Roatan

This isn’t Muck Diving!  True, but that doesn’t mean those in the Midwest cannot treat themselves to some of the more exotic diving experiences.  Because the traditional Muck Diver doesn’t dive in paradise everyday information on dive ops, hotels, what should I do and not do become essential when planning a trip to paradise.  Because of all these questions, we thought we would give everybody a one-stop place to go to learn about these places and hopefully help with planning your next trip.  Once again, the success of this relies upon those that have taken the journey.  So, please help out and tell us about your trips and what worked and what did not work.

20 Responses to “Roatan”

  1. snagel says:

    Roatan trip report
    Original Post by Packerman on ScubaToys:

    Roatan Trip Report 02/21/2015 thru 02/28/2015

    Just back from my first trip with a group of divers out of Tulsa, the Dive Rats. This year the Rats sent 13 divers to Roatan. We stayed at Coconut Tree Cabins at Half Moon Bay. We dove with Coconut Tree Divers. After checking in I walked down to the dive shop and looked across the street at the beach, I was pretty underwhelmed. It turns out they had a pretty good storm the week before and it had blown the bay full of sea weed. The pictures of it in the bay were impressive, you could not see any water. When we got there they had pulled it all up on the beach and had a stinking nasty mess about 4 feet deep. They had 6-8 guys with pitch forks and wheelbarrows trying to clear it Saturday and Sunday. I figure they cleared about 75 feet. On Monday they brought in a backhoe and cleared the rest, maybe 200 yards. By Wednesday the area was crowded with people having a great time. Most people walk, taxis are abundant and the food, drink and night life are good and easy. Just the way I like it.

    I stayed in cabin #12, which looked great. It was up on stilts, big tiled stairway, two level deck with table and chairs, hammock for two. Inside was a king size bed, another table and chairs, refrigerator, flat screen tv and a shower I could stretch my arms out in and not touch the walls. The only problem was, and it was a big problem, the shower head was higher than the water tank. The entire week I only had 1 ½ nice hot showers. Two days I didn’t even have cold water.

    The dive shop is fantastic, they are a PADI 5 star with two boats, nitrox and tri-mix. They send out both boats in the morning for two tank dives. In the afternoon they send out the smaller boat at 1:00 and again at 2:30. They have scheduled night dives on Tuesdays and Thursdays. If you have more than four divers you can negotiate additional nights. Our group had the big boat and the same crew all week. I did 19 of the 20 dives possible that week. PJ the shop owner will not take you out in the morning and again on the 1:00 dive. It is his policy, and he is firm on it, that you need to rehydrate. This is paraphrasing a little but basically he said he has taken too many people to the hospital, if you don’t like it go kill yourself down the street. I was good with it and to be honest 4 dives on air in 75 deg. water was enough for me. He has a nice shop with a large rinse and dry area. He has lockers for overnight storage and a huge deck divers can hang out on when not on the boat. He has a pretty good staff with some good core long term employees and several DMT’s that come and go. When the last boat comes in he opens a beer fridge with the coldest beer in town in it.

    The diving itself was pretty fricking good. With the storm the previous week water temps were a little cooler than I like. By the end of the week though, I was seeing 79. I would guess vis was about 75-100 feet on the horizontal. There was still a lot of particulate in the water that made picture taking poor. Some of the most notables were a frogfish, a sea horse, spotted eagle ray(within 3’ of one guy), a pod of pilot whales and a significant lack of lion fish. They take their hunting seriously. Most days start with a deeper dive, at or exceeding 100 feet. My max depth for the week was 123 feet. The second dive was typically at around 70’ and we would ride the reef up with our NDL’s. With all the dive sites close to the shop hour long dives were the norm, my longest was 77 minutes. Afternoon and night dives were in the 50-60’ range.

    All in all I would absolutely go back. I am not sure my non-diving wife would be entertained for a week. I would not stay in cabin #12. And I will be using Coconut Tree Diver

    Follow Up…………

    Coconut Tree Divers and Coconut Tree Cabins are not the same people. The cabins, bar and restaurant are the same, the dive shop is just in the same building. All of the cabins on the same side of the street as the shop have all been re-done. I would say they are in better than average shape for Caribbean hotel rooms. We have both stayed in worse, but they are not the Ritz. I was in several of the rooms and they all seemed to be in about the same shape. Mine was a one bedroom, and I saw a two and three bedroom with four king size beds and a kitchenette. Showers worked in the other rooms because they were lower than the water tank. A simple booster pump would make cabin #12 a superb room. They are in the process of re-doing the cabins across the street too. One of the guys has stayed in cabin #6 twice and loves it. If we go back next year he has already called it.
    As close as everything is it is pretty easy to walk if you wanted to stay somewhere else. I heard the Splash Inn was very nice. Anthony’s Key kind of had a bad name down there as being real jerks. I do know that one of their boats passed us at speed about 100′ away while we were getting divers out of the water. Their wake knocked over several rigs that weren’t bungeed down yet. It was the only time I saw our Capt. without a smile.

  2. Snagel says:

    July 2013

    If you’re looking for information on Roatan (and may other places) check out Scuba Robins Videos linked on the right side bar under Photo and Album Links. They say a picture is work a 1000 words and her videos are simply awesome.

    She just got back from a trip to CocoView.

    Snagel

  3. Snagel says:

    Fantasy Island – Roatan
    March 2013
    Original Post by Rayaa3 on ScubaToys

    So I know a few of you were wondering about FIBR because you stayed there a couple of years ago, and have heard that they changed ownership.
    Well here’s my report about the hotel, the diving, etc – it’s aimed mostly at the differences between what it was like in 2009 and now. However, I tried to be comprehensive enough to answer questions for folks who had never been there:
    We went to FIBR in June of 2009 or maybe 2010 (I would have to look to be sure). At that time it was owned by privilege hotels. You could go and dive fairly cheap – there were a constant string of ‘specials’ amounting to ~$750-800 pp of 7nights food/drink/dive inclusive. We went this time and paid ~$1200 pp for 3 (Myself, Wife, Daughter) all sharing a room – including diving, food, drink, and airport transfers. Our airfare was separate, ~$700pp. The Hotel has become a little pricier, still cheaper than Cocoview – which has a stellar reputation with divers.
    The hotel: it’s still not 5 star accommodations. However, they have put some money into the rooms. Our room was 129, and had new wall texturing (drywall) paint, light fixtures, curtains, tile in bathroom, sink. They seemed to stop the remodel at the shower. The old tile is in the shower, and still really pathetic shower head. However, the problems they have aren’t the showers, just that at times there is a problem that leads to a loss of hot water. It only happened once for us, and was fixed within 45 minutes of our report of it. However, we didn’t report it right away…apparently no one had, even though many had the issue…once reported it was fixed reasonably promptly. I would say as long as you are put in a room that has been updated in the last couple years it’s pretty much a 3 star room with a 1 star showerhead.
    Hotel Service was fine the entire week. When the hotel census came down we found much better attention in terms of drink service at dinner, and speed of bar service. A few times at Dinner we fetched our own drinks…doesn’t really bother us, but it’s nicer when you don’t have to. We typically tip a couple of dollars for the drink service at breakfast/lunch/dinner if we got it.
    The food: I think the food improved since our last stay. Though, just minorly so. Basically all 3 meals were served indoors for us, except a single beach bbq day for dinner. Everything is buffet style eating. At lunch and dinner there were usually 2 protein choices, maybe 3. Fish was almost always there (fried, baked, one or the other), and chicken and beef took turns showing up, and a few times pork. For starches there was usually pasta present of some kind (spaghetti, macaroni noodles) sometimes sauce on it, sometimes on the side. There were also the occasional potatoes or rice showing up, but no matter what there were two starch choices. Vegetables were another matter. Once or twice there was a straight veggie choice on the side (Broccoli/Carrots) but mostly vegetables were either unavailable, or integrated into some other dish (like a stew). There is always a salad bar – small, but always present: Iceberg lettuce, corn (off cob), black olives, tomatoes, cucumbers, and a few other items. There was usually a prepared salad dish available as well (egg salad mix, a cabbage mix similar to coleslaw). A few dressing choices. There were always 3 fresh fruit/melons: pineapple, watermelon, papaya, bananas made several appearances. Desert: OK, I have a sweet tooth. I never went without desert. While I was there they only served the ‘famous’ homemade ice cream twice (more on that later), but there were several sweet cakes: cakes with fruit or something in it, but soaked in some sweet sauce. I loved it, my 14 year old daughter didn’t think it was very good – apparently a texture thing….picky little pooh. Basically I found the food to be just fine, and better that some places I’ve been. I never got bored or tired through the week. There were some repeats of fish and chicken dishes, but I enjoyed them. If I stayed more than a week I think I may have needed more variety. Oh, forgot: breakfast had frenchtoast, scrambled eggs on buffet, a grill for custom eggs/omelletes, a protein (sausage, or ham, or bacon once) pancakes sometimes, beans a few times, cereals, fruit, yogurt occasionally, bread/toast/rolls, and some kind of cookie or muffin option (donuts once). I liked all of it.
    The beach: still the best beach I’ve ever seen for swimming and playing…period. The beach is protected from waves by a barrier reef. It is safe for swimming by small children. The water is clear and cool. It’s one of the two reasons we came back specifically to this resort. On the beach there is volleyball, sunbathing, kayaks (5 of them, in good repair), swimming, it’s a great place to read/nap in the afternoon between dives.
    The hotel has a host of critters: Roosters (they wake up at 4am, and depending on your room location – you might too) Peacocks, Watusa (small earless rabbit like critter), iguanas, and monkeys. The monkeys are not the same 3 we saw a few years ago. While we were there was a male, female, and ‘baby’ monkey (male). During the first few days of our stay there were scarce, eventually we got them eating from our hands and sitting on our shoulders. I don’t really advise it – they do bite. The bites are fairly harmless, but if they broke skin I would hate to think what they have in their mouths. The hotel discourages our behavior, as do I – but well – the monkeys are the 2nd reason we came back to this hotel. They do steal, and I’m sure the hotel would like them to keep some fear of humans. I had a pair of swim trunks disappear off the balcony – I’m blaming monkeys.
    The shore dives: This place has 2 good shore dives, and 1 GREAT one. They aren’t ‘really’ shore dives, the dive shop will drop you off on them, and then you dive back to a gazebo pier and leave your tanks there. They don’t count against any of your boat dives, and you can do them during the day or early evening. They are Newman’s wall – A good wall dive that drops you on the wall just south of the hotel and coming back towards the gazebo. The Prince Albert – a good wreck dive that has you drop in the middle of the channel between cocoview and fantasy island and then follow a rope back to the gazebo – you could shore dive this from the gazebo, but the drop off means you don’t burn bottom time getting to it. Cocoview wall is a GREAT wall dive. Cocoview wall drops you just south of cocoview and making your way against the wall back into the channel between cocoview and Fantasy Island. The only trouble with cocoview – it’s not readily accessible without the boat to drop you off, also at some point you have to swim across the channel either on top or under. It’s not far – 5 minutes at a leisurely pace, but for the folks at cocoview it’s much easier access.

