This is where we've been... This is where you're going:
Fantasy Island Resort - Roatan, Honduras
So...Al and I had some time on our hands, and decided to get in an "end of the year" dive trip. We only had four days to play with, and found that a lot of the places we wanted to try out in Belize or Roatan were more geared to the week-long stays, and didn't really offer much of a package deal for anything less.
|Texas Tim||Al at the dive shop||just 'a floatin'||Howdy!||Takin' a break?|
Finally, we decided on Fantasy Island, as they had a four day/night deal for a good price. Other than finding a resort with short term deals, the biggest hassle was not being able to get a direct return flight during the week. I'll elaborate on that at the end of the report.
|Good dive!||Ummm...||Nice bed!||Hi Mom!|
Al picked me up around noon or so, and we hooked it to the airport, then we flew down on TACA Airlines at around 2::00 PM CST from Houston, arriving at Fantasy Island about 4:30-5:00 PM. Caught the shuttle from the airport, and bumped our way to the resort. As we pulled in, I looked around and noticed that FI seemed to be a pretty upscale place. Spent about 45 minutes getting checked in, and there were only 6-7 folks besides us! I have no idea what they would have done if there had been 15-20 folks arrive at the same time...Because of the delays in checking in, Al and I spent some time looking around the lobby and the immediate area.
|Squirrel Fish||Das Boot?||Indigo Hamlet|
My first comment was "This is like a Holiday Inn". The staff was cordial, but withdrawn. I was expecting a friendlier reception, like what we had experienced at Co Co View. (Frankly, I feel a trip to CCV is like going to Grandma's house with your SCUBA gear...)
|Cucumber for the salad?||Big un'||Nice sponge||Seahorse!||Seahorse!|
So anyway, the rooms were clean, the AC worked, the water was fresh, and there was a private patio. No complaints there. We got cleaned up and headed to the bar/restaurant behind the lobby. The drinks were good, and to my surprise, they were pouring top-shelf liquor at reasonable prices. Interestingly, the bar was nearly empty. The first meal was an outdoor barbecue/seafood buffet. The food was excellent! We stayed for a couple of drinks after dinner, then called it a night.
|Peek-a-boo!||Who's in there?||Foureye Butterflyfish||Foureye Butterflyfish||Dinner!|
Diving Day One: Sunday, December 5th:
The first site was 'Carey's Place'. The first thing we noticed was that there were only two other divers on the boat, a couple of guys from Pennsylvania. They had strong German accents, and I never did quite get their names. The site was nice enough, with some really fine soft corals. As a matter of fact, I believe the coral was in better shape than most other spots around that end of Roatan. There were a number of good sized crabs, as well as plenty of small tropicals.
Depth: 30-35 on the upper part of the coral, 120 at the outside. Visibility: 50-60.
Next site was 'Parrot Tree Wall'. Don't know where the name came from, but this is a nice site. Real shallow coral at the leeward side with nice sloping walls going to a shelf at 100' or so. Lots of color, some truly huge barrels, and no surge once you get past 30'. The DM was getting a bit pissed (as were we) from the Penn. guys mucking around with the coral. The DM insisted on playing 'follow the leader' so he could keep an eye on the Penn. folks.
Depth: 25-30 on the upper part of the coral, 85 at the outside. Visibility: 50-60.
We did a drop-off dive at Neumanns wall on the way back in. Some nice corals, crevices and ledges. A fair amount of small tropicals. The visibility was crap; maybe 25-30' as we made our way towards the cut.
Depth: 15-20 on the upper part of the coral, 125 towards the inside. Visibility: 25-35.
|Foureye Butterflyfish||Foureye Butterflyfish||Boulder Star Coral||Anemone||Anemone|
Diving Day Two: Monday, December 6th:
The first site was 'Mary's Place'. It was just us and the Penn. folks on this dive. The dive starts at a permanent mooring buoy on the reef shelf, along a vertical crevice that drops from 40', with a huge section of the wall broken away from the main section to form a wide slit. There was a lot of particulate in the water, but the vis was still pretty good. I was able to take a camera with me on this trip, but due to the level of particulate, the shots were not of good enough quality to post. Robert, the DM ran a good controlled dive, The seahorse picture of the web site was taken just outside the 2nd exit at Mary's Place.
