How would you like to stay on an island that with deserted long white sandy beaches, fabulous diving, waterfalls, tropical forest and travelling by boat everywhere? Let me introduce you to the small island of Guanaja off the coast of Honduras.
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Guanaja is one of the three islands that makes up the Bay Islands Department, and is the most north-easterly of the islands. It is the least touristy of the islands and the most laid back and chilled. There is only one road which connects the two villages Savannah Bight on the south side and Mangrove Bight on the north. So most places you want to go are only accessible by boat, from visiting friends, going to dinner or even shopping on the Cay.
The coral reefs which are teeming with tropical fish, rays, and even nursing sharks form part of the second largest reef in the world and perfect for diving or snorkelling. With hills covered in lush tropical forest and inland waterfalls, Guanaja is also a perfect place for bird watchers as it is on the migratory paths of birds travelling south.
Guanaja suffered when Hurricane Mitch sat over the island for 2 days in October 1998, stripping the trees and top soil and wrecking houses and hotels. The recovery has been slow, but Guanaja is open for business again, and welcomes tourists who are looking for a different pace of life in an unusual place.
Best Places to Stay on Guanaja
With no big high-rise anonymous hotels, Guanaja has a more intimate feel and you get to know your hosts and feel like part of the island very quickly.
Roland’s Garden Treehouse
Spending the night in a treehouse brings out the big kid in most of us. But the Garden Treehouse that Roland has hand-crafted is very much a grown-up treehouse with two rooms being built and suspended around four trees.
A gangway leads you across the terraced ground below to the open veranda wrapped round one of the trees. Sit outside and chill with a glass or two and watch the world go by.
The bedroom has really comfortable double bed which was also hand-built by Roland with a shelving nook and an area to hang your clothes. The perspex ceiling lets the dappled light filter in when you wake up.
The open-air bathroom is through a door and boasts a toilet, hot shower and beautiful colourful painted sink. There is screening to protect your modesty, but you are not overlooked. The treehouse is run on solar energy and every effort has been made to make it ecological. Read my full review of Roland’s Garden Treehouse.
Roland’s Garden Guesthouse
Roland and his wife, Julia, also runs the nearby guesthouse. There are two rooms, one double and the other triple room with a king-size bed and a single bed. The rooms share a bathroom and kitchen. The outside porch has hammocks to laze about in. The house is run by solar panels and as ecological as possible.
Breakfast is available on the top verandah with delicious freshly made pancakes, homemade bread and fruit.
Guanaja Backpackers Hostel
For the budget conscious, try Guanaja Backpackers’ Hostel is perfect. On the North East corner of the island, past East End, the hostel as a dormitory with 6 bunks with a en-suite shared bathroom with shower. Guests are welcome to cook their own meals in the big open-plan kitchen/living room area.
Outside there are hammocks to relax in while you listen to the waves of the Caribbean sea and the calming sounds of nature all around.
Aaron also offers daily continental breakfast, filtered drinking water and WiFi. There is a weekly trip to North Easy cay to swim, snorkel and have a barbeque on the beach, weather permitting.
Guanaja Backpackers is available either weekly on nightly rates and you can book Guanaja Backpackers on booking.com
Las Casitas de Mi Casa Too
Perched up on the hillside above The Bight in Sandy Bay are two vibrantly painted, stilted small houses. Each room has a double bed, wardrobe, en-suite bathroom and the all-important air conditioning. Sit on the balcony and take in the views over the bay. You can head up the hill to the restaurant Mi Casa Too for some of the delicious food cooked by Lisa or sit at the bar and watch the world go by. Make your booking on Booking.com
G&G’s Clearwater Paradise
On the North side of Guanaja, just past Mangrove Bight and accessible only by boat is the relaxing G&G’s Clearwater Paradise. With 8 rooms that sleep 16 guests all with breathtaking views of the turquoise Carribean sea.
You can enjoy prime diving led by George who can show you some of the 38 different diving sites around the island. You can also arrange hikes into the jungle, deep sea fishing or a tour around the island. Or you can kick back at the resort and laze by the pool, play in the games room or just relax in this little slice of paradise. Book online at Clearwater Paradise.
Graham’s Place sits on its own private island with a long white beach in front of the hotel, bungalows and fabulous candy Pink House.
The blue, aqua and yellow painted hotel has 16 double bedrooms spread over three floors Each room has an en-suite bathroom, balcony overlooking the beach, air-conditioning/ceiling fan and a coffee maker, microwave and small refrigerator for your convenience.
The four Caribbean Bungalows are painted in white with accents of blue, pink, yellow and aqua, the colour theme that runs through the island. Each bungalow has three double beds, with bathroom, wardrobe and dressers and coffee machine, microwave and fridge and sleep a maximum of six people. Walk off the verandah and straight onto the beach!
The Pink House has two floors: on the upper floor are two suites with double beds, bathrooms and small kitchenettes and on the lower floor, there are simple rooms with bathrooms, coffee maker, microwave, small refrigerator. Book Graham’s Place on Booking.com
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My trip to Guanaja was entirely self-funded. I was not required to write a positive review of the island or any of the places mentioned. All opinions are my own. No photographs may be reproduced in any manner without my written permission.