    The dive shop:
    Still a great dive shop. There are 3 new boats, and one older boat. They seem to max out around 16 divers per boat – which is a little more than I like. You dive with the same boat and crew all week. Crew is 1 captain, 1 DM who dives in the water with you. The dive schedule has changed slightly since our last stay. The First trip goes out at 9am – for 2 tanks (not 1) it comes back around 1230-1pm. The 3rd tank of the day goes out at 2:30. You can still do a 4th tank drop off if you like. If you have the energy you could get 5 tanks a day including a night shore dive – but if you are diving deep profiles you’ll be making mandatory deco stops. Bottom times were typically about an hour – if we got back to the boat and you had air you could dive the coral gardens below the boat until you were ready to come up. I think this goes without say, but if you plan on going and doing 3-4 dives a day – take a computer. These days they are pretty standard, but I went ahead and said it anyway. The dive shop operation goes off without a hitch. You are in charge of gearing your own tank – check it before you leave the dock – light fills and blown O-rings are fairly common. These tanks see a lot of action, so check your tank and O-ring before the boat leaves. Spare O-rings are always on the boat, but there’s not always a spare tank for a light fill. Oh, the rental BC’s didn’t look as strung out as I remembered last time. I think they were scubapro glide plus bc’s mostly. I wasn’t looking closely at them, it just occurred to me as I was writing this.
    The dives:
    Roatan is interesting, I’ve only dove the south side. The dives are all pretty similar – drop on shallow coral reef (25-40feet) go to the wall, do and out and back dive. On a really calm day (which I think are uncommon) they may do a ‘drift’ and the boat will not tie off on a mooring line but pick the divers up where they finish. If the wind is out of the north then the water is calm, however, I think it’s more typically out of the south or east and that makes things bumpy on top. However, after you get 6 feet underwater it’s no big deal. Also the boats are all pretty big and they captains and DM are accustom to these conditions. That being said if you think you can’t make it up the ladder very easily in 3-4 ft. seas with the tank on your back – say something to DM and captain before you go out. Vis in Roatan was anywhere from 40-70ft while we were there. However, that’s not that limiting. In Roatan, on the south side you will not be seeing large fish. I think you could dive for a week and not see a fish as long as your arm. You will be looking really close to the reef for small, really small critters. Go slow, take a flashlight, look in every whole on the wall you pass – there’s neat stuff to be found, but you will have to look for it.
    Our diving was goofed up. During our stay we all caught a cold which cut our diving down tremendously. We had trouble equalizing. I did 12 tanks, my wife and daughter did 5. Kind of disappointing, the cost of this place is only a deal if you dive quite a bit. However, on our dives we saw a lot of pretty wall, quite a few moray eels. I even got a neat video of one swimming openly. I chased for about a minute – when he finally went for cover he did so in a whole right next to a lion fish – seemed not at all interested in eating him – despite the fact that DM are feeding lionfish to eels all the time. I’m actually starting to get a little concerned about the feeding business. I think the eels are starting to associate the divers with free lunch. At some point I expect we are going to hear about someone who is bitten. At least no one is hand feeding – and they seemed to be removing the fish from the spear first and allowing it to fall in front of the eel ‘naturally’. I hope I’m wrong, but I suspect an eel is going to bite a diver before he eats a lion fish – oh well, I understand what we are trying to accomplish, and do hope it works.
    The night dive included with your package: They will only go out on the night dive if the conditions are right. Concern is for surface chop/waves/etc. You can do a shore night dive anytime, and honestly – if I didn’t have the cold most of the week I think I would have opted for that. My point being though that you could feel ‘jipped’ out of your boat night dive. Honestly if the DM and Captain don’t think it’s a good idea – I wouldn’t complain much. They dive their all the time and no far better than I what’s going to get me in trouble.
    More statistical data – for anyone looking at this later:
    Water temp during March of 2013 was 76-78F – it rained for 3 days (the days we dived) and it affected both water temp and vis however, water temp came back up (as did vis) after a few days.

    We had a good trip. We didn’t leave the property once. It rained 3 of our 7 days, however, when it did the wind was out of the north and the water was at least calm. I really am quite frustrated about not diving much. You can book this hotel 2 ways – one is with Nick who is a travel agent who says he is the exclusive way to book the property from North America. If you are calling an 800 number – you are calling Nick. The other way is through expedia – however, expedia can’t book the dive package. While I was there I met some Canadians who booked like this – just booking All inclusive w/o dive package. It’s much cheaper without the diving. They then negotiated a dive price with the shop itself based on number of boat dives. They had a group of 10 and made it into a good deal for themselves. I may look into this if we come back. I don’t think we’ll be back anytime soon. Don’t get me wrong, I think Roatan is great and I even like the hotel. However, if I want to dive, dollar for dollar Cozumel goes further and I like the diving more. I do have more places on my list of new places to go that are in the same price range (Bonaire is about the same price for instance). However, if I was inclined to dive the south side of Roatan again – this is where I would stay.

  4. snagel says:

    Anthony’s Key Resort, Roatan Honduras

    I finally got time write a trip report!

    Roatan trip report from January 21-28, 2012

    Original Post by SEMOScuba on ScubaToys

    Airline travel SUCKS. Our Saturday 6:00 a.m. flight from St Louis to Atlanta was delayed due to a landing gear light not working. The ground crew repaired it in about 15 minutes, but then took over an hour to get the paperwork complete so we could fly. When we got to the Atlanta area there was a thunderstorm over the airport so we circled for over an hour before landing. If we had left St Louis on time we would have made it to Atlanta before the bad weather. Due to our late arrival in Atlanta we missed our connecting flight to Roatan.

    We stood in line for an hour and a half at the Delta customer service desk. There were no more flights to Roatan that day. Delta put us on a Continental flight to Houston where we spent the night, and then we flew Continental to Roatan Sunday. I really hate losing a day of vacation and diving because airlines can’t get you there. This is the third time in the last 6 vacations that we have experienced airline problems. It took American 15 hours to get us from St Louis to Miami for a trip to the Keys in July 2010, and in June 2010 US Air missed our connecting flight in Charlotte so we lost a day of vacation & diving in Cozumel.

    We arrived in Roatan Sunday afternoon. Getting through customs was quite easy, and luggage pick up is just past the customs counters. One of our bags with my shaving kit & meds, the wife’s eye, dental care and razor was a no show! Oh well just one more challenge. We had already decided that we were not going to let the lost day put a damper on our vacation. The Continental agent said our bag was still in Atlanta and they would have it for us on Monday.

    Enough complaining, now for the good stuff.

    The shuttle bus was there to greet us, they loaded up our luggage, and it took about 20 minutes to get to Anthony’s Key Resort. We climbed the 54 stairs to the office, and were checked in quickly, received a welcome drink and a short orientation. After orientation we went to check our room, it was located on Anthony’s Key. For those that have not been here the key is a tiny island with several cabins. There is a small boat that shuttles you out to the key and back which takes less than 2 minutes. Our cabin is located over the water. It has air conditioning, a king size and a twin bed, a small desk, a dresser, bathroom with shower, and a closet with a safe for storing valuables. Our room is clean and all items in good working order. The rooms have no TV, but ours does receive wireless internet with pretty fast connection. We have an attached deck over the water with 2 chairs and 2 hammocks.

    We unpack, rested for a while then went to check out the rest of the resort. There is a nice swimming pool with a bar on the key. The key is clean and all of the cabins look to be in good repair. We take the water taxi back to the main resort area, and walk down the dock to the dive shop.

    The dive shop, and gear lockers are right on the water at the boat dock. Check in at the dive shop is pretty simple. They ask for my C-card and when my last dive was, and I sign a standard waiver. The gear storage room is next to the dive shop and has very nice lockers made from wood lattice. Each locker has a padlock. The room is well ventilated and I found during the week that my gear dried well overnight. Gear rinse tanks are just outside the gear locker room. There is a snack shop, photo shop and restrooms just past the dive shop. A small hospital with recompression chamber is about 100 yards south of the dive shop.

    The dive op is AKR Divers. They have 10 boats, and all appear to be in excellent condition. The dive times are 8:30, 10:30, 2:15, and 5:30. You are assigned to a boat, and will be with the same crew and many of the same divers for the week. Almost all of the divers on our boat during the week were experienced and good divers. Richard was our boat captain and he has worked there for 17 years. Frank was our dive master, and he gave a dive briefing before each dive with a description of the dive site, depth, and bottom time. Frank pointed out lots of sea life on the dives, but typically I drag behind the group, so many of his finds I did not see. The only complaint I have with my dive group is that they go faster than I want. I like to go slow and see the small things, while I take photos.

    Richard and Frank took very good care of the divers. You load your dive gear on the boat in the morning. I usually set up my gear for the first dive. The dive sites a fairly close so after a dive the boat returns to the dock for surface interval. Frank and Richard moved our dive gear to fresh tanks between dives. The boat had a large tub for a camera rinse tank.

    The diving was good. It was windy a few days so it was bumpy sometimes on the ride out or back. The boat had good ladders so I had no problems boarding even with sometime rough conditions. The 8:30 morning dive was usually 100’ depth. The mid morning dives were usually 60’ to 90’, and the afternoon dive was typically to about 70’.

    Until I looked at my pictures I thought the reef lacked color. The reality was our dives were deep enough that there wasn’t enough ambient light to allow the colors to show. The reef was healthy. Throughout the week I saw many turtle, large crab, lobster, large grouper, large-eye toadfish, & moray eels. Also saw flamingo tongues, spotted burrfish, large eyed toad fish, small shell hermit crabs, angels, drums, lion fish, scorpion fish, brittle star, and the list goes on.

    My wife does not dive but she does enjoy snorkeling. AKR has two boat trips per day with a guide for snorkelers. A dolphin encounter was also included in her package. We have never been anywhere that provided as much for her entertainment. She enjoyed her week of snorkeling as much as I enjoyed my week of diving.

    As stated above there are 54 steps up a wooded walkway to the office, restaurant, and main bar. The bar and restaurant are open air with clear plastic that can be rolled down for protection from weather. It didn’t rain at all during our visit. Temps during the day were in the low 80’s, and probably low 70’s at night. Mixed drinks are reasonably priced and contain plenty of liquor. Port Royal is a local beer, only $2 a bottle, and tastes great.

    Breakfast consists of a buffet of fruits and pastries, or you can order from the menu. For lunch there were 2 main course choices daily for a plate lunch, or you could order from a menu. I had a cheeseburger and fries most days. There were 2 dinner choices each night with salad, soup, side items, and dessert. I am a picky eater, and I thought the food was great.

    Did I mention earlier that airline travel SUCKS. Our return flight to leave Roatan arrived two hours late due to a mechanical problem. This caused us to miss our connecting flight from Atlanta back to St Louis. At least there was a later flight so arrived in St Louis about 10:30 p.m. and made it home by about 1:30 a.m.

    Even though we lost a day of vacation and spent 8 hours longer at airports than planned it was a great week. We will go back to Roatan and Anthony’s Key!

  5. Hello just wanted to give you a quick heads up and let you know a few of the pictures aren’t loading correctly. I’m not sure why but I think its a linking issue. I’ve tried it in two different browsers and both show the same results.

  6. Snagel says:

    Fantasy Island, Roatan, Trip Report April 8-12 2011
    Original Post by PPaTin on ScubaToys

    First impression: The outside of the resort and the common areas were fairly attractive. The beach that it was located on was gorgeous and there was a nearly constant breeze blowing through. There were plenty of beach chairs and the outside tables, chairs, etc were clean and in good shape. Two things that I did notice were the pool and the beach showers. The swimming pool was only half full and had a slightly greenish tinge, but we were right on a gorgeous beach so it’s not like I had any plans to use it anyways. Almost all of the beach showers were broken and none of the few that were functional had shower heads on them (this was to become a recurring theme.)

    I came as part of a group of roughly two dozen people and there was a bus as well as a truck for luggage waiting to pick us up at the airport. Once we got there the front desk staff was less than impressive though. They knew when our group would be coming, but it took them over an hour to give us our keys so we could get to our rooms. Most of us grabbed lunch in the meantime, but it was a bad sign of things to come with the front desk staff.

    Rooms: The room that I had was about what I expected for the price I paid although the bathroom was a little on the gross side. The housekeeping staff clearly worked hard to keep things clean, but at a minimum the shower needed to be re-caulked. The room had a newish looking flat-screen TV, and I think that the resort would have been better off without the TVs and putting the money into bathroom renovations instead. The shower didn’t have a shower head, and it took a couple of requests to the front desk to get one installed. There was a safe which I was careful to always use since my dive buddy had her phone stolen from the room during our second day there.

    One quirk that seemed to affect the entire resort was that for at least a couple of hours every afternoon there wouldn’t be any water. We could never get an explanation for why this happened, but our best guess is that because of their limited water pressure the rooms would lose water while they were doing laundry. This in itself wouldn’t bother me, but it was annoying that they couldn’t just be upfront about it.

