This was our second visit to Bananrama in 2017. The first in February (a little drier) and the most recent for Christmas week. First, the people...just the nicest staff both for the accommodations/front office and at the Thirsty Turtle-main very casual no shoes required restaurant - DeShaun is just exceptional even on the busiest of days. Try the ceviche--its clean and tasty. We stayed in Villa 25 right on the beach. It is a two story property with one bathroom and a full kitchen/dining area--one BR downstairs with 2 twin beds and one king (?) upstairs with its own screened in balcony. A/C works VERY well (think meat locker if you really crank it down) but we chose to sleep with the screens only most nights. Beds are reasonably comfortable (but I am an accomplished drinker and never have much trouble sleeping on vacation :) ). Good wifi if you want it and no TV which is our preference. The best part is the very large porch with hammocks and seating that are less than 50 feet from the ocean. Can watch the sunset from your balcony sipping a Salva Vida or Port Royal (two local beers). There is a decent-mid sized fridge, stove, range, blender, microwave and a sufficient number of pots/plans etc.--we never cooked in, but it dawned on us that a future visit might warrant a stop at the local store (Eldons). There is a 5 gallon water dispenser in the kitchen which is all that we used to drink/brush teeth etc. Didn't want to risk any unfriendly stomach bugs (which worked for me, my wife and 18 and 15 year olds). The beach is really nice--soft sand, warm calm water on this side of the island. Limited insect issues even with rainy evenings and early mornings. Enrique watches the beach and will set you up with chairs as needed and is the kindest man--he stands about 5 feet, 3 inches tall, with a great smile and always willing to help. There are locals offering to sell stuff--bracelets, rum-filled coconuts, excursions, massages, but a pleasant "no gracias" and a smile if that is not your thing is respected and heeded. We were there Christmas week and there were some cruise ships visiting, which in turn means people coming to West Bay, but there was plenty of space and chairs and most of the day cruisers set up by the restaurant, which is at least 50-80 yards from where we sat. As stated the staff took care of the handful that were staying at Banarama and treated us well. The day visitors made for good entertainment and people watching--the attempts at fly-boarding and stand-up paddling were fun to watch. We ate all but a few meals at the Thirsty Turtle but did have one somewhat expensive dinner at their higher end restaurant on site (Vintage Pearl--~$350 for 4 people including tip/bottle of $40 Shiraz...not horrible by US standards, but on average other meals for the same 4 ranged from $60 to $100). The perk with eating on site is you can put it all on your room tab and just settle up at the end of the week--many restaurants on the island do not take credit cards so this was convenient and limited the cash we brought with us. Breakfast is included in your room fees which is nice and it was very good--just walk up, they tell you the 3 or 4 things being offered that morning and go get your coffee. Not some crappy buffet either. Usually a local egg dish, another local dish (banana pancakes), and a fresh fruit plate. Strong coffee and the juice du jour were always good. It's a great perk and they run breakfast in particular very efficiently. After 8 days of eating 90% of our meals and drinks, our final tab for food and booze for three solid eaters and drinkers and one lighter eater and drinker was $1000. It may sounds a little steep, but that includes substantial lunches and dinners and a pretty healthy stream of beers and pina coladas delivered to us by DeShaun (and included tips). Maybe my perspective is skewed from living outside of Philadelphia, but that's not all that bad. Anyway...
I always felt safe both at Banarama and every place we visited on Roatan. Of course be smart but it is fair to say that the nonsense that happens on the mainland has been sequestered to the mainland.
What I loved: the beach, the people, the food, the porch at the room.
What I would like to see changed: nothing at the resort per se. But...the boat traffic to the 'left' of the beach for dive boats/other water taxis leads to some occasional fumes from the boats. Nothing too bad, but would love to see those boats move down the beach about 50 yards. Really picking at nits on that, but just trying to be helpful and give fair warning.
Go if...you're not the Ritz Carlton type. This is not the Ritz, or even a Marriott for that matter, but it is much more charming, at least to my family.
Go if...You like to engage with the locals and try your best broken Spanish with a smile (Roatan was originally a British colony so most people speak very good English, but give it a shot...the smiles and understanding are well worth it).
Go if..you like snorkeling/diving....there's good snorkeling off the beach. I suspect there is good snorkeling elsewhere on the island--hire one of the dive shop guides and do it that way--we did an expensive ($180pp) tour to Cayos Cochinos and left underwhelmed...I suspect because we just didn't get the right guides..
Don't go...if you want the Ritz (see above).
Don't go...if you are impatient with people trying to sell you stuff. I personally did not mind it and actually bought a few things (must get the banana bread from the banana bread man) everybody is quite friendly, but you will get asked to buy stuff on West Bay and if that is not something you want to deal with, best to go elsewhere, or hang in the villa on your porch.
Don't go...if you want absolute seclusion. This is not it. You can certainly have your space to sleep on the beach in a chair or hammock, but you will have company which to my family was part of the fun.
I hope they keep up the good work. I have not seen the space they manage that are not the villas (we've stayed in 25 on the beach; and 26 off the beach) but highly recommend either.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Located directly on West Bay Beach, our Roatan Eco Friendly Dive and Beach Front Resort is blessed with the turquoise waters of the Caribbean shaded under an amazing tropical canopy. We offer an island dream vacation for those who want to escape the stress of everyday life and relax Roatan style. We offer clean, comfortable and affordable rooms with a hammock on every porch and offer free breakfast, wifi, beach chairs, kayaks and smiles. ... more less
- Reservation Options:
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- Also Known As:
- Bananarama Beach And Dive Hotel West Bay
- Bananarama Dive Hotel
- Hotel Bananarama Dive