Coco View Resort-Roatan,Honduras June 1-8, 2013
After the trip in May 2012 to Utila some of us were talking about where to go in 2013 and Roatan came up, specifically Coco View resort. A couple of the people on the trip raved about it and after looking at the reviews I thought it would be a great idea. Now speed up a couple of months when I was approached by the Whalers dive club for Channel Islands Dive Adventures to put together a trip for their club and after checking into a few ideas-Coco View it was. I then let the Channel Islands Divers know about the trip as a group trip and it became one hugely successful group trip.
This trip turned into something way larger than I ever expected. I started by reserving all the over the water rooms for June 1-8, 2013 and after lots of additions and changes CIDA ended up additionally reserving 6 of the Ocean front rooms and 3 beach houses for a total of 40 divers and 5 non-divers. There were 4 from the Antelope Valley Divers and the rest was almost evenly split by Whalers & Channel Islands Divers club members and the BEST part of the trip was that everyone got along, had fun and made new friends. Half the group was on the same flight together but the others were mixed with another 4 different airlines so there was plenty of logistics but it was all well worth the effort.
For all vacation trips like this I usually try to have a get together but with so many people I didn’t want to slave around the BBQ all day so I hired one of the Taco Man type companies that come to your house and do everything for you and that was the best idea ever. It gave me the chance to sit and talk with everyone and enjoy a nice cold beer at the same time. No running around like a mad man of which I have been known to do. I also use the get together as a time to hand out info packets to everyone, introduce people and answer questions that others may have along with showing some videos on the area we are going to.
It seemed like May 31st was never going to arrive but it did and before you knew it we had an excellent flight over on TACA airlines. I have heard some bad outcomes from other using TACA but all flights for us went very well and with no problems. We were greeted at the airport by Nora who took care of getting everyone on the bus for the ride to short ride to Coco View. Along the way we got a mini city tour and before we knew it we were hoping on the boat for the ride to the resort. Once there a cold drink or two was a must and then it was time to fill out the paperwork, eat and get checked into our rooms. Some of us (including my wife & I) were staying in a beach house so we had a little more to go thru but it still went well. When Coco View is full they use the privately owned beach houses that are managed by Playa Miguel to house guests. The beach houses were very nice, large, right on the beach with AC in the rooms but not in the main part of the house and they were just far enough away that the bikes got lots of use and far enough away that it was very quiet which was sometimes a good thing. The one thing I did realize is that when you are the group leader you need to stay closer to where all the action is because for me the beach houses were a bit far away when needing to take care of things.
Coco View is well setup and they have been at it for quite some time. It looks a lot like the Utila Lodge except much bigger and from what I was told the same man owned both. The dining area is large and has the bar (favorite place for a select few of which will not be named) and dance area in it along with a large meeting area above it. There is an area for outside dining and then a pier that leads out to 2 small deck areas that are uncovered and 1 out at the end that was covered. I really enjoyed the hammock at the covered deck and almost missed the boat one day. There were another 2 long piers leading out to the private cay where we had sand crab races, dinner and a local dance show put on by some school kids. The rooms where all built either over the water or next to the water and everyone had a view of the ocean along with their own porch. Just a couple of months before we arrived a new 2 bedroom Mango suite next to the main building was opened up. I was told it was the old house for the mangers before it was completely redone and now there is a newer manager’s residence behind the Mango suite. Of course there is also a gift store that had some very nice things and the prices were better than some of the items in town. I almost forget they also have a nurse’s station that was used several times while we were there.
For the diving Coco View had some nice boats that seemed to be well kept up, all though a couple of them had quite a few problems while we were there and they were the boats for part of our group. It all worked out in the end. Each boat has its own gear area and rinse, wash and drying areas along with tank storage and fill areas. For Nitrox they had one central nitrox fill area and they was never any problems with air fills. On the boat dock was also the dive shop that was well stocked and could actually do quite a few repairs if needed and in the same building was the photo/video specialist.
the dive times and meals were all scheduled around each other so it seemed like you were either eating or diving which lots of people like seem to like. We could easily do 2 dives every trip out, usually the first to a dive site further away and then a drop off dive at Newman’s or Coco View wall. After a short time this got a bit old so thanks to Mark & Rick for working out a deal. As long as everyone agreed to it we were able to pay $5.00 each and they would take us to a second dive site other than the 2 walls close to Coco View. A couple times we were also dropped off at the wreck of the Prince Albert out in front of Coco View. This was a fun dive but the vis was nothing like the Coco View video shows.
