Ancient Mayan Ruins and Scuba Diving
Note; this trip was created in a different version (older) of this blog, so the links above will take you to those pages. If you’d like to leave a comment about this trip, you can do so at the bottom of this page.
Introduction and Planning:
November 13, 2000
Honduras? Why Honduras, you might ask? When I tell people we’re going to Honduras for 8 days they just look at me with a blank stare or an incredulous bewilderment. I don’t remember when it was exactly that I decided that we should go to Honduras for our vacation. Sometime over the summer when I couldn’t take any vacation time due to work responsibilities and David had 2 full months off, we realized that we hadn’t had a vacation together since our trip around the world that ended in May 1999. Looking at our conflicting work schedules, it appeared that we’d have to wait until the following summer to go anywhere together. Frustrated, we took a closer look at the calendar and discovered that David had 3 weeks off around Christmas and wondered if I could get a week off then.
It had to be somewhere warm in December and David wanted to go SCUBA diving, something we hadn’t done since Thailand in 1998. I just wanted to go someplace exotic and exciting. After a little research, I came up with Honduras, a country that has the second largest barrier reef in the world and thus excellent diving, and some of the best Mayan ruins in Latin America. It is also the second poorest country in the Western Hemisphere and not as heavily touristed as it’s neighbors Belize, Cost Rica, or even Guatemala; a perfect blend of adventure and culture.
A co-worker who has friends who SCUBA dive and had been to Roatan Island, (one of Honduras’ Bay Islands group) a couple of times, and enjoyed themselves very much. They referred me to a travel agency that specializes in Honduran travel called Roatan Charter . I looked at their website and then surfed the web for anything else I could find on Honduras and was immediately sold.
There are many dive resorts on Roatan that offer packages that include room and board and three boat dives a day. There are also many places for budget backpackers to stay and dive a la carte. Since we have a limited time, we thought that it would be better to set up everything in advance. Roatan Charter sent us a video that shows the three Bay Islands and all the resorts on them. At first we were trying to decide between Fantasy Island Resort, CocoView Resort, and Anthony’s Key Resort.
After looking on the web and watching the video, we decided that Fantasy Island was too sterile for us, Cocoview was a bit too rustic, and, just like Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Anthony’s Key Resort seemed just right. It offers three meals a day, the option of air conditioned rooms on a private island (“key”) over the water of the lagoon, three boat dives a day and many more extras (horseback riding, kayaks, unlimited shore diving, airport transfers, etc.). But I think the thing that sold me the most was that AKR is part of a Marine Science Institute that studies dolphins. It is possible to dive with these dolphins, something that I have dreamed of doing for years.
Once we decided on the resort, I had to figure out how to get us there. Roatan Charter offered us a flight on TACA from LAX to Guatemala City and then onto San Pedro Sula in Honduras for about $750 a person. The lowest price I could find online was $890 per person. Then I remembered that we had 70,000 American Frequent Flyer Miles. I called American and they said that yes, they fly to Honduras and it would cost us 35,000 per person. Great! Sign us up! Not so fast….of course there are blackout dates and oh, by the way, no seats available for the dates you would want to travel. They said to try back every night at midnight and see if any reserved seats had opened up. Discouraged, I let it drop for a couple of weeks. Then I discovered that TACA accepts American Airline miles and they have no blackout dates. I called back and yes, they had seats available for when we wanted to fly!! Book ‘em! So we got our tickets and they only cost us $14 each in taxes.
Next, I started looking into the non SCUBA related portion of our trip. I want to combine the dive resort time with a trip to Copan to see the ruins. The dilemma was how to get there from San Pedro Sula, a distance of about 125 miles. There are public busses available, but that would necessitate going into the city from the airport, finding the bus station, and the correct bus, after a red-eye flight. Not to mention a 5 hour bumpy bus ride after all that.. Also we would have to depend on a public bus to get us back a few days later in time to catch our flight out to Roatan.
Another option was to book a 3 day, 2 night package through Roatan Charter that included transportation, lodging, all meals, entrance to the ruins, and a guided tour of the ruins. However, this didn’t give us the flexibility or independence we like to have while traveling. We would have to eat all our meals in the hotel, and since we have to do this on Roatan, I really wanted the opportunity to eat in some different places. Also, it seemed to be very expensive when I broke down the cost of everything included in the package.
Why not rent a car and book our own room? Ultimately, it comes out a bit more expensive than the package, but we’ll have 3 days in Copan to do whatever we want, whenever we want. So I booked a room at the Casa de Cafe, a bed and breakfast run by an American ex-pat and his Honduran wife and a 4 wheel drive Nissan Pathfinder from Thrifty.
Let’s just hope all goes as planned….
November 26, 2000
Yesterday we went shopping for some basic scuba gear. We went to Divers Discount Supply in Studio City where we purchased mask, fins, snorkel, booties and gloves for each of us. The two guys who worked there (sorry, didn’t get their names) were very helpful and patient with us. It was worth it to spend the time trying on the items in the store because fit is so important in scuba gear.
Last week I sent an email to Anthony’s Key Resort (AKR) to ask about any refresher classes they might offer and have not heard back as of yet. I am a bit nervous about diving since it has been so long.
Also last week I purchased some travel insurance for the trip, both medical and trip cancellation. It was quite an expense, but worth it for peace of mind. I used the same company we used for our around the world trip, Champion Insurance. Their packages cover scuba diving.
This morning, I opened the LA Times to discover an article about the Copan Ruins on the front page of the travel section. It was a bit of vindication for all those times someone has said to me, “you’re going where?” After reading the article, now more than ever, I can’t wait to go!