We had never been to Honduras so we’re very excited about this port. One word I can use to describe Mahogany Bay on Isla Roatan… lush. Everything as far as you can see is rich, thick green foliage on rolling hills and surrounded by the beautiful blue water of the Caribbean. It truly felt like we had arrived in paradise. Ethan made us laugh as he compared this island to Jurassic Park… so we were waiting for dinosaurs to come trampling through the trees.
We were docked in a marina surrounded by fishing boats, a yacht or two… and even a famous sunken ship. Well, I am exaggerating about the ‘famous’ part, but it is in a lot of pictures of this port so it has become a bit iconic. Windmills off in the distance show the power that can be harnessed from the winds blowing off the sea. There were lots of palm fronds laid out to dry to thatch a gazebo being built on a pier. We could not get over how beautiful the landscape was! We walked all around the top deck of the Dream so we could see the island from many angles.
A quiet morning
This particular port on Isla Roatan is owned by Carnival so only their ships (and sometimes Princess) will port here. That makes for a quieter experience as there are never more than two ships in port at a time. We were lucky enough to be the only ship on this particular day. A major benefit of this being a Carnival port is that there is a very nice beach that is included at no extra cost. So our plan for the day is to peek through the shops and buy a few goodies to take home and then hit the beach!
Our day in Mahogany Bay was the only port day of the cruise that we did not have an excursion booked. So we decided to take it easy and let the bulk of the people get off of the ship and then we could exit at our leisure. This was really nice! There is usually so much hustle and bustle getting off the ship with thousands of other guests, being able to walk down and walk off was fantastic.
Off the ship, we go…
Of course, you must walk through the duty-free shops to get into the port… But we didn’t mind as our goal for the next hour or so was to do some shopping. These shops are always nice and cool and have something for everyone… Jewelry, check. Booze, check. Cute/corny souvenirs, check. There is a nice photo op as soon as you exit this first shop. So of course, we had to stop for a family picture. It was really neat to look to your left and see the ship right there. It was even close enough that you could hear the announcements on board.
From this area, you can take a right and head to the beach or a left and into the courtyard of shops. We took a left and after a few steps could hear the locals playing music. Colby looked at me and says ‘Mom, I will see you in three hours, just give me your wallet’ which made us all laugh. But you really could spend a lot of time in this area as there were quite a few shops.
Let’s go shopping!
I do have a philosophy about shopping in the Caribbean… never buy anything in the first shop you go into. If you find something you really like then make a mental note of it as you can always go back. But usually, the shops closer will be more expensive than the shops further into the port. That was definitely the case here. While there were some very cute items in the first couple of shops we entered, we found items we liked just as much for a fraction of the cost just a few shops down. We found one that was a jackpot for us! We left with pretty much everything we wanted to buy in one spot and it was all reasonably priced.
It was nice to see that there was more here than the basic t-shirts and seashells you think of. There were many locals who were selling handcrafted items. Our favorite buys were a hand carved wooden box and a wind chime made from a coconut and bamboo. But of course, we also left with t-shirts, magnets, sand in a bottle, an apron and Honduras money from the Toucan Souvenir & Gift Shop Outlet (best shopping we found in this port). What can I say, we’re suckers. Colby even found a small light with his name on it which was awesome as we never find his name!
Now, off to the beach
On the way to the beach, there are these really cute photo ops outside of Fat Tuesday of HUGE shoes and other props you can stand with and take really fun photos. There is also a line of saddles where the boys got their cowboy on!
To get to the beach, you can either take a chairlift for $12 per person (this is for the day) or there is a beautiful walkway with huge palms and a nature trail. It is a short walk, but if you get tired along the way there are cute benches and even some swinging hammocks (which of course we had to play on).
After a short distance, you walk under the sign for Mahogany Beach and cross the bridge over the turquoise lagoon. It is absolutely beautiful! In the lagoon area, you can rent jet skis, paddle boats, paddle boards, water trikes, and kayaks.
‘I wish I could stay here forever’ reads a sign as you walk into the beach area…. and it is so true! There is a clear walking path which is a wooden walkway with tastefully done landscaping on either side. There are cute items here and there like a large comical alligator hiding among the plants or a big blue shark with his mouth wide open on the beach showing off his impressive teeth. A few feet in and the sand surrounds you. Here the palm trees reign. On the left are places to grab a bite to each like Hurricane Hole where the special of the day is Caribbean Jerk Chicken…YUM!
And to the right is rows upon rows of beach chairs and beyond, the blue water. Most of these chairs are free to use but if you want one with a covering there is a fee. The sand is white, the sky is blue and the water is warm and inviting. Being a free beach there are quite a few people here but we never felt crowded. After getting the lay of the land, we go to stake out a spot for the day. We find some chairs in the shade of large palm trees and the adults decided to sit back and relax for a bit while the kids hit the water.
Time to explore
After a bit of relaxation, we decided to grab the GoPro and go explore! There is nothing else like walking down the beach as the water laps calmly over your feet… Ahhh… So, this area is very spacious and has many different areas. Beyond the beach is another restaurant and a beach bar where we go settle for a cold drink. Next a walk along the very long pier out to the snorkeling area. From the end of the pier, you can turn to look back at the beach and see the ship looming large in the background.
That’s enough walking around, time to get in the water. It feels nice and cool after walking around in the Caribbean sun for a while… We had a wonderful time swimming and just playing around in the water as a family.
Activities on the beach
Do you want your hair braided? You can do that right on the beach! Want a massage with the sound of waves lapping in the background? Yep, you can do that too. There is also a playground for the little kids and a giant chess set for the bigger ones.
In addition to the items you can rent in the lagoon, you can also rent snorkeling gear to use outside of the swimming area and full body floats for sun lounging in the water. Our boys chose to build sand castles and search for seashells.
Tip: buy small lingerie bags from the dollar store and stick them in your beach bag. These are perfect for gathering shells and rinsing the sand off. And when you are done, you have a bag full of clean shells as souvenirs!
We were extremely impressed with Mahogany Bay. Let me just say that this port is absolutely gorgeous! Lush greenery, white sand beach with areas of sun and areas of shade, island music, a cold drink and a wonderful day! We really liked that there was a day we could spend in a tropical paradise that did not cost anything extra than the cost of our cruise. The area is well laid out with plenty of area for shopping, plenty of beach chairs for lounging, and a beautiful setting in which to spend the day.
Want to see more from this trip? Here is the full playlist.
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