ATV TOUR: Roatan Honduras
So what are we doing today? We are riding ATVs!!! AND going to visit the SLOTHS!!! Something I have always wanted to do and out of all the years cruising, I've never held a sloth! Today was going to be the day and I was oh so excited about it!
Sakari had picked out this excursion. She had said she wanted to drive dune-buggies but after months of research and looking for a place, all I could find were 2 seaters. So, I did find multiple companies that had ATV tours. In our facebook sailing group, a lady came on and advertised all the excursions her company offered. I started talking to her in messaging and drilling her like I was a Sergeant from the Marine Corp. She quickly replied to everything I ask about. I found that she had worked doing excursions for other companies for many years and then decided to form her own company and was just starting out. There were pictures posted of "happy cruisers" on her facebook page but the page only went back to March of this year. This made me very nervous and wondered if it could possibly be a scam. I continued to question. When I googled places to ride ATVs or go to the sloths in Roatan, her company did not come up for me. But, she did have a website. I felt a little on edge about booking with a new company, if it was even a company, and if it was, I wondered what type of mishaps are they encountering getting started.
However, she made me feel really comfortable for some reason and I'm all about supporting someone new and small businesses. So, I finally decided the week before the cruise to book with her and give it a shot. I knew that if it was a fake business, there would be plenty of other tour companies in port to find something else to do. However, there were a few other factors that sealed the deal for me.
First, she did not require any deposit. This was a really big factor for me since I was unsure if it was a real company. No money lost if it's fake right? Just my time and effort.
Second, she informed me that Sakari would be able to drive the ATV by herself and not have to double with one of us. This would make it a whole lotta fun for Sakari. She informed me that they allow children over 9 years old to drive by themselves. YIKES! Now that's kinda scary for me thinking of Sakari back when she was 9 and picturing her trying to drive alone in the jungle in a foreign country. I'm not so sure I would have done that. All the other companies I contacted said you had to be 16 and have a license.
I didn't have too many worries about Sakari driving one. She has done it before with Kendra in the hilly woods when they go riding. Kendra has tons of "goodies" at home, several side-by-sides, 4 wheelers, motorcycles and so on and Sakari has went riding with them in the past and drove one and also rode them on Kendra's property, which is huge. So, this would just be a refresher.
So, I booked and immediately received a confirmation for the owner, Lashan, along with instructions on what to do when we arrived.
Lashan allows you to customize the tour you want and offered so many different options. We picked the ATVs, monkey/sloth sanctuary and then on to the beach for the rest of the day. She mentioned going to West Bay, but a different area that was less crowded. However, I knew where the good snorkeling was and told her if we went to the beach, I'd want to snorkel. She said we could do whatever we wanted. It was up to us!
Walking out of the port to meet Lashan for our tour.
Annndddd...we're out! Let the fun begin trying to find Lashan. The streets are filled with tons of vendors picking up cruisers and those that are trying to get you to come with them. They were all extremely nice and helpful and if you tell them who you are looking for, they will point you in the right direction or yell for the person.
I did not see anyone with a sign for Roatan Breakaway Tours. I ask several people and they had a confused look on their face. My heart dropped. They said "Are you not sure it is Roatan Getaway tours?" (How cute, the Breakaway and Getaway just like NCL). However, another guy said "Oh Lashan, she should be on her way". Whew! At least they even knew her name so I was getting excited again.
Within 2 minutes they yelled "There she is" and I felt all kinds of relief!
She welcomed us and she was the same extremely nice lady that I had spoke to online. She told us to follow her and it was a short block away and down the street to get to her vehicle.
We got in her truck and off we went. She ask what we'd like to do first and everyone agreed the ATVs.
It wasn't long before we arrived at the area we would go riding in.
The paved road ended and we hit a dirt road. We had arrived at our destination. They had the ATVs all lined up and waiting on us.
We picked out the ones we wanted and fitted our helmets. Sakari didn't pick a good ATV because we wouldn't notice until later that she didn't have the side view mirrors on hers and could not see behind her unless she turned her head around. I would later figure out that my helmet didn't fit tight enough under my chin and would have to switch it out. If I tilted my head back at all, it started to come off.
Lashan ask if we knew how to ride and I shook my head yes and one of my family members said "no"...who the heck said no??? We've all rode plenty of times before. Who was it? Really? Probably the hubby. It's been several years since he had rode back when we owned our own.