    Diving: I mostly enjoyed the diving experience but there are a few things I had reservations about. There were a lot of dangling consoles and octos in my group and as far as I could tell the divemaster never said anything about it. I was reluctant to speak up about this since I was a newbie member in a group of people who’d dived together before, as well as one of the least experienced divers in the group. Securing dangling gear was drummed into my head from the first day of my OW course though and I’d never before seen a DM who didn’t try to keep people from dragging their consoles on the reef. I did get my dive buddy to secure her console, but in hindsight I kind of wish I’d said something to others.

    Another practice that concerned me was the feeding of Moray Eels. Since lionfish have become invasive the DM would try to spear them whenever he saw them. Several times though he then fed the dead lionfish to a Moray. The logic behind this is that it’ll hopefully teach the Morays to go after live lionfish, but the consensus on Scubaboard seems to be that it’s a terrible practice which’ll simply teach the eels to associate divers with food.

    The last thing I noticed was that nobody ever checked my logbook or c-card. There was a form you filled out at the beginning where you had to put down your certification information along with a theoretical requirement to do a checkout dive if you hadn’t dived in over a year, but that rule certainly wasn’t enforced.

    On the positive side our divemaster (Nelson) and boat captain (Pedro) that we had seemed to work really hard to make sure everyone had a good time. They kept a written record of everyone who was on the boat, and always checked to make sure we had everyone on board before leaving a dive site. There was a fair amount of chop at our dive sites, and they did a fantastic job of making sure everyone got back on the boat safely since that could be a bit tricky.

    There were three boat dives per day and the boats left at 9 AM, 11 AM and 2:30 PM. All of the sites we went to were within ten or fifteen minutes of the resort, so we came back to the dock after each dive. As I mentioned earlier the water was kind of rough, and Dramamine ended up saving this trip for me. I didn’t take anything before my first boat dive and nearly threw up from sea sickness. After that I always took sea sickness meds and it made all the difference for me. All of our dives sites were interesting and had a maximum depth between 60 and 70 feet. The highlight of our trip was the dive at Mary’s Place which is apparently one of Roatan’s most famous sites.

    Rental Gear: I brought my own wetsuit so I can’t comment on that, but I did rent a BCD and regulator. The BCD was typical for a rental, but I had an incident with the reg that left (pardon the pun) a really bad taste in my mouth. When I tested it out on the surface and the first day’s shore dive it seemed ok. The pull on it was a little difficult, but this was my first dive in about three years and I wrote it off to my own unfamiliarity. During the first boat dive it got increasingly difficult to breathe through it as we went deeper and when we hit 70 feet it became seriously uncomfortable. I came close to grabbing my buddy’s octo, but as we ascended it got somewhat easier to breathe. On the surface after that dive I realized that my pressure gauge would drop whenever I took a breath through my reg (lesson learned, ALWAYS check your pressure gauge when testing the reg) which probably indicated a bad first stage. I replaced the reg and everything was fine after that. Hopefully that incident was a fluke and not a symptom of more serious equipment maintenance issues.

    Looking back through my review it might come off as a little negative, but I don’t mean for it to sound that way. I had a wonderful time during my trip to FI and I certainly think we got a good value for what we paid. Except for the front desk the staff at the resort was very hard working and helpful, and I greatly enjoyed the diving that I got to do. My one caveat is that FI would be a better destination if you’re planning a longer trip since the per-day cost is low but airfare to Roatan is quite steep. I would not recommend FI for someone who’s traveling with a non-diver, but as someone who was going primarily to dive I was happy with the place. Feel free to ask questions, and I hope this review is useful for people who’re planning future trips.

  7. Snagel says:

    Roatan West End Trip Report – March 2011
    Original Post by Beluga on ScubaToys

    I had a fantastic dive trip to Roatan. Here are some notes.

    Sunwing direct flight from Toronto runs on Mondays.
    For the week of March 21 – 28, I paid about $800 all in.
    My buddy was able to get a late pass from his wife.
    He booked about a week later and paid $635 all in.

    I connected with Jenny Blenny and Tyll’s Dive via this board.
    Jenny’s place is waterfront with iron shore which kept the bugs to a minimum.
    We sat on the porch with drinks watching the sunset over the ocean every night.
    The cabins are rustic and fine for two guys on a dive trip.
    The house is as nice as any resort in West End and much more spacious.

    Our favorite restaurants in West End: Tong’s, Creole’s Rotisserie Chicken,
    Blue Channel pizza, Blue Marlin, Noodle Shack.
    We had a lot of post dive snacks at Chapi Catrachas and love the evening
    tacos made by the guy across from Eagle Ray’s.

    The best part of the trip was Tyll’s dive shop and the staff.
    It’s a small, relaxed shop with personal and friendly service.
    They were constantly adjusting schedules and the dive plan for our benefit.
    About half my fun dives consisted of the dive master, his dad, and me.
    On the other dives, there was a maximum of four fun divers.
    If you are looking for a gung ho and goal oriented kind of atmosphere,
    look for a different shop.
    Otherwise, join the Tyll’s family and the magic will come to you.

    We made 13 dives out of the north side with Tyll’s and
    two dives on the south side with Barefoot Cay Divers.
    The winds were calm on the north side all week which means the south side was really rough.
    Water temperatures were 26C at the beginning of the week.
    I found it quite cold in my well used 3mm and added a 2mm vest mid week.

    Site, max depth, time in, dive time.

    2011-03-21 Tyll’s
    Lighthouse Reef, 17.4m, 14:34, 55 min

    2011-03-22 Tyll’s
    Black Rock, 33.8m, 09:39, 37 min
    Canyon Reef, 23m, 11:30, 49 min
    Seaquest Deep, 16.9m, 14:51, 57 min

    2011-03-23 Tyll’s
    El Aguila, 33.2m, 09:11, 42 min
    Mandy’s Eel Garden, 21.4m, 11:24, 51 min
    Turtle Crossing, 14.5m, 15:11, 48 min

    2011-03-24 Tyll’s
    Texas, 29.9m, 09:30, 55 min
    Butcher’s Bank, 33.5m, 11:51, 59 min
    Blue Channel, 13.2m, 14:14, 65 min

    2011-03-25 Barefoot Cay
    Shark Bait Deep, 20.3m, 11:35, 57 min
    Mary’s Place, 22.4m, 15:40, 46 min

    2011-03-26 Tyll’s
    Spooky Channel, 28.9m, 10:10, 52 min
    Turtle Crossing, 20.8m, 12:14, 54 min
    Hole in the Wall Shallow, 21.4m, 15:00, 50 min

    Note the airport exit fee is now USD$37.35 for international travel with non-Honduran passport.

  8. Snagel says:

    Trip report from Roatan newbies
    Original Post by MoreCowBells on ScubaBoard
    January 2011

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    I put this trip report into ‘compartments’ in order to make it easier to read and skip over the parts that you are not interested in reading . We spent Jan 22- Jan 29 in Roatan. It was our first visit to the island. Other dive destinations have been Cozumel, Saba, Grand Cayman and Curacao. My impression is that Roatan shares the most similarities with Cozumel. The main differences being that Cozumel seemed to generally have a larger quantity and variety of marine life, but Roatan had a more abundant supply of grouper, snapper, and turtles. The corals appeared vibrant, healthy and mature. There were many large barrel sponges and brain coral which were more abundant and larger than any other destination. My favorite dive sites are a tie between Spooky Channel and Green Outhouse. Spooky Channel is different from anything else that I have dived in the Caribbean. Dramatic canyon with swim through, vast marine life and short boat ride from dive op. I have not read much about Green Outhouse. Perhaps it was here that I saw the greatest variety of marine life without having to go beyond 70 feet. I saw numerous grouper, snapper, free swimming Moray Eel, and at one point looked up to see three turtles above me-two hawksbill and one green.

    Lodging at The Blue Bahia

    We stayed at Blue Bahia. I found the condo on VRBO. The condo was exactly as described-perhaps nicer. It was such a relief to travel the Caribbean and sleep in a really comfortable King bed. Hot water was abundant. A/C in each room worked well and consistently. The resort is located down the street from the main road. Absolutely no noise from traffic. Amazingly, I did not hear any roosters or dogs barking at night. Condo had satellite t.v. which was grainy but I had no problems getting with reception. Pool and grounds groomed several time a day and well maintained. Pool was chilly, but I usually just like to sit around them any ways. There are no palapas or canopy’s but since the complex is built around the pool, there was always some shade to be found. The beach is not the best. Lost of sea grass, sandy beach area occasionally used as road by cars. Many people we talked with enjoyed the snorkeling off the pier. I kept vowing that I would snorkel after my dives. But to be honest, once I settled down with my mojito, my cold and damp wetsuit did not tempt me enough. I figured the location of the Blue Bahia put us in close proximity to many of the dive sites. I am so prone to sea sickness and wanted a place where long boat rides would not be an issue. The prospect of shorter boat rides trumped staying in a location with the nicer-more pristine beaches.

    Kent was a wonderful host. Timely in e mail correspondence and preparation of our arrival. Pick up at airport was timely and friendly. Kent always made a point of talking with all his guests. He provided a great deal of helpful information about restaurants on the island, cab fares etc. He is a laid back guy who also knows how to run a tight ship. West End is a 5 minute cab ride. The supermarket is about 15 minutes way.

    Food!

    We ate most of our meals at The Blue Bahia Bar and Grill. Meals were consistently excellent. All items were fresh, homemade and large portioned. Servers ranged from excellent to just so-so. Breakfast was included in stay. Not your usual coffee and stale muffins, these were hearty breakfasts with French toast, chorizo, eggs, bacon, fruit, fresh squeezed orange juice etc. Slightly different day to day. Besides eating at The Blue Bahia Bar and Grill, we also at at Bella Napoli (amazing selection of pizzas), Tong’s Thai Cuisine, Rotisserie Chicken and Eagle Ray’s Bar and Restaurant. We had some wonderful meals and ate lot’s of salads and fruits as well. No issues with ‘bad food’.

    Our Diving Experience with Octopus Dive School

    I really wanted to stick with the convenience of a dive shop affiliated with the resort. When researching this dive op there was not much information out there on Tripadvisor and Scubaboard. The owner Nuria was prompt and professional in corresponding with me so I decided to give them a try. They were an excellent choice! The staff was welcoming, professional, safe and great at finding critters. Tanks were consistently filled to 3000 psi. Most dives were about an hour. If a diver ran low on air they were provided a safety sausage while the rest of us could continue our dives. Max number of divers were 7, although most of the time it was much less. One day it was only my husband and I. Antonio the captain was perhaps one of the nicest, most skilled captain’s that I have ever encountered when diving. I don’t want to beat a dead horse with my sea sickness issue, but it was a major plus having surface intervals on land-usually back at the dive op.

    My First Shark Dive…

    Octopus Dive School made all the arrangements with and provided the transportation to Roatan Shark Dive. We received a thorough briefing on land inside dive shop. Rules, respect, expectations were all discussed before boarding boat. The boat itself resembles an large, homely bathtub. No canopy, sides of boat high and deep. My guess is the boat is designed as such to handle the rougher open waters. The ride took about 15 minutes from Coxen Hole. The day was clear and the waters smooth(amen!) with minimal current. Being all of 5’3” it was a total b!tch trying to inch up my backside while deliberately over-weighted to get to the high edge of the boat and backroll off. In retrospect, I probably need to get more comfortable with applying my BCD in the water. That may have been easier. Descending to dive site was exactly as outlined on briefing. Follow tow line down to 70 feet. As I was descending I noticed some of the sharks already swimming around the bottom. I was getting so excited! We all took our positions with our backs against the wall. Immediately I was awe struck and snapping pictures. After a few minutes we could either swim around or just hang out by the wall. I did a little of both. I didn’t realize that I would actually be swimming with the sharks! After several minutes were signaled to take our places by the wall and the feeding began. We were a safe distance away from the rubber container with the fish. I have never seen such a frenzy. I know sharks were powerful creatures but this just reiterated that finding. The sharks were reef sharks-no bulls or tigers(thank goodness!).Unfortunately, I did not encounter any grouper on this dive. Apparentely this is unusual. It was over after just a couple of minutes and groups were assigned to ascend. Everything was well organized and supervised.

