Honduras is a wonderful, tropical vacation destination ... if you know what you're getting into before you visit. Many tourists who visit Honduras stay on Roatán, an island in the Caribbean about 40 miles off the coast of the mainland. It's known for its beaches and for diving along the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System, the second-largest barrier reef in the world.
Some people find it strange that we eat so much seafood on our dive trips. After all, if you're swimming with Dory, you might find it a bit difficult to have her for dinner. However, we believe in eating fresh, local food whenever possible, and if the diving is good in a particular locale, then the seafood is generally pretty good as well. On our recent dive trip in Roatán, this was definitely the case. We enjoyed sensational calamari at Land's End Resort, delicious lobster at Argentinian Grill, and amazing fish tacos at Ginger's Caribbean Grill. You know what else was amazing? The cocktails. From frozen margaritas and fresh mojitos to local favorites like the Monkey La La, these icy treats definitely help you beat the tropical heat and humidity.
Like so many Caribbean islands, Roatán is one of those places where retired millionaires, optimistic college dropouts, and struggling poets intertwine with the local population to create a culture that is at once endemically cosmopolitan, lazily industrious, and responsibly chaotic. The island's personality is built on a healthy Honduran foundation, but the influx of European, African, American, and Asian expats makes Roatán feel like a place out of time, caught somewhere between the ages of imperialism and information.
No matter where we travel, finding good food is a priority. We love restaurants that feature fresh, local ingredients, and we often learn as much about a culture from its cuisine as we do from its people. We hit the restaurant jackpot on our recent trip to Key West, Florida.
I'm really not someone who likes to return to a vacation spot time and again. Although I can certainly understand the attraction of predictability with restaurants, accommodations, and attractions, I'm typically more into the thrill of first-time discovery. The exception to that rule, at least for me, seems to be Key West.
As Mike and Ben were on their annual guys' dive trip, I was treating my mother to a visit to Biltmore Estate for Mother's Day. I've been to Biltmore at least a dozen times, and they manage to change things up so that I see something new every time.
Scuba diving is one of those things that must be practiced, not only for the purposes of keeping up one’s skills but also, legally, in order to limit the liability of dive operators. Most waiver forms ask if you have been diving in the past year. If you haven’t, dive companies typically require you to do a short practice dive so they can evaluate your skills and make sure you aren’t going to make a deadly mistake on their watch. It’s also a great excuse for guaranteeing one dive trip every year, minimum.
Far too often, I find myself deep down the rabbit hole on travel sites, learning of interesting places that, heretofore, had never crossed my mind, but have instantly found a place on my Must Do travel list. Sometimes I bring the distraction upon myself by purposefully visiting one of my favorite cheap travel sites just to see what deal I can snag. Sometimes the rabbit hole opens before me while I'm booking a hotel for a conference. Who knew how awesome Madison, Wisconsin, could be?! And sometimes I'm lured into the cavernous, gaping maw by a clickbait article that seems too good to be true. Weather.com, you are the CHAMPION of this. Months ago, I was looking at projections for the 2017 hurricane season to see if our upcoming dive trip to Roatan, Honduras, would see good weather or foul, when I started down the proverbial rabbit hole. One interesting article led to another until I finally came across an advertisement for a fast ferry crossing from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, to Grand Bahama.
After Angela and the boys received their PADI Open Water certifications in 2013, we decided to create a new tradition in our house. Zack and Ben were both quickly becoming young men who would rather spend free time and school vacations with friends than with their parents, and understandably so. That pulling away is both natural and important to develop their independence, and we encourage it. Also understandable is our need to continue spending quality vacation time with the boys. So we began balancing their need for independence against the irresistible pull of epic travel. Plus, their friends don't dive.
In looking for our next home, it must be a place that inspires stories. These are some of the stories from our life’s adventures that have inspired us. They are why we travel. As you learned of my father in Mike's post about our Australia adventure, Dan Smith is a man of action. He is also a man of the world, and his travels began at an early age. So did mine, thanks to his annual training with the U.S. Navy. He is why I first began to travel, and this is his story of a life of adventure. High school just could not hold my attention. I was born in San Diego, California, but I was raised in Chattanooga, Tennessee. When I was in high school, I was always daydreaming of traveling to exotic locations. I dropped out of high school to join the U.S. Navy, and my navy boot camp (basic training) was in San Diego. After boot camp, I completed specialized training at Treasure Island in San Francisco. I was transferred to a small ship homeported in Newport, Rhode Island. That ship, the U.S.S. Courtney (DE-1021), was set to circumnavigate South America along with four other ships. Our mission was to conduct naval exercises with most South American navies.