The Bay Islands of Honduras
29.03.2016 - 29.03.2016
I couldn’t believe it was our last morning on Little Cay. It made my heart hurt.
The time we had spent on this dot of sand had been so incredibly beautiful and special, I just didn’t have words for it. It was no Ritz. There was no concierge service or poolside cocktails, but what it lacked in luxury, it more than made up for in peace, in solitude, and in modest beauty.
It had been simple. And it had been perfect.
But our time was over and it was someone else’s turn to discover paradise.
Barry picked us up promptly at 8:00 a.m. and took us back to Utila where we grabbed a cab to the airport.
The small airlines from Roatan only have scheduled service between the two islands on Saturday. Because we were returning to Roatan on a Tuesday, we had two choices: take the ferries or book a private air charter.
When I realized the ferries would involve almost 3 hours onboard large ferries lovingly nicknamed the “Vomit Comets” by travelers as well as a 1.5 hour “layover” in La Cieba on mainland Honduras, I quickly made the decision to take the charter flight.
The cost was reasonable at $100 per person, so why not? I am extremely comfortable with small planes.
The Cessna 206 wasn’t glamorous, but it got the job done. I was jammed into the back of the plane with the luggage as Matt was crammed into the co-pilot seat. I was amazed that we had somehow managed to find the one airplane on the island worse than the one we flew over in.
By 11:00 a.m., we were back on Roatan, and thrust back into the hell of the Roatan airport.
Because we had arrived on a domestic flight, we were only in the airport for mere minutes before we found ourselves facing a cheerful man holding a sign that said, “Hatfields.”
I had chosen a private villa, Brisa del Mar, for our time in Roatan, and, as Banjo ushered us toward a driver who had been sent by the property to pick us up, I couldn’t have been happier with my choice.
It was obvious from my research that the safest and most luxurious areas to stay were either West End or West Bay, home to one of the beaches regularly named in the top ten beaches of the Caribbean. Every article I read said clearly, “For first time Roatan visitors, there are only two places that you would want to stay: West End and West Bay.”
So, we naturally chose the remote east end.
Because that’s how we roll.
I felt confident that the west end would simply be too cruise-shippy and tourist-happy for our taste. Don’t worry, I still made sure we weren’t taking any unnecessary risks. Villas del Mar was a collection of 3 private, high end villas in a gated compound that came with 24 hour armed security and use of a local vehicle. We would have armed guards on the property day and night and wouldn’t be driving around in a rental vehicle that screamed, “I AM A TOURIST. PLEASE STOP ME AND STEAL MY IPHONE.”
I can read your thoughts right now. You are asking, “Why would you go on vacation in a place where you felt it necessary to have an armed guard????”
I don’t have a good answer for that right now, but I’ll think on it.
Our first views of Roatan were from the back seat of a dusty Toyota 4-Runner as we drove east along the central road that runs the length of the island. Roatan is about thirty-five miles long and about two or three miles wide. Long and narrow, the main road takes you everywhere with side roads appearing at the various island communities. Coxen Hole….French Harbour…..we saw the names passing by in a flash. The island was lush and green with shimmering glimpses of turquoise water in the distance.
About 30 minutes later, we arrived at the gated entrance to Brisa del Mar. There are 3 homes in the compound, each an architectural wonder and separated by lush dense jungle so you feel you are completely alone. We had our own gate and driveway, and, as the driver pulled the dusty vehicle up to the house, he handed Matt the keys.
“Car is all yours. Someone will open the gate for you whenever you leave and return.”
And they did.
After a brief tour by the owner, we were left to our own devices.
The house was simply amazing. It was a beautiful open-air Balinese style home with the most amazing thatch roof and a deck with an infinity pool that overlooked the ocean and the reef beyond.
Villas del Mar also comes with a multitude of pets.
This was K2, the cat that immediately took up residence with us.
This was Tasha, the guard dog. We could see that she had been well trained and we felt very secure.
This was Diva. Her back-up, who was apparently trained at the same place.
We quickly unpacked and headed to French Harbour for a late lunch and a visit to the grocery store.
After only a few wrong turns and a few choice cuss words, we found Frenchy’s 44. Not necessarily known for its cuisine, I had chosen it because of its proximity to Eldon’s Supermarket and because the setting is quite stunning.
The airy thatched restaurant sat right on the water’s edge. The views were as delicious as the breeze.
And the tequila.
We ordered lots of things with cheese.
When we were sufficiently stuffed, we set off to find Eldon’s to buy groceries. I said a silent prayer that Eldon’s would not be comparable to Bush’s.
To my delight, Eldon’s looked just like any full service grocery store from home. And it was blessedly air conditioned! We loaded up on breakfast items, snacks, and drinks. We had also been given a list of items we need that night for “Palapa Pizza” night at Villas del Mar.
Part of the charm of the Villas del Mar property was the staff. There were a number of services they provided that made our stay extra special. One of these was pizza night on Tuesdays. They gave you a list of ingredients for your crust and sauce, you chose your own toppings, and they would pick the items up at your house, take them to a magical palapa in the jungle where they would make and cook your pizzas for you in a wood burning oven for $7 a pizza.
We returned to the house and spent the afternoon lounging by the pool.
That evening, Rosa stopped by and picked up my bag of pizza supplies and told us to be at the palapa around 7:00 p.m.
At 6:55, we doused ourselves with Deet and headed into the jungle.
The palapa really was amazing.
The guests from the other two houses were there, along with the owners, Bruce and Nicki. I have no idea how Rosa kept all the pizzas straight, but pizza night was one of my favorite experiences on Roatan.
We sipped wine under the soft glow of the lights while the smell of woodsmoke mingled with the tangy scent of spiced Italian meat. The pizzas were thin, crispy, and perfect.
When we couldn’t possibly eat another bite, we headed back to Brisa where we called it a night.
Even though the bedrooms had air conditioning, we left the doors open to the breeze.
Good thing we had those watchdogs.