So the tour guides went over everything on the ATV to tell us what it did. Then only thing I ever get mixed up about is which is the front brake and which is the back. Our ATVs had a foot brake when we had it, but then again they were racing ATVs with suspension and all. These were more like the regular ATVs like a big John Deere type.
They started our engines, we put our helmets on and they said we were about to go.
We were motioned to follow our tour guide and off we went.
Now I wasn't quite sure how I was going to manage this...I had my camera and my Gopro and needed both of my hands to ride the ATV. One for the brake and one for the gas and both for sterring. Hmmmm....well you know me, I'm not going to do anything without a camera in my hand for my reviews. I only had a split second to decide. I extended the Gopro stick and shoved it down my shirt that's what I did! I turned it on, strapped my camera to my wrist and off I went.
We went on and on down the paved road. I kept wondering when we would turn off onto the dirt road and hit the jungle. Cars were passing by and Sakari was busy riding most of the time with her left tire on the middle of the road groove. She had me worried a few times. What if a car was to come by. She did always get over but still. I didn't realize we were going on the road or I would have had a talk with her before hand.
We just kept going down the road. I started wondering why they didn't just park the ATVs where the entrance to the jungle and dirt roads were at instead of having to ride on the street.
At one point we pulled onto a dirt road. I was relieved to know we were finally going off roading. But instead, our tour guide stopped and got off his ATV and made a motion for us to turn around. I ask him if we were turning around and he said "Si" and then mentioned something about a perro (dog) and I was totally confused at that point. He did not speak English if you haven't guessed by now.
We got turned around and back onto the street we went in the direction we came from.
All I could think about was if Sakari was having fun. I know it's not what she had hoped for but I hope she was at least having fun driving them. We had pictured something a little different than this. When they said riding in the Roatan jungle, we pictured dirt roads and hills and lots of palms and greenery. I guess they considered this the jungle area of Roatan? It just had paved roads instead?
Then I see the guide pull off to the side of the road. A truck passed us. I thought it was odd that he completely pulled over for the truck to pass. Then he got off of his ATV and went up to the hubby. Ok, what type of driving crime did he commit this time? He showed him something. Then went to Sakari and showed her something. Then made it back to me to show me his phone. He had translated that he was letting us get use to our ATV's and practicing and this was just a test run. Whew! Thank goodness! Let the real fun begin. I was relieved.
As we sat there, I seen a hummingbird in the tree beside us. I yelled at Sakari to look. Maybe our JOY hummingbird had managed to finally make it off the ship too and followed us. I guess it heard the non-announcement that it was time to get off. (I promise you, it's in this picture lol)
We went down a couple of other roads and did some turn arounds again. Sakari spotted some tall dirt mounds and gravel and said "I wanna go up there!"
There were areas along the side of the road with HUGE palms growing and the land went REALLY far down. It was massive. Like a forest massive. I tried so many times to get pictures of it and it just didn't turn out. You couldn't tell how deep the land was looking down into it.
On the way back we had a beautiful scenery of the ocean far away. It was really pretty.
We made it back to the area we had started from and we were informed by Lashan that "there is more". She told us that this ride was just a trial run and we were going into the jungle...on the dirt road. Whew! I was glad. She also informed us that there were a few more people coming and they should be there in about 10 minutes and we would all ride together.
In case you haven't noticed the signs of where we are at, we are at Palmetto Bay.
This is where it is located in regards to the cruise port.
I ask Lashawn if she had drinks. She did not. I was kinda shocked that she hadn't brought any drinks on an excursion that involved something like this that would make you tired and also thirsty. This would be my one and only gripe about this booking. I think every tour guide usually provides you with something to drink (if you are not at a location that you can buy drinks). She did ask what we drank and said she would go get us something and have it for us when we returned. So, I thought that was nice of her.
Here's a picture of my "set up" for this review...yep, Gopro down the shirt. LOL
The other family piled out of the vehicle that dropped them off. There were 5 of them and one was a small child. I wondered if he was riding by himself but he ended up riding with the dad. Then there was a mom and two girls that looked like maybe there were 17 or 18 years old that doubled together.
We were told before leaving to make sure not to use the front brake when going down the hills because you could flip the ATV. Of course we all knew that but maybe the other family didn't.
Ok, it was time to hit the dirt road. I was last in line, which I guess was a good thing to start off with because it would give me the opportunity to take my hand off the throttle and snap a picture and then punch it to catch up. I also like to be behind so that when I'm taking pictures I get my family in it as well. So much easier than trying to aim the camera over my shoulder and snap and hope that I got something useful in it other than the side of my helmet. See, sometimes I'm a smart thinker. Work smarter not harder.
