We’re scheduled to visit Roatan Honduras in December. It’s been compared to the TV Fantasy Island. Check out the map here. Note that the island is 33 miles long and only three miles wide. The spine of the island is more than a few hundred feet above sea level. So the island has been used for triathlons where the bicycle part is challenging. Where possible, therefore, I’ll try to avoid crossing the island over the hills. The ship lands in the city in Coxen Hole near the west end of the island.
Among the things Bicycle Cruising has learned to look for (Honduras/Belize Travel Site and GoNomad) are the varied cultures, the beaches and diving sites, a few special viewing facilities for Iguanas and butterflies, and to beware of the sand fleas. Roatan has few or no remaining natives from before the Spanish arrived, but there is a Caribbean-African Garifuna community at Punta Gorda along with influences from the Spanish and, particularly, the British, who decided to compete with the Spanish in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Thus, most of the people speak “Caribbean English.” I found a lot of hotels and rental sites who rent bicycles and many of the villa owners who provide bicycles, so I presume the island is bicycle friendly. I’ve learned that paved roads are available but that potholes may be a hazard and the roads may be slippery, especially in the rainy season which lasts from November to February–the time we’ll be there. (Take our rain gear). But there are also many unpaved roads, some of which may be navigable for Marilyn and me, but some which may be more challenging than we want to take on.
Prior to leaving the ship, we will have breakfast and collect some food to carry in our backpacks. This will include some fruit, some muffins or pastries, and some bottled water. We’ll carry the food in some sort of a box to protect it from getting crushed and a plastic bag to avoid contaminating the rest of the backpack in case something comes loose. There are three areas in which we will be interested, actually four. The first area is the area around the port in Coxen Hole, where there will be a market and other vendors. Since the market areas are best visited in the morning, we’ll start there with the actual market. We plan to taste food from some of the carts and especially pick up some fresh fruits to taste there and to eat during the rest of the ride. The second area is the West End which houses most of the resort area and the better restaurants, but also has attractions like the Butterfly Garden and the Carambola Botanical Gardens. We may try a beach in this area if one looks good. The distance to the end of West End is approximately 9 miles and we should easily make this in an hour. We’ll try the attractions on our way back toward Coxen Hole, but still in the morning. Once back in Coxen Hole, we’ll take off toward French Harbor, a trip of about 6 miles. In French Harbor, we’ll take a look at the Iguana Farm and check out other beaches. During the midday, we’ll also be looking for someplace to eat lunch. I really want to try something with conch in it. I’ve heard some places have French Fried conch sandwiches which are wonderful. The trip to French Harbor is another hour out and an hour back. That gives several one hour opportunities to see places like the Iguana Farm and beaches. I’ll be looking for remnants of the pirate past for Roatan and I’ll try to get photos for the blog after we’ve done the trip. I’ve read that pirates buried some of their loot on this island. Maybe I can buy a treasure map and come up with some real buried treasure.
The fourth area I want to visit is the Garifuna Village at Punta Gorda. Garifunas are the remnants of the Black Caribs who were brought to Roatan two or three hundred years ago. Punta Gorda is the area where most of them still live and I am really interested in learning about their culture. But this area is about thirteen miles from Coxen Hole and about 6-8 miles beyond French Harbor. The time to get there and back is probably longer than we will have available on this trip, so we’ll probably have to put this off till our next trip to Roatan.
Finally, I am aware that Honduras is undergoing some political turmoil. I’m convinced Roatan is isolated from most of that and we are unlikely to see anything which would cause a problem. I look forward to a great ride and a great time. I’m stoked, aren’t you? Bicycle Cruising