    About Them Bugs…

    I applied 20% Picaridin(Made by Bayer, ordered on Amazon) and squirted some lemon and eucalyptus oil on my ankles. I did not suffer from a single sand flea or mosquito bite. Granted, I did not spend much time on the beach. The area around the Blue Bahia pool and restaurant were made of wood. It was a short walk on the beach from the dive op over to the pier. All of our dining was outdoors. Our table at Rotisserie Chicken was on the sand/dirt. I did have a problem with ants but no other bites. My skin reacts badly to DEET-especially in higher concentrations. On other vacations I had a lot of success with Picaridin in the battle against mosquitoes. I bumped it up to the 20% concentration due to all the discussions I have read in reference to sand fleas. It is not sticky or oily. The company claims it is odorless. I disagree with that. While it is no where as pungent as DEET, it does have a (I know, sounds crazy) wet dog smell when using the higher concentrations.

    Overall impressions….

    I did not have any issues with safety, theft etc. The people we encountered were friendly and helpful. At the risk of sounding like an ugly tourist, there definitely was a language barrier. Many people struggled or were unable to speak English. I wish I was better prepared and studied some basic Spanish skills. Fortunately, with writing and gestures(not the bad kind!) we were able to get around without any issues. Nobody tried to rip us off or sell us a time share. I regret not doing a canopy/zip line tour. Time and energy after diving ran short.

    Last but not least…

    Prior to our vacation I was in contact with Clinica Esperanza. I offered to bring down some supplies. We brought down some dressing supplies, antibiotic ointment and batteries. It is amazing how well these things tuck into fins, mask, corners of suitcase etc. It was a piece of cake delivering these items. I would encourage anybody to do this. It is so easy to just see the resort part of the island. After walking around and talking to people who lived on the island, the poverty is a sad reality. Despite these hardships, I was amazed at how happy and friendly the children were.

  9. Best characterize. Thanks for posting such an in depth impression. I’ve handled one in the shop, but your reveal covered alot of ground that i couldn’t accompanying such a minuscule amount of time. based on my in-store feel and your impart i reconsider i’ll be

  10. ozarkdiver says:

    My family and I just got back from a week in Roatan (Cocoview resort/November-2010). The food was good and plentiful. The divemasters/resort staff were great. We actually had good weather all week even though it was the rainy season. My only complaint was the lack of water pressure in the house we rented (next to Cocoview, but not part of it). The diving was okay, but not great. The vis was about 40-50 feet. The marine life, while not abundant, was varied. We saw lots of different things (large and small). You have to understand I’m comparing Roatan to Little Cayman, so my expectations were pretty high. The best part of the non-diving part was an open cockpit plane ride we took at the resort. The pilot and two of us taking a low-elevation tour of the island, goggles and everything (I highly recommend it). Would I go back, yes. If given the chose, would I go somewhere else (like Cayman or Bonaire), probably.

  11. Snagel says:

    Fantasy Island Trip Report Oct 23-30-2010

    Original Post by ScubaSchne on ScubaToys

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    Hi, I just returned and will be try to be brief and skip airport stuff etc and just talk about resort. I was there 4 yrs ago and while I was expecting some decline in the resort based on recent reports, it was more than I expected. The staff is still great, the dive staff in particular. I will be hard pressed to return to FI, and will most likely continue to go to Cozumel instead. I find I can dive there for about the same money, see more sea life and have a better resort/food experience. I hope the mgt change over improves the resort, I know in this economy it has been tough on dive resorts all over, but I think CoCo View and other resorts may be a better option for me in the future………….. We got there in time for hurricane Richard so obviously diving was out on Sunday and they told us we couldnt dive on Monday either. They ended up taking us out on the 11 a.m. dive and the later afternoon one. The viz was not that great all week, some dives were clearer than others, and several had a pretty strong current, the boats were rocking alot so getting back on could be a bit of a challenge but the boat staff/divemasters were terrific in helping out.
    My biggest issue with the resort is maintenance and the food. We had many of the same shower issues the Nagel reported, shower head hanging by a hose(trust me, I am used to European showers, this wouldnt stay attached at all), NO water pressure almost any time you used shower, no hot water 3 of 7 days, the a/c was so cold the first night we both put fleece jkts on, if you turned it down it quickly became hot and humid, then 2 nights no a/c at all! and it gets hot and humid quickly in those rooms, they sent maintenance after 3 requests, but unit stopped again in the middle of the night.Couldnt open the patio doors at all, lights outside broken so dark entrance at night etc. Other divers had some of the same issues, some had none, luck of the draw.

    FOOD- was much better last time, the beginning of the week it was ok, but got progressively repetitive, with mostly starches. The biggest issue was by Wed, they were running out of many things, and according to staff, when they told mgt, they were told “too bad” I guess there just won’t be any until the new mgt takes over. The staff was embarrassed and went out of their way to do what they could, even going out and getting certain items themselves. Just an example, by wed, out of diet coke everywhere, no butter, no syrup, almost no fruit like pineapple or papaya, ice cream gone(they went out and got some) next day, no white wine etc etc. Dinners became progressively sparser with rice,beans,potatoes,pasta and other starches. They put out pancakes and french toast but had no syrup and no butter. Did this ruin the trip? NO, however some guest that had never stayed there said they were extremely disappointed in food and maintenance issues and would never return. They felt like they had paid their money in good faith, and hearing that just because they were a few days away from a mgt change over they should not have to put up with some of the poor execution. In talking to one staff member, he said the cooks were all concerned for friday sat and sunday, because there was so little in the kitchen to cook, dont know how true that was, but it seemed headed that way. Many of the 2 large dive groups went out to dinner in town Friday night because they wanted a decent dinner.

    On Wed, the owner came in along with the new mgr. Interviews seemed to be going on in the lobby, right in front of the current staff and all the guests, seemed unprofessional to me. At that time the staff was still unsure if they would have jobs come Monday, and seeing their possible replacements being interviewed right in front of them was uncalled for IMO.

    BUGS- horrible, last time I was there I hardly got bitten at all, this time, even with repeated use of bug spray, I was eaten alive! The resort does fog every am at 6:30, and maybe the Hurricane stirred up the sand fleas, skeeters and no seeums, but they were out in force!
    Beach- Be prepared for large groups of cruise ship passengers using the beach and having lunch in the outside restaurant area, maybe that is why they ran out of so much stuff? Just a thought.

    I had a good time because of the group I was with, and some of the dives were good(3 seahorses on one) had I been there as a single diver or a couple maybe not so much. Several of the divers I met who werent with a group werent too happy with their experience. Everyone has their own opinions, but based on my week there, I will go back to Coz , Little Cayman, and other dive places before returning to FI. Their greatest asset currently is their staff, I hope the new mgt team appreciates that, and keeps those that wish to stay. I hope the group going in this week sees some improvements! I will be happy to answer any questions, again, this report is MY opinion, based on MY experience, your experience may be different.

  12. Snagel says:

    Roatan, Fantasy Island Oct 16-23, 2010

    Made our first trip to FI and overall it was a good trip (How can I say being on a tropical island is bad). Flying in (Delta) was a bit of an adventure because visibility was down and the pilot didn’t know if we could land or not so we stayed circling the island for 30 minutes before we got a break to land. The alternative was spending a night in Belize if we couldn’t land, but we were able to land. As we descended for the landing I couldn’t help but wonder where all the blue water was. All we seen was dark mud surrounding the island due to all the runoff from all the rain.

    We made it to the resort and our rooms. I have to say I was a little taken back. I’m not really sure what I expected, but the word that the place is a little “rundown” is pretty accurate. Let’s get all the negative things out of the way and let me also say that our stay was weeks before the “new management” took over and the “word” is that the new management is going to be spending a lot of money fixing the place up. Please don’t take any of my “points” listed here as too negative. I believe in trying to give a far critique of places I’ve been for others to read. Not every place is the Ritz and many come with a few “issues”. Initially, the water was not working in our rooms, the shower head was hanging down because the holder was broken (fixed this with some tape myself), sliding door was very hard to open/close and in general the room resembled a cheap motel room that we find at our local lake. “Ocean View” is a little bit of a stretch. What we seen was a big tree that blocked the view. The overgrowth made if very easy for the monkeys to visit you on the balcony. At first, this was a treat, but soon became a huge nuisance with leaving anything out….the monkeys took anything that was left out. “Nightly Entertainment”….not so much. One night they had a band in the lobby (they were very good). They said they had Fire Dancers one night….nope, no fire dancing, but they did have some dancers in the lobby that night performing some ancient cultural dancing. That was pretty much the “Nightly Entertainment” for the week unless you count the music played by the bartender. Walking around the resort it resembled something that at one time might have been very nice. The putt-putt golf area was overgrown and just looked bad. It would have been awesome to see the resort lit up at night, but much of the lighting was not working with light bulbs missing or broke. As with many resorts, the electric codes we find in the U.S. are not as stringent. We noticed many open boxes with wires sticking out. They said they provide water in the room for drinking, but we pretty much had to fetch the water ourselves and then we could only get a pitcher at a time. With the issue of the water, why don’t they provide water bottles or a large water tank in the rooms? You can get bottled water, but that is an extra cost. They did provide a refrigerator in the room….would have been nice to stock it.

    The people were great. We did not meet one person that was not pleasant and in general happy to talk to us or help us. The staff was exceptional and made the stay very pleasant. The dive operation was a well-oiled machine. First day was orientation and then getting all the gear setup and the orientation dive. Our DM, Darry, was fabulous. He worked very hard at showing/finding us things to see. The schedule was 9am, 11:30, and 2:30 for the dives coming back to the dive shop after each dive. The boats were a little rundown and in need of general paint and maintenance, but they worked for our needs. A new boat was parked at the dive shop, but they didn’t have it ready to go yet. Part of our group did the boat dives every day and others did shore diving every day. The staff shuttled our shore divers back and forth effortlessly and took care of all their needs. Shore diving is at the Gazebo; which, is on the other end of the resort from the dive shop. So, it is best to be shuttled over to the Gazebo by boat instead of trying to walk it with gear and tanks. The only issue with this was getting back. There was a phone at the Gazebo, but it did not work. However, the staff attempted to time things to return to pick up the shore divers. Many joked about why our shore divers spent the week shore diving, but once the story’s got out about what the seen others commented that they wish they did more shore diving. It’s very hard with the boat schedule to do shore diving without giving up a boat dive or two.

    Diving: It is very hard to comment about the diving. It was reef diving on a tropical island, much different than the lake and quarry diving we normally do. The water wasn’t as clear as we have seen in other tropical areas, but it was very nice diving. The reef was different than what we have seen in Bonaire, Mexico, and Coz. Some areas was a typical reef with gorgeous walls, others had canyons and sandy areas, Mary’s Place and Calvin’s Crack are two well-known sites and a must do; really not a big issue even for the novice diver. My favorite dive of the week was the night dive….many awesome creatures out. There was plentiful marine life. I believe Bonaire had more marine life, but I did see things in Roatan that I did not see in Bonaire – puffer fish, large crab, large eels, and sadly to say an abundance of Lion Fish. Lion Fish were everywhere. Darry speared many during our dives, but I’m not sure what the future holds given the numbers of Lion Fish that we observed.

    Food: Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner are provided in the large cafeteria or outside if the weather is good. Typical buffet style with plenty of fresh fruit, salads, and deserts. Main entrées were typically some type of beef, pork, pasta, and seafood. The food wasn’t any type of 5-Star dining, but it was filling. No one in our group (even the 15 year old) had a problem finding something to eat. The waiting staff was simply awesome. Our main dinner server was Roque (aka Rocky)…..simply a good kid. He offered to reserve our table nightly and when we arrived he already placed our drinks; which included finding some Diet Coke (Coke Light) that was very hard to come by. (I’m wondering if he stopped and purchased this on his way in every day). Very impressive. I have to stress here to offer tips when they are earned. Rocky certainly received tips from us every night.

