Roatan 2000: Travel Tips
Tips for a Better Trip to Roatan Honduras
Here's a short list of trips that will help make your trip enjoyable, especially if this is your first time to Roatan (and particularly if this is your first trip out of the country, like it was mine).
- Go to Milliways in West End to eat! I cannot stress this one enough. It was one of the cheapest places we found, and the food was nothing short of incredible. If I had a place like this close to my house I'd never cook again.
- Know a little Spanish. Not a lot is needed (most islanders speak both English and Spanish), but knowing a few key phrases can help you get by and break the ice. Numbers are also important as the flights we heard in the airport were called by number so it's helpful to at least be able to recognize your flight.
- Know how to divide by 15, or at least carry a currency exchange cheat sheet. Very few of the locals we ran into (and some of the tourists) could figure out how to convert American Dollars into Lempira on the fly. Right now a US Dollar is worth almost 15 Lempira, so knowing how to quickly convert in your head (or read off your cheat sheet) can save a lot of hassle.
- Carry cash and Travelers Cheques. The bank we went to wouldn't accept a travelers cheque, but they did convert cash into Lempira for us. We saved the cheques for the larger purchases (things like our diving and the rental car) and used cash for everything else. There is a 6% premium at most places for the use of a credit card (if they are even equipped to take it), so be prepared with real cash and don't rely on plastic.
- Save $25US to get out of the country There is a twenty-five dollar (US funds) departure tax to leave Honduras. Everywhere you will see signs saying "Welcome to Honduras - Where Entrance is Free!", they do not tell you that it costs a chunk of change to leave. This fee will be collected in the airport when you leave (ours was collectected in the Continental line while waiting to check our baggage).
- Negotiate with the Taxis. There is a driver's license required for the taxis, but no test (just a fee to the government). There also aren't any consumer advocates or anything else, make sure you negotiate the fees with the taxi cabs before you get in! Once you're in they can charge you anything they'd like if you don't have an agreement first. Be aware you may have to share the cab with others, they load it up like clowns at a circus, unless your willing to pay a "special fee" to get one all by yourself. Most rides cost about $1US (or 15 Lempira) unless you are coming from or going to the airport, then it's more like $10US.
- Realize any car could be a Taxi. The taxi cabs we saw could have been any old junker you might have seen rusting in your neighbors back yard. They cruise up and down The Road all day, getting a ride is as easy as standing on the side of the road and just waving at passing cars until one stops for you.
- Be adventurous. The island isn't a "polished-up tourist destination". There's quite a bit to see (good and bad) if you are willing to get out and see it. The islanders are mostly friendly (I've felt less safe at home than I did on this trip) and it adds interesting twists to the trip if you learn to enjoy the culture.
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