30 Mar Diving into Honduras
Going from Nicaragua’s capital of Managua to the capital of Honduras named Tegucigalpa, can be an easy, seven hour trip on Ticabus’s direct coach service. But the bus only left at 5am the day after we we wanted to leave and we thought as ‘seasoned travelers’, we could do it on our own by local bus and spend even less than Ticabus’s $20 fare. Well, we were right on both accounts, but we surely put in the hard yards to do it the local way. It took us 12 hours, $11 and 6 buses, the last of which we had to stand in the aisle for the whole 3 hour trip. Add on to that a bicycle rickshaw ride across the border and a dodgy taxi ride in the capital and you’ve got yourself a whopper of a day. That night, over Salvavida beers, we thought about our day and realized that though we did it the hard way, it was also the more exciting way. We crammed in next to Nicaraguan old ladies and wide-eyed children, read a shocking tabloid paper on a bus with some Honduras guys, bought strange foods and plastic bags of water from bus vendors with frilly white aprons, listened to a variety of native and foreign music, ate lunch from a sidewalk grill in a lively market, and jumped on buses seconds before they pulled away. We decided that as long as it’s only once in awhile, we definitely prefer the long, hard, exciting way. As they say, life is a journey, not just a destination…
Teguicalpa – Honduras
However, it’s very nice when you’ve taken such a journey and come to a lovely destination, a charming capital city set in a deep, verdantly green valley. Though only in Teguicalpa for the night, we wandered the streets in the early morning and found sprawling plazas, street markets, striking cathedrals and delicious street food. But we were soon back onto another bus, headed north to the Caribbean coast. Although we saw most of Honduras through a bus window, we thought it was gorgeous. Very mountainous and very green. Another overnight in the town of La Ceiba and the next morning we were on a large ferry boat for the two-hour crossing to the island of Roatan.
Roatan Islands – Honduras
Roatan is the largest of the Honduras Bay Islands area, stretching 50 kilometers long, five kilometers wide and completely surrounded in colorful coral reef. This of course makes it a scuba diving paradise, where many visitors seem to spend more time under the sea than on the island, and we were there to join them. We were driven out to Oak Ridge on the remote east side of the island, then took a little dinghy boat to Reef House Resort on a small cay across the channel. The peaceful, unpretentious, family-style ‘resort’ was our happy home for four days and we had the pleasure of sharing it with young Canadian owners, Larry & Carol, their right hand girl, Leanne, and the only other guests for the week, a fun-loving American couple Aina and Richard. The seven of us sat down to three home-cooked meals a day, chatted over Leanne’s blended cocktails on the breezy ocean front patio, and fed sardines to the 26 turtles that live in front of the resort. Along with our meals, three dives a day were included in the Reef House dive package, so our fabulous dive master David, boat captain Choco, and skipper Lenny took us out to explore many of the 45 dive sites that lie within 5 to 15 minutes of the Reef House. The diving was heavenly, in warm, clear, turquoise water with striking coral, vibrant fish, giant crabs, spiny lobsters, and elusive eels and octopus. Larry and Carol joined us underwater to celebrate Aina’s 100th dive and we ended our stay with a delicious lobster dinner.
Having experienced the rural, quiet east side of Roatan, we then headed back to the more populated and touristed ‘West End’, where we coincidentally stayed with Aina and Richard again at the Luna Beach Resort. The resort had a great location set on 15 acres of forest on a calm stretch of beach just ten minutes walk from the bars and cafes in the West End. It was very nice and quiet, probably because the guests were usually underwater, and we relished the time we got to spend with Aina and Richard, celebrating their 29th wedding anniversary and listening to stories about their hippie and biker days.
Unfortunately, we didn’t get a chance to dive on the west side of Roatan, as we had to catch a weekly boat to Belize. Fortunately, after much calling around, we finally found the right schedule and information about the Nesymein Neydy fast skiff weekly boat service, and we were happy we did, as it was a fast and enjoyable way to travel from Honduras to Belize. Our time in Honduras was shorter than we would have liked, but as is so often the case, it’s not the quantity of places we’ve seen, but the quality of our experiences there – the people, the diving, the scenery, the journeys – that make it so memorable.
Honduras Travel Tips:
- If you want to travel from Honduras (Puerto Cortes) to Belize (Dangriga) by boat, call Nesymein Neydy in advance to confirm the weekly departure day and time. Arrive early in the morning to go through immigration procedures.
- There is one ferry boat company that takes passengers two or three times a day from La Ceiba to Utila and Roatan in the Bay Islands. Call ahead or check with La Ceiba hotels to confirm departure times. 443-4633 There are also flights to all Bay Islands.
Rebecca Rasmus – Written in 2004 – Honduras.