    Beach Area: As I said flying in we noticed the lack of “blue water”. When we arrived our hearts sank as we peered at the water. However, a couple days later the rain gods took a break, the sun came out and the blue water returned. I really can’t say much about the beach; except, it was there. Due to the rain, not much beach activity, but there appeared to be plenty of chairs and shade available. Additionally, we noticed some beds on the beach….now really is this what is meant by “sex on the beach”? I always thought it was a lousy drink.

    Leaving the island was a sad day. I woke up thinking it was finally over and now it was time to return to the day-to-day hassles and leave this bit of paradise. We were a little nervous wondering if we really were leaving. Hurricane Richard decided to take a stroll through the area and word was that it was going to be hitting the island the day we left. We were able to leave, but was told they were shutting down the airport after our departure. I did get a little “frustrated” leaving. Prior to boarding you have to go through a final checkpoint. They said this is a requirement for U.S. flights. All was fine until they confiscated all my batteries and a lighter. They said I could not bring them in my carry-on. I “debated” this a little because the requirements had been lifted according to the documentation I read and the instructions I read stated that batteries should be stored in carry-on as opposed to in checked luggage. Regardless, with the language barrier and general lack of understanding, I left without these items.

    Now the real question, “Would I return to Fantasy Island”? This is very difficult to say and has been debated amongst our group. Roatan is on most divers Bucket List of places to go; so, in that sense, I’m glad I went and can now say, “I’ve been to Roatan”. Going into this we had heard that the place is “rundown” and in need of repair; so, we were not expecting the Ritz. In general, once you discount the minor issues we noted, it was a small paradise and once again, the people we met were absolutely fabulous to include all the staff, several forum members, and many new friends we met. We spent approximately $1500 per person (including airfare) for this trip. This is not much to some, but a sizable bit of change for us that we have to save all year to afford. It’s very hard to compare this place to others we have been because each one is different….some are all-inclusive others are not, some the diving is included others it isn’t, some have shore diving others don’t. However, in the back of my mind I keep thinking that given the money we spent we could have gone other places that were a little more up scaled or at least better maintained. In general, my opinion and not really the opinion of my co-partners is that I would return, but not at the same cost. It’s worth going, but again my opinion is that it would have to be discounted below the $1500 per person for me to return. I would be very interested in returning someday provided the place undergoes a major overhaul. Should this happen, it definitely would be what I call “Fantasy Island”.

    Please post if you have questions. I’m very happy to try and answer any questions. We hope to get pic’s and video up soon. You can find under the Photo tab at the top of the page. Give us a few days to get back into the routines of normal life and get these posted.

    Snagel

  13. snagel says:

    CoCo View Resort Review – Roatan
    August 2010
    Original Post by KingsCrab on Scuba Board
    Follow-up Post by FinniMinni on Scuba Board

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    Hey SCUBA folks! Just got back a couple of days ago from my first trip to Roatan, and I thought I’d throw some words of advice out there. Where to start…?

    Honduras diving totally lived up to my expectations!

    My wife and I honeymooned at CoCo View Resort and I want to officially give this place two thumbs up. The trip got off to a rocky start thanks to the POS airline known as DELTA. DO NOT FLY DELTA. Seriously. Every. Single. Plane. Had mechanical issues of some sort. We missed the first whole day of our honeymoon due to missed connections.

    Flight to Roatan = Captain announced over the loudspeaker he had to “reboot the plane” to get a certain censor to work. 30 min gone. Upon arrival in Atlanta (which is an enormous traffic CF – 30 min gone) the “door wasn’t opening” so we sat at our gate while the clock ticked. 20 more minutes gone. RAN through the vast expanse of the Atlanta airport, actually got to our connecting Roatan flight gate 5 minutes before take off only to find out that the plane had pulled away early. Yeah. Got rerouted to Houston to catch a Continental flight the next day. (which BTW was quite nice. Continental seems to hame a nice modern fleet) So, night one of honeymoon = Hello Garden Inn at Houston.

    Return Flight = Thinking a 4 hour layover was sufficient, we sat in the Roatan airport confident we wouldn’t have to stay at another flea bag airport hotel. Right? Wrong. The incoming plane to Roatan that we were waiting for was, yup, 4 hours late. End of honeymoon in Altlanta hotel. I could go on, but alas, I digress.

    Bah. Enough negative. Now the good stuff!

    CoCo View resort was amazing. The people were all very friendly and it was the lowest maintenance diving I have ever done. As a backpacker, I’m not used to “resort vacations” so this was a new experience. Upon arrival, we met Mitch, the recent manager, who upon hearing our tale of woe, immediately took us out for a shore dive/orientation dive. The Prince Albert wreck is about 100 yards offshore and I have to tell ya, I could do this dive 5 times a day. It is BEAUTIFUL. There is so much to keep you busy down there!

    Never once did I feel like anyone working at the resort was being schmoozy or cheesey. Our divemaster was Kirk and our Captain was Dave. You never really know what to expect from a dive guide. I’ve seen all sides of the spectrum, from the “know it all” yahoo to the quiet stoic type. Well, these guys were really great. Just the right mix of professionalism and easy going attitude. Kirk and Dave were very easy to get along with and could basically talk to anyone about anything. It felt very genuine. I was amazed at how knowledgeable Kirk was about the reef too. I mean, when he said something like “A seahorse lives on this rock right about here *point at map* and I will look for him” he meant it. The guy has eagle eyes.

    Anyway, it’s a slick operation and a well oiled machine. They made it SO easy to go diving.

    Eat, go out on boat for first dive, drop off near wreck for second dive. Repeat.

    Speaking of eating: The food was pretty damn good. The dinners were the best meals by far. I feel like the quality of the food trailed off by the end of the week, but I have to say, we had some STELLAR dinners at CoCo View. The breakfast meals were pretty average fare, but hey, neither of us got sick from the food or water so I’m not complaining. The vegetarian options were pretty lacking, or so I heard a couple people grumble, but I eat meat and was quite happy. I do wish they would have put tortillas out at every meal where they had rice and beans present, (makes sense, yeah?) but hey, minor gripe.

    One thing that I really liked about CoCo View were the nice little touches. The area (garden, walkway, etc) was well maintained. Every morning when we got to breakfast, Jose the parrot was just waking up. He was nice enough to say “hello” to us everyday. (100 times or so!) The house resort poochies were always floating around looking for a pet and a bite of food. Little Gizmo was our fave! There were also a couple of humming bird feeders that were fun to watch. CoCo View had some non diving events that were a nice touch also. Fire dancers, Honduran kids doing traditional Honduran polkas, crab races, etc. Solid good fun to mix up the routine a little bit at night.

    Back to diving. The water was great, and I’d say the VIS was better than average. I was a little worried about jellyfish before I went down there but it didn’t even seem to be an issue at all. Not once did I hear about any recent stingings, etc. The coral was very vibrant and beautiful. LOTS of sea fans and barrel (?) coral. The wall dives were stunning. We saw schools of squid (my personal fave) tons of schooling fishes, seahorses (thank you Kirk!) eels, giant hermit crabs, garden eels, toad fish and (to the local’s dismay) many lionfish.

    SHARKDIVE: For those of you who are not yet jaded or have not done a dive like this, the Sharkdive is TOTALLY worth it. It’s a little pricy ($100 or so) but it’s fun. We did the one tank dive to watch the sharks eat and it was BAD ASS. The current was strong so the divers had to “climb” down the mooring line to get to the feeding area, but it was amazing. We had 10 or 11 sharks show up to the chum bucket. You sit with your back to a small wall and watch as the dive master opens the bucket. After we watched them eat, the guide let us free float and basically you’re floating there and sharks are all over the place cruising around. It was cool as hell. If you wanna see sharks, you WILL see them on this dive.

    ZIPLINE: My wife got a cold one day so we did the Pirates of the Carribean zipline tour instead of diving. It was an hour of pure AWESOME. Scary as hell and every bit as fun. If you do this, do the EXTREME route. Again, pricy at $65 a head, but I’d do it again in a second.

    As I said earlier, my wife and I are (traditionally) backpackers so resort vacations are usually not our thang. We like mixing with locals and seeing the reality of a place when we travel. Alas it was not to be this time. CoCo View is on a small island and getting back to the mainland just didn’t occur to us. I’m sad to say that not once did we even see Honduran money, but we expected to be cloistered and focused on diving when we signed up for the trip. I admit, I was a little uncomfortable with the vast difference in standard of living in Honduras. The closest we got to experiencing the local scene was from our boat, I’m afraid. At times it was difficult to see people living in shanty towns on the water’s edge as we tooled past in our fancy dive boat, but again… I digress. We tipped (EVERYONE) good so hopefully some of that will trickle back to the local economy. (small consolation, right…?)

    If you are only interested in diving and chilling out, CoCo View is PERFECT.

    The closest thing to a complaint about CCV is that it was a little difficult to get common items. The staff was good about trying, but still, there is no “local pharmacy” or corner store” to run to if you need something. For example, when my wife got a cold there was ONE packet of cold medicine at the gift shop. (Which was overpriced of course) Plan ahead! I will say that the staff was very helpful to us when we needed it. Example: We had no clock. Our phones had no service and usually we use our phones for the time. The staff sent someone to the mainland buy us a cheapo alarm clock though and we had one the next day!

    Here is another fun tidbit for ya. We discovered that island wide power outages are planned and quite frequent on Roatan. A couple times that week, power totally dropped for about a minute. Fortunately, CCV is ready and has three huge power generators that kicked right in. Apparently they can run for about a month if they have enough fuel.

    One thing that was really nice was hanging out on the sun deck. They have a sandy pathway that runs along side a long dock. The dock has a couple of “nodes” that stick out with sunning chairs on them. The end of the dock has a big shaded area with hammocks. It was SO relaxing sitting out there reading and watching divers trickle in and out of the shore line as they finished their drop off dives.

    CCV has a very organized system for shore night dives as well. While we didn’t do one, it was fun to sit at the bar with a boat drink and watch the glows from the night diver’s lights out in the bay. Sigh.

    (FinniMinni)
    I’m going to chime in on this one as it appears that maybe I was there at CoCoview the same time you were. I ditto what Kingscrab said about the great dive operation. If you are looking for a lowkey, relaxed, nothing but diving vacation, this is a great place to go. We stayed in one of the cabanas over the water and it was wonderful. The grounds were kept up very nicely. I will say on the animal front for Cocoview, they need to learn about parrot upkeep, the two parrots in the front of the resort had dirty cages, no toys and their food was not kept up regularly. We did mention this to Mitch and Deb (managers), so we will see what they do about it. The dogs are kept happy though. Bring bug spray, at least two cans. One for your cubby at the dock, so when you rinse off after you come back from a dive, you can spray on your bug spray, one at your room so you can spray on some after your shower. If you do that, you will be bite free. The food was subpar,but you were usually hungry and if you didn’t like what they were having they always had a decent salad bar so, you won’t starve and there was plenty of food. I will second the compliments on the dive staff. They are amazing. They all go out of their way to make sure that you are happy. They will tailor the dives to fit the divers on their boats, which makes for great diving. I did witness where we dropped off a diver on the Prince Albert, she forgot her weights but we had already left. I was looking back and saw her waving at us and mentioned it to our captain who promptly turned around…just as another cocoview boat saw her and began racing to give her assistance. It made me happy to see that anyone that saw a diver that needed help went right away. It did not have to be someone from their boat and the other boat did have to see that we were already turning around to go back but because they were closer and did not know the issue, they responded quickly to the diver. I also noticed huge fans were installed in the area where they fill tanks to insure good clean fills. And they have incorporated a sign in/out sheet for night dives as well as the beacon that flashes when a diver is out at night. Good safety measures on their part. Our boat was crewed by Mark and Gringo…they were great and could not have been more personable or gone out of their way to make sure we were happy. They actually kept some dolphins running with our boat the whole way to our drop off dive, so when we jumped in the water for our dive there were 3-4 dolphins swimming within 5-8 feet of us! Overall, I think this is a great dive operation and anyone who goes and says they didn’t have a good time won’t have a good time no matter where they go because they are looking for things to complain about.
    Oh, and on the Delta note…my husband travels for work and would not fly Delta because he said that any flight you take with them is delayed, almost always to mechanical issues. I believe he was held up one time for faulty brakes and they said, “well, if we don’t fix it in the next 30 minutes we will just go and we will fix it after we land.” What? Avoid Delta if you can.