I snapped a few pictures, caught up, then we came to an abrupt stop. Wait, what did I miss? I look up ahead and see that the two teen/adults (first in line) had manage to run their ATV off the path and into the ditch/drop off. Oh goodness! We had two tour guides with us (they were on a motorcycle doubling) and I see them struggling to get these girls ATV back up onto the dirt path. It was down in there good. They said the girls didn't get hurt, which was good. The dad of the girls got off his ATV and helped them pull it out.
Then Sakari felt a little sprinkle as we were sitting there. Drop drop drop...nothing much but I wondered if we were about to have rain, which honestly would feel good right about now as we sat there. When we were sitting, in the sun, it was hot. When we were moving, it felt good and we didn't notice the heat at all.
Then one of the guides stood beside the area and had us pass over it one by one. It was a big dip in the path and back up (you'll see in the video). I'm use to riding an ATV with some springs and if you stand up on things like this, you take less impact. However, these did not work like this and the front in went crazy and I yelled woo hoo!
As we would ride along, I guess the guide must have gotten worried about these girls. He would hop off the motorcycle and wait for them to pass and then have to run back up to the other guide to get back on. That was a little aggravating having to wait. I just want to ride. Ride the paths, not stop...especially on hills where you have to constantly hold the brakes in and your hand gets tired. At least stop on the top of the hill. LOL
I think this family with us should have been the one to take a trial test. But then again, we would have been waiting on them then since we arrived first so I'm glad we got the opportunity to do a little bit of riding while we waited.
It was so pretty with all the lush landscape. We did notice that some of the areas were actually "roads" and had trucks going down them and we would pull over.
After riding awhile, we stopped. Just stopped. No apparent reason. Just stopped. The guides got off and stood around for awhile. I had no idea what was going on and since they didn't seem to speak English, we were left in the dark.
They went by each ATV and looked at it and then went back and stood around some more.
Then we were off again.
We went by peoples homes and dogs that stood at the side of the dirt path barking to let you know they were there. I'm sure they were saying "holla" in doggy language.
My gosh it was so pretty up there!
Ahhh, now I know where the hummingbirds go...to the hummingbird house.
Then all of a sudden it started to sprinkle...but more than last time. Ahh, it felt so good. I could tell that Sakari was enjoying it too. It wasn't enough to get you wet but felt good on our skin.
There's a lot of building going on in Roatan. This looked like a new hotel going in. You know, somewhere in the middle of nowhere.
We came out onto a paved road and we could see the ocean.
Then we headed into a little town.
We pulled over at this place. I'm honestly not sure what this place was. Both guides went inside and .... CAME OUT WITH WATER. Not for us, but for themselves. Was this their home? Was it a store? I have no idea but would have liked the opportunity to buy or get something to drink. We had been riding the dusty dirt roads for awhile now in the heat and we all had dry cotton mouth. We needed to hydrate. If I would have known that we weren't going to have drinks on such an excursion, I would have brought something. Maybe my water bottles from the ship perhaps. Hey, I could have shoved that down my shirt as well.
We continued into the little town there. Then we stopped again. The little school kids were standing at the gate/fence area and watching us. Then they all started to come out and surround us. Was this a take over? Were they going to offer drinks? Nope and nope. No clue why we stopped again.
I ask the hubby how his eyes were doing. I guess we didn't take into consideration he had just had surgery when we booked this excursion. He said everything was good. He had his glasses on and the cover of his helmet came down if it got dusty.
At this point my Gopro had become very HOT! Like it was burning my chest. I kept grabbing my shirt and trying to bunch it up around it. When we were riding, I'd have to keep adjusting it because I honestly thought it was going to leave a burn mark. I do know, when I purchased it, that the only gripes people had with that model was that it overheated too easily. Well, I don't know about easily because I had had it on the entire time we did our trial run and this entire time riding in the jungle area. But man was it hot!
Then we came out to a beach area. It looked like a little fishing village type of area. There were some boats on the land and one turned over in the water and a dock. No one was really around.
I wasn't quite sure what we were supposed to be doing here. Was it just a rest area? Were we supposed to go swimming here? Were they finally going to provide us with drinks here? I bet you can guess the answer to the last question about now.
Sakari noticed something on the beach and went over to investigate.
It was a conch shell. But it was empty.
