I’ve been lucky enough to experience the joy of Anthony’s Key Resort twice, once in January of 2015 with a university trip, and another in 2017 after I won a video contest and was awarded an all-inclusive stay for two. My family came along for the second visit, and we even enjoyed New Year’s at the resort.
Roatán is an island off the coast of Honduras, a part of the Bay Islands. It’s a tropical paradise that boasts some of the best diving in the Caribbean. All the resorts work hard to provide amazing experiences, and they are equipped with all the gear you could need.
Anthony’s Key is the original scuba resort on the island. The cabins are simple and rustic, the staff has all been there for years and everyone truly cares about your experience as a guest there. You’re greeted with a delicious rum punch upon arrival and are given an orientation and schedule of all the activities planned out for the week.
With a diving package, you are assigned to a boat for the week with other divers, and a divemaster that you’ll be with for the entire week. It’s a great way to meet new people and learn from divers of varying abilities and skills.
Whether it was sitting in the hammock in front of our cabin or the sensation of hitting the water each time when I jumped in for a dive, every aspect of a vacation at AKR was perfect. Each day was filled with just enough activity to take advantage of the beautiful diving, while also allowing enough time to rest and relax.
On both trips, I’ve had great divemasters and boat captains. They made the experience absolutely fantastic throughout the course of the week. The resort takes pride in having knowledgeable professionals who truly care about the guest experience, coral reef conservation and education about marine animals.
For people who don’t dive but are traveling with divers, you’re in for a treat by choosing a dive resort. Because boats and divers go out all day, you’ll likely have the pool all to yourself to relax and unwind. My mom loved this – she got plenty of quiet time to read.
Having all meals included for a week is fantastic. There’s a breakfast buffet every morning and you can order from a select menu. They always have several choices each evening, with lots of delicious seafood dishes, and options for vegetarians. There are also BBQ nights during the week. Make sure you try Selassie’s (one of the famous servers) hot sauce!
The sunsets every single night were so breathtaking. The beds were so comfortable I fell asleep every night within minutes of laying down. The food was great – every day they have a variety of different seafood and other dishes to choose from. I loved sipping tropical drinks from the bar – using the “vacation” excuse to guzzle down the extra sugary calories in margaritas, Bahama Mamas and piña coladas. Yum 🙂
The diving is excellent on the Caribbean reef systems, and Roatan is the perfect location to enjoy it. The waters are warm and the visibility is typically high. There are lots of fish and corals, tons of sponges, turtles, the occasional stingray and spotted eagle ray, and moray eels. We were so lucky to have a week of sunshine, with amazing experiences on every single dive.
When you book a dive package with Anthony’s Key Resort, you are assigned to a group and a boat for the week, and a divemaster that will be with you. Every day, you have the opportunity to enjoy 3-4 dives, at different sites. You can choose special experiences like the Wreck Dive, Shark Dives, and Dolphin Dive to name a few. I loved the variety of dive sites that we explored during the week vacation. You can also take the morning off if you’d prefer to sleep in too – it’s all up to you!
If you aren’t completely terrified of sharks and want to experience getting up close and personal, do this dive! We all went down together and were completely surrounded by Reef Sharks and other little sharks, they were super cool to see in the wild. They are docile, even a wave of your hand at their face and they’d swim away. No need to worry about becoming shark bait!
I don’t have any photos of the wreck as I didn’t take my GoPro to that depth, but it was a really cool experience. Definitely the deepest I’ve ever gone diving, and we saw loads of garden eels in the sand – probably one of my favorite things to see while diving!
West End Wall
This is a famous dive site in Roatan and it offers some stunning corals, sponges, fish and more to see. Make sure you’ve charged your GoPro and popped on the red filter before this one.
At Anthony’s Key Resort, there are dolphins in the ocean within enclosures that are used for interactions, go out on dives, and other research. While initially, I was unsure about how to feel about dolphins in captivity, their pens are very large and “natural” as it’s the ocean and not tanks, they are taken out on dives into the open ocean, and aren’t there performing for tourists like at SeaWorld, all day every day. While I’m no expert, I think if they wanted to escape, they definitely could, but they seem happy relaxing in their pens. I still do not support captivity at zoos and SeaWorld where their sole purpose is performing.
With all the threats facing our environment and our oceans, it’s imperative that people start caring about the health of coral reefs and ocean systems across the world. I highly encourage anyone with the slightest interest to pursue their PADI open water diver certification. Having firsthand experiences with coral reefs and the animals that inhabit them is eye-opening and will inspire you to live more sustainably.
Nature Walk at Carambola Gardens
Just across the street from the resort, this nature reserve is a nice activity to enjoy while on land at AKR. It costs about $2 for admission, and it’s an easy trail weaving through the jungle. At the top, you get a clear view of the little key – the island where many of the resort cabins are.
West End Beach, Roatan
If you need some souvenirs, venture into the shops in the towns around Roatan. You’ll find better prices here instead of in resort or dive shop gift shops.
Sundowner’s Beach Bar
If you venture off of AKR and into town on Roatan, make sure you get a cocktail and enjoy a sunset on the beach. It’s a stunning way to end a day, sipping a mojito and watching the skies ignite in orange, red, and pink hues.
Maya Key Day Excursion
After a morning of dives, I believe about mid-week on a stay at AKR, you’ll enjoy a visit to Maya Key, a private island off the coast of Roatan. Here, there are animal rehab centers, a pool, stunning beaches for snorkeling, and beautiful nature walks. You’ll see toucans, parrots, a jaguar, monkeys, and more. We had a great Caribbean lunch here and relaxed for an afternoon. It’s a nice break from nonstop diving.
What to Pack for a Scuba Diving Vacation
Your own mask! I regretted not investing in a mask before these trips – it’s just so much better if you have a custom one that fits your face, you know won’t leak, and that you enjoy wearing.
A red filter for a GoPro, if you’re bringing a GoPro. This is an investment that every scuba diver bringing their GoPro MUST have. Seriously. I was lucky and some of my friends had them and let me use theirs for a few dives, and the footage quality is just so much better. Red Filter. DO NOT SKIP IT. They are affordable at about $10 on Amazon.
Roatán is an excellent place to become a more experienced diver and the friendships I made over the course of my trip will last me the rest of my life. There is something enchanting about settling in a place where time seems to stop and everything is a billion times more relaxed than it is back home. The sunsets are more beautiful and the rustic bungalows provided a genuine experience of living the island life.