|Roatan is the largest, most well known and visited of the 3 main Honduras Bay Islands. It stretches almost 40 kilometres long but is only about 3 kilometres wide. The inlets and bays on the Southern shore first attracted European pirate and loggers and now attract divers. The northern shore is a combination of beaches and cliffs. It is the most popular destination for cruisers due to the number and variety of anchorages around the island as well as smaller islands and cays to explore.
It is a diver's paradise with reefs a few hundred meters from the north shore and coral formations very close to the beach along the southern shore. The islands are actually made up of a mountain range that disappears into the sea a little further west, with the tops forming the central hills that add to the charms of the island.
After waiting for three days for the Immigration Officer to show up on Utila, we were told by Dr. John that he had actually been gone for a month and nobody knew whether he was coming back. So we pulled up the anchor and headed to Roatan, a short, 40 mile trip to the east.
Although the Immigration Office is in the town of Coxen Hole, the capital of the Islands, most cruisers head to French Harbour instead and take an inexpensive ($2.50 for 2 people) taxi to check in with Immigration.
The first night it felt like we were in Paradise, anchored outside the main harbour in beautiful clear waters, protected by a reef. Unfortunately our outboard motor decided to go on strike again, leaving us paddling furiously against the current back to Diamond Lil. We opted to move her into the Inner harbour, which is not the prettiest water we have ever seen, to put it mildly.
Much of the town surrounds the harbour, which seems to be used for waste disposal, resulting in plastic bottles, diapers and assorted debris floating by the boat. We are within rowing distance of the Roatan Yacht Club. Several Mario's boats are here, including Oasis 1 and Oasis 2, both our neighbours from back at the marina. It really is a small world!
We are patiently waiting for an outboard mechanic to show up to look at our motor. He was due yesterday at 5:30 and then it became manana which we have learned does not mean tomorrow but just 'Not today"! Until then we need to stay within rowing distance of the dingy dock at the marina. I can't wait until the outboard is fixed so that we can return to the beautiful anchorage just outside the inner harbour.
We were offered a ride to Coxen Hole yesterday by a helpful boater at the Yacht Club, which we gladly accepted. He took us right to the Immigration Office where we had our passports stamped. The charge to enter the country with the boat was $0 and the charge for John and I to stay for 90 days is also $0. We picked up a Honduras cell phone for $30 so we can keep in touch with family.
I gave up on the $3/hr internet at the marina, after spending an hour uploading 4 photos and one video clip yesterday and came into town to an internet café which charges $40 lempira an hour, (about $2) and so far (knock on wood) is faster.