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Sunday, 15 October 2017

Free Fallin

Roatan, nicknamed "the Big Island", is found 40 miles North of Honduras and is a mecca for divers. Now that Cayman Airways do direct flights to Roatan, there really was no excuse to go and visit as they're just over an hours flight away.

 We stayed at Half Moon Bay on the West End of Roatan and hooked up with Roatan Divers who had a solid reputation and were conveniently only a 3 minute walk along the beach from our hotel. 

Being an salty old diver, I like to set up and check my own kit but Russell and the rest of the crew will quite happily be at your beck and call to do your bidding if you prefer not to wrestle with your own equipment and have a lazy time of it.

 Most dive sites were minutes away by boat, the furthest being 7 minutes so that gives you and idea of how quick you'll be getting wet. Forget your morning coffee as your wake up call, just roll off a boat!

The quality of diving on Roatan is excellent, easily as good as diving on Cayman with similar conditions, marine life and topography. I sometimes forget how spoiled we get with all this warm water and endless visibility, makes me long for the good old days of drysuits in Scotland. But I digress. The West End is a fantastic array of colours with voluminous hard coral formations topped off with a plethora of ginormous barrel sponges.

Conditions whilst we were there were flat calm with barely a ripple and on most occasions during the week the Roatan Aggressor was moored up a couple of buoys along from us. So if you want to save a pile of cash, forget the live aboard and just do the day boat diving.

Some of the memorable sites worth a visit were Melissa's Reef which gave you a good mix of scenery, depth and marine life, particularly if you're a shutter bug, with a great selection of rope and barrel sponges along with some nice gorgonias and cruising fusiliers to brighten the place up.

I would be remiss if I neglected the small stuff and somewhere like Eddie's Trifecta is an ideal spot for the macro lovers. It's a hotbed of action for seahorses, pipefish and nudis. We got two of the three on the day. 

We also had a large selection of gobies, blennies, arrow crabs, barber shrimp and lizard fish to name a few. It was like being a kid in a sweet shop, too many options and you want them all to yourself.

One thing that took me by surprise is the sheer volume of sharpnose pufferfish. These things are everywhere you go, on every dive site, everywhere you look. They must breed like rabbits down here, possibly to do with the Viagra in the water or something.....

Did I also mention the turtles? Yep, quite a few hawkbills and greens with occasional loggerhead sighting. And yes, typically the big stuff will turn up when you are rigged up for macro, It's the unwritten law of underwater photography.

You can do three dives a day but we opted to just do two in the morning and chill the rest of the day as it was a "recharge the batteries" kind of holiday as opposed to a "balls to the wall" diving experience. It was a nice chilling week away.

Roatan Divers had two main boats with a third on hand if required and soon to have a fourth boat to be added to the fleet. Rental kit is available if you don't want hump your own and is in good clean serviceable condition with separate rinsing facilities for wetsuits, BCD's, masks and cameras.

There's plenty of options as far as food and drink goes at Half Moon Bay as everything is in walking distance and you can walk the main drag in about 6 minutes. Noteworthy mentions were Gingers, three feet away from the waters edge and 8 feet away from the dive shop. Good tasty simple food and plenty of it with some nice burgers and Mexican food. Most places you go will also serve monkey lala cocktails. Well worth sampling. Lots of times.....

And if you go to Oasis, you get great original food, but they're known for having the best ribs on the island. Their menu changes on an almost daily basis but the one thing that's always available is the ribs, and they are superb. Go for a half rack if you are a normal person or a full rack if you are a fat bastard.

Roatan, easy to get to, easy diving, great scenery and marine life, friendly people, good food and drink, not outrageously expensive and one of the best things about Roatan?  They have hummingbirds!!!!!  They're so fluffy!!! I love these things!!!

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