Roatan was our first day to get off the ship. We had booked a driver through a private group. He was to meet us at 11:30, so we had a while to explore the port area before we met up. The port area is heavily controlled and had a variety of shops, bars, and places to eat. While the port is very busy, it was easy to maneuver a wheelchair in the port area.
As you move toward the exit to Roatan and the parking area, there are numerous vendors wanting to sell you tours, and all of them are less expensive than the ships tours.
We took a quick walk through all of the shops, and since we still had time, we decided to get some tacos from one of the vendors. The tacos were good, and about the time we finished, it started to pour. It rained so hard that I wasn’t sure we could see some of the items on our tour.
Because the rain was so heavy, we went looking for rain ponchos and found some in the drug store in the port area. We then went out and met our driver, and we were off to see the sights. By the time we got to the car, the driver was pretty wet, but the rain was diminishing. It would mist and rain intermittently during the day but nothing that interfered with our plans.
We have been to Roatan before when my wife’s mobility was better and we went snorkeling, and to a beach day on another small island that was all inclusive. That was fun and the reef there was amazing, but this time, we were going to see things on Roatan itself.
Monkey and Sloth Encounter
The first stop was a monkey and sloth encounter. This was the main reason I wanted to get off in Roatan. We had seen pictures and videos of the sloths and monkeys and thought it would be amazing to have a personal interaction with them, and we were right.
The monkeys were the first stop on the tour, and they were white-faced capuchin monkeys. They are native to the mainland. The capuchin monkeys are inquisitive but not as curious as spider monkeys which have a reputation for stealing things out of your pockets. The monkeys were very entertaining as they climbed on us looking for something to eat, and the guide provided seeds we could feed them.
We then got to see some other animals, and Cheryl got to feed flowers to two spider monkeys through the bars. We went through the area where they have macaws and parrots, but since it had rained so hard, they were up high and not interested in interacting with people.
We visited sloths next. The sloths have their own caretaker, he doesn’t speak English, but our guide would translate for us. We each held a young sloth, about a year old. He was born there, and he was quite willing to let us hold him. He was like a young child when the parents let some else hold them, pretty soon he started reaching out for the handler.
Both the guide that took us through the encounter and the sloth caretaker were looking for tips, and we obliged. We did think that our guide did a very good job of explaining the animals and making our visit very pleasant.
Cheryl walked leaning on me, but you could maneuver a scooter or a chair as well, it was just wet and a little muddy from the earlier downpour.
Rum Cake Factory
After the encounter, our next stop was the rum factory. While there wasn’t any tour of the factory, they did have a showroom where we sampled the different varieties that they produced. We liked a unique product, rum crème, it is like Baileys but stronger and with a distinctive rum flavor. They also had rum cakes in a variety of flavors. After sampling all of them, we elected to purchase a sampler pack with 6 different types of cakes. This was a quick but nice stop.
This was a very interesting tour. The guide showed us the entire process from the cocoa bean, extracting the seeds, then crushing and removing the husk from the seed. The nibs are then roasted and ground into a fine powder which is then processed into a liquid, and if it is dark chocolate, it is heated, melted, and refined into various percentages of cocoa with sugar or other flavors added.
The bars and then put into molds, and after it has cooled, the bars are removed from the molds and hand wrapped. We found a couple of types that we liked, and we bought two bars to take home.
We next went to a cameo factory. Here they use shells of different types and sizes and engrave the shells into a variety of sizes, designs, and shapes. They make traditional lockets, rings and then engraved conch shells.
It was fascinating to watch the craftsman at work. They use rotating tools with different shapes of bits to polish away the unwanted part of the shell to leave behind the beautiful cameos.
Here are some pictures from the cameo factory:
Our last stop on Roatan was a local grocery store. I wanted to purchase vanilla and some Honduran coffee. You can purchase these in the markets in the port, but at the grocery store, I was able to purchase 4 pints of vanilla and one pound of coffee for less than $7.00 total.
Our guide dropped us off in the port, and it was back onto the ship. We had to leave the rum cream as we entered the ship, and it was to be returned to us the last night of the cruise.
Back on the ship
Once we returned to the ship, we went to the room and unloaded our purchases and stored them. Then it was time to head to the Garden Café for a snack and to watch the activities from the upper deck. This night we again returned to the Manhattan Room for a late night (8:30) dinner and then to our evening entertainment.