Roatan: Maya Key Private Beach + OOTD
On board Royal Caribbean's Liberty of the Seas we were offered a number of excursions, and I was very excited to finally land my toes in some salty sand. The first port of call was Roatan, a small island of the Honduras. During breakfast, at the Windjammer's Cafe, as luck would have it we were seated with a couple that lived in Roatan for several years. In light of this sweet serendipity, I had no qualms with picking the brains of the lovely ex-pat, who was equally eager to share her thoughts on Roatan. She-whom-I-can-not-name, worked and lived on Roatan as a dolphin trainer. She recommended Tabyana Beach, the botanical gardens, and riding into town for the local faire. After all the wonderful conversation about sight seeing, to my dismay, we ended up doing none of it.
The ex-dolphin trainer opined that the port was a touristic idealization of life on Roatan and the fear-mongering of scammers and unsanitary food conditions was a ploy to keep tourists spending their money in the port shopping centers rather then mingling with the locals in town. She also mentioned that Tabyana beach was open to the public and is free for admission. The only sections of the beach that should be paid for are private, and it was completely unnecessary to pay for an excursion to a public beach, unless you are uncomfortable with your making it to the beach and back yourself and/or want the amenities included. She also mentioned the West End as a nice destination to explore on the island, as well as, hiking the mountain trails for perfect panoramas of all of Roatan. Unfortunately, we had pre-booked an excursion to the a private beach and could not opt out. We had to roll forward with our arrangements, and it turned out being a fantastic adventure for our inaugural trip to Roatan.
There is absolutely not enough time to see any of the port islands. The awkward half-day window of time given to see your destination, discourages deep exploration. This was more of a reconnaissance mission that a true vacation, which is not all bad, considering that you are able get a feel for what harbors pique your fancy. In Roatan, the surrounding reef system was so impressive that I was spamming Airbnb on site to plan my return vacation. There are also many pocket-sized islands that surround Roatan, worthy of exploration, if you prefer the allure of a remote beach experience.
The excursion of choice for the duration of our stay in Roatan was The Maya Key Private Island Retreat. We took a water taxi directly off our cruise pier to the 11.5 acre island and enjoyed a day of crystal clear waters and picturesque palms swaying with the beat of the island breeze. The excursion included a delicious traditional Honduran lunch at the Ironshore Bar and Restaurant, I went back for seconds and thirds of the marinated onions, housemade sauce, BBQ chicken and plantain chips (shamefully). The island was thick with tropical vegetation and inhabited by a myriad of animals that were rescued, injured, donated, or confiscated from illegal ownership. It was a wild life rehabilitation habitat which stood true to its mission to give these living beings a second chance. From what I could observe, the caretakers and animal dietitians on the island fed and cared for the animals very well. Wheelbarrows were teeming with fresh fruits and bowls of unidentifiable meats for the carnivores (a Jaguar lives there amongst others).
Maya Key was very well maintained, the staff was kind and attentive, and Tonina's gift shop was well-stocked with traditional Honduran crafts. The island was a gold mine for photography enthusiasts. It wasn't crowded, there was plenty of shade, and I had no fears of leaving my belongings behind and exploring the habitat with my DSLR camera in hand. If you needed a break from the sun soaking, there were reproductions of Mayan architecture, specifically Copán's Popol Nah (House of Council) an old Mayan archeological site on the Western side of Honduras. There was also an Ethnic Honduran Art Exhibit, in which you can soak in the culture by getting face to face with beautiful reproductions of found art from a civilization beyond our comprehension of time.
If you are more of a mover and shaker, you can paddle board or snorkel. The Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, the second-largest reef system in the world and the largest reef system in the Western Hemisphere, spans 700 miles and completely surrounds the tiny island of Roatan. Many experienced divers and snorkelers claim that it is the best live underwater experience across the globe. I can not attest to this myself, but I plan on coming back for more, round two of Roatan will not catch me as ill-prepared.
I purchased this co-ord from Zara in an effort to stray from the usual beach cover-ups you see recycled every summer. I've been hunting coordinates all over the internet, and thus far, Zara, H&M, and ASOS been my mainstays when it comes to vacation outfit hunting. The express shipping is always affordable and on time, which is essential with so few days at home between trips.
Click links underlined to get redirected to site of purchase.
crop top with knot - Zara - $29.90
high waist shorts - zara - $25.90
hat - Purchased in Galveston - Tula - $39.99
hat scarf - Purchased in NYC - Wired headband with nautical print - similar can be found on etsy - $10.73
earrings (2 pairs) Mismatched - charming charlie - $12.00 each
sandals - Urban outfitters