stroll. Dress for hiking, bring a bottle of water and ask at the desk for clear directions before you set out.
- Budget Travel
- Hiking and Walking
Coxen Hole City Park
When I asked our driver to stop and let me take photos of this park in the heart of downtown Coxen Hole he seemed surprised. Apparently none of the people for he had served as a guide before had ever noticed the park, or at least hadn't bothered to stop.
Admittedly the park isn't much. It was just a very small unkempt open space shaded by a few small trees with a few concrete benches and a couple of simple statues. I will highlight these statues in the next two tips.
Scuba diving at Mary's Place
Mary's Place is the signature dive site for the Island of Roatan. Here you will find an awesome crack under water. You enter the crack at about 20 feet of water and come out at over 85 feet.
There are many things to see above the crack as well so if you have a dive buddy that does not like entering closed places they can dive just above you and meet you on the other side of the crack.
Keep an eye out for the sea horses.
- Diving and Snorkeling
- Water Sports
- Family Travel
Roatan Institute for Marine Sciences
There is a place called "Roatan Institute for Marine Sciences" (RIMS) located on the island that teaches the children and adults all about how the reef lives and survives.
There is also a museum here that will teach you about the Roatan Bay islands and it’s history.
It is free to enter and is a good way to spend some time out of the sun and in the air-conditioning and learn a little as well.
- Museum Visits
- Family Travel
Zooming through the rainforest..
Zip-lining with The Pirates of the Caribbean.. I wouldn't suggest missing this for the world.. A most amazingly, unforgettable experience, and for ALL ages... Exhilarating, adrenaline pumping excursion.. The most memorable of ALL excursions!!!
And, let's not forget Fantasy Island, and the Blue Lagoon... So beautiful... So serene... Such tranquility and beauty, wrapped up in one...
- Jungle and Rain Forest
- Adventure Travel
Diving With Dolphins
Whether you are staying at Anthony's Key Resort or not you can still arrange to visit with and dive with the resident dolphins there. First you are taken to their holding pens where you'll meet a couple of the dolphins in person. Then you'll head out to the ocean and descend to a sandy bottom about 60 ft down.
You swim around for a couple of minutes and then you'll start hearing the clicking and talking as the dolphins swim out to you. Pretty cool to be down there for 40 minutes, seeing them interact in their natural habitat and then actually lie down on the sea floor so that you can pet them. Not something you get to do everyday now is it?
See some monkeys!
We went to the home of Victor Bodden, who has a mini monkey and parrot farm. The monkeys were extremly friendly and would climb on you as soon as you went near them! No biting, no messes, these monkeys were pretty well-behaved. Adorable photo op!
The Gumbalimba Park
Go to visit the Gumbalimba Park. It's a beautiful park into the jungle where you'll find many native species of birds: macaws, parrots and many monkeys. The most of them live in freedom and sometime a parrot can decide to alight on your shoulder or your arm. And if you take some seeds they like...they don't live you in peace...
- Jungle and Rain Forest