Paul, Yutong, Steph and I went on a dive trip to Roata, an island off the coast of Honduras. We met at the airport in SFO, and made the mistake of not withdrawing enough cash before flying out. We had read that most places accepted card, but that turned out to only be half true. While most placed accepted cards, there were a bunch of things that they wouldn’t put on cards.
We got to Houston and had a short jaunt around the airport before heading to Roatan. We landed pretty early in the morning and after getting through customs were whisked away to Coco View Resort. It was an interesting ride to the resort, especially right at the end where we had to get on a boat to go the last quarter mile.
Once we got in everything went pretty smoothly. We got our dive gear unpacked and had a nice welcome briefing. We got our beach house and went there to take a nap. The house was very nice. The main interior was only screened off, with a large porch. The bedrooms were like small buildings within the larger structure, and were sealed with AC. We had our own little beach and fire ring.
The club house wasn’t super special, but the layout of the resort was pretty well thought out. That was a theme for the trip; a well thought out plan. The way they did the dives each day was finely tuned. Two morning dives, one guided one drop-off, and two afternoon dives, one guided and one drop-off. They had a house reef right at the resort that you could go dive any time, and the drop-off dives started you at the outer edges of the reef. You could then swim back directly to the resort along the reef. And that isn’t even mentioning the sunken plane and ship serving as artificial reefs and diving areas right at the entrance to the resort’s lagoon.
We also did a shark dive, where they chummed the water a bit while we stood by a reef wall.
For what we saw on the dives, a video is better than text:
We did take some time off from diving to go to other activities on the island.
We went to the sloth and monkey sanctuary, which was a lot of fun, if short and touristy. We got to hold a sloth and monkeys played on us. We also had a grumpy parrot that would sit on our arm. It nipped at us when it wanted more sunflower seeds, which was pretty much any time it wasn’t actively eating sunflower seeds. The monkeys were especially interesting to hold as they would wrap their tails around your neck and lean off the chest. They jumped around from shoulder to shoulder, although sometimes they would just sit on someone’s head. They were cute to watch, but obviously they were trouble makers that would do anything for their sunflower seed fix. At the end the guide, Luke, let one reach into his pocket and grab as many sunflower seeds as it could hold. It then tried to climb the fencing while holding all the sunflower seeds. It succeeded, but was hilarious in the process. At the end we went to watch the sloths some more and one went to the ground to poop. A male was also interested in one of the females, and we watched a slow chase as the male tried to catch the female.
Steph and I took Thursday afternoon and evening to go to a submarine ride with Stanley Submarines. It was a unique experience as the guy who took us on a tour had built his own sub. It was a tight fit, and I had some mis-adventures there and on the way back, but we had a good time of it. We started out by heading out of the bay over the sea grass. In the grass was the remains of his previous sub, that he purposefully sunk as a landmark on the way out to gauge current. He then drove out into the open water for a very short ways and we began to sink. We dropped down in the open water, and at about halfway down he turned on the lights. It took nearly 30 minutes to descend the 2000ft. Along the way we saw lots of small jelly fish, and squid at about one inch in size. We spooked the squid as they inked and swam away when they were in the lights. He also flashed the lights as a strobe and while they were off we saw the bioluminescence of the bacteria colonies in the water. We got to the bottom, and had a small touch down moment in front of a lobster. There was a huge amount of sediment down there, and I can see how sedimentary rock would be created by the build up. We saw a few more creatures: another type of lobster, an isopod the size of a dog, a small octopus, some shrimp, and a few fish. We then made it to the big boulders and saw the deepwater reef. There were starfish tangled into the corals, and they all looked disgusting. The starfish looked like worms, and were constantly moving while intwined in the corals. We came up further and saw lots of lion fish at 400ft. We then made it to the zone that we were able to dive and recognized most of the things we saw. Karl noticed that we were coming up directly below the Roatan Aggressor, a diving live-aboard. He said he liked to mess with divers when they were there like that. It reminded me of how some divers like to mess with snorklers.
During the dives we went lion fish hunting. We had to take a class on it from the local eco group, but it was very helpful in knowing how to approach the lion fish, and how to not damage the reef when trying to kill them. I didn’t get any, but had one assist. Yutong and Steph did most of the hunting and I held the keeper most of the time. Paul also took some time on the keeper and hunting. During the trip one of the other divers got stung, mainly because she was holding the keeper badly. The handling of the keeper was one thing that the class and the guides hadn’t covered, and probably should have since they said holding the keeper the way she was is how most people get stung. She had a terrible 6 hours of pain and the thumb swelled up. She was back to diving and hunting the next day.
The last night we went out on the beach behind our beach house and had a small fire. There was already a fire pit set up, with some driftwood stacked nearby. We had to improvise some tinder, but the driftwood caught very easily and we had a great conversation by the fire that last evening.