Guanaja: Maybe the Prettiest Place I’ve Ever Been, Part One

The three Bay Islands sit about 10 miles off the coast of Honduras in the Carribean Sea.  All of the islands have a history based in shipping, fishing, pirating and being discovered by Christopher Columbus himself (CC landed on Guanaja in 1502).  The islanders speak primarily English as well as Spanish…very good for me.  My Spanish, used extensively on the mainland, consists of “hola”, “uno mas” and lots of hand gestures.    Roatan (see:  Roatan & the West End) is the most populated, most visited, has a cruise ship port and an international airport.   But there are three islands all together…Roatan, Utila and Guanaja.  (Said Gwa-NAH-ha).   About 8 miles from Roatan is the least visited island of Guanaja.

Wikipedia tells me that there are about 10,000 residents of Guanaja.  I find that very hard to believe.  But what is definitely true is that the majority don’t live on the actual island (which is very hilly and densely wooded), most live on a small cay called just “The Cay” by residents.  And there is not one car.  Just alleys and sidewalks and houses and boats jammed packed into this tiny space.  It’s actually been called the Venice of Honduras (a bit of stretch but let’s go with it).

I am not going to lie.  I LOVE GUANAJA.  It is probably the most beautiful place I’ve ever been.  The water is fantastic, all the travelling that you do is by boat…there are no roads, no cars, the locals are friendly, there is surprisingly little tourism…I had so much fun.   But let’s go back to the beginning…how I got to this relatively remote spot.

I am also going to report the rated PG version (this blog should be read by adults and kids alike).  Our gracious host, George, is a self professed pirate, total party animal and all around nut…in a super fun, later middle aged, TOTALLY crazy way.

He lives in Roatan, has a few boats there, he knows Guanaja very well and he wanted to show it to us.  Sounds good to me.

We drove about 40 minutes from the West End to the fishing town of Jonesville in Roatan to pick up the boat.  It was sandwiched between a bunch of huge fishing and shrimping vessels and an even larger stack of lobster pots.  (Captain George is wearing the red shirt).

The dock was a bit rickety but it got us on the boat.

After getting gas (not cheap at $5usd a gallon), we headed out.  I had to put my camera away…we were told to expect a “hell ride” and that we would be soaking wet.  I was a bit nervous…but with my dramamine making me sleepy (thanks Emily), combined with three 6-packs of Honduras’ finest Salva Vida beer in the cooler, we headed to sea.

And pulled up SOAKING wet 1.5 hours later at Bo’s Island House on Guanaja.  The ride is…ummmm…instense.  About an hour of it through deep, wavy open water.  The boat took flight quite a few times.

Bo’s bar and restaurant called “The Green Flash Bar” is set out right over the water….so you can see the mythical green flash at sunset.   The view is really amazing.  To die for.  LOOK AT THE SUNSET.  Here are Cesar and Emily enjoying a beer…

Green pine trees and fruit trees leading in to the crystal clear Caribbean.  I was floored.  It almost reminded me of Lake Tahoe in California in the summer with better water and very pretty beaches.

And the place we stayed?  A homey cabin set amongst fruit trees just off the beach.  The place was perfect.   Where else can you pick up mangos on your porch in the morning?

Here we are going up the stairs to our residence for two nights…floor two and three.

The owner of the property is Bo Bush and his wife.  Here’s a picture of the bar…where you eat your meals, drink lots of delicious Honduran beers and pet the super cute litte black chihuahua, Missy.

The Green Flash.  Though I didn’t see this sunset optical phenomena, I hope to return and see it.  In fact, if I was ever to marry…this might be the place.

GREAT bar, really good food, the best location…I can’t say enough good things about it…

This is Bo and his granddaughter.  He has lived on the island all his life.  He is your host, bartender, dive instructor and all around great guy.

His property could not be more beautiful.  So many beautiful trees and flowers.  Orchids growing wild…

A huge very old Cannonball Tree.  I love a new and strange fruit and this might be the strangest.

Inside a very thick skin, there is a thinner skin and then a fruit that tastes like a very dense mango/peach.  The name cannonball makes good sense…you don’t want to be anywhere near this tree when it is dropping these fruit.

The Island House even has its own waterfall.  In fact, the water used in the house (perfectly delicious to drink) comes from this stream.

A five minute hike (some of it up a very stony uphill path) and you are in your own little pool.  Cesar enjoys posing under each waterfall we visited.

Bottom line:  Bo’s Island House is amazing, a garden of Eden on a gorgeous beach.

Hurricane Mitch, in 1998, almost totally destroyed the island.  It parked over Guanaja for 2 very long days. Tourism is still way down from then.   And getting to the island is a challenge.  You can fly to Roatan and charter a boat or fly there to the tiny airstrip.   Tropic Air is currently flying to San Pedro Sula, Honduras and is planning a flight to Roatan directly from Belize City soon.

More about Guanaja tomorrow…we visited The Cay, Jones Cay, Graham’s Cay.  And saw stuff like this…

Stay tuned.

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