When you dock in Roatan, there is a fenced off area where select cab drivers are allowed to park and try to get you to take their "airconditioned van". We went beyond the gate to a little market. But I was immediately surrounded by children trying to be my guide. Some just outright were asking for dollars. It was sad and also intimidating. We found a guide outside the fence who agreed to take us to a beach and give us a tour for a set amount of money. I think it was $75 for the 5 of us. He worked with a van driver and the two of them were our guides for the day. (no AC but it really didnt' matter) We asked to get to the West Bay area but I don't think we got that far. We found a little Bay that was popular with divers and stopped there to snorkel (took our own gear). The guide talked my husband into buying some rum (cheap but tasted cheap) and we fixed a couple of drinks. Funny thing - the rum disappeared from our table when we went out into the water. My son said that as soon as we turned around, our guide was making hefty drinks for himself. Kids were selling cashews on the beach in little baggies -delicious. The beach was absolutely beautiful. There was a long walkway out to a 2 story gazebo thing that the boys were jumping off. The water was still and the snorkeling was excellent. The people on this side of the island were very laid back and used to divers and other tourists. There was no pressure from vendors or any feeling of uneasiness. I wanted to go somewhere to get a mahogany salad bowl (I had heard it was really a good buy). I think I paid $20 for a very large salad bowl with 6 small bowls. Not a lot of fun to lug back home but it's really beautiful. The only problem is that when we got back to the dock, the guide team tried to hit us up for more money. They said that we had told them we would give them more when we returned - which we did not. We just politely thanked them for the day and told them to keep the rum and got back on the ship. Lesson learned - maybe the drivers within the fence are approved for a reason. The ship was delayed leaving for almost an hour because all of the passengers weren't there. I would go back for a land trip to Roatan and stay at one of the diving "resorts" on the island. My kids still talk about it.
We went in Jan. 04. We just took a ship sponsored excursion to Tabyana Beach. Absolutely beautiful beach. We were going to do the semi-submersible, but the weather wasn't good enough to allow it to go out, or to allow much snorkeling for the others in our party who had planned on that. If it's good weather, I'm told Roatan has some of the best snorkeling available.
We're going again on 5/14 -- this time we're going to do the Dolphin Excursion, probably combined with Tabyana Beach.
We were there in early Jan and went on the tour from the ship that included the semi-sub, the weather was perfect, the beach was beautiful, but the boat ride just wasn't long enough. Next time might try the snorkling.
Thanks for all your advice....but most of you describe snorkeling adventures and we do NOT snorkel. I'm looking for a sandy beach, with pretty water, to gently wade out and swim! Going w/my daughter who doesn't like deep water and won't snorkel.
Any good beaches with this description there? Sounds like I might have to book something through the cruiseline...but I hate to pay the higher prices. Better to pay though, than deal with unscrupilous "guides" like yours GMTROUT. Sorry you had to deal with that!
We were in Roatan last year this time and fell in love with the island...if you are at least a semi adventurous time who is up for a little culture and new experience, I'd go out on your own....better price, help local business (this is a 3rd world country!) and probably have more o an authentic experience. We did online research ahead of time and we had a wonderful day!!!
We grabbed a cab outside of Coxen Hole where the ship docks for $25/2 of us. Driver had a school aged boy who spoke english, but it was fun to try to interact by using our broken espanol...they were very friendly. They tried to talk us into renting the cab for the whole day but no pressure when we declined. Dropped us off at Half Moon Bay to snorkel. Instead you could be dropped off at West End...sandy streets w/some shops, a grocery store, a few bars and places to grab food etc. You can rent mopeds here also. If you walk thru town to the end you can hop on a water taxi to West Bay Beach for about $3 person...quick boat ride to the beach...the most scenic on the cruise. Lunch at Bite on the Beach was yummy...great fresh seafood and a table right on the water's edge. Swam and lounged rest of the day, shopped at some beach vendors and got a cab ride back to Coxen Hole.
Thanks MRSOX...but with just us two girls, I'm afraid to wander through town to get a taxi. Aren't taxi's available at the pier to go to West Bay Beach? Hope so, as we would really enjoy a nice beach. Question: were there umbrellas/lounge chairs, restaurants on the beach?
When you get off the ship at the pier at Coxen Hole you'll be bombarded with offers for cabs, tours etc. You can go with one of these or walk thru the crowds to the main street (100-200 feet away) where there will still be cabs etc....no need to wander around town at all...we just preferred to get thru the initial chaos first and then decide on someone, barter a price etc.
You can rent chairs and umbrellas at several of the beach front resorts...Fosters for instance is well known and they have a web site: www.fostersroatan.com They have a restaurant, but we went to Bite on the Beach at the edge of West Bay Beach...right on the water...very mellow place w/great seafood.
Let me know if you have more ?'s...we adore Roatan!!! www.roatanisland.net is a great web site to check out...lots of good info on the places we've discussed.