Snorkel and Dolphin Adventures, Honduras
By Candyce H. Stapen
Famil’e jumped out of the water high enough so that her flipper was level with my daughter Alissa’s arm, making a handshake easy. Famil’e, a 4-year-old female bottlenose dolphin, her mouth open in a perpetual smile, then swam close to the dock so that Alissa could pat this creature’s rubbery back and scratch her white stomach. Behind us a line of kids’ with their mouths open in amazement waited their turns to make friends with this denizen of the deep. In the lagoons just beyond the dock, schools of wild spinner dolphins arced out of the water, looping gracefully past the mangrove and palm tree laced islands en route to the open sea.
Anthony’s Key Resort, located on Roatan, one of Honduras’ Bay Islands, occupies about eight acres. Nearly 60- basic but comfortable bungalows are built along the water’s edge and on the hillside overlooking the sea.
While most guests at Anthony’s Key Resort, explored the reef on scuba dives, Alissa and I boarded the dive boats to snorkel. Roatan earns top marks as a dive destination. The reef, among the longest in the world, supports an extraordinary array of marine life. The Caribbean off Roatan’s shores affords a visibility of between 75-150 feet, making snorkeling rewarding. Each day we floated by intricately shaped orange and rust corals, home to eels, yellow tang, irridescent blue parrot fish, flounder, toothy barracuda and schools of rainbow -colored fish.
Along with snorkeling, we came to be close to the dolphins. Adjacent to the resort, the Institute for Marine Sciences, established by the resort owners as an educational and conservation center, is home to the resident school of dolphins. In summer this facility becomes a central part of the kids’ camp. Ages 8-12, along with swimming, kayaking and snorkeling, learn about dolphin anatomy and enjoy hands-on fun with these critters, examining their eyes and teeth, playing fetch and tossing fish.
Alissa and I took advantage of the daily dolphin shows to watch these graceful mammals jump and dance backwards on their flukes. We even swam with them, jumping into a large penned portion of the inlet, home to five dolphins. The curious creatures dove under us, jetted out of the water alongside us and spun around us. Side by side with these friendly creatures, we gained a new respect for their power and intelligence.