Jenny Hits the High Seas on Olivia — Day Four
The author and expert cruiser reports from Olivia's Western Caribbean cruise.
Today was a ridiculously full day. We got off the boat bright and early in Roatan, Honduras in order to go on what turned out to be quite an amazing snorkeling adventure.
This trip we arranged ourselves after searching online for the best snorkeling in Roatan. I came upon a place called Upachaya, which was getting rave reviews from previous visitors. Turned out those reviews were very well-deserved. But more on that in a minute…
Because the port in Mahogany Bay, Roatan is owned by Carnival Cruise Lines, taking an excursion that is not connected to the cruise lines requires a little walk and a little trust. Once you get off the boat and walk through the breezeway, you simply head up the drive and out the gate. The key is to do your research. Talk to other passengers, look online, and trust your instincts. It’ll likely save you a few bucks too.
After you exit and start up the road, you will see tour operators with signs waiting roadside for you. And that’s all there is to it. So, although the cruise excursions are great (total no-brainers from booking to access to timing), there are a lot of local tour choices that are almost as easy to maneuver should you be looking for other options.
We met our driver, Marcos, and waited a few minutes for two other guests before we headed out. Along the way, we picked up several other passengers and then off we went. It was raining pretty hard but we were told the weather on the other side of the island where we were headed would likely be better.
I was truly taken aback when we arrived at our destination, an Eco-Lodge and Wellness Resort named Upachaya, a Sanscrit word meaning growing and improving. It was like a jungle hideaway, with lodging for 12, a gorgeous pool with swim up bar, an open-air pavilion for meals, yoga classes, and other activities. And all of it was designed by co-owner Duane Thoresen, including the grey water system and other green initiatives
Duane, along with co-owner Barbara Wastart , left the corporate rat race to create Upachaya as a respite for others seeking a similar escape, if only for a day, and they have done an incredible job. From the minute I got there, I knew it would be incredibly hard to leave. I was right.
Once the rain settled down (yes, it followed us all the way across the island), we took off for our first of two snorkeling destinations. Our captain and dive master Al was a hoot and did a great job of taking us to just the right spots. We saw gorgeous coral and a variety of fish, including a lion fish, as well as a lime green moray eel, which was really spooky.
We took along our new toy, a Liquid Image snorkeling mask with built in video and still camera. I made the mistake of not taking the directions with us, so the learning curve was a little bumpy and steep. But, man, is that thing cool. My girlfriend took video and stills. A few of which are posted here. I cannot wait to go out with it again now that we’ve got it figured out. The video is especially cool and it’s so nice that it’s all built in.
It was a little chilly, but it didn’t really matter. The giant starfish and sea anemones and schools of bright blue fish were too wonderful to really care about the temperature. After two one-hour snorkeling stops, we went back to Upachaya. On the way, Al spotted two turtles, which, I’m sad to say, both my girlfriend and I missed.
When we arrived back at the resort, Barbara had lunch waiting and the bar open. We tried out the island’s signature drink: the Monkey La La, a dangerously delicious frozen concoction made up of vodka, Khalua, coconut milk, and Irish Crème.
Lunch was a vegetarian spread, a bean and rice dish; a cabbage, cashew, and ramen slaw; watermelon; and chips and salsa. The perfect light fare for a truly perfect day.
We checked out the rooms before we headed back to the ship. They were very cute and perfectly rustic. I feel certain I could write the great American novel if I had a few months of peace and quiet there. Next week they’re hosting a yoga retreat. Barbara teaches yoga to locals and visitors alike and both she and Duane are focused on holistic living. Barbara even has a local holistic radio show. The two have done an amazing job of truly becoming a part of the local community. It’s a vibe that’s hard to resist.
Once we got back to the ship, we realized how much the day had taken out of us, so we took a short nap and then got ready for the Pirate’s Booty Bash. Unfortunately we missed the night’s entertainment. So we went straight to dinner instead. Afterward, we played a little slots. Luckily it was just a little since we did nothing but lose.
And at ten-o-clock we made or way to the Lido deck for the bash. Pirate decorations were hung and gold debloons were strewn across the tables. DJ Susan Levine was mixing at the tables and Lori Michaels sang a short set as well with her dancers in tow.
It started to drizzle. But none of us really cared. We just kept on going to the left to the left and Boot Scoot Boogieing. By the time the last song was played, we were ready to call it a night after a really amazing day. Until tomorrow…