There is one thing that Pete and I know for sure. When/If we decide to settle down at some point in our lives, it will be near water, and one of our first purchases will be two kayaks. A bed, a table – all of that will have to wait. Must have kayaks. Must get on water.
Perhaps though, we need to learn to be more considerate of everyone else in this world who may not think so highly of this activity. Maybe next time we should consider that our friends might not fully enjoy rising at 6:30am, driving an hour to the east end of Roatán, and then paddling around the end of the island for a total of 8 miles.
Perhaps. Or maybe our dear friends will just have to accept this obsession of ours, paddle along happily, and NOT try to make a break for Cuba when we’re not looking (sneaky girls)!
We all did have reason to groan though, as we stumbled back to our starting point eight hours after departure – sunburnt, bug bitten, and some of us feeling pain in muscles that we didn’t even know existed. But despite all the pain, the pleasure of this unique adventure was sweet. Groans turned to grins as we relaxed beach side with cold beers in hand and reflected on all that we saw.
Our day started with a tough stretch of paddling, as our guide from the Camp Bay Adventure Lodge led us for almost 2 hour in the waves and against light winds to get around the corner of a bay and onto our first beach and rest stop. And unfortunately this site did not make all the effort seem worthwhile – as what we hoped to be our first glimpse of completely unspoiled white sand was instead littered with water logged garbage, likely having made it’s way to shore from the reported huge garbage patch in the Atlantic, or alleged discarded trash from cruise ships. Efforts have been made to clean up the mess on this shore, only to have more return a short while later.
After a quick rest stop, we were eager to get off of the littered beach and back on the water to proceed to the main attraction – a tiny manmade canal through a mangrove forest. At parts it was barely wide enough for the kayaks to pass through, and the depth of water was such that we had to dig the paddle into the thick mud to propel ourselves forward, being careful to avoid several puffer fish that darted around the kayaks as we passed. The roots of the grey and haunting trees spread out all along the edges, and tiny tree crabs darted up and down their limbs.
The canal was constructed as the beginning step to build a much wider path to interior natural lagoons that the constructor had planned to make into a marina. After making the first cut through the trees and swampy water, the government shut down the plan. For environmental reasons? We hope so, as these mangroves are very important to the health of the massive Mesoamerican Barrier Reef that encircles the island. (Or was it to hold out for more money? Maybe. Time will tell.)
After squeezing our way through the slim passage, we came upon a beautifully still lagoon – offering the type of gliding that these two kayak enthusiasts hope for – where the only ripple in the still water is from our own path. The water became a perfect mirror to the sky above. We basked in the bright sun as we were out from the protection of the mangrove trees, and made our way slowly through the lagoon, skimming the edge to peer at cauliflower shaped jelly fish situated along the shallower bottom. Once through the lagoon we headed back into the ocean water to find a beach to stop on for lunch.
I’ve visited a lot of beaches in my life, and this one was unlike any other I’ve seen. As it was on a tiny island just off of Roatan, it was undisturbed by any form of human traffic and as a result it was busy with aquatic traffic. We had to be careful with every step, as there was an unending stream of baby crabs along the shore. Without their own shells for protection, they lugged around whatever others they could find to be their home – many of them seemingly struggling to carry the burden of their too-large houses. So many parallels ran through our minds with reference to our lives before giving everything up to travel: Were the crabs trying to keep up with the crustacean-Joneses? Did their excessive mortgages for such a big house not allow them the funds to travel? Was that big home a bitch to clean?
At one point Pete picked up what he thought was an empty conch shell only to realize that it wasn’t so empty – a slimy tentacle reached out and touched his arm! When he placed it back down on the edge of the water, the arm (leg?) emerged again to flip itself over and be back into the water. Kinda creepy, but totally cool, and worth about a dozen pictures on our camera.
Back onto the water after lunch, and this time we paddled just a small way off shore and jumped off the kayaks to enjoy some snorkeling on small coral heads. While it wasn’t as impressive as our previous Roatan snorkeling experience, we still got to see a myriad of cool fish, including our new favourite – a small navy blue fish with brilliant neon blue polka dots – which we followed around for quite awhile. ($5 to whoever can tell me the name of that one!)
After about an hour in the warm bath water, we crawled back into the kayaks and began our way down the watery road to our starting point. Whereas our guide had told us this would be the easiest part of the route due to the usual accompanying winds in the afternoon, they had shifted to be in our face, making for a long trip after an already exhausting day! Pete and I reveled in it, getting good bouts of exercise in with the paddles, and drifting along slowly when we needed a break.
Must have kayaks. Must get on water. Another fabulous day on Roatán!
We share the same sentiments towards mountains… wherever we end up living must be close to a mountain range. Do you guys do ocean kayaking as well? The whole eskimo roll type of thing?
Jill – Jack and Jill Travel The World recently posted..10 Tips to Help You Pick Your Next Travel Gear
We have yet to get *that* technical with it, having never taken a lesson. Someday, I am sure! We’ve done river, ocean and lake. I’m not so big into the crazy-scary-water type of kayaking. I like the calmness of it.
