Friday, August 26, 2011

La Ceiba and Roatan, Honduras 18 - 25 Aug 2011

It was a long day, I left Livingstone 6am to La Ceiba, arriving at the Jetty with a beautiful sunrise. It was a perfectly calm sea after the rain. The ferry ride took 1.5hr to Puerto Barrios, a collectivo pick me up on the road and I managed to bargain for a good price to the Honduras border, I got my passport stamp out smoothly at the Guatemala side, then it was about 5km ride before arriving at the Honduras border at 10am. I got my entry stamp, paid L60 to enter the country. Changed my Quetzales at the border and I am ready to explore a new country! From the Honduran border, a 5 minutes walk out to the street, I took a chicken bus to Puerto Cortes, it was another 1 hr. As soon as the chicken bus stop at the bus terminal, a guy run up and ask if I am going to San Pedro Sula, as soon as I said yes, he pick up my backpack and took off, it was funny that I have to run after my bag. A luxury air condition collectivo awaits me, that’s the most comfortable ride I had since Mexico. 1 hr later I arrived at San Pedro Sula and here I boarded a non air condition bus to La Ceiba, finally 4hr later I arrived at La Ceiba. It was smooth travel. :-)

Honduras currency is Limpera, the exchange rate is US$1 to L18.5 or Q10 to L23. It makes the calculation more difficult with 2 figures. At first everything feels expensive as you need to pay more in terms of numbers. But actually it is the same. At La Ceiba, I checked in to a hotel with a private room, bath and tv and paid a hefty US$17.5 for a night as I was too lazy to go hunting for a cheaper one. It was nice to finally watch some English movies the whole night. :-)

The next morning I left to the ferry terminal at 8am to catch the first ferry to Roatan. It was an expensive ride. 2 way for L1024. We arrived 1hr 15mins later at Roatan, the weather wasn’t so good, cloudy and drizzling. :-( Here, I couchsurf with Carlos, he stayed in Sandy Bay 10 minutes by car from West End. He told me that storm Harvey is approaching, I should go diving now before the storm arrives else it would be another 2 days. No, not again!! Everywhere I went diving it has been a storm. In Cozumel, I have to skip diving because of a storm, in Belize it was cloudy and overcast due to a passing storm. When will I see blue sky and crystal clear water? :-( We tried to dive that afternoon but the dive center cancel their trip as the storm is approaching. That Sucks! I was very disappointed and praying hard that the storm will be over in a day.

The storm arrived 3am in the morning, I was woken up by the strong wind and rain, the house was shaking, I can hear things flying outside the house, lucky it was over by day break. The day after storm was not diverble. The sea is still choppy and the vis is crappy. We went to West Bay where all the high end resorts are to chill and watch a performance. The local band was amazingly good.

The EagleFinally on the 3rd day, I woke up with sunshine and calm sea. I finally get to dive. :-) The first dive was a wreck called El Aquila(The Eagle). It was sunk on purpose in 1997 by Anthony's Key Resort to make for a new premier dive site. The visibility was good after 15 meter, I was enjoying more the wreck then the fishes around, but there was actually not many fish. :-( 2nd dive was boring, we saw a turtle, some gigantic crabs and lobster and that’s it. This dive we were 10 in the group with an Instructor. :-( I was diving with Native Son Dive Center.

I did another 2 dives on the 4th day with Carlos, my host. I switched dive center as Carlos only dives with Coconut Tree Dive Center. It was a better dive center in fact, they have loads of DMT, and tons of Instructors around, more professional in terms of organisation and facilities and the dive group is smaller. We had a better dive on the 2nd dive at the Light House, there were more fishes around. Lobster seems to be abundant here. I did 2 more morning dives on the 5th day and that was nice too. I had to stop before I make a hole in my pocket. :-(

In general the dive sites here has less fishes then Indonesia, not much macro, have not seen a single nudibranch, reefs are covered with lots of corals but they are not as colorful as in SEA, the terrain are more like a canyon of coral that breaks into small swim thru latches with white sandy bottom. Nice to swim in between them. Water is warm and calm, I could even dive with just my rash guard. No current (that explains why there isn’t much action) There are plenty of dive sites to choose from so not many divers cramp in one dive site. They hunt and kill lionfish here, said to be killing all the coral reef fishes, a report  was written in 2009 about this I am not sure if this was the reason why there is not much fish in the reef.

I had a very pleasant stay here with my host Carlos. He was a cool guy with a cool job, he make use of FB to promote Roatan Resorts and Activities. Check out his site :- 

People here speak English generally, but I practiced my Spanish with the local taxi drivers and people working at the stall. This could be a potential place to live and work in diving industry or Hotel services. Many foreigner came here for few days and end up in years. :-)

La Ceiba – Hotel Caribe – US17.50 for a private room with TV and attached bathroom
La Ceiba – Hostel Banana Republic - L150 for a dorm bed with WIFI and kitchen
Roatan - Couchsurf

Livingstone to Puerto Barrios – Q20 by ferry
Puerto Barrios to Corinto (Honduras border) – Q15 by collectivo
Corinto to Puerto Cortes – L51 by chicken bus
Puerto Cortes to San Pedro Sula – L48 by aircon collective (luxury)
San Pedro Sula to La ceiba – L100 by bus
La Ceiba bus terminal to Hotel Caribe – L20 by taxi
Hotel Caribe to Ferry terminal – L50 by taxi
La Ceiba to/from Roatan - L1024 by ferry
Taxi from Roatan ferry terminal to anywhere – US$10

1 dive at Roatan with equipment – US$30
Marine Park fees – US$10 valid for a year

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