Cruising on the Norwegian Dawn – Roatan

This entry is part [part not set] of 9 in the series Cruising on the Norwegian Dawn

Cruising on the Norwegian Dawn – Roatan

captain dan travel tipsThis part five of the series Cruising on the Norwegian Dawn.

Roatan is one of the Bay Islands off the north coast of Honduras in the Caribbean. While Cozumel was very flat geographically, Roatan is more like a long ridge sticking up through a barrier reef. The center of the island is quite high reaching 800 feet or more in places. Considering the island is only 31 miles long and about 5 miles wide at it’s widest point this makes for lots of interesting terrain.

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We used to fly over Roatan when we flew from MSP to LIR (Liberia, Costa Rica). I always thought that Roatan was such an interesting looking island from the air.

Sunrise approaching Roatan from our cabins balcony.

There was a beautiful sunrise as the ship approached Roatan. I was up working on the computer and had the door to the balcony open and shot these pictures. Roatan is a beautiful island and this was a great start to our day there.

Cabin on the Norwegian Dawn

This is my work station in the cabin. I loved having the door to the balcony open. The camera was right there by the computer so I could hop up and take more pictures as the sunrise developed. A cup of coffee, internet, TV and fresh sea air, what else do you need?

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This was an amazing sunrise as we approached roatan.
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The sun is up. You can see the hills of Roatan on the horizon. It looks like a great day ahead.

The ship turned around the west end of Roatan shortly after sunrise. Our cabin was facing the island so we had a great view as we approached the port.

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West end Roatan. This appears to the high rent district with many large homes on the south shore.
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More modest homes on the water as we approached the pier

Just like in Cozumel there was an armada of small boats seemingly escorting the large cruise ship to port.

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On our cruise the Norwegian Dawn parked at the pier in Coxen Hole. Unlike Cozumel, the pier is right along shore so there is no long walk to get to the pier terminal. Our cabin was facing shore so we got to sit on our balcony and watch the band and the dancers greeting the ship.

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Town Center on the pier in Roatan
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Tenders from the other Norwegian ship bringing people into shore. It was our turn to park at the pier.
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These big ships are longer than the pier so the tie downs are out in the water. You can see tenders shuttling people to the pier from the other Norwegian ship.

Since the last time we visited Roatan, a new Town Center has been built at the pier. This shopping area is also home to several independent tour operators. It is advised that if you do not go on a Norwegian hosted shore excursion, that you should only deal with vendors in this area. Once outside the port terminal area, you will find any number of people offering every service imaginable. Enough said. Staying with the cruise lines tours guarantees that you will be waited for in the event of a tour bus breakdown or other delay you didn’t count on.

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Dancers on the pier welcoming people to Roatan

As we did in Cozumel, Laurie and I had a nice breakfast on the ship and let everyone with tours etc get going first. We met a really nice couple from Hannibal, MO. These are the Cruse’s and they love to cruise! It seemed that every day they had a funny new T-shirt.

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You meet the greatest people on cruises.
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Pool area after breakfast. Looks like everyone wanted to see Roatan.

Having been to Roatan a few times, I really wanted to get out on my own and take pictures. My original plan was to rent a scooter like in Cozumel. The NCL concierge discouraged this. We did find a car rental agency that had a reasonable rate and a pretty new car. This turned out to be a very fortunate move. By the time we made it to the east end of the island, there was a little rain. By the time we got back to the west end it was an absolute downpour for the rest of time we were on the island.

Off we went to the main road which essentially follows the ridge down the middle of the island. Lots of great views if the weather cooperates.

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Closeup of Iguana
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Laurie feeding the iguanas. They are very used to people so you could get very close for pictures or feeding.

Our first stop was the Iguana Farm. We had been there before but wanted some fresh photography. To say it is a farm is kind of misleading. The Iguanas are fun to see. Part of the admission is food to attract the big lizards. They are beautiful. It is fun to feed them but this only will kept my attention for a short time. Once we had iguana pictures, we walked down to the dock where there were tarpon in large pens.

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Tarpon at iguana farm dock
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South shore of Roatan from the iguana farm dock
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Sailboats along the south shore.

After we were finished at the Iguana Farm we continued east. There was a restaurant on a ridge we remembered from previous trips that had a great view of the reefs and the aqua blue water. We went all the way to the end of the road on the east end of the island and back. We could not find it. But we did find and ark.

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Ark on top of the ridge along the main road.
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Hmmmm. So who would be building an ark on top of a ridge? What do they know that we don’t?

The scenery along the ridge road was really amazing with more great views around every corner.

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Even though there is only one main road connecting the whole island, there was not much traffic.
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View from the road on the east end of Roatan

Around one corner we came across this donkey. It had a lead but was not tied up. We saw him on the way back to the west end too.

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Donkey hanging out by the side of the road. No people or buildings anywhere near either.

After giving up on finding the restaurant on the ridge we headed back to west end. It started to rain and the closer we got to west end the harder it rained. We saw a sign for the Blue Harbor Tropical Arboretum. We had a hunch that we could do some indoor sightseeing there.

We were met by this nice young lady who gave us information about the arboretum and an umbrella.

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Cafe at the Blue Harbor Tropical Arboretum

We are going to do a whole post on this place so I’ll just show a few pictures for a tease for now. If you are not a beach person or if it is a rainy day, this place is a good option for you in Roatan.

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Hibiscus at the Blue Harbor Tropical Arboretum
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Lot’s of orchids at the arboretum

After our tour of the arboretum we continued to West End. It was still pouring rain so we did not get many pictures.

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Streets that are normally full of tourists are empty.
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Norwegian Dawn at the pier. You can see the rain clouds which plagued us for most of the day.

I had hoped to take a bunch of pictures in the more popular tourist areas, but it wasn’t meant to be. The rain was not going to cooperate. We left West End for the West Bay beach areas. The rain let up as we got to the very western tip of the island. Unfortunately, it was time to turn the car back in and return to the ship. We followed the road along the south shore which lead us right to the pier.

Nice to see the ship waiting after a fun day exploring
The rain stopped but everything was pretty wet at the pier when we got back.

All in all it was another great day. Had it not rained we would never have stopped at the arboretum so that was a plus. On the down side there was a lot of photos we thought we would get just didn’t happen. I guess we just have to come back again.

Here is a shot of Coxen Hole and the pier as we left at sunset.

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The pier in Coxen Hole after departure.

The next stop is Belize City in the morning. You won’t believe what happened there.

Captain Dan’s tips:

If you are a beach or water person take the shore excursions that Norwegian has. It’s a lot less hassle and you don’t have to worry about a thing.

I would agree with the concierge and recommend that you don’t rent scooters here. The roads are narrow and there are a lot of trucks.

The beaches at West Bay are spectacular. Go see them.

If weather is an issue consider a visit to the Blue Harbor Arboretum. You do have to drive by the dump, but the arboretum is worth it.



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About Dan Ashbach 792 Articles
Meet the Dan behind Dan330. He started a Pinterest account in December 2011 while off on a leave from his day job as a captain on an Airbus A330. While traveling the world, Dan practiced his longtime hobby of photography and developed his eye for natural beauty and appreciation of great photography. Continuing his love of exploration and great pictures, Dan added Pinterest to his daily routine; especially during the long Minnesota winters. His eye for great photography was recognized by the Pinterest community and in just under one year, Dan330 had attracted over one million followers. Dan and his wife Laurie have three children, seven grandchildren and two grand puppies. When not pinning, Dan loves to travel and participate in just about any outdoor activity. There are a few exceptions to this, but to find out what they are you have to go to the Dan330 board dedicated to “Things he won’t do”.