It’s taken many years of talking about it and several months of actual planning, but you’ve finally nailed down a family vacation on a warm, tropical island – congratulations! But as you might have realized, working things out with a large group is very different than planning your own vacation. A big point of contention is how much each person pays – especially when it comes to food. To help sort that out, we’ve come up with some tips for splitting your Roatan family vacation cost when buying food.
The Communal Grocery Pot
One way to split food costs in large groups is to have everyone put a certain amount of money into a pot that’s used to buy communal groceries. When the pot runs out of money everyone adds more. If there’s money leftover at the end of the vacation, that can be divvied back to everyone who contributed.
Each To Their Own
Another way is have everyone buy their own groceries. Although this will cut out any arguments over what’s being bought or who’s eating too much, it’s not really conducive to bringing the family together at meal time. You can alter this slightly by combining this method with one the above by creating a pot of grocery money for some planned shared meals.
The Best Chefs Competition
One way to get around worrying about food costs is to create a competition to find out who the best chefs in the family are. Split up into teams and have each team take care of menu planning, grocery shopping and cooking on a specific day. All the other teams vote on how much they enjoyed the day’s meals and at the end of the vacation the votes are tallied up to determine the top chefs. What typically happens is that teams focus more on creating great meals than worrying about actual costs. And everyone benefits!
On our recent trip to Honduras, we booked a great Roatan rentals oceanfront property. I took a load of photos, collected a bunch of souvenirs and went on a bunch of interesting excursions. But beyond the typical loading of photos onto Instagram and Facebook, I wondered how I could make my travel memories last forever. After a bit of brainstorming I came up with the following ideas.
Travel Container – One of the things that I bought on my travels was a box of cigars. The cigars are all gone, but I’m still left with a pretty fancy box. I’ve used this box to hold my leftover Honduras coins, a few matchbooks I picked up, some interesting rocks I found, along with some other small souvenirs I bought along the way. The cigar box is perfect for three dimensional items and it’s easily handed to my friends who come over and allows them to dig through it as much as they’re interested.
Travel Scrapbook – For all the bits of paper such as receipts, ticket stubs and my boarding passes, I pasted them into a scrapbook. I figure I can continue to do this with other paper scraps that I get on upcoming trips and it will eventually become an interesting document of all my travels.
A Postcard – I typically still send postcards to friends when I’m travelling. Yes, I know I’m old fashioned! But this time I included my own address to the postcard list. Not only did I end up with a personal reminder of my stay at the Roatan rentals oceanfront property, but I ended up with a local postage stamp as well.
Also known as the “chicken of the trees,” the Roatan iguana was traditionally hunted for its meat which was used to make a popular island stew. Decades of overhunting caused the iguana to almost become extinct. Arch’s Iguana And Marine Park was established as a response to this environmental near-catastrophe and provides a natural habitat for thousands of iguanas to exist without being hunted. Beyond maintaining a safe place for iguanas to live, Arch’s Iguana And Marine Park acts as a tourist attraction, an educational centre for local students and a meeting place for island conservation groups.
The sanctuary sits on 12 acres of land in French Cay on the south side of Roatan. Founded in the late 1990s, it features jungle forest, nature paths, a marine reserve and access to the ocean. Visitors are encouraged to touch, hold and feed the 4000 iguanas that live on the property. Every year a number of the iguanas are released to help maintain the wild population. Visitors are also able to observe and feed tarpon and other fish in the marine reserve. Other animals found in the park include white faced, monkeys, white nosed coatis and land turtles.
The reserve allows local teachers and students to enter the park for free and provides introductory courses related to the indigenous plants and animals. Agroforestry, reforestation and conservation practices are also taught to the students in hopes of furthering their interest in protecting the island’s environment. The park also runs the Roatan Recycling Program which seeks to repurpose plastic water jugs for use in construction and plant propagation.
Since 1985 the Bay Islands’ reefs and fish populations have been under attack by the lionfish. A native of the waters surrounding Indonesia, it’s not known how the fish became introduced to the West Atlantic. It may have been a hitchhiker on an international vessel or it may have been let loose by an aquarium enthusiast. Regardless of its origin, it’s causing havoc in the waters near our Roatan guest houses.
The lionfish is not only a fierce predator and voracious eater, it reproduces much faster than native species. The female spawns every month and releases millions of eggs every year. There have been studies directed at understanding the fish’s reproductive methods in hopes of curtailing larvae maturation, but it’s been found the most effective way to curb the population is to encourage lionfish hunting.
In 2011 the first lionfish derby was held and resulted in the capture of 1200 fish. The Roatan Marine Park has since begun issuing spearfishing licenses to specifically target lionfish No other fish species can be hunted in the park. The license costs $50 which includes a workshop, an in-water skills assessment and a registered fishing spear.
