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Clearwater Resort - Guanaja: Trip Report

Discussion in 'Bay Islands' started by bcaderunr, Feb 16, 2019.

  1. bcaderunr

    bcaderunr Barracuda

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Boulder, CO
    288
    75
    28
    This is my first trip report. I've been to most places in the Caribbean, land based and liveaboard, over the past 15 years. Most of these experiences have been well (and accurately) reviewed by others, so there's been no need for any "me-too" postings. Over time I've tried every 3rd trip or so to stretch my boundaries and try something new and relatively undocumented in the hopes of finding a hidden gem. Well it finally happened when me and the non-diving (fearless snorkeler) wife spent 10 nights mid-January at G&G's Clearwater Paradise Resort: Scuba Diving Trips & Snorkeling, Guanaja Clearwater Divers

    Travel: We flew Denver to San Pedro Sula and took a 3 hour "luxury" bus to La Cieba where we spent the night at the Paris Hotel ($55/nt w/breakfast). We took a 2PM Puddle jumper the next day to Guanaja where we were greeted by George Peel who, along with his wife Ginger, are the on-site owners of the resort. He brought us by boat (ONLY way to get around Guanaja) to the resort on a quiet north side bay. They built the place from scratch in 2010 and are continually upgrading the property - which is surrounded by peaceful jungle. The web site photos are an accurate depiction. On the return trip we puddle jumped back to La Cieba and spent the night at Rainbow Village ($55/nt w/breakfast) near the airport, catching an early flight to San Pedro for the International flight home (by way of Miami). George and Ginger made all the travel arrangements for us to and from San Pedro. The only payments we had to make to anyone besides them were to the Hotels in La Cieba upon check-in. Both Hotels were safe, clean, comfortable and had quiet A/C.

    Resort. Also clean, comfortable, safe and with solid A/C. We stayed in one of the 2 suites on the middle floor next to the bar/dining area and were the only people at the place for the entire time! We knew that mid-January is typically a quiet time of year in general, but this was an unexpected bonus. Our 10-Day package included all meals and unlimited diving. The food was high quality, delicious and abundant. George and Ginger do all the cooking with assistance from a full time staff. Alcohol was extra, but drinks from a well-stocked bar were just a hand wave away. And, you can always BYOB as long as you don't consume it in the dining areas. Our bar bill came to approximately $10/day/pp and we didn't hold back. The grounds are spacious and we walked around a bit. There's a small 4 foot deep pool that's mostly good for rinsing off after diving or chilling on a hot afternoon. WIFI worked just fine for me, but the wife said it dropped her a few times. In a nutshell, George and Ginger are very accommodating hosts who totally have their act together -- and are two of the nicest people you will ever meet.

    Diving. OK. I'm totally spoiled now. As near as I could tell, I was the ONLY diver on Guanaja the entire time. Never saw another boat. Got blown out 2 days, the other 7 dive days ranged from rainy to sunny/flat. All but one day was spent on the north side of the Island -- where the meso-American fringing reef sits 1/4 mile offshore. Corals were uniformly clean with sporadic algae in places. Saw nurse sharks, eagle rays, one blacktip, turtles, eels, octopus, and schooling fish in Bonaire quantities. It's as pristine as any place I've been in the Caribbean. At the Pavilions and Black Rock sites to the east of the resort the structure of the reef is volcanic and Cathedral-like. I was in silt-free, swim-thru heaven. Other favorite sites were Pinnacle, Eels Garden, Basket Star and Pelican -- the last three done as a single drift dive which reminded me of a never-ending "The Lake" in Bonaire -- sandy bottom with mini walls on both sides. My snorkeling spouse (who was taken out on the boat with me every day) stayed in the water as long as I did and was mesmerized by all the sea life six feet below her on the fringing reef top. Most days we went for 2 morning dives off the small boat and would head out for a single in the afternoon if the weather was good. Night diving was always an option, but I skipped it this trip. Bottom line: Safe, well-run operation that puts the client first. Depending upon conditions, they would have happily taken me anywhere on the Island. George used to own a Dive Shop in Austin, Texas. He's a consummate Pro.

    Before you go. Sobering up for a moment, this trip is NOT for everyone. Guanaja is out there. It's not the easiest place to get to, some Spanish comes in handy on the mainland and the "no-see-ums" on Guanaja (and every other Bay Island) can be brutal -- especially after a rain. That said, once you get to G&G's you WILL be in a Paradise all to yourselves. It is an intimate 8-Room Property and the ONLY one on the unspoiled north side of the Island.

