Murder Capital of the World and Roatan Island, Honduras!
My less than smooth entry into Ecuador a couple months prior had left me with a flight that I could not utilize, therefore I had a credit with an airline and had a nice situation on my hands. I had planned on being home in Vancouver after Machu Picchu, but questioned "why?" After speaking with Taylor who had flown back to Vancouver, and the tingle of being back home and seeing friends and family after months away had worn off, and then weather was still horrible, he re-affirmed my decision to keep exploring.
Location of Roatan and Utila Islands
I contacted the airline and flew back to my home away from home, Colombia, for a week to say goodbye. I then went onto Skyscanner and typed in Medellin, to ... anywhere. Cheapest option, Florida. So then I typed Florida, to ... anywhere. Cheapest option? San Salvador in El Salvador. Why not?! After a fun day in Ft. Lauderdale with a good friend I met in Montanita, and a couple days in San Salvador, I rose very early to board a plane across the small country of El Salvador, around the capital of Honduras, Tegucigalpa, and on towards the Honduran coast. A surprisingly nice bus shuttled me from El Salvador through Honduras and as I boarded, I realized they had WiFi! I pulled out my tablet, and decided to Google some of the places we were passing on the way to the Roatan Port. One of them, San Pedro Sula. As I opened some results on Google, I noticed that it happened to be the "murder capital of the world" with the highest amount of murders per 100,000 people. Needless to say that was enough for me to not stay there, however, I would have to spend a couple hours in the bus station waiting for my bus to La Ceiba, the port to Roatan. As a gentleman with a rusty, old revolver shoved into his belt helped me with my bags off the bus, I strolled into the surprisingly clean and comfortable bus station. Walking towards the food court, with the walkway lined with stores, I noticed one with what looked like semi-automatic weapons lining the wall. Sure enough, in the murder capital of the world, you can walk into a bus station and purchase a murder weapon. Problem. Solution?
Hostel in La Ceiba, Honduras
When it was time to leave, I had no problem saying goodbye to this town and bus station. As we passed through the actual center of the town of San Pedro Sula at noon on a Wednesday, seeing a tumble weed of a plastic bag was more common a sight than an actual human walking the streets.
Couple hours later, as the sun was setting, we rumbled into the town of La Ceiba and the port to Roatan. Having done a trip across 2 countries, and from essentially one coast to the other, we had missed the final boat to Roatan Island but welcomed the thought of not covering any more distance. Myself and a girl from Australia hopped into a taxi that sputtered off towards Hotel Estadio, literally connected to the Soccer Stadium, that had transportation in the morning to the port.
As morning came and my Aussie friend headed to Utila, I bid her farewell and boarded the boat to Roatan. I had a hostel in Roatan booked in a place called Sandy Bay, near the West End, and cruised up the dusty road to a small hut with 3 vacated bunks I had the whole room to myself. A quaint little place, with a very sweet owner from Canada, I was very happy to have found Roatan Backpackers Hostel.
West End and West Bay are the main places on the south of Roatan Island. West End is riddled with ex-pats, cool small beach bars and hotels, like something out of the song Margaritaville.
I spent the West End, Roatan, Honduras
rest of the day here, soaking in the gorgeous beach and quaint town, and rented a scooter for 24 hours to explore Roatan Island the next day. What looks like just a sliver off the Honduran coast, Roatan will surprise you with its size. Due to its length, and the slow top speed of the scooter, it took the whole day to explore a lot of the island. I cruised over the the West Bay with all the resorts and then on to the back side of the island where the wind starts to pick up. Passing through Flowers Bay and Coxen Hole, I stopped in the small town of French Harbour. Rolling slowly through the center, I noticed how different this had been to the rest of Latin America. It has more of a Caribbean, Jamaica feel with the colourful houses, and dreadlocked people. I sat down at a restaurant that was perched over the water, as many buildings are, and with the tank of the scooter still full, I filled up myself.
French Harbour, Roatan Island, Honduras
Vamonos. My plucky little scooter and I, with no map, ventured on.
Travellers Tip: Be careful with some uneven roads and with lack of traffic, many people drive fast and overtake and some questionable times.
Passing along the road I saw a welcoming sign to go down towards the ocean. Wanting to take a dip, I took it, and stayed heavy on the brakes down the steep bumpy roads and under the canopy of the gorgeous overhanging trees. At the bottom, I seemed to be approaching a resort, beach club or restaurant of sorts. I parked the bike and crossed the bridge. People saw me arrive and walk towards the water, and didnt seem to care so I figure it was open to the public. As I crossed the bridge, what a view. The name was Parrot Tree, and the bridge takes you across to a little circular point of the sand arm that wraps around a gorgeous blue inlet that serves almost as the resorts own natural pool.
Incredible Parrot Bay, Roatan Island
Floating in this incredible water with no a single ripple, and the wind over the sand bank in your face, was simply incredible. An amazing surprise I did not expect to find but happy I had a No Regrets moment and just decided to take the time to check out Parrot Bay. Nothing to lose and a lot to gain, and I am so very pleased I did. I enjoyed every second there, with a childish grin on my face, but its still so difficult to stay still and relax with my little vehicle sitting in the parking lot begging to be ridden to more amazing locations, so after filling up again, I threw down a generous tip to the delightful Hondurans and set off. As I filled up the scooter at a gas stop, I looked at a map and was surprised to find that even though I had been driving for a couple hours, I was probably about mid way through the length of Roatan Island. At this point, being a thin island, there is no ring road, there is simply a central road that splits the island down the center and streets off to different bays and coves. I took the road down to almost the north tip of Roatan Island, at a certain point, not sure exactly where, I decided to start heading back the long distance towards West End again as my time on the scooter was starting to run thin. I gave the scooter back just in time, and walked out and flopped back into the ocean. Floating there, face down, I questioned how I could be sore in my legs considering I was essentially sitting down all day, but either way, floating there, I was so relaxed ... until I needed to turn over for a breath.
What a way to see somewhere. I always suggest no matter where someone is, rent a vehicle to do your own exploring. You can do tours, bus trips, walk around, which is great, but renting a vehicle, especially a motorcycle or scooter is the best way to see somewhere. The ease of getting on and off, ability to park it anywhere, and theres no walls, windows or doors in your way you really feel where you are as you pass through it. From Greece, to Thailand and back around to here in Roatan, Honduras, it never gets old.