  14. snagel says:

    Full Roatan Fantasy Island Trip Report

    Original Post by Rayaa3 on ScubaToys

    ——————————————————————————–
    Fantasy Island Beach Resort trip report 6/14/2010 – 6/20/2010

    Foreword:

    Throughout writing this, I continued to make comparisons between Roatan and Cozumel. At first I avoided it. However, then I realized that it might be helpful. For many in the southern and central US Cozumel is the most affordable, and accessible dive vacation available. Eventually folks want to broaden their experiences and Roatan is a natural progression for those of us whose travel is limited to budget and lenght of trip. From central/southern US it might be the next most economical dive vacation, if limiting your stay to a week. (I know many will say that asia and the pacific have much cheaper offerings once you fly there, but I think for those of us in the southern/central US those are only cheaper if you can stay for 2 weeks, to justify the higher airfare). So, I have made several comparisons to Cozumel. I have been there several times, and stayed at a few different hotels. Cozumel is always going to be my baseline which all other destinations will be compared to. When I pick someplace new to stay, I scour the forum for trip reports. I like to get an idea of what to expect. If that’s what you are doing, well, that’s why I wrote this. I hope it helps make an educated decision on whether or not Roatan, or FIBR is for you.

    Now on to the report:

    First a little about booking this resort. There are effectively 2 ways to book for US travellers:

    1) privilege resorts website – booking with the hotel directly.
    http://www.privilegehotels.com/–fantasyisland–home

    2) booking with a US based travel agent – the guy who runs it is named Nick. His agency has several sites for the hotel – but they are all the same folks:
    http://www.fantasyislanddiveresort.com/

    Depending on what’s going on as far as specials the price may be cheaper to book with the hotel directly. It was for me – as I was booking a 6 night trip. With Nick’s folks I was given a 7 day price, and told that it was because on 7 night packages, the 7th night is free. Nick wouldn’t price match my rate – and told me my reservation was invalid because all USA travellers MUST register with him. Yeah…that’s bull. The package I got on the privilege hotel website was called “dive pack for US divers” so – umm NO. I’m sure Nick is a good enough fellow, he certainly has some fans out there. However, when I dealt with him I found him to be rude, and dismissive. Even after my initial frustration with the rude/dismissive behavior, I called back weeks later, I offerred him a 2nd shot at my business at one point, and he didn’t seem to be in a hurry to help me. He said something along the lines of “email me and I’ll look at it in a couple of days”. So – I booked with the hotel directly. What I found was…

    When booking with the hotel directly you have a much more liberal cancellation policy:

    - no funds are due up front, it’s like a normal hotel reservation you reserve with a credit card, and pay when you get there.

    - if you don’t call within 24 hours and cancel, you pay 1 night.

    However – it comes at the following compromise:

    - There is no USA based rep to call and confirm reservation (if you do have to call the hotel before hand I recommend getting a skype account and doing it on your pc – about .25 per minute from USA -> Honduras.

    - The hotel takes a while to respond to emails before you get there.
    All in all – it was worth the couple of hundred dollars I saved.

    I likely will come back here, but doubt I’ll book with Nick. First impressions are so important in customer service. I understand I may have caught him on two bad days, however, I believe in voting with my $$$, so I can only vote based on the behavior I saw myself. I understand if the miileage of others varies.

    OK – now on to the trip:

    Getting here – We caught continental flights connecting through Houston. Flying was about half the cost of the trip. We paid around 750pp. If you can drive to Houston there are good deals to be had through TACA, but that’s 8-9 hours driving for me – so, no thanks.

    As posted in a previous thread the airport is small, smaller than Cozumel (is it possible?) – there is no timeshare blockade to run to get to the taxi/pickup area. I recommend calling the hotel, when you arrive, if your van isn’t there for pickup. Get the local number from the website before you leave, use a payphone if you need to. The drive is about 25 minutes or so, maybe a bit less. So – if you don’t see the van, don’t waste time – call the hotel and make sure they are coming to get you, it will take at least 20 minutes after you call if they leave as soon as they hang up the phone. Particularly if you don’t come in on Saturday, which is the big arrival day for Fantasy Island.

    Check in is uneventful if you are the only one on the van, if you are not, I’m sure it takes a few minutes. I’ve never seen more than one person staffing the front desk.

    The resort:

    I loved it. This is the kind of place where you can walk around barefoot and feel at ease in. After 3 days in wet flipflops my feet were beginning to bother me, so I went barefoot pretty much every place but the bathroom for the next 3 days. The main lobby is the place to hang and have coffee in the early AM it opens to two beaches, and on breezy days is WONDERFUL. Comparing this to anyplace I have stayed in Cozumel – I have to say it’s more laid back in Roatan. I suspect that this is true across the island. I mention the breeze, it was breezy/windy the first 4-5 days of our trip. This makes the water rougher on the dive boat, however, it makes the resort cooler on hot days. It also keeps the flying bugs down. On the days without wind, the dive boat was a smooth ride, but it was warmer, and I required more dips in the ocean to cool off (it was awful ).

    There are more bugs on Roatan than Cozumel. Noseeums are basically sand fleas that will give you painless bites on the beach. You won’t feel them bite, but at night you’ll find pink spots where you were bitten. They are present no matter what the wind does. The pink spot seems to go away by the next AM. Bring off with DEET or something similar. My wife bought bug spray – something eco-happy with no deet in it – didn’t stop em. We ended up buying off deep woods from the gift shop – yep that did it. I think I got 8 bites all week. All painless.

    The resort has a bunch of critters on it. There are at least 3 resident monkeys that like to come out around meals and look for handouts. There is a peacock. There are a bunch of these little rabbit like creatures (someone elses will know the name) that are about as common as squirrels are here. There are some ducks, some geese, some island deer.

    The rooms:

    Simple, clean, nothing fancy. The room we stayed in functioned. There were a couple of missing light bulbs – but I didn’t care. The toilet was a bit odd, requiring you to hold the flush for about 7 full seconds to complete a flushing – if you didn’t hold it in that long, you would have thought it was broken. The bathroom fixtures were old, but functional. Little water pressure, but enough to do the job. Water would get hot any time we tried it day or night. Pergo floors were peeling a bit, walls were scratched in several places. It’s not the ritz. Someone described it as dive camp – yeah, that’s close. It’s a clean, air conditioned, plumbed place to sleep, take showers, and go to the bathroom. That’s exactly what we did. The bed was comfortable by Mexico standards. Not too firm, not too soft – definitely not new, or fancy. However, after 3-4 dives a day – I just wanted something to crawl into at 9pm…and it was very nice for that activity. The shower rod was a bit flimsy and kept falling. Nothing we couldn’t handle. If there was one place that showed that it was the least expensive place on the island, it was the rooms. That’s ok – I would rather be the case, than the dive op being low quality, or the location, or something else. Our room had neither a alarm clock, or a hair dryer. No biggie for us, the wife brought a hair dryer, because she knows she wants one no matter where we are in the world. We planned on using our phone as an alarm clock, but we only slept in till 7am one day. Our bodies were just waking early.

    The food:

    There is 1 restraunt, it is located outside most days for lunch (weather permitting) and above the lobby for dinner and breakfast. The food – I found the food to be pretty good. However, I’m not a picky eater. Also – my mom is Brazilian, and raised me on rice and beans…every lunch or dinner there was a rice dish to eat – and I enjoyed all of them. This resort gets poo-poo’d for food quite a bit. I think I understand why. The food is no better or worse than what I had at Allegro in Cozumel in February, or at Hotel Cozumel, or at Fiesta Americana. The quality is on average close to those. THE VARIETY is not. At any lunch there are only a handful of choices, dinner has a handful more. So – the problem isn’t food quality – the problem is that if you don’t have many choices. My favorite lunches included conch off the grill, really great rice dishes, grilled chicken sausage links (yummy). Every meal had Fresh pineapple, and some type of melon (watermelon, or something else), papaya was on the buffet a couple of times, as was bananas a couple of times. Salad bar was sparse, but you could make a salad. Dinners were good, a few more choices than lunch. They have a local version of pizza that was pretty good, though it’s not Pizza hut…it’s pizza(crust, sauce, cheese, topping) but it’s not exactly what you eat at home – anyways, wife and I thought it was good – especially after putting jalapenos on it (available at every meal – jalapenos) Breakfast is great – fresh tortillas a few days, scrambled eggs, ham some days, french toast a few days (don’t miss the french toast made with thick slices – OMG), breakfast grill was always open. I understand how people get frustrated with the limits on selection – some days it makes it harder to find the choice you want. However, I found the actual quality of food to be normal mexico resort AI buffet food. Only place I had better buffet was at Palace resorts – and again – I think it was more about choices. Another high point for meals – the ice cream. Easily better than anything I have at home – creamy, rich, great flavors (look for banana, and chocolate, get a scoop of each OMG) flavors change a bit daily but chocolate is almost always there…the flavors that rotate in and out are banana, vanilla, cookies/cream, cake batter, a few others. There are usually 2-3 flavors to choose from. Also for desert for dinner – almost everyday featured a flan – I LOVE FLAN. I rarely get to eat it at home – so I ate flan 6 nights in a row. I ate very well, and except for a tummy ache from over indulgance (fixed in 20 minutes with alka-seltzer) I never had any issues with the food. The wait staff was very helpful in serving drinks and filling glasses. We tipped $1 per diner, for each meal ($2 per meal for the two of us) I don’t think it is expected, but know it’s appreciated.

    Also – AI resorts in Cozumel and Cancun always have some type of grazing snack bar open. This isn’t true at FIBR. Coffee is available as early as 4:45am (my earliest morning), as is Tea. Breakfast starts at 7am, I think it goes until 9am. Lunch starts at Noon and serves until 2:30. Dinner starts at 6:30 and serves till at least 8:30, maybe 9pm. There is no AI food between meals. This wasn’t a problem, I was diving between meals. I was never hungry, EVER. However, I did miss chips and guacamole that I always get at the pool, at Hotel Cozumel.

    Activities:

    Well – naturally there’s all you can eat diving. We stayed 6 nights, dove 5 days, I got in 15 dives. I’m not sure I could have done much more diving. I was quite tired. However, if I wanted to, there was time to get at least 1 more tank in every day. As it was we got heavily into the ‘yellow zone’ on our computers one day.

    Other than diving – There is a little seaplane that gives rides, I think a 30 minute ride was $90 ppdo. I saw something about jet ski rental, but never saw it. There was a GREAT swimming beach. The beach is protected by a barrier reef of rocks, so it’s always calm, clear, and pleasant. My wife usually prefers a swimming pool, however, she didn’t visit it once, the ocean was too inviting on that beach. I think you can arrange fishing trips, I saw sailboats in the area advertising sailing tours. I know there is a zipline tour. You can take a cab to west end, I didn’t catch the price, but it’s a 40 minute ride I understand.

    There is a single kayak available, there is a beach volleyball court. I think that was it. Oh, and of course, snorkeling.

    Staff:

    As stated meal staff is great. Front desk staff, there are a handful of people that work the front desk, usually no more than 1 person staffs it at a time. I found a few of them to be excellent customer service representatives. I found one to be slightly indifferent. However, we had no issues. The overnight/early morning guy speaks pretty poor english, so if your spanish isn’t up to par, it may be difficult to communicate. We locked ourselves out of our room and it took a couple of minutes to get the point across.

    Bar staff:

    There is one bar for lobby/pool/beach – it simply has 3 windows. When it gets busy this guy works hard, so wait times can be a couple of minutes. There is no staff roaming the beach fetching drinks – so your on your own here.