    Costs. Airfare to San Pedro Sula from the States varies, but suffice to say it isn't a top $$$ destination. You might even get straight to La Cieba with a 1-stop from another departing City. We paid around $700/pp.
    All remaining costs are per person. G&G booked all these for us and went out of pocket (which we later paid back to them) for all but the overnight La Cieba Hotels. All taxes are included.
    "Luxury" Bus to La Cieba: $35
    RT Air - La Cieba/Guanaja/La Cieba: $165
    Air - La Cieba to San Pedro: $105
    2 different Hotels in La Cieba (coming and going ): $55
    Per person 10 night stay (double occupancy) with Guanaja airport transportation, 3 meals day and unlimited diving at G&Gs: $1839
    Total Cost per person NOT including International Airfare: $2199

    Alcohol drinks and staff tips have not been included.
     
  2. bcaderunr

    bcaderunr Barracuda

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Boulder, CO
    288
    75
    28
    I forgot to add that, if asked, George will FOG THE BEJEEZUS out of the property's common areas -- which he happily did most evenings. That kept the little critters pretty much at bay -- until the next day, at least. Whoever comes up with a vaccine to immunize from the effects of their bites will make BILLIONS!!!

    Also, there ARE more efficient ways to get to/from Guanaja (especially from other US Cities), but we opted for a bit of a travel adventure instead. We really enjoyed staying in La Cieba, especially on the front end since we used the morning to get out and stroll the City and its waterfront. Fun, friendly and safe. Cabs are everywhere and cheap, but we never needed one except for our ride to the local airport.

    Traveling from Denver to the Caribbean is never easy. We've become more flexible over time and now try to incorporate some non-diving fun on either end to enhance the journey. I envy you folks in Newark who can fly directly and cheaply to almost ANYWHERE!
     
    Trailboss123 likes this.
  3. Daebado

    Daebado Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Kansas
    63
    46
    18
    Nice review, thanks for taking the time! This looks like one I may have to put on the list!
     
  4. Donnah

    Donnah Photographer

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Key Largo, FL
    233
    112
    43
    We were at Dunbar Rock in April. No bugs because it is off shore. It's like being on a liveaboard. Definitely luxury for divers! All-inclusive; they took care of all gear. I do like coming down in the am to find everything clean, set up the way I want it, and ready to dive. If you want to set up your own gear, they will just place it on the boat for you. We dove mostly on the other (south?) side of the Island because of the weather. Diving was good, lots of smaller fish, not too many big fish. We saw no other divers except for the 7 of us the entire time. Our package had 3 dives/day with one a night dive. Getting there wasn't too bad -- flight to Roatan, puddle jumper to Guanaja and a short boat ride to the Rock. Because it was Easter week, there were only 7 divers (place holds about 20+) and 21 staff.
     
    KathyV and grantwiscour like this.
  5. grantwiscour

    grantwiscour Regular of the Pub

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Kona Coast, Big Island of Hawaii
    651
    242
    43
    Sounds like a good time. We stayed at G&G's in the summer of 2013. Top notch diving! Was Witi still their DM?
     
  6. drrich2

    drrich2 Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Southwestern Kentucky
    7,656
    4,705
    113
    I see you're from Key Largo. How did the diving stack up vs. the upper keys (e.g.: Key Largo!)? Was this a fun one-time trip that satisfied your curiosity, or did it rise to the level of 'favored destination' with return trips planned?

    Richard.
     
  7. bcaderunr

    bcaderunr Barracuda

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Boulder, CO
    288
    75
    28
    He sure was! He knows his way around those northern reefs better than the fish. All the locals on staff have been around for years. Lovely people, lovely place.
     
    grantwiscour and chillyinCanada like this.
  8. islanddream

    islanddream ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Hobe Sound, Florida
    803
    477
    63
    Does Clearwater Divers have nitrox available?
     
  9. Donnah

    Donnah Photographer

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Key Largo, FL
    233
    112
    43
    Richard,
    1. We don't dive that much in Key Largo anymore, except to "get wet" before a longer trip. The hard and soft corals are definitely much better in Guanaja, mostly because there are so few people on the island and because few divers go there yet. Key Largo has more larger fish, but Guanaja is coming back now that it is a marine preserve. Several years ago, a hurricane wiped out all the little farms that feed the locals, so they existed on what they could catch. At Dunbar Rock, we were 7-8 divers between the two resorts. Never saw any other divers except for our little group. And because it is an island with a canal through the middle, if it's rough on one side, you just go to the other. Also good shallow diving around the resort.
    2. We probably won't return, just because we are almost at the end of our diving and want to go to different places 2 times/year. It was our second time on that island, and we have also been diving in Utila and Roatan (many times). The drawback to Dunbar Rock was that when you weren't diving, there was no place you could walk around. It was like being on a liveaboard that didn't move. The rooms were great, food incredible, and the staff the most attentive we have ever seen (of course, there were 23 of them and only 7 of us).
     
    drrich2 and Trailboss123 like this.
  10. grantwiscour

    grantwiscour Regular of the Pub

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Kona Coast, Big Island of Hawaii
    651
    242
    43
    I don't think G&G's has Nitrox but am not certain...they didn't in 2013. Give George a call or email...he's quick to respond.
     

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