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Sunday, 03 May 2015 09:51

Beautiful, Natural Honduras

Written by  Rita Cook
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There is no getting past the fact that visitors to the island of Roatan will overlook some negative news reports in exchange for a trip to what is known as a diver and snorkelers dream. Roatan, the largest and most developed of the Bay Islands, has an abundance of natural beauty. There is just enough “new” here to make it a safe destination hotspot, and has not yet been overrun with too many tourists.

When arriving in Roatan by plane you will be in the largest town on the island called Coxen Hole. Most folks head out immediately after arrival for the real island experience. A long, thin island, Roatan offers a coastline that is home to a stunning coral reef and an abundance of fish. There are beautiful white sandy beaches and if you visit West Bay it won’t be hard to imagine why pirates once thought this was a perfect hideout, complete with an interior canopy of pines. The east side of the island is mostly still untamed.
Hotels on the island have left the beauty of the island as the main draw for the visitor, but you will find a number of resort hotels, and a mall. Cruise ships have been drawn to the island, creating the need for a cruise terminal that is still relatively new.Listen to the sounds of the wind though coconut trees on Roatan’s West End and visually, water that stuns with its turquoise highlights. This is also the best place for visitors looking for a little of the bohemian vibe, offering amazing restaurants, shops and bars that cater to the laid back nighttime crowd.
Sandy Bay is located north of the West End area and there are some finds here, like the Carambola Botanical Gardens where you can hike or walk among the many orchids and spices covering about 40 acres. Keep your eyes open for the little agoutis, rodent looking creatures who call this part of the country home. Don’t miss Iguana Wall, a cliff that is home to iguanas and parrots with ruins that date back to the pre-Colombian time.
While on the theme of iguanas, in French Harbour, home to a large fishing, shrimp and lobster business, there is also an iconic farm called Arch’s Iguana Farm in French Cay. The farm is home to anywhere from 3,000 to 4,000 resident iguanas all lounging around in trees and bushes, and even on the driveway
leading inside.
Of course the Roatan Museum is a must in Sandy Bay, located in the Anthony’s Key Resort (www.anthonyskey.com, with an educational look at the history of the island, which dates back many centuries. It offers interesting  information about the Mayan influence in the area.
One tourist experience created for the cruise ship passenger is called the Garífuna Experience. It is a cultural center where visitors get a feel of the island, and a bit of recreation too. It begins with a 30-minute talk about the Garífuna, the roots of the culture, and their passage to the island of Roatan. You are then treated to a dance demonstration. Guests have the opportunity to shop, or choose to participate in some local traditions such as making a yucca flatbread called casabe, or eating the local Garífuna foods prepared by the folks living in the area.
Indeed, a visit to Roatan Bay Island is a best kept secret, engaging all the senses - from the rich colorful turquoise waters to the mountain jungles, which are all situated on just 48 square miles. It’s the perfect destination for peaceful days filled with scuba or snorkel, sail boating or kayaking, and even opportunities to swim with the dolphins. Visit www.honduras.travel

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