    Dive staff:

    We dove on the Little Kashi with Miguel (DM) and Pedro (captain). The guys were professional, personal, and around great guys. Always willing to help. Unlike many Cozumel ops, you will assemble your own gear here. No problem if that’s what you are accustom to, but for some it may be a surprise. Tipping the dive staff – ok – I had a hard time getting a solid read on this. You tip the captain and DM seperately. There is also a tip box for the dock crew (air fills, shore diving help, etc). I ended up tipping the DM and Captain like we were in Cozumel – I figured $5 per tank we dove on the boats – then split it 50/50 between them. Neither could have functioned well without the expertise of the other – so it seemed fair. Captain helped you to the water, up the ladder, took cameras for you, would fetch air tanks, etc. The DM was more of a safety diver than a guide. The divers would dive their own profile and stay more or less as a group strown across different depths, within 70-100ft of each other (buddies were pretty good about staying close, some pairs better than others). Only one dive was the DM “leading” the dive group – Mary’s place – and only because it was a swim through. I thought it was a perfect balance of assistance and independance. If you wanted to stick with the DM, ok, if not – please come back to the boat with some air left, don’t get lost, don’t get bent – have fun. For the Prince Albert shore dive – they will run you out to the boat on a little 18ft boat and drop you right on it if you like…just backroll in. Roberto the shop manager will give you a orientation (20minutes) before you get to dive. He basically reviews the way things are done here, how the dives work, etc. It was a great little orientation – and I think should be standard operating procedure at more dive ops. However, because of this – there is usually no diving the day of your arrival – you can’t dive till Robert gives you the run down – PERIOD.

    The diving:

    Great – there are not a lot of big animal encounters in this area. I think I saw 4 Barracuda, 2 turtles, 3 Grouper all week. However, the coral is amazing and abundant. Most dives are wall dives. The boat will drop you in about 25 feet of water on top of a reef, then you swim over to the wall, go down one side, come back on the other. Only 2 dives all week were drift dives. The non-wall dives we did were Mr. Bud wreck, Prince Albert Wreck, Mary’s place – which is really a wall dive with a swim through. I won’t bother listing dive sites specifically beyond those. In Roatan, where your dive shop goes is determined mostly by where they are located. West end hits western/northern sites. North shops hit north shore sites. South side…you get the picture. The longest boat ride was about 20 minutes. Most were closer to 10. Night dives from the boat are on Thursdays – however, if wind conditions are bad – they won’t do boat night dives. However, you can still do the Prince Albert and shore dives at night. I took about 140 dive pics through the week, and 95 were keepers. They are on my facebook page, and I’ll post a link here. All in all, I think the diving here is easier than the diving in cozumel. If you desired, you could stay up on the reef for the entire dive in less than 40 ft of water. There is no current to contend with. However, Cozumel has more big animals, at least more than the south side sites I visited. Vis is higher in Cozumel, but vis isn’t prohibitive in Roatan, it’s just not as high as Cozumel. I’de say vis was consistently around 60ft, and as high as 80ft.

    A little about the dive boat procedures:

    Boats go out at 9am, 11am, and 2:30pm, they will visit a different site each trip. Each trip is for a single tank. They ask that you come down to the dock 15minutes before the boat leaves. This is time for you to pull gear out of the locker room, make sure you have everything, assemble your gear. Before you leave the dock make sure your tank is full, make sure your o-ring isn’t leaking. I had 4 leaky o rings, and 3 light fills. Simply tell the captain, he’ll get you a new tank. Each drop is intended to take you to a site – however, if you prefer, your captain will drop you on the prince albert, and you can swim to the gazebo when you are done diving the wreck. Also, on the 3rd trip of the day, you can make an optional 4th tank drop off on the wreck, or some other shore dive (newmans wall, coco view wall, etc). Any of the drop off dives, or shore dives for that matter, you swim to the gazebo when you are done. There is a phone in the gazebo. You call the dive shop and they will come and get you on a little boat (saves you a walk with gear). If you are getting back late (8pm or later) you simply leave the tank at the gazebo, and take gear to your room for the night.
    Next to the dive boat dock is the gear locker room. There are no locks on the lockers, you simple have a space to hang or put your gear. The room is locked nightly, at 8pm. I had no problem with hooligans taking gear, but have heard stories. I’ve heard that hangers are often taken, I think people assume they are shop property.
    Next to the locker room you will find the gear rinse tanks. One designated for Cameras. There is also a freshwater spigot and garden hose. Also there are 3 fresh water showers for rinsing yourself off.

    The boats:

    Large comfortable, no head, but with such short trips back and forth, it’s not needed. Our boat carried 13 divers. In Cozumel I use small boat ops that carry 6-8 divers. I was concerned about larger dive groups. This wasn’t a problem. The divers on our boat dove pretty independantly. It never felt like a 13 diver group.

    Typical dive day schedule would look like this – though other than dive boat departure time, it isn’t this regimented – this is simply what I observed to be average:

    8:45am get to the locker room put gear on boats, assemble gear test your tank.

    9:00am boat leaves – WITH OR WITHOUT YOU, they don’t know if you are skipping the dive. If 12 people were on time, and you were late – you get left. If someone is there to say “he’ll be right here” they will likely wait for you – but if you simply don’t show – they go.

    9:15am dive site

    9:20am everyone is in the water

    10:20am everyone is out of the water, some sooner than others, but no dives lasted longer than an hour

    10:25am Captain will log your name, max depth, site name, bottom time, air left
    10:40am back at the dock – change your tank – check to make sure it’s full

    11:00am boat leaves again
    same dive schedule, though they choose a very close site for this dive – it’s a slightly shorter trip

    12:20 back at the dock – leave your gear on the boat, if you plan on coming back for the 2:30 dive.

    12:30 – 2:15pm – get lunch, relax, whatever
    2:15pm – get back to the dock, check your tank, let the captain know if you plan on doing the 4th tank drop off dive on the shore sites

    2:30pm boat leaves

    3:45pm boat drops off 4th tankers on the shore site

    3:55pm boat is at the dock, rinse and put up your gear, or make arrangments for a night shore dive (sign up at the dock/shop).

    I did 3 dives a day, every day. The wife averaged 2 tanks a day most days, and 3 tanks a couple of days. You dive as much or as little as you want. I could easily have logged 4-5 tanks a day – but my computer would have had fits if I wasn’t careful. SI between the first two tanks tends to be an hour. You have a long SI between tank 2 and 3. However, between tank 3 and 4 be careful, you will only have a 15 min SI and if you are diving deep profiles, you may need to watch your computer closely.

    Other things to know about diving:

    On Friday the boats only go out for tank 1 and 2. This is because most depart on Saturday afternoon. They won’t let you dive 24hours before departure time. If you aren’t leave Saturday, you can still do the shore sites Friday afternoon, and evening. When you tell them you want to dive that afternoon or evening, they will ask you when you are flying. Same goes for the Saturday afternoon – shop closes early. Saturday morning is actually a great day to dive. They only take out 1 boat, as there are fewer divers (more Saturday departures) so we only had 4 on the boat. You dive on the same boat all week, with the same Captain, and DM. However, if you dive on Saturday, you’ll likely end up on a new boat just for that one day. Sunday is back to business as usual, all boats are up and running, 3 trips.

    We had a great trip, and will definitely come back. We will need to bring the daughter, maybe next summer. It’s a great deal for very good diving.
    One closing warning, be sure to save USD $38 per person in cash for the airport departure tax. You won’t leave until you pay. You can withdraw at the airport ATM, however, they only give Lempira, so you’ll likely have some left over foreign currency.

    If considering Fantasy Island Beach Resort, I hope you found this helpful.

    Ray

  15. snagel says:

    Roatan Trip Report
    5/15/2010-5/29/2010

    Original Post by GeoRoc01 on ScubaToys

    I just got back from a two week trip to Roatan, staying at Casa Calico and diving with Coconut Tree Divers. The primary purpose of this trip was to do my DSAT Tec Deep Course. But given that the course was 10 days, I had some free days as well for some fun dives as well as a chance to do a little sight seeing. My class review can be found here My DSAT Tec Deep Class
    Accomodations – Stayed at Casa Calico, a B&B on the northern edge of the East End. It was easily within walking distance into town without being in the prime nightlife areas, so it was very quiet. We were also on a bay so there was a nice northerly breeze on most days. They have units both with and w/o kitchenettes, and at $400 a week including breakfast and wifi, seemed like a bargain. The rooms were clean and looked to have been remodeled recently. Jeff, the owner was around daily as he splits his time between here and the Cigar bar, which he also owns. Plenty of off street parking if you chose to rent a car, which we did on the last day.
    Diving – Dove with Coconut Tree Divers. As I stated above, I was taking a class, which I already posted a review of, and won’t repeat here. Fun dives were $25 each. Nitrox fills were $8 per tank. O2 fills were 2 cents/psi. I did 17 dives overall. Trimix is also available, but I am not sure what the rate is. Guided tech dives are $60 each. Everyone at the dive shop was very friendly and helpful. They teach quite a few classes, with small numbers. Same with the ratio of DMs to divers on the boat. Most of the time it was no more than 3-4 to 1, many times even less.
    Meals – breakfast was at Casa Calico. Adjacent to Coconut Tree Divers was Cindy’s Place and she had great specials for 100lmps, so lunch was primarily there. Dinners we ate at a variety of places. Probably the best value is Rotisserie Chicken, although the smoked chicken at 50-bar was a great deal too. We also ate a few times at the Argentinian grill Poca De Iris, which was very good also. Had good meals at the Lighthouse and Eagle Ray. Those meals ran closer to $20 US per person.
    Other – Rented a car with Budget for the last day of off gassing. It was $60 including insurance. Was great until I went to fill the tank. The tank door wouldn’t open so I couldn’t refill it. At the airport they wanted to charge me a for a full tank ($58) but I eventually got the guy to take a $20 in cash in order to settle it. There is a gift shop in Coxen Hole that we hit up on both trips called Yabba Ding Ding that I go to get a bottle of the Celasse Special Hot Sauce, although the size of the bottle definitely smaller since last year.
    My Dive buddy doesn’t have dental insurance and had her teeth taken care of for a replacement filling. The total cost was $50. She went to Clinica Esperante, where we brought some needed OTC drugs such as pre-natal medicine for the clinic as well. Jeff, the owner of the Cigar bar said that a dental office was opening behind his place that was being sponsored by Carnival Cruise lines. If you need dental care, its worth looking into. The dentist she saw was a retired US dentist.

  16. snagel says:

    Anthony’s Key Resort

    Original Post by Zoey from ScubaToys (March/April 2010)

    If you are an avid diver, Anthony’s Key is a great destination. I and several other couples were picked up at the airport and driven directly to the resort, which is about a 15 minute drive give or take. All of your luggage is taken directly to your cabana while you are being checked in, which by the way was quite easy and quick. We received a brief, but informative overview of the resort and its amenities.

    I stayed in hill cabana #5. Just an FYI, it is about 158 steps from the main pee-gravel road up to the room. So, if you have an aversion to walking up steps, this is not the room for you. Personally, I didn’t think it was that big of a deal. The room was clean and the AC worked well. I had two beds within the room. Pretty comfortable, but I know it’s a subjective opinion, and hence really not worth squat. Lighting was somewhat sparse so reading at night was a little difficult. Great view out the large ocean facing windows. A personally generated security code safe was within the room. It appears that each cabana has it’s own hot water heater, so cold showers were never a problem. No tv or phone in the room. Make sure to look for the scuba diving facts book (can’t remember the name of it). It’s got a lot of fascinating/neat facts and figures. Staff did a nice job cleaning the room each day. Overall, the cabana was nothing exciting, but perfect for a week of diving.

    Breakfast, lunch and dinner were served at the main, open-air dining area most days. Breakfast was the same menu each day, but had enough of a variety to keep from getting bored. Lunch and dinner were set menu’s with a choice of starter and entree. One of our diving days was to an island owned by Anthony’s, where we had lunch. Great experience as the island serves a dual purpose as an “exotic” animal rescue/training area. More on that later.

    One evening we were served a BBQ dinner on the Key after watching fire dancers perform. It was a great show, and one of the performers managed to catch his clothing on fire twice. He took it in stride and never missed a beat. I suspect it occurs at each show.

    Overall, the food was pretty darn good. I’m a moderately picky eater, yet always left the table stuffed to the gills. Service in the restaurant(s) was great. I thought that ordering off a menu would slow the process down, but it didn’t at all.