It’s a good thing that as couples, we have the same obsessions, hey? 🙂
Good thing. I had to spend a bit of time convincing my wife Ashley to join me on a canoe trip down the Yukon river last year. It wasn’t exactly on her to do list. Good news is, she enjoyed it and would jump at the chance to do it again.
Mike Lenzen recently posted..Dining on a Dime
Hey Mike, so cool that you took a canoe trip down the Yukon. We really would like to get up to that part of the continent and explore the wilderness. There is something addicting about being out on the water that just draws you back.
I think you were a bit jealous because we – brave unexperienced kayakers – almost made it all the way up to Cuba…!
Apart from the last mile struggling with the waves it was awesome, “the best kayak trip ever”.
I made the stupid mistake to go back home and exchange white sand for white snow. How silly.
Must have feet back into light blue water, must get ticket back to paradise.
Aafke!! we weren’t jealous that you were going to Cuba, just maybe a little that you weren’t taking us with you. I think it was your subconscious telling you to go to Cuba and not to get back on the plane and return to the snow. Ugh… Silly is right. Come back whenever you want!
fun post — I have done a little bit in a kayak and agree with you, so much fun. I will join you. If and when I move near the water, I’ll get one also.
Michael Hodson recently posted..Traveling and Dying — the Real Risks in Life
Thanks Michael! Maybe when you’re done the ultimate train challenge…an ultimate kayak challenge could be up next?? 🙂
Ooh, that tentacle snaking out of the conch shell would have freaked me out!
We’re huge fans of kayaking as well, though only one of us knows how to roll (hint: it’s not me). Kayaking in white or calm water is my fav – after a semester-long sea kayaking class that was pretty much me getting salt water up my nose every lesson, I’ve discovered that I don’t like to kayak in the ocean. 😛
Christy @ Technosyncratic recently posted..RV Travel with Pets
Oooh…I suppose that at some point I will have to test my resolve for that. So far, I am currently obsessed, but that might change it! My favorite kayaking has been in British Columbia, where we were the only ones on a really calm lake. LOVE being the only thing making a ripple. Ocean and river freak me out a bit!
Hi Dalene and Peter,
Great website. I found it through the link on Todd’s Wandering. Where are you from in Western Canada? My husband and I also sold our house on Vancouver Island to go off and travel the world. We have since returned and settled for now in Canmore, Alberta just near Banff in the Rocky Mountains.
Hi Audrey – thanks for stopping by! The last place we lived was in Okotoks (just south of Calgary). Peter grew up in Edmonton and I grew up waaaay north in Peace River country. Canmore is such a beautiful little place – nice to be close to the mountains and lakes for kayaking!
Audrey – Just checked out your site and found you on FB…you have some amazing pictures!
Thanks Dalene, found you on facebook as well and followed you back on twitter. Looking forward to keeping up with your travels in the warmth as I am sitting here in -26C !!!
I’m torn about taking my yak with me. I could take a river boat like I have, can’t store stuff and is only for fun. Or take one that is more versatile (lakes and slower rivers) but could do over nighters (there is an multilake trip in saskatchewan that I want to check out if it’s in the cards)
It is so nice to be on the water though…I’m going to take something if even it’s an innertube 🙂
Water wings? 🙂
So cool! I never made it to Roatán, though was a few times diving on Utila next door – gorgeous!
Hendrik M recently posted..Skiing Trip Report
Thanks Hendrik! We definitely want to make it over to Utila, heard so many good things.
We tried canoeing last month and it was pretty incredible to get out on the water like that. Didn’t do kayaking, though – plenty of opportunities but we were afraid of falling out again. Really want to try it!
Andrea recently posted..New Zealand Roundup- Our Travels from Dec 2010-Mar 2011
Hi Andrea, we have never given canoeing a chance, but want to for sure. Doesn’t matter how, we just love being out on the open water. Cheers!
Sounds like a wonderful experience! Those pictures are amazing. Thanks for sharing that story. I can only imagine how tired and sore you guys were, I had been kayaking for about 2 hours and I can see where the soreness and tire would come from!
Ooh, sounds like you guys are ready for the cruiser’s life. 1 sailboat, 2 kayaks and a life adrift on the water (and your house is portable!)
I wish I could say I was! I do have a tendency to get seasick, so I can take short bursts on the water like day trips, but a long cruise like you did…not so sure that would be much fun for me!
I really enjoyed this post! I’m an avid kayaker, here in California, but if I ever get up to your neck of the woods I’ve got to try out the waters there. I especially enjoyed the part about the conch arm/tail grabbing your husband 🙂 So funny. I also own salt-water aquariums and am wondering what that blue fish with the neon spots is named?? Ah well, if I find out, I’ll get back to ya!
James Dutreaux recently posted..How to Win Big Fish Battles From Your Kayak