Most all the dives where along walls with most of the life between 20′-60′, visibility was running 40′-80′ with about 15′-25′ at the Prince Albert and the water temp was about 82°. I found the best diving was closer to the top of the wall and sometimes along the edge. I only seen 1 turtle and a about a dozen large seahorse that always seemed to be hiding in the sea fans to the point it was hard to get a good picture. I seen a few large fish but nothing out of the ordinary and overall I had a good time. I am sure we did most of the regular dives that Coco Views boats take you for probably one main reason and it is probably because everything is set to a schedule so if they go too far you’re not back for meal time. The one dive I did really like was the wreck of the Mr. Bud. It was a small fishing vessel sitting on a reef alongside of a wall. It was a fun dive and from the wreck we did a drift dive for a ways to another spot where I barely seen the one and only turtle.
For me it was funnier to watch those that haven’t been on a warm water dive trip because just about every dive they came up with something cool they seen or did. There was always something to do between dives like nap or getting your still or video cameras ready or just hang out and socialize until the next boat trip or meal.
The evenings were spent hanging around the bar area, talking and watching the free entertainment (the drinkers) and enjoying a cool Monkey Lala. A few nights Coco View had lecture/talks in the conference room upstairs on things like the history of Roatan and the mangrove areas and 1 night was the BBQ, crab races and dance put on by the local school kids at their private Cay. It was also cool at night to sit outside and watch the lightning over the mainland while enjoying a cold drink, the things you get to do while on vacation.
A few days in the afternoon was when some of us went on other tours or group activities. They had quite a few things to pick from like a dolphin dive, shark dive, zip lining, island tour and more. I didn’t do the dolphin or shark dive but I did do the zip lining with about 12 others from our group and that was awesome. The feeling of traveling fast over the trees hooked to a cable was very exhilarating and something I have always wanted to do. To make it even better it was very close to Coco View so within 2 hours you were done and back for dinner.
On the last day quite a few of us went on the Island tour and that was lots of fun and very interesting. We first went to town and stopped at a few places to shop but nothing was as good as what the little store had at the resort and the prices on some things were even more expensive. The main objective was to see some of the island and that we did. We stopped at an iguana reserve so to speak at someone’s house. The iguanas are free to come and go but who would leave when you get free food and you’re safe from predators. I have never seen so many iguanas in one place. They really liked when you petted them along their neck, they were just like a cat pushing into you and not wanting you to stop. I guess we all like a little love once in a while. I was even able to pick one up for the first time.
Another very nice spot and probably the best was at Carambola Botanical Gardens. The gardens are across the road from Anthony’s Key Resort. It is a led tour by Bill Brady and is very interesting. The Gardens opened in 1985 and they are dedicated to environmental education, mainly for the children of the Bay Islands. The tour leads you all around the gardens with little stops along the way for a mini-lecture about the history and use of the different plants they have growing there.
Afterwards the Island tour took us to the west end of Roatan where there are lots of dive shops, bars and tourist gift shops. It was a bit crowed looking to me but the beach sure looked nice. It was a fun tour for our last day and very educational at the same time. Now it was back to Coco View for dinner and start to get things packed to leave the next day.
Our last day was here and it seemed so quick which always seems to happen. Most everyone had flights out after lunch and we just sort of hung out in the dining area looking at pictures from the week’s adventures or talking about how much fun we had when all of a sudden the girls in the kitchen let out a big delightful yell. We all wondered what that was about and then we found out, they hadn’t gotten such a large and good tip in a long time so at least when we left we knew we made a difference.
So you are probably wondering what I thought about the whole Coco View experience? I really liked how well organized it was, the grounds and rooms were all clean and you could see the managers prided themselves in making it a great place and that is why lots of people continue to go back. The help and staff were all friendly, the food was great and plenty of it and the location was good. There was a few people there for 2 weeks and one couple said that it was too long because the dive sites you tend to go back to often and the food theme and menu is the same every week.
The diving was OK to me but honestly I think it was better in Utila with more variety in sites and I still think the diving in Bonaire is the best. I also find myself liking all inclusive places less and less for several reasons. The food is always too good and I eat way more then I should even if I am on vacation, I don’t care if there is a bar or not because my favorite drink is ice tea and the main reason is I don’t care for scheduled times for the meals and dives. You are very limited to dive sites when they have to be back for a meal and most of the time I find myself rushing. I guess if I didn’t have a camera setup that requires time it wouldn’t be so much of a problem.
Generally I think the all-inclusive places do give you a good vacation experience and value without you having to do much but I still think you can get more out of a vacation, be less stuck to a schedule, dive better sites and get a great value with some planning by not staying at an all-inclusive. Just travel with Channel Islands Dive Adventures and don’t worry about a thing whether it is or not an all-inclusive it will not matter because we take care of all the arrangements for you and travel along on the trip to make sure things go as smoothly as possible.