Depth: 20-35 on top of the cracks, 125 coming out of the second swim-through, dropping off to 250+++ Visibility: 60-70.
Next was 'Gold Chain Reef', so named because some hapless diver lost a sizable gold chain during a dive some years ago. The story goes that the chain has not yet been found, so anybody could be lucky enough to find it. I'm not buying it. Not a deep reef, but a truly colorful dive. Lots of healthy soft and hard corals, small tropicals, and the biggest Sea Cucumber I've ever seen. It must have been over 2 1/2 feet long. I got a couple of good pictures...check the new picture page.
Depth: 20-25 on the shallow part of the reef, 75-80' at the deepest. Visibility: 65-70'.
Next we went to 'Anka's Place'. As I stated in my October trip report, this site has not been visited much in the last few months, as the only mooring base had broken apart. The break has helped the reef, as the coral, small tropicals, and huge Grouper look even healthier than the last trip. Managed to get some good soft coral shots as well a couple of good lobster pictures.
Depth: 35 on the coral heads, 150+ on the chutes. Visibility: 70-90
We did a drop-off dive at Co Co View Wall' on the way back in. We were hoping for better vis than the day before, and it looked pretty good when we got in the water, however, as we approached the cut, the vis dropped to 20-25'. Kind of disappointing. The most exciting part of this dive was when one of my weight bags fell out of my BC and I had to do a hard swim to 80' to retrieve it. Some nice corals, crevices and ledges. A fair amount of small tropicals.
Depth: 15-30 on the coral heads, 135+ in the lower part of the cut. Visibility: 20-50.
|Spotted Drum||Anemone||Brittle Starfish||Banded Coral Shrimp||Banded Coral Shrimp|
Diving Day Three: Tuesday, December 7th:
Dive site was 40' Point. A nice seamount with lots of parrot fish, small tropicals, hard coral, sand chutes, and steep slopes dropping down below 160. There were four other divers on the boat!!! Al and I slid away from the rest of the group to get some pictures, and came across a couple of big Grouper. The visibility was the best during this trip.
Depth: 40-45 on the upper part of the reef, 160+ at the outside. Visibility: 75-80.
So...we're done with the diving...gotta' fly early the next morning, right. We get up at 4:15 AM, grab a mandatory airport shuttle at 4:45 AM, get to the Roatan airport at 5:10 AM, then wait until 6:00 AM for TACA's folks to open up. Arrrghh. Okay, I can deal with this...no problem...Island time and all that. We get on the plane bound for Belize City (no direct flight during the week, remember?) and about halfway there, we get an announcement that we can't land in Belize due to bad weather, and are diverted to San Pedro Sula. Okay...not a big deal. The connecting flight to Houston doesn't leave Belize City for a couple of hours. We'll just wait for the weather to clear. We get to San Pedro Sula, and they take us off the plane to re-fuel. Then they put us back on the plane. Then they take us off of the plane, and send us up to the International waiting lounge, then 10 minutes later, tell us to get back on the plane, as the weather has cleared in BC. Well...now the time is a bit tight to catch the connection, but it looks like we'll make it. We touch down in BC at 10:15 AM, and there's not another plane on the ground, so I think, alright, the planes' not even here yet, right? WRONG! San Pedro Sula never radioed to BC to let them know that our flight was NOT cancelled, so they let the Houston flight go early. We ended up having to pay for seats on a Continental flight 4 1/2 hours later, just to make it home 6 hours late!!! My advice: Don't take TACA on any indirect flights.
|Spotted Eel||Spotted Drum||Nice barrel||Mary's Place||Tubin'|
If you want to go to Roatan for something other than diving, or have a non-diver traveling with you, you might want to consider Fantasy Island. The food was good, maybe even great, and the service was excellent. Hey...they even have the only lighted tennis court on Roatan.
|Trumpet Fish||Tubin'||Nice barrel||Sea Fan||Feather Duster|
If you are going to dive, then you may well consider CCV or AKR. Fantasy Island's dive operation leaves a bit to be desired. The boats are rough, lack a high level of maintenance, and the diving is rather conservative.
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This page was last updated on: 08/27/10