The Cayos Cochinos or Hog Islands lie about 20 miles south of Roatan and 20 miles north of mainland Honduras. The two main islands are Cayo Grande, which is inhabited and Cayo Pequena which is not, except by a bunch of rangers and scientists from the Coral Reef Foundation Research Institute stationed there. The Cayos Cochinos, which is actually made up of 13 separate islands, was declared a Marine Protected Area in 1993 by the Honduras government and then a Marine Natural Monument in 2003. No anchoring is permitted but there are a variety of mooring balls available.
The cost is $10/night for the boat and each crew member, the Captain stays free or $20 month each for the boat and each crew member. Excursions to the Cayos Cochinos are popular in Roatan and Lower Monitor Cay, which is home to a Garifuna community called Chachauate, serves up traditional fish meals although they have no running water or electricity on the island.
The Captain suggested perhaps we spend a few days in West End, then cruise over to the Cayos Cochinos for a few days, then return to West End for the weekend before heading home. After stocking up on gasoline, water and groceries, since there are no stores or supplies in the Cayos Cochinos, we were off about 1 o’clock in the afternoon, which had us pulling into the mooring field at Cayo Grande by about 4 pm. The skies opened up as we arrived so we quickly snagged a ball in front of the Plantation Beach Resort for the night.
We awoke to crystal clear water and set off exploring in our dingy. The sea was choppy so we opted for land travel and hiked a long trail to the top of Cayo Grande where a lighthouse stood with, apparently a wonderful view of the mainland and Roatan. We found it locked but enjoyed the hike regardless.
Back to the boat for some snorkeling and then we decided to move the boat over to a prettier location, in a private little cove by some Georgian Bay type rocks with a gorgeous reef about 20 feet away and our own little beach.
The setting was idyllic and I painted while John snorkeled and read. We just chilled and swam and relaxed and barbequed and napped.
Back to West End on Friday, we snagged a big Barracuda, which at first we mistook for a Wahoo. John hadn’t even walked from one line to set the second when the fish landed and the wrestling began. We kept him and took him in to some friends who cleaned him and shared him among a few locals who appreciated the meat very much. We came home with a serving for two, all we need.
After a fun weekend in our perfect little town plucked out of the pages of a novel, with more quirky characters than you could imagine, we headed for home. Calm West End seas lured us into thinking it was calm out there, around the West Bay banks but of course it never is. She tricks us time and time again and we got bounced and banged and soaked and tossed but in 3 hours we were home, tied up with the power cord plugged in. Down came the dingy and the motor went on and off we went to Hole in the Wall to hear a friend from West End play his guitar. But alas, he had just left before we arrived, after entertaining the crowd for several hours. However we received a warm welcome back to the neighbourhood.
So today I washed and hung laundry while working on some writing in the boat and John shopped and puttered around the yard and sat up on the Gone With the Wind balcony looking out to sea with his lemonade and a good book and relaxed in his Captains chair.
Diamond Lil got a bath after her salt water shower yesterday and is tucked in all squeaky clean for the night safe and secure in her little berth. Our doggies have resumed their position on the dock outside our back door for the ritual after dinner, after dishes bedtime doggie snacks.
Papa John left for the mainland this afternoon, from here by 4 wheeler to his truck in Oak Ridge, and down to the ferry terminal near Coxen's Hole where he will park the truck until he returns. By ferry to La Ceiba where he shares an apartment with a friend and from there, well only time will tell that. “Not much time left”, he told us one evening as he sat chatting on the side of Diamond Lil, “and still a lot of travelling I want to do. I’m a gypsy, you know, always have been.” Yeah we know Papa John, we know. We’re gypsies too.