Yay! We have a little lull after high season, before the summer crowd, so time to get some projects done. This year's project is a 20 foot shipping container which will be converted to a bedroom/bathroom and porch, on the far side of the back of the property. If I can find another container the same size, then we'll do a 2nd one just next to it. Also on the list, adding a proper reception (instead of my dining room), which will be located downstairs, just in front of the dorm room (on one side of the screened in porch that was last year's project). That means re-routing the entrance to the dorm, adding a little pathway around to where the new dorm entrance will be (and more landscaping around there once rainy season comes).
If you've been planning a trip through Central America and reading up on the Bay Islands, there's the general opinion that Roatan is great, but can be out of budget compared to the neighbouring island of Utila. Roatan is an amazing island with lots of adventures, and depending on your choices, it can be budget-friendly as well. Start off with picking a cheap place to stay (like Roatan Backpackers' Hostel, of course!), plan to cook some of your own meals, as well as eat at the local comedores, which sell inexpensive and delicious food, rather than going to the more tourist-oriented restaurants, and take a look at some of the free things that you can do on the island:
1. Snorkeling: if you've got your own snorkel gear, this is hours of free entertainment! The reef is just a 200 meter swim out from shore, even closer in some areas, and there's a huge diversity of marine life and healthy coral reefs. If you don't have your own snorkel gear, you could purchase a set if you're staying awhile, or rent out from the hostel for $5/day
2. Rope Swing in West End: this is a favourite activity of many visitors and locals, including my kids. Swim out to the sailboat at Half Moon Bay in West End, and enjoy playing on the rope swing attached to its mast.
3. Beach time: All beaches are public access, if you can get to them without going through someone's private property. West Bay is the most well-known beach on the island, but there's also Half Moon Bay, Sandy Bay, or trek all the way up east to secluded Camp Bay (it's pretty far- you can try hitching a ride if you're trying to save on cash, or team up with some other travelers to split on the cost of a rental car)
4. Volunteering: there's nothing like helping others to realize how blessed your life is! There are various volunteer opportunities around the island, even if you only have a day or two to donate (contact Roatan Because We Care, Sol Foundation, Care for Communities or R Church for short-term volunteer options).
5. Hammock time: a shady spot, hammock, cold drink and a book is a winning combination. Relax and enjoy island life at its best.
Mel is a Canadian who's been living in Roatan for over a decade. Before being a single mom of 2, she used to travel around the world as a dive instructor. She looks forward to the opportunity to meet many other travelers in her hostel.