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  • Writer's pictureSteven Hopkinson

Nurse Shark City on the north side of Guanaja

Guanaja is the farthest east of the Bay Islands of Honduras. Aside from Cayos Cochinos, Guanaja is by far the least developed. Although it’s not a small island, most of the population congregates on one of the larger cays, known as Low Cay or just The Cay (or Bonacca or Guanaja depending on who you ask) leaving most of the big island of Guanaja (or Bonacca as it were) with a relatively sparse population. There are a diverse cast of characters inhabiting the island of Guanaja. The types who live there are hearty, rugged souls used to subsisting on sometimes less than one supply boat a week. People able to rough it and have a good time. We love Guanaja. Both sides of the island have their own unique flavor.

The north side of the island, where we were until yesterday, is almost entirely bereft of settlements except for Mangrove Bight. Our anchorage protected from the normal easterly breeze at Michael Rock is like Cayos Cochinos, almost completely deserted.

Last couple of times we’ve been here, we’ve just snorkeled, but this time, a fellow cruiser introduced us to George and Ginger, a really nice couple who own and operate a boutique dive resort out of Mangrove Bight called Clearwater Paradise Resort. They’ve got a great spot with a killer view out over the bay, past the barrier reef and out into the ocean, with sweeping vistas of mangrove flats extending down below. George is an incredibly experienced instructor with thousands of dives under his belt and a wealth of stories.

George and his amazing boat captain Chino took us out for a couple of dives yesterday. We went to Baymon’s Dropoff first and had a real hoot of a time playing around with three really inquisitive nurse sharks. From literally the moment we dropped into the water, we had nurse sharks swimming around us, with us, almost begging for attention. One stayed under a little ledge the whole time. Another one came out and swam with us for a bit, but one of them, I forget what George called her but we’ll call her Bessie, stayed with us the whole dive, making dozens of passes on Andrea, Steve, our friend Sterling and on George.

We’re not going to pass judgment on the practice of feeding sharks for dive tourism right now, that’s a much longer, weightier post that I’m not even sure I’m equipped to write at this time, we’re just going to say that clearly someone, or some dive operation on the island of Guanaja is feeding these nurse sharks. And we didn’t see a single lionfish on either dive. Regardless, these sweet five and six foot nurse sharks did pass after pass within feet, many times within touching distance to us for the entire hour plus dive. Pretty amazing stuff. We all got some great video.

The second dive was at Black Rock, what George called Black Rock inside, and it was full of cool, intricate little canyons and swimthroughs and caves running in and around the reef around the northeastern point of the island. It was a fun dive, a good buoyancy check, for sure, with some sharp turns and descents in close quarters. Really fun stuff, completely different from the first dive and loads of fun. The top of the reef was full of fish, thousands of them playing in the swirling shallow currents.

After we ate George and Ginger had us back to their amazing property overlooking Mangrove Bight where we had a nice little swim, a nice hot shower, some great local food on the deck and some nice drinks as we toured their gorgeous property. Oh and we got some WiFi so we were able to check our email and briefly reconnect briefly to the modern world. By the time George dropped us off back on City Dogs we were exhausted.

We wished we could have done some more diving with George and sip a few more drinks with Ginger overlooking the bay in Mangrove Bight, but we needed to head back to Roatan to get