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Seeking Roatan advice

Discussion in 'Bay Islands' started by shawnhammer, Feb 11, 2014.

  1. shawnhammer

    shawnhammer Angel Fish

    I'd like to plan a trip to Roatan for my sweetie and I. Here are the nuts & bolts:


    • VRBO in the Punta Blanca area - We're really not too interested in an AI resort or being anywhere near tourist central and recognize the trade-offs but don't know much about diving in the Punta Blanca area or the local dive operators.
    • Diving/adventuring mostly on our own - I don't mind diving with a good operator, on a smallish boat, with a few other people. I really love making all the choices myself and exploring the reef away from the known/marked dive sites
    • We like diving reefs in the 20-50 foot range. No need for deep, overhead environs, wreck penetrations, or drift dives. We likes the fishes and the corals and the sponges and especially the nudibranchs :D.

    So, here are the pointy questions:

    1. Is the Punta Blanca area a great place to dive? Anyone have first hand experience over there they'd like to share?
    2. What do folks think about early July? Too humid? Too close to the hurricane season? Perfect?
    3. Is there any real hope of being able to explore on our own? We know that renting a small boat from a local operator is just about out of the question unless we want to buy it and then sell it back at the end of our trip. That said, does anyone have any other creative ideas or know of any other options?
    4. Will any of the dive operators rent us a bunch of tanks? Say 6 to 8 a day or 4 to 6 a day if we do a boat dive with 'em?
    5. We've found a few vacation homes to rent in Punta Blanca but does anyone have some first hand experience renting over there?

    Okay, I think I've hit my limit on this post. Thanks in advance!!
  2. Doc

    Doc Was RoatanMan

    # of Dives: None - Not Certified
    Location: Chicago & O'Hare heading thru TSA 5x per year
    Punta Blanca is best described as North side, about 1/2 way East. It is near Marble Hill, between Punta Gorda and Politilly Bight. As a further point of reference, Oak Ridge (on the South side) is about 8 miles South West from there. I go into that detail for other posters, because I think the monicker "Punta Blanca" might be of fairly recent origin, and not likely on any map.

    1) The reef is a very very long way out from land. Very long way out. I mean really. Shore diving? No. Shallow stuff? That is found on the South side, not the North. There will be some follow up posts that will say that you can shore dive and go shallow, but there's really not much to see until 1/3 mile offshore.

    A description of the reef structure, South compared to North/West.... (the audio is sketchy, but the diagrams are good)

    "love making all the choices myself and exploring the reef away from the known/marked dive sites".... Hard to say what choices one might make without intimate knowledge of what is there. Maybe even some un-safe ones? Un-moored dives whilst "exploring" are not the norm on Roatan and are generally discouraged by the conservationistas. You might get away with willy nilly tossing an anchor and going diving, but then again, a local would likely steal your unattended boat and claim it as a defense of reef damage mitigation. Moorings versus anchoring, there is a huge issue inherent.

    I have been diving that specific area quite a bit, and I do like it for a lot of reasons, but none of them fit the criteria you list nor the method you aspire to utilize. It is deep, dark, some great overhead environments, but due to eons of being in the brunt of storms- the North side is simply not the place for shallow delicate little critters and corals.

    Nudibranchs? Not many on Roatan, but there are a few things that look like them, there is the Lettuce Leaf and Spanish Dancer, stuff like that. You are really talking about and looking for diving instead on the South side.

    2) July is good. The North side of the island can get pretty ugly September>March, but in the other months you can plan on glass flat North-side seas... mostly. Conversely, there's always a breeze creating a 1-2' running sea on the South side. That's why the boats are different and the incidence of Sand Fleas, as well.

    3) Exploring? No, you're not going to be able to rent a boat, but I have hired any number of water taxis and used them as personal dive boats. (I stayed at a dive resort, used their tanks and dock, but essentially hired my own dive boat). Buying a boat will take months, a pile of cash, and three lawyers. (On your way out, your resale value would be nil because... what were you going to do? Put it in your carry on?) If by "exploring" you meant the local area and on foot or by car? I wouldn't, but that's just me.