Luckily, lionfish makes for good eating once properly prepared. It’s white flesh is dense, but has a delicate buttery flavor. It contains high concentrations of omega-3 oils and low concentrations of metals such as mercury and lead. Lionfish and chips is a very popular dish in the areas around the Roatan guest houses, although the fish also lends itself well to baking, frying and other recipes.
Although you might be feeling guilty for surreptitiously checking out Roatan vacation rentals during work hours, you can hardly be blamed! There are many benefits of taking a Roatan vacation and one of the biggest beneficiaries of your vacation (other than yourself, of course!) is your workplace. It may sound counterintuitive, but it’s true. Taking time off work will benefit your workplace. Here’s why:
You’ll Come Back Happier : No one likes working with a grump. By taking some time off in a warm and sunny environment you’ll be able to relax, unwind and come back with a fresh perspective. This will not only benefit you by making you happier but also give your coworkers a smiley, relaxed, new you to work with.
You’ll Become More Productive : Vacations are an antidote to job burnout. By getting away from the day-to-day routine you’ll be able to return with a new perspective and a renewed sense of mission. Recharge your batteries by taking some time off to enjoy your Roatan vacation rentals and take a break from the daily grind.
You’ll Be More Healthy : Vacations are the ultimate stress reliever. Stress increases your blood pressure, your heart rate and the production of the stress hormone, cortisol. Stop these destructive processes in their tracks by going on a holiday. Allow yourself time to relax, catch up on your sleep and let your immune system recharge.
Your Family Will Love You For It: Spending time with your family on vacation is one of the ideal ways to improve your relationships. By taking yourselves out of the familiar, you’ll see each other in a new light and from a different angle. Add some more context to your relationships by enjoying Roatan together.
Finding a great spot to snorkel is like finding a great restaurant, it will make you want to keep coming back and discovering more. That is what West Bay is for Honduras. The white sandy beaches surrounded by beautiful tall palm trees draw visitors to its shores. The multi-colored coral sparking in that crystal clear water will draw you into the deep waters, to only surround you with some of the most exciting marine life the Caribbean has to offer. If you are looking for places to stay in Roatan, consider West Bay where there is wonderful snorkeling.
Where To Find West Bay
West Bay is located on the western side of the island. You can either take a 30-minute drive from the airport or a $25 taxi ride. If you are staying in Roatan, you will find that West Bay is the main seaside resort where most of the high-end hotels have planted themselves. The road is set back from the beach so you will need to cross through one of the paths between the hotels. If you are staying in the West End, you can also take a boat for $3 per person.
What You Will Find
Grab your snorkel or dive mask because there is plenty to see in this wide open area. You can snorkel in some shallow 2 feet waters that are rather close to shore. As you move out the reef continues to drop as low as 32 feet at some points. Swim around and you may find sea chubs, parrotfish, butterflyfish, French angelfish, or even queen angelfish. You will without a doubt find a fish you have never seen before. If you want to see a sea turtle try swimming near the small black rock cliff where they often relax.
In the west bay, you should not have to worry about rough waves, but there sometimes are dive boats in the area, so be on the lookout. If you are looking to take a snorkeling excursion in the area you can expect it to run you anywhere from $15 to $45 per person. Some excursions do not take you too far out, so some may not find it worth the price. Be sure to do a bit of research on your particular excursion before purchasing. When you are looking for places to stay in Roatan, L’Alize has access to a private keyhole beach where you can snorkel anytime you please and is also just minutes away from West Bay beach.
After a recent vacation where we booked some Roatan villa rentals off the north coast of Honduras, it occurred to me that there are a couple of things in the planning process that, if I’d known beforehand, would have made the entire vacation much more relaxing. I wrote these out more of a reminder to myself, but if anyone else can learn a thing or two, that’s an added bonus.
Check, Check And Double Check
When I booked our flights, I mistakenly entered the wrong expiry date of my passport. I actually had it right the first time, but somehow the data field slipped to the next month without my noticing. Well, I definitely noticed once we were at the airport check-in desk and the attendant pointed out the error. Apparently they could have refused my boarding privileges for that simple mistake. Noted for next time: make sure to double and triple check my information before clicking “Next,” or possibly lose that booking in those beautiful Roatan vacation rentals.
Visas – This one didn’t happen to me, but to my British cousin. She had a trip booked to Las Vegas, but didn’t know she needed to apply for a visa online before she arrived in America. What actually happened that she was denied boarding in the UK. They told her to try applying online on the spot, which she did. Luckily she received confirmation almost immediately and actually made the flight. However, it’s possible for such visas to take up to 72 hours to process. Don’t wind up with any unpleasant surprises and check the visa requirements long before it’s time to leave.