February 9, 2014- Our last day in Roatan is just about perfect. Weather as good as it gets (28 degrees C, blue skies, sun) and a day of exploring with our Casa Canuck pals Stan and Joan. ‘Hosts’ is too impersonal a term for these folks. They have become good friends. We’ll stay in touch and we know we can count on them for a prime table at Monkey Island next time we’re here for Taco Tuesday.
This morning, we say goodbye to our favourite dive master, Rino Jackson and his Toronto-raised wife Amanda at Scuba Roatan. We won’t hold it against Amanda that she successfully left the frozen north behind six years ago and is a full-fledged islander now.
Back at the Casa, Stan, Joan and fellow guest Kay (Joan’s Grade 5 teacher from a few decades back) hop into the truck and we’re off on an afternoon of exploring the east end. We follow a route along the water going through various towns and in Coxen Hole, Stan and Joan fill us in on where to get cheap haircuts, inexpensive shirts and curtains made for a bargain price.
We make a pit stop in French Harbour to see where Joan will be tutoring high school kids a couple of days a week. It’s right next door to Arch’s Iguana Farm and a few of the critters are lurking in the grass and trees but a little skittish about posing for photos.
Our next stop is Pristine Bay, a luxury golf club development where we pass muster with the security guard who raises the gate and lets us in. You need a four wheel drive or at least a mule team to negotiate the steep and winding main drive.
Perched at the highest point on a steep hill is a big, fancy home with iron gates and views of ocean on both sides of the island. Stan and Joan have heard that Sandra Bullock owns the house and Joan is sure she saw Sandra shopping at the grocery store.
As none of us golf, we admire the sweeping views and snap a few shots then keep on trucking.
We press eastward, admiring the stunning views of Roatan’s rolling green mountains and the turquoise ocean. We find the road to our intended destination, Havana Bay Beach, and soon have parked and for $5 a head, are given the privilege of walking on the sand, swimming in the ocean, and using their washrooms, showers and loungers.
The beach here is pretty spectacular – not quite West Bay calibre, but then again, it’s not crowded, packed with vendors, tourists and hotels. We have a pretty decent lunch at Lionfish Louie’s beachside bar, then strap on our fins and snorkels.
The reef is a fair distance away so we snorkel around a small island. At first, it seems it’s not going to be a great day for underwater viewing. The storm that ended yesterday churned things up and the visibility isn’t the greatest. Initially all we spot is seagrass. But as we progress around the island, the water is clearer and we start to notice things. Such as starfish – I see six in all. There are a couple of pretty sea anemones. Stan, Joan and Kay spot some lionfish.
We also see a porcupine fish, sea urchins, sea cucumbers, more lionfish and several fish species I can’t name hanging out under a dock.
The sun is setting as we head home and the sky is a spectacular pink, gold and blue.
It’s a spectacular end to a great vacation. ‘Til we meet again, Roatan.