Roatan, First Impressions
My first glimpse of Roatan came from above. We were flying in from the mainland, and I just couldn't get over how crystal clear the water was. The various shades of turquoise blue were breathtaking. The coral reef was ever-present, and it went on for the entire length of the island. And the visual inputs only intensified as our aircraft approached the runway. We landed safely, deplaned onto the tarmac and an adventure of a lifetime was well on its way.
Sandy Bay, Roatan
We settled into an inexpensive hotel near the better known Anthony's Key Resort. It was a deliberate decision since Anthony's Key Resort (AKR) was arguably the most distinguished resort on the island. One could make the same argument today.
West Bay, Roatan
At the time, West Bay was not fully developed. In fact, the westernmost side of West Bay was inhabited. The area where Grand Roatan now sits was vacant. We pulled up on a fishing boat straight onto the beach. We laid blankets, enjoyed a picnic, and experienced the best snorkeling on the planet. For those of you who have snorkeled the western side of West Bay, you know that snorkeling here can be matched, but never surpassed. The waters of West Bay are calm almost year round. And the reef formation below is stunning. Best of all, the reef wall is only a few strokes away, and it provides a front row seat into the deep blue sea. It doesn't take long to be in awe and to feel completely insignificant against the sheer size and beauty of the coral reef.
Anthony's Key Resort, Roatan
We were on a budget. Much of our entertainment centered around activities put on by AKR. We made it a point to snorkel to and from Anthony's Key. At the time, the dolphin's sanctuary and habitat were near what is today the ticketing office. The dolphin habitat has since been moved to Bailey's Key. We came across on the largest Barracudas we had ever seen while snorkeling the narrow trench between Roatan and Anthony's Key. The dolphin's habitat was very much like it is today, a netted area. And as we approached the dolphin habitat, we took a dive under the surface to connect with the dolphins down below. We held on to the net from the outside and waited for the dolphins to find us and approach us. To our shock, a huge whale came instead. Apparently AKR not only was home to dolphins, but it was also home to a whale which had tried to beach itself. The whale was temporarily living and being treated on AKR. It was a scary site to see such a majestic whale approach us. But after a few passes, we relaxed and enjoyed the encounter with the whale.