I’ve spent MANY hours lately researching where to go for our next trip and in doing so it made me reminisce about past holidays so I thought I’d tell you about one of my favorites.
In 2012 my husband and I decided we wanted to go someplace different and after much debate settled on Media Luna in Roatan, Honduras.
For those of you that may not be familiar with Roatan it is a small island (approximately 48 miles long by 5 miles at its widest) off the mainland of Honduras. It lies just off the edge of the 2nd largest barrier reef in the world and a large part of its economy comes from tourism due to its beauty and proximity to the reef for scuba diving and snorkeling.
Landing in Roatan was an interesting experience. The landing strip is rather short and immediately after a quick decent over the hills beside the airfield. It was equally as unique when we left; so much so that the pilot advised the takeoff would be different than most people are used to. The plane taxied to the farthest end of the runway, the brakes were engaged and then the engine revved to the point the plane was vibrating before the pilot released the brakes and the plane took off like a shot up the short runway. All though it was a smooth takeoff it felt like we just barely had enough runway and then height to clear the hills.
Media Luna is a beautiful remote resort on a small beach surrounded by lush vegetation. Although the beach is small it is sufficient for the size of the resort and was never busy. The resort offered the use of sea kayaks which we took advantage of a number of times to check out the coral that was visible from the surface of the water not that far down the beach. You could also walk down the shoreline and see some interesting fish hiding in the rocky crevices. I would strongly recommend water shoes for anyone wanting to walk down the beach past the sandy area. I tried to step from sandy area to sandy area and managed to fall rather inelegantly into the water fully dressed before dinner one evening.
The main building of the resort houses a small gift shop, front desk and restaurant/entertainment area. The restaurant is set up in a way that I had never seen before but really enjoyed. The room is set up almost like a theatre with graduated levels of seating leading from a large open area at the bottom for entertainment purposes to the buffet that is on the large, main, upper level. Each level is wide enough to hold the dining tables and is where you eat all your meals.
The evening entertainment was one of the few areas that I found lacking but in all honesty they were doing their best to accommodate a large group of very demanding Italians that were also staying at the resort while we were there, so about half the shows were in Italian. There was only one evening scheduled for a dance party and it wound down by 11pm. I’ve heard that recently they have more than one evening of dancing which I would appreciate.
I’m an adventurous eater who will try just about anything and not particularly picky so I had no problems with the food, but neither did my husband who is a very basic eater. I had the most incredible calamari I have ever tasted while there. Instead of being sliced into rings it was left as a tube and stuffed almost like cannelloni. There was always an assortment of meats but you did have to be careful when eating the fish because there were often bones in it even though it appeared to be fillets. Surprisingly there was not a lot of fruit provided and never any bananas. If you are looking for 5 star Michelin dining this is not the place for you but it was always edible with numerous choices.
The drinks were always ice cold and not lacking for alcohol so I understood quickly why they didn’t provide large glasses for the drinks. I had to ask the bartenders to put half the rum in my drinks so I didn’t end up tipsy. We were told to try the lemon daiquiris and were not impressed at first but once the alcohol was reduced they quickly became my drink of choice. I also heard the expresso bar was first rate but never tried it myself.
One of my favourite things about this resort was the sprawling layout and rooms. I absolutely loved that each room was its own private cabin. We had an oceanfront cabin and I would highly recommend paying the extra for these cabins as the views were worth every penny. The cabins themselves were a decent size with a large bathroom. The shower was against an exterior wall with a frosted glass window looking out over the ocean. There was a small unfrosted area high enough to look out at the water but not expose you if someone happened to go past the cabin at that time. We did find out rather unintentionally that although you can’t see particulars through the frosted glass you can tell when someone is in the shower. Our room had a king size four poster bed with semi-sheer curtains that could be pulled closed around it.
The cabin also had a sizeable porch/balcony with 2 lounge chairs and a two person hammock for relaxing in. We weren’t however the only ones who enjoyed our porch. For the first few mornings we would wake up to find a mess on the decking but couldn’t figure out where it was coming from. On night number three we discovered our friends. There were 2 large (at least large to me) bats that made the ceiling of the porch their home and they were the ones leaving us fruit bits and droppings for presents every morning.
My husband, Wayne, and I are the type of people who like to experience and enjoy the true culture of where we are visiting. We have been known to hop on local buses just to see where they take us when we travel. In Roatan the resort we chose was on the far end of the island away from any towns so before we arrived we arranged to rent a dirt bike to get around. What I didn’t account for was just how hilly and windy the roads would be. The road into the resort had such a steep incline that I decided there was no way I would feel comfortable on the back of the bike about not falling off so Wayne got a lot of alone time to check out the island without me.
We did rent a van for a few days with two other couples we met at the resort and managed to tour the island a little. On one of Wayne’s solo excursions he found this local man who offered to take us for a tour of the mangroves for a fraction of the price of the tours offered at the resort so we went for it. When we arrived for the tour and saw the boat we nearly backed out. The boat (for 7 of us) was only slightly better than a canoe and the canopy on the boat was a plastic sand box lid that was strapped to four shower curtain rods to hold it up. The boat may not have been pretty (nor was the tour guide) but it was the most amazing afternoon. The guide was born and raised in the area and told us all kinds of neat tidbits of information interspersed with a liberal amount of humour.
On the second to last day there we drove into town and went on a dune buggy tour. The guide handed us bandanas to tie around our faces and told us to take a lap around the warehouse to get a feel for the buggy before we headed out into the wilderness. We hadn’t even completed that lap before Wayne found a mud puddle to splash through. The guide just laughed and said we were definitely going to have a fun day. He took us down all kinds of dirt paths (although he called them roads) to an open mud field and let us loose. About 100 feet into the field I realized why he gave us the bandanas. I hadn’t pulled mine over my mouth and Wayne hit the first bog and swamped me with muddy water in my face and mouth. I think I swallowed a half a cup of mud. We played in the mud for about an hour and laughed so hard my sides hurt but I was still ecstatic to see our next stop of the tour was a private beach to swim (and clean off) and have a snack.
Lessons learned when on a dune buggy – put your bandana over your face and keep your mouth shut when mud bogging. If you don’t do this you may end up sick like I did. The day after I got home I was violently ill and my doctor initially thought I may have typhoid. Since I was working for a pharmaceutical research company at that time I could not go to work for fear of contamination but it was quickly determined I did not have typhoid but had swallowed some nasty bacteria when I swallowed all the muddy water. A week of antibiotics and I was good as new.
I may have gotten sick from this trip (through no fault but my own) but I would do it all over again in a heartbeat if there weren’t so many other places I still need to see.
On to the next adventure.