Then we noticed another...and another...and another...then before long we noticed they were everywhere and not just on the beach by the water. The entire beach was loaded with them. Ahhh, I see. Fishing village=conch's they've caught and threw the shell back out.
Daddy wanted to take pictures of us on the ATV's so we struck a pose and I later discovered it was on the wrong setting (the one that is the miniature setting that blurs around the outside of the photo. Oops)
One of the guides came up and motioned "picture" to us and we handed him the camera. We posed, he snapped and snapped and snapped. Cool. We got pictures of us all together...or did we? I checked the camera and he hadn't taken one picture of us. I'm not sure what he was pressing ??? So I went up and ask him again and showed him the button to push...once again, I didn't notice it was on the wrong setting still.
Then one of the guides got on an ATV and went in the more sandy area and started doing donuts in the sand. Sakari followed and did the same. They were going around and around following each other. She was having a blast. Then I remembered...HEY! I didn't get a video of that do it again! So she did some more for me while he just watched and laughed. The other family were standing there watching and wondering "what is wrong with this crazy family".
Then it was time to head out. We went back into the village where we were stopped by some guy. I have no idea who he was but you could tell that he didn't want us there. He yelled at the guides and told them to turn around and not go that way (which was the way that we had came). Then you could see him making circle motions with his hands and pointing at the beach. Oops. Where they not allowed to do that and he got pissed? I mean there was no one on the beach and it's just sand. Not like it's dirt that would stir up and go everywhere in the air.
He started pointing at an area that looked like a cow field (to me) with tall grass and telling us to go that way and around. There were no trails. I had no clue what was going on other by reading hand signals. I don't know if this guy had any authority or not. But, the guide walked over to his motorcycle and grabbed some paper out of the seat and showed him. You could tell they were bargaining about being able to pass back through the village to go back.
The guy finally decided to let us go and we were on the way again. Me griping my shirt around the Gopro, dying of thirst and it was extremely hot if you came to a stop. But, we were having fun.
We went back on the trails and I won't bore you with the details coming back and all the stops because the teens/adults didn't know how to ride, but it was a mixture of starting and stopping along the way. At one point the guide stopped to let the other guide off and he walked "home" I would assume because he didn't continue on with us.
Then it was time to go down the hill we went up. You know, the one the teens/adults ran off the dirt road on? Well we had managed to get in front of everyone and came down. The guide had us stop at the bottom to wait for the rest of the group to make it down.
What happened going up, happened on the way down...only worse. They flipped the entire ATV. Yes, they were hurt. Not seriously, but bleeding and hopping around on one leg. It was on top of them and the guides had to get them out and the ATV flipped back over. I ran up to see if they were ok. One was crying but they would be ok. Probably pretty bruised up later in the day and have a nice scab down their legs, but they would be ok. I honestly don't think people that don't know how to ride these things should be doing this tour. Maybe a tour on flat land but if you don't know how to handle one, they can be very dangerous. I've been riding since I was a teen and have seen some bad things happen to people on them (and when I say bad, I really mean bad...like a decapitation before bad at a camp ground we used to take our ATVs to and people getting paralized from accidents riding). These girls probably should not have been on an ATV IMO!
Once we returned....YES! I got my drink and was so happy to quench my thirst. Then we headed out and on to see the sloths. Sakari said she had fun and I was happy about that. I really wished that we would have just had us 3 during the ride because we wouldn't have needed to stop for anything and could keep up and hopefully would have went a little faster during the ride. But, we still had a ton of fun.
Here's a video of our adventure. Remember, I had the Gopro going the entire time so I had several hours of video footage that I chopped down into this video. You're welcome. LOL
Next up, we would head to Jungle Top Animal Park to see the animals and HOLD THE SLOTHS!!
You can find that review located here
We had a good time riding the ATV's and I wouldn't hesitate to book with Roatan Breakaway Tours again in the future. Lashan, the owner, was amazing and very nice and knowledgeable about places to go and allowed us to pick the things we wanted to do. The only thing I would suggest for improvement would be to have drinks on hand for those doing an ATV tour. Riding ATV's in the heat=thirst.
As for riding the ATV's, I liked the place that we went to and it was a lot of fun. It was unfortunate that we were stuck with another family that didn't know how to ride and we had a few complications and went a little slower than what we are used to. A little more "play time" would have been fun other than just riding the trails. But, I would highly suggest doing ATV's for something different and exciting while in Roatan.