June 25, 2009

The View - Nikki Beach

As a tourist in Roatan I suggest you get to know the island a little bit. After all, Roatan is relatively small and there are several beautiful places to see. There are several ways to move around but I suggest you rent a car. It is safer, quicker, and in the long run it is cheaper, considering that public transportation is not so reliable, a taxi would be way too expensive, and renting mopeds or 4 wheelers is just not as safe. It helps that there is only one main road from one end of the island to the other so you won't get lost; road maps are usually available in the brochures found in your hotel so ask for one, they are free. The road conditions are fairly good so you will not need a 4x4. Although as you get closer to the east end, the pavement ends and the road may become a bit rough, but your car no matter the size will definitely handle it.

As you drive on, the natural scenery of a typical tropical island in the Caribbean is ever so apparent. Luscious green vegetation with colorful flowers adorn the main road. In addition, the turquoise Caribbean waters can be seen through the
rich foliage and numerous palm trees found everywhere. As the curvy road turns left and right and goes up and down, you will be able to see the sea on both the northern and southern sides of the island with outstanding views of the ocean the higher you go.

When you are close to the middle of the island and near one of its highest points you will see to your left a place called The View. You have to stop and check this place out. Its name needs no creativity or use of a catchy phrase or slogan, it simply depicts what it is. And that is the amazing "view" you get from this place. This wooden deck is perfectly located on a hillside overlooking the north side of the ocean. The view is a spectacular combination of green hillside vegetation,
spectacular shades of Caribbean blue waters, and blue skies as far as the eye can see. The surrounding area is basically uninhabited except for a couple of houses and the main entrance to a new resort. You see, this new resort is called Nikki Beach Resort and Spa Roatan and it is part of the Nikki Beach chain of famous 5 star hotels and resorts and is bound to open in the fall of 2010. If the Nikki Beach stylish and sexy brand has decided to incorporate this little restaurant into its plans, there is no doubt in my mind that one of the most stunning views on the island is in part responsible.

June 16, 2009

The Blue Channel - Live Music Calls

As we walked down the main road on West End right after leaving Sundowners, we wanted to keep the night going so went searching for a place that was crowded and looked fun. There were not too many places to choose from and we walked from one end to the other. We stopped in a couple of places for a drink but they all seemed kinda dull. As we were heading back the same road, we were deciding if we wanted to end the night and head back to the hotel; but suddenly, while we were processing our thoughts, we over heard the sound of live music. We followed as rats to the pied piper until we came to a place called The Blue Channel. The place did not look so appealing at first, and I had obviously not been there before so I did not know what to expect. As it turns out this was the most happening place at the time in West End. The main attraction was a local live band called the Genitals. They played mostly pop rock covers which were OK. Never have been a fan of cover bands but their takes on The Police classics such as Roxanne and Message in a Bottle were quite good. They definitely livened up the place and people were really enjoying themselves.

The place in itself was kinda plain.
It is basically a rectangular room with a bar area on the left and a stage at the end. As we came inside we noticed something different. The floor was not wooden and it was full of sand. I later realized their whole idea, you see... there is a dive site on Roatan called The Blue Channel, thus the different tones of blue painted on the walls and the "channel" of sand on the floor. I must say it was a very unique concept. And as soon as The Genitals began to play with their instruments the crowd went crazy. I guess they have their own special concept too. Haha!

Over all we had a blast in this place, and the kamikazes they served were very tasty too ;)

June 09, 2009

Now, if you want to see the Queen Beach you must go to West Bay. You can get there by car or by boat from West End. If you walk down the main road you will probably get plenty of people yelling out to you if you want to go to West Bay in both modes of transportation. The water taxi / small motor boat is the way for me; it goes for about 50 Lempiras or about 2.00 - 3.00 US dollars per ride. There are no life preservers here so if you cannot swim I recommend you take a taxi cab there. I do not know how much they cost since I have always gone by boat. This way it is cheaper and it's much more fun too. It is a short ride near the shoreline which takes about 10 minutes depending on the boat, and it allows you to see a different view of the island. It's great for taking pictures, but remember to have something to cover your camera, since the ride can get a little wet, depending on the wind conditions.

You may already be on an island in the Caribbean but that big smile on your face and the everlasting feeling of joy only fully appears once you reach a special beach! As you arrive to West Bay, that feeling of satisfaction begins to grow and grow. The beach is beautiful... the white sand never ends, the calm and strikingly blue water soothes the eyes, and you can find a variety of luxury hotels from one end to the other. They offer all sorts of amenities and they may very well be some of the most expensive on the island. A very unique characteristic about these hotels which I commend is that even though they would probably reap the benefits of mass tourism, they have kept their architecture in accordance with sustainable tourism and instead of building high rises they have spread horizontally. Avoiding the construction of tall buildings which obstruct the view, block the sun and create wind currents has been a good decision on behalf of the designers of these hotels which have tried to blend their architecture with the elements and not affect the natural surroundings as much.

There are some good dive sites in this area too, so do take your snorkel gear. The sites are still close to the land but you will need to swim a little out to sea to get a glimpse of the magnificent coral walls. If you are not diving on your trip, this is a very good place to go snorkeling; a lot of marine life can be seen in this area. Entry should be easy considering there are some paths that take you deeper without having to circle around and zig zag through the maze of coral until you reach deeper waters.

The following is some related
advise which is mostly common sense but which some people may take for granted and which is always good to know, so read carefully.
  • Try and take some snacks as well as bottled water, considering that these items can be very expensive in West Bay. Do not forget your towel, sunblock, Frisbee (optional) also.
  • Always remember to snorkel in groups or at least in pairs just in case of any emergency. Also, be careful with the boats that take divers to these areas as well, so stop swimming every time you hear a motor underwater and spot it and give it a little wave so it knows that you are there.
  • Another precaution I highly advise is to always leave a friend behind to take care of your things. Please never leave your camera or other items unattended at the beach. I have heard stories of people getting their trips spoiled after getting a camera or ipod stolen.
  • A very simple recommendation is to not forget to put on sunblock on your entire back. You will be swimming with your back to the sun for a good hour or two when snorkeling.
  • The second time I snorkeled these waters on this trip, I got attacked by sea lice. These are tiny little organisms which you will not be able to see but which will sting, so go back immediately and try another entry. Other than that, have fun and enjoy the best beach in Roatan.
I will always remember how on one of my first trips to Roatan I overheard a guy who was lying by the edge of the water yell back to his friends on the beach and say "ain't this paradise... don't you want to live here forever". You know what... he totally stole my thoughts; who knows why I'm still living in the capital!