Guanaja's Secluded Bayman Bay Club
Text And Photography By Dan Auber
Forty miles off the north coast of Honduras, between the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Honduras, lie Utila, Roatan and Guanaja; the Bay Islands of Honduras. Guanaja, the tallest, was originally called Pine Island by Columbus owing to the abundant Caribbean pines that thrive there. The population of Guanaja is approximately 10,000 people, the majority of whom live in Bonacca, a town built on stilts over the sea. While noted for its broad-leafed, lowland forests and pine-clad mountain peaks, this region also hosts more than 200 species of orchids, many in Bayman Bay. And, an indigenous species of green parrot is also seen in abundance throughout the area.
Bayman Bay Club is owned by Thomas and Linda Fouke. It resembles a romantic Swiss Family Robinson hideaway. One of the reasons so many of the people coming to Bayman Bay are repeat guests is because you are treated like an old friend from the moment you arrive.
Bayman Bay Club is a unique resort, nestled on the hillside of a lush jungle arranged in such a way that the 18 cottages peek out through the palms and breadfruit trees toward the Caribbean Sea. The meticulous stone and wooden pathways lead you through the beautiful natural garden setting for which the north side of Guanaja is known. The centerpiece of the resort is a three story clubhouse. This is where you will enjoy three excellent meals each day, the highlight of which is the gourmet dinner served while you watch the sun settle softly into the sea. The dining room extends out onto a balcony should you choose to dine in the open air. Because of the unique design of the building, every table has a marvelous view. In the center of the dining room is a beautifully appointed bar with a nautical feel. Happy hour here is from 5:30 until 6:30 each evening. The large library and game room, on the next level up, is where you can sit back and relax while reading a book from the well stocked library, playing chess, backgammon or enjoying the full sized pool table in a friendly game of billiards. Head up to the next level, the observation deck, and you can visit Pepito, the friendly macaw, or observe large prehistoric looking iguanas sleeping under the canopy of the trees. It is on this observation deck you will find one of the best siesta hammocks on any island.
The Bay Islands are well known for their crystalline turquoise waters. Besides diving and snorkeling the Bayman Bay Club offers a host of activities. There are kayaks, free for guest use, for venturing out in search of your own private beach, or try the fitness trail that leads to the top of the hill, affording one of the best views of the Caribbean Sea found anywhere.
The dive center and gift shop provide souvenirs and forgotten incidentals; there's no running out to the store here; as well as E-6 processing for photographers. On Thursdays, after your morning boat dives, your host will take you on a picnic at a secluded beach near Michael's Rock and afterward lead you to the largest waterfall on the island. Every Sunday evening Bayman Bay Club delights its guests with a beach barbecue, served buffetstyle and featuring many local foods as well as delicious chicken and ribs. Sitting at picnic tables surrounded by tiki torches with the Caribbean Sea lapping at your feet will convince you you're in paradise. The personal service provided at Bayman Bay Club is unsurpassed in the Caribbean.
All cottages are self-contained, with private baths and hot showers. A comfortable hammock on your deck provides that perfect spot for relaxing with a cool beverage after diving. Every cottage has its own dramatic ocean view and you generally cannot see any of the other cottages because of the lush landscape. You can decide for yourself how much or how little seclusion you prefer. Whether you are there for personal reflection or adventurous exploration, Bayman Bay Club can meet your needs and will usually exceed your expectations.
The diving opportunities around the island are well known. Whether you start with a shore dive to one of the reefs that are easily marked by lines that extend in a V-shape from BBC's 300 foot dock or venture out to one of the many deep reefs just minutes offshore by boat, you won't be disappointed.
Your equipment is stored in lockers on the dock so you will never have to haul your gear far when you feel the need to get wet. I have never experienced a more willing or accommodating crew. The divemasters can take you to certain areas to observe animals and benefit from their familiarity with the reef or you can dive your own profile as long as you stay within safe guidelines. This setup is perfect for photographers since we have a tendency to stay in one place for a very long time waiting for that perfect shot.
For more information or reservations at Bayman Bay Club, call Terra Firma Adventure at (800) 542-1823, (954) 572-1902 or fax (954) 972-1907. E-mail to email@example.com or visit the extensive Web site at www.bay manbayclub.com.