Two weeks in Roatan at Fantasy Island & Anthony's Key
Back home mid afternoon yesterday after a fantastic holiday. Everything went well. All the reservations and seat assignments were honoured without exception. Aside from the zoo of the Houston airport on the flight back, the timing and the layovers were well timed. I pitied those with shorter layover times as they were short staffed in Houston which resulted in very long line ups and several missed flights. I knew it was a non issue for me so my stress level stayed on snooze control. Much appreciated that as well. I was glad that you convinced me to go to Anthony's Key rather than Coco View for the second week. The difference between the two areas was sufficient to make the stay fresh at all times. I booked in to the Travelodge in Richmond for both layovers before my departure from Vancouver. That worked fine and had an added bonus of being relatively inexpensive as well as an opportunity to store my winter jacket so I didn't have to pack it to Roatan. Unfortunately, their last shuttle left before we cleared Canada Custons on the return. No big deal as it wasn't an expensive cab ride.
Here are some reflections that may or may not be of some use to you in planning future trips for other divers:
- The water at Fantasy Island was not drinkable so they supplied bottled water daily which was necessary even for rinsing your tooth brush. The water at Anthony's Key was drinkable but bottled water was available if you wanted it.
- WiFi was supposedly available at both resorts but I got extremely frustrated at Anthony's Key as I kept getting kicked off the net when trying to send an email message. To make matters worse, they charged $25 for a week's WiFi access at Anthony's Key whereas it was free at Fantasy Island. I would recommend that any future diver simply use the computer they had to send messages out.
- Depending on personal preference, the dining at the two resorts is quite different. At Fantasy Island, they serve every meal buffet style. At Anthony's Key, all meals were by menu. The only exceptions were the beach luncheons (2). I preferred the buffet style as I always found enough to keep me well fed. There were some meals where I went back to my room and topped up on Pringles but that's me. Others were quite happy with the food.
- Both resorts were pretty isolated in terms of walking any where. Anthony's Key had free horse back riding which some thoroughly enjoyed.
- Anyone going to either resort would be well advised to stock up on the strongest anti-itch creams available. Personally, I didn't find anything to remove the itching from the multiple no see 'em bites that everyone was covered with after any time on the beaches. I made it through Fantasy Island okay as I stayed off the beach but one afternoon at Maya Key (this is the private Island owned by Anthony's Key where we spent one afternoon between dives) was my undoing. I am still paying the price for that one.
- The dive sites accessed by Fantasy Island had a bit more life than those on the north shore. There was also more current on the north shore and at times getting back in to the boat was a bit more of a problem there. Not insurmountable by any means.
- Anthony's Key is definitely the resort I would recommend for couples going together. It is much more picturesque, the rooms are nicer (as long as you don't look too closely at the finish - definitely not North American standard) and the gift shops are much nicer.
- Anthony's Key has a Dolphin Show as well as a Dolphin Dive which Fantasy Island doesn't have. Both offer shark dives. They upgraded my room at that time to one of the ocean front rooms at no additional charge. That type of room was great for me as there was a covered square deck serving the three units in my group which had hammocks and clothes line for drying gear between dives.
- Both resorts had storage lockers at the dive shop. Fantasy Island was on the honour system as there wasn't even doors on the lockers on the main room. At Anthony's Key, the lockers had locks and you were provided with your own key. I liked that aspect even though it may not have been necessary.
- Luggage was more your responsibility at Fantasy Island than at Anthony's Key. At Anthony's Key, they loaded it on the bus for you and took it directly to your room while you were going through orientation. On the departure day, you left your luggage outside your room and the next time you saw it was at the airport. It's a good system, as long as you know what to expect.
My highlights of the two resorts.
- At Fantasy Island, I loved the wildlife wandering around the resort. There were Guatusas everywhere, huge Iguanas and lots of smaller lizards and of course the monkeys. You learned quickly that if you were going to leave anything out to dry you better put the heavy stuff on top. They were fun. My best diving moments were when I had a close encounter with a seven foot long Green Moray. He came up to within a few inches of my mask and we examined each other at close range for a couple of minutes. The other was when we did a Lion Fish Cull. We acted as scouts for the Dive Master and found as many Lion Fish as we could so he could spear them. We then went looking for Morays to feed them the Lions. Until such time as the Morays see the Lions as a food source, they will continue to devastate the reefs. One Lion had just started to eat a small Tang when we got him. The Tang promptly went into the Dive Master's BCD for protection and wouldn't come out. It was hilarious.
- At Anthony's Key, our last day of diving was on my 70th birthday. We got a group photo taken at 100 feet on the bow of a sunken wreck. We had a fantastic group that really became close friends and I guess they weren't very good at keeping secrets. I almost blew it as I had misunderstood what time our first dive was in the morning. I got down to the little ferry that took us to the main Island just as my gang was leaving. They backed the dive boat in to the ferry landing and I hopped on. We picked up my gear and headed out. I had Happy Birthday sung, in three different languages while we were still in the harbour and the other boat crews joined in. It seemed everyone at the resort knew as I got more birthday wishes that day than I'd ever had in my life. At dinner, the band played, we had a birthday cake delivered at dinner and more laughs than any old fart deserved. In all, it was a set of memories I will cherish forever.
The Fantasy Island bunch were great and as it turned out, the group I joined were even more fun. I have never seen a group with such diverse backgrounds mesh better than we did. Our boat crew admitted they had never seen anyone who came even close. Everyday there were more things to laugh at and enjoy. I can see those connections lasting forever.
Thanks so much for putting this all together.