Day Seven: Cruise Log | Snorkelling & Kayaking in Roatan, Honduras
It just has to be one of the most blissful experiences in the world. Sitting on our balcony watching the Caribbean roll past at a steady 15 knots, that is. At least, that’s our thought process this afternoon, as we make our way from Honduras up to Key West on the tip of Florida.
This has been yet another memorable day in the company of Silversea Cruises aboard the utterly lovely Silver Muse. We were early into port on the island of Roatan, Honduras, this morning, with barely five hours to take advantage of this pretty former British outpost (which was reclaimed by Spain for the country of Honduras in the 19th century).
With relatively little time to play with, we opted for Max Excitement with the ship’s Kayaking & Snorkel Adventure on the offshore islet of Big French Key, a superb day resort of beach facilities that is popular with all the visiting cruise lines.
As we were the only ship in port (not for the first time), we pretty much had the place to ourselves and, after a 25-minute bus drive and a 5-minute ferry to the island, we were being kitted out for our snorkel experience.
Roatan is situated right at the southern end of the Great Mayan Reef system that begins up near Cozumel and stretches more than 1,000km south to the Bay Islands of Honduras, where we are today. It is a dazzling natural phenomenon of marine splendour, including the UNESCO World Heritage site of the Belize Barrier Reef.
The offshore weather was a bit rough while we were in Belize, but we were determined to catch at least a glimpse of the Reef system today, so we signed up for what we hoped would be the best close-up we could get in the time available.
We weren’t disappointed. Our guide Edwin made sure our small group was fully clued up on what to expect before we even set foot on the manicured beach at Big French Key, and we quickly found a locker, deposited our land gear and headed over to the boat for the short transfer to the sheltered lagoon where we would dive in for our reef experience.
We were accompanied by four guides in all, ensuring maximum safety for all concerned, and were outfitted with the necessary masks, snorkels, flippers and buoyancy jackets before jumping in to the warm sea. Immediately, we could see evidence of a huge amount of sea life, from a profusion of tropical fish to lobsters, eels and conch (the huge bottom-dwelling molluscs).
Swimming out over a short drop-off where the sea bottom disappears some 100ft, we reached the reef itself, and a close up of the dazzling undersea vista. Huge puffer fish, parrotfish, blue tangs, grouper, tuna and much, much more all passed below our be-masked vision, and the colour variety alone was stunning.
After an hour, it was time to return to the beach and switch over to the two-person kayaks for some more nautical adventure, paddling out into the slightly choppy seas, and then zipping back again with the wind right behind us! We could easily have spent more time in this fun pursuit, but the wind was getting a bit challenging and we also wanted to explore the island a bit more, especially with only a relative handful of people in attendance.
Our full 4-hour experience was over far too soon on such a perfect Caribbean day, but the Silver Muse – and lunch – were beckoning, hence we needed to catch the shuttle bus back to port for our 12.30pm departure.
We just had time for a quick exploration of the extremely pretty Town Center shops and bars that line the Port of Roatan, which gave us the chance to buy some Honduran coffee for Simon’s collection, but we struck out in the search for a Honduran football shirt.
Lunch was – surprise, surprise! – yet another culinary discover as we made our first full visit to the buffet restaurant of La Terrazza. We have grabbed dessert and dinner here on previous occasions, but went for the full experience today and were hugely glad we did.
Yet again, the Silversea quality shines through both in the breadth of the offerings – from cold cheeses and meats to a fresh carvery and pasta dishes – and the fabulous taste profiles, which included a spice-rich Aloo Baingan (a curried potato and aubergine dish), a Malaysian seafood laksa (coconut noodle soup) and tomato-herb meatballs.
There really is an intense, flavourful and appetising nature to even the most basic items (like the gorgeous array of breads), while the more creative dishes are positively dripping with eye appeal as well as tastebud-tantalising pleasure.
Desserts at La Terrazza are equally appealing as they come in the perfect proportions – barely two bites each, which means you sample three or four at a time! – and things were, once again, topped off with some excellent Illy coffee.
The afternoon passed in a pleasant miasma of gently rolling blue seas on our balcony, leaving us to conclude that there really isn’t a better way to while away an hour or two than in such fine surroundings, in totally relaxed mode.
This is fast becoming one of our most memorable voyages, and it may be really difficult to get off when we get back to Fort Lauderdale…