    4) Rent out tanks? Highly unlikely. But cash talks. If you talked a whole lot. (refer to #1 above)


    You're not too far from Marble Hill or TBR. Not the model of a world class dive op offering, but they will get you wet. If you hired your own DM and boat, they could take you to some of the most interesting diving on the island, stuff that is absolutely NOT on their daily menu for the type of divers they service. Their DMs could absolutely dazzle you with an unseen Roatan, but it is very deep, very dark and overhead environs with some tight squeezes. Most divers I know, I wouldn't take them with me.

    Kind of a confusing post though. You don't want an AI, but you want 8 tanks a day.

    For what you are looking for, I would suggest Reef House Resort as a dive op and look to rent something in Oak Ridge, but me? I would just go to RHR for the package, it's pretty much-so as "island" as you can get for a week- if you also needed to dive quite a bit. They boast of being the "unspoiled" Roatan because of the lack of other dive ops, which is kind of hooey, as the nice remaining quality of the reef there is dictated by higher volumes of water exchange. The outcome is inarguable, the shallow florid reef there is pretty clean... for now.
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2014
  3. shawnhammer

    shawnhammer Angel Fish

    Thanks for the reply Doc. I've read some of your other posts and really appreciate your input!

    With regard to the reef position on the north side, from the sat. images on google earth, it looked to me like a more mature fringing barrier reef with the beginning of a shallow reef lagoon; Basically like you described in your video. The diagram in your video shows a stepped fore reef at ~20', 40', and 80' on the north and a steep vertical wall on the south but you describe the north area as "deep and dark". Maybe you're referring specifically to the area directly out from Punta Blanca and not the north-side as a whole? Can you clarify please?
    (by the way, love the diagrams! They remind me of a lot of the drawings one of my marine biology Profs, Dr. C. Jerry Flora, and i would make/use when explaining different locations and their characteristics)
    Screen Shot 2014-02-12 at 8.24.04 AM.jpg

    As for deciding where to enter and not having intimate knowledge of the area, that really doesn't bother me much. On the safety aspect, I completely agree, it requires a good deal of experience to evaluate the water before you decide to descend and always making the judgement call on the side of caution (there are few old, bold divers...) but as for choosing a spot and being disappointed because it isn't the reef I saw in a coffee table book? I really don't care about that. Every patch of reef has something to offer an inquisitive mind and open eyes.

    The water taxi idea is very intriguing! Can you give me any pointers on setting that up? Exploring the local area on foot or by car is not what I mean.

    8 tanks/day - 2 divers x 4 dives daily: sunrise + 2x day + night = 8 tanks :)

    Thanks for the suggestions about RHR and OR, I'll check them out and see if there's a fit.
  4. robint

    robint Orca

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Albuquerque, NM
    If you want to shore dive ALOT I would definitely look at CocoView Resort. You get 4 boat dives per day included in your package, with 2 of those being "drop-off dives" in front of resort. YOu are free to use those drop offs to go at your own pace and solo back in. Then you get all tanks free for shore diving included as well. Most people there do 5+ dives per day average.

    Watch all my videos from my trip last year and you will see what I mean. Worth every penny for the serious diver.

    The whole album of my videos: https://vimeo.com/album/2443620

    a few to show you the shore diving area, just steps from your room:



    the website for the resort: Roatan Resort & Diving | CoCo View Resort

    LOVE this place. Read my trip reports, too. RnR Scuba

  5. Doc

    Doc Was RoatanMan

    # of Dives: None - Not Certified
    Location: Chicago & O'Hare heading thru TSA 5x per year
    I'm a different "Doc" than the fellow dinosaur in the video. He's Doc Radawski of Crystal Skull fame, he's an exhibit at the Coco View Zoo.

    Just find one you like, tell him what you want, where to meet you and pick you up. He will likely have not a clue where to dive nor how to handle "his new dive boat", but it can work. Good luck on getting tanks, though.

    In general here, now understanding your intended 4x dive schedule, RobinT's above suggestion makes a load of sense in terms of expended time and money. What you are planning will cost you a bunch (over and above CCV) in both categories.
  6. diversteve

    diversteve Technical Admin

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Doc likes this.

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