    On to the diving:

    There is no diving on the day of your arrival, and solo diving is prohibited. You are assigned to a boat and DM, which you will remain with for the duration of your stay. Frankly, this made tipping much easier. One captain….One DM.

    The boats were well maintained. You could do either a rear water entry (giant stride), or back roll off the side. O2 and light medical supplies were on-board. Both the DM and Captain were excellent. No complaints at all. We had around 10 people on our boat, which IMHO was boarder line being too many. It was a mix of newer and experienced divers. What was nice was that the DM monitored the newer divers, and when they became low on air, he assisted them to the surface and allowed the more experienced divers to continue. Who doesn’t hate hitting the surface with 1500 psi left in the tank? My dives, on average, were an hour.

    Anthony’s has 2 scheduled night dives, both of which I did. Quite enjoyable, and if you haven’t done this, I would highly suggest giving it a try. Lights are available for rent at the dive shop.

    I wont discuss the critters I came across as I’m sure others before me have done so ad nauseam, but I will concur that diving in Roatan is exceptional. In my opinion, diving on the South side is better, but that’s not to say that the North side is bad at all. However, having said that, we all know how unpredictable diving can be. One day you might see a Whale Shark at one location, and the next day nothing. Nevertheless, just a simple opinion on my part.

    I’ve previously stayed at Fantasy Island (wouldn’t recommend this resort), so diving the Island is not new to me. Weather was not cooperating with us during my week long stay, but the shop took it in stride. Wind was the major issue, which made it too wavy for diving the North side. On those days, we traveled to the South side by bus. All of our gear was loaded in a truck and driven to the awaiting boats that were docked next to the airport. Unfortunately for us, this meant that we would only get in a two-tank day. Shore diving, which is done from the Key (very jagged rock/coral entry point for those concerned) was closed all week due to surge/swell. I did manage to sneak in a channel dive on one day. Aside from a small plane sunk in the channel, there’s not a lot more to see. I did run across 2 Lion Fish, which I reported.

    Gear can be stored within private, locked lockers. A photo/camera shop is on the premises, but is somewhat limited in goods. A videographer dives with each boat on several occasions, so if you would like a copy of your diving experience, it is available for purchase.

    Nitrox is available and plentiful (32% give or take). It’s stored within a single building, where 2 analyzers are available. You can check your tanks whenever you choose. Typically, I checked 3 tanks in the morning before heading out. You mark the tanks with the boat name and your diver number, and set them aside. The DM and Captain will put them on the boat for you.

    I have all of my own gear, so I can’t comment on rental equipment.

    Hyperbaric chamber and clinic is on the premise. Don’t forget to make a monetary donation. Being that I’m a paramedic & nurse, I had to check out the clinic/HBO chamber. Nice little chamber they have there. I also saw a portable x-ray machine, and a well stocked medication room. I may very well be mistaken, but it appears that the clinic accepts donated medications/equipment, which isn’t uncommon abroad. Physicians are available during set hours, and are on-call after hours.

    All in all, I did 19 dives during a week’s stay.

    Staff, aside from the dive shop, were friendly enough. At all times I felt safe at the resort. Armed security was present, yet hidden in a way. They usually wandered around in the periphery of the jungle foliage, which made it difficult to see them, but they could easily see you.

    I should probably talk about the island with the rescued animals before you fall asleep reading this. Honestly, I can’t remember the name of the island or where it’s located. I can say that it’s owned by Anthony’s and that several ‘exotic’ animals reside on the island. They tell us that they are rescue animals. I saw, up and close,: Sea lions, dolphins, Nurse Sharks, Ray’s, Capuchin monkeys, baby alligators, beautiful birds, and big cats. By no means is this an exhaustive list. All of the animals, unlike the dump they call a “zoo” over at Fantasy Island, appear to be well cared for.

    The island has a gift shop, ancient ruins area (I didn’t check this out as I spent too much time playing around with the monkeys), a large pool, and outdoors dining area. I should also mention that dolphins, in addition to this location, reside at the key at Anthony’s. They do training at both locations, and you can pay to get a hands-on with them.

    I didn’t spend any time at the Marine Institute at Anthony’s, but I did tour the museum. It’s a self guided tour which contains numerous artifacts of Roatan history. It’s worth a jaunt through.

    I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the bugs. In particular, the No-see-ums. I had not a single bite on my legs. I did not use bug spray (damb TSA took all of it, and my toothpaste, before I arrived. That’s another story in itself). Having said that, my back and arms received all of the damage. I only saw one mosquito while there, thus I must conclude the bites were from another unknown source. The bites looked worse than they felt, and yes, they itched a bit. It didn’t bug me enough (no pun intended) to purchase more spray.

    Without a doubt, I’ve left a lot out of this report. I’m sure others have filled in the blanks several times over, and I’m positive I’ve echoed many sentiments.

    Unequivocally, I can say that I would return/recommend this resort.

  17. admin says:

    Trip Report- Fantasy Island Roatan, Honduras 08/01/09-08/08/09

    Original Post by DevilDiver on ScubaToys

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    Trip Report- Fantasy Island Roatan, Honduras 08/01/09-08/08/09

    Roatan is still a divers destination, recent political issues have not effected the daily routine that I could tell. Fantasy Island is about a 20 min ride from the airport and is an island off of the main island with a single bridge with a gaurd shack keeping the island priviate.

    The resort has new owners as of the first of the year and they have put some much needed money into it. There is more work needed but things are on their way in the right direction. Rooms are simple with bed, bath, small table and refrigerator for the pitchers of fresh water for drinking. Most rooms are beach view with the exception of building H witch is on a hilltop (4 flights of stairs) but right behind the dive shop.

    The food needs improvement, not that they do not have the supplies but the Chef that has been hired does not seem motivated or possibly talented. It’s not bad but it could definitely be better….Breakfast and lunch are the high points.

    Now for the important stuff…… Diving!

    Fantasy Island is really all about diving and you can do allot of it. The dive shop has a good clean compressor and they use it. The fill room is neat and orderly and they keep plenty of tanks available. They have equipment for rent if needed that look used but in good condition, a small camera and accessory shop if you need batteries or clips but selection is limited. They offer specialties and classes if you want to add another PADI card to your collection as well.

    The shop runs three boat dive a day, and unlimited shore diving. The boats need a little work but they had 4 new engines delivered while we were there and plan on refitting each boat. From the boat the entries are off the back and there are two ladders for exits.

    You are assigned to a boat at the first of the week and stay with the same boat and DM and captain for your stay. Some returning divers request the same boat and crew from prior trips, seems that they do not have allot of turnover with employees.

    You have lockers at the shop to store your gear so you do not have to carry anything back to your room unless you want to. The locker room is locked every night after 8pm so if you do a late night dive you will have to store your gear overnight.

    Shore dives are done off a gazebo at the end of a short pier that a small skiff will take you to and pick you up. The shore dive is a great dive with a plane wreck and a ship (The Prince Albert) just short swim from shore. You can also swim out to Newman’s Wall or the Coco View Wall (Coco View is right across the lagoon from Fantasy Island. These are some of the best dives sites and are great day or night and you can even put an extra tank on the boat and do a drop off on the way back in off one of the walls and swim back to the resort.

    The boat diving is typical Caribbean diving with the usual species and corals. Not so much for large fish but there are a few around, good possibility for Eagle Rays and maybe a Nurse Shark or two. Good assortments of reef fish and healthy corals for the most part. There was some damage from a recent earthquake that left some cracks and knocked over sponges and damaged the outer wall at the Ankas Place site where you can see where the coral broke loose and fell to the depths. There is an abundance of Black Coral and plenty of big healthy sponges and Sea Fans.

    It was common to see schools of Chub and Spade Fish with a few large Snapper as well that seem to like to swim along with you on a few dives. I saw no Turtles but there were some spotted on other boats, we did see five octopus on one night dive and a Caribbean Spanish Dancer.

    Fantasy Island is a great destination but do not expect luxury. This is more of the budget resort on the island but if you like to keep it simple and do allot of diving (easy to do 4-5 or more) and not break the bank it is worth checking out.

    Sites visited on this trip include:
    Mary’s Place, Mr. Bud (Tugboat), Ankas Place, Iron Shores, Newman’s Wall, Coco View Wall, Prince Albert, Missing Link, Gold Chain Reef, John’s Spot, Valley of the Kings, Connie’s Dream, Carib Point, Inside Outside, Pirates Point and French Key Cut.

  18. snagel says:

    Original Post by DivingMedic on ScubaToys Forum

    Roatan/ AKR

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    Trip report from diving with AKR in Roatan June 12th through the 20th.

    We stay in a Key Superior cabin. The cabin had a great view. The best sunrises I have seen in years. Watched the sun rise every morning over the hills of Roatan. Cabins are clean, the water is safe to drink from the tap. Yes there was a few bugs mostly ants in the morning around the shower and toilet, but just one or two and just squish em and your good to go.

    Diving there was good. Reefs are in great shape. I did see some damage to one reef from the earthquake in May. There was also another earthquake while I was diving. It was a 4.2 that was 15 miles off of Utila. It caused a really nasty surge for a minute but that was it. There was no damage around the islands from that quake. High light was doing two dive with my ten year old daughter. First dive she only went to 18 feet. There was a surge going, but it was her very first ocean dive. The second dive was great. She went to 40 feet, was so excited to see every thing down on the reef. She found a Juvenile Spotted Drum, knew the hand signal for it. She even saw a Eagle Ray towards the end of the dive. The dive master put some bait in the water after we got in and 4-6 Nassua Groupers, Mutton and Dog Tooth Snappers came around. The kids on the dive loved that.

    To me AKR runs a good dive operation. They keep the boats in good shape, dive masters pay attention to the divers and are good at finding things to see. One of the divers on my boat had a minor flood on his camera and the Photo Shop at AKR was able to fix it. It saved my boat mate about 12k worth of camera equipment.

    Critters seen was a pregnant Green Moray Eel, two pregant sea horses, several turtles. One turtle ( Hawksbill) didn’t even mind when the dive master and I settled down on each side of him for pictures for a good 5 minutes. He just sat there eating away, paying us no mind.

    My daughter did the Dolphin Camp there, it was a very worth while experience for her. Not only did she get to play with dolphins during the week but learned about their behaviors and conservation about all sea animals and creatures.

  19. admin says:

    Original Post by CamaroChick on ScubaToys

    You will love Anthony’s Key!!
    I wish we had stayed there instead of Blue Bahia which is just up the beach. Lots of good dive sites close by – make sure to do the 2 deep wrecks there – the Odyessy and I forget the name of the other one, but they’re both in about 110′ of water. Do the dolphin SNORKEL, not the dive – there is much more interaction and it is worth every penny if that’s your kind of thing. YES BRING LOTS OF DEET – the bugs are as bad as they say. Visit Gumbalimba park and do the zip line – you will be sore but it is lots of fun. Spend some time in the park itself playing with monkeys and parrots. Visit West End for shopping, dining, nightlife, etc.

    Have fun!!

  20. admin says:

    Original Post by Larry200 on ScubaToys

    Roatan Shark Dive

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    +1 for Waihuka Adventure Divers shark dive on Roatan. My wife and I did their shark dive on February 3 and it was an exceptional dive. We had the good fortune to have the company founder, Sergio Tritto, as our dive master. I can’t imagine a better pre-dive orientation than the one he gave. My wife, and a couple of the other divers, had done shark dives at other locations, and all said that this was by far the best shark dive that they had done. The highlight of the dive, current and other conditions permitting, is that the divers get to swim with the sharks for several minutes. So I’m swimming along in a school of sharks and divers (about 14-16 sharks and 9 divers), thinking this couldn’t get any cooler, and then somebody bumps into me. I turn my head to give the inattentive diver the evil eye, except, it’s NOT a diver. That happened twice more to me and also to some of the other divers. Eventually, Sergio motioned us back to the coral wall and eventually opened the bait bucket to start a couple minutes of shark mayhem. When the bait fish was gone, the sharks departed.

    – Larry B.

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