Christmas in mangroves and Roatan’s buzzing West End

After spending a few weeks in French Harbour and watching algae and barnacles grow under Porky‘s belly, we decided it was time to move on. Fellow cruisers coming from Guatemala brought us the new part for our broken fridge, our dad successfully finished his scuba certification and nothing else was holding us back to leave the anchorage.

We spent Christmas in Jonesville Bight which is a well-protected bay in the South-East of Roatan. The many deep bays in this area are connected by mangrove tunnels that locals use to get from one place to another. Most stores, restaurants and houses are easier to reach from water than from land where you sometimes need an off-road capable motorcycle or horse. A cozy marina bar run by an American couple served us delicious lion fish for Christmas lunch. We spent the rainy Christmas Eve onboard and played games, had a few drinks and enjoyed each other’s company.

After a couple of days we sailed back to French Harbour where we celebrated Christmas day with some fellow cruisers at the Tiki Palapa bar at Fantasy Island. The day after, we went diving all together for the first time. At Mary’s place, one of the most popular dive sites in the south of the island, we swam through tight crevices and explored beautiful reefs with plenty of marine life. We even caught lion fish during the dive which we put on the BBQ for lunch.

After Christmas, it was time to move on to another anchorage. So we had our scuba tanks refilled one last time and sailed in light winds with full sails up along the southwest coast of Roatan and headed towards West End. The westernmost coast of Roatan is popular amongst land-dwelling tourists. From the water we could see resorts and hotels line up along the waterfront. The famous barrier reef separates the white, sandy beaches from the deep ocean, creating beautiful shades of blue that helped us find our way into the lagoon. The marked channel turned out to be quite shallow with only a couple of meters water depth and we again hailed our shoal-draft keel.

Compared to the quiet local atmosphere of French Harbour, Westend was very busy. While we walked along the main road we spotted dive shops and resorts, boutique hotels, restaurants, bars, and shops. Most people we saw seemed to squeeze into their dive gear and got ready to jump on one of the many dive boats that constantly drove out to the reef and back. Jetskis and water taxis were passing us with full speed. Luckily the overnight moorings were a little bit further out and away from town and the main boat traffic. We still made sure to turn on extra lights so that Porky was better visible at night.

Once we went diving with two other sailors we previously met in French Harbour, Hugh (Barefoot) and John (Blue Bayou), we immediately understood why so many tourists come here, especially for diving. Not far from shore a beautiful shallow reef extends along the coastline. Every few hundred meters there is a public dive buoy marking yet another dive spot. One spot is along a gradually sloped shallow reef. The next has a steep drop-off. Others have interesting rock formations with narrow swim-throughs. We saw incredible marine life like turtles, rays, morays, groupers, mating porcupine fish couple, flamingo tongue slugs, cleaning stations and much more during our dives and even when snorkeling in the shallows.

In the evenings we went out for drinks with our friends, usually at Sundowner’s and enjoyed some of the best live music we have ever heard. All the divers and tourists seemed to enjoy themselves just as much as we did.

After we had seen most of Westend’s town, we went diving one last time to use the remaining air in our tanks before we hoisted our sails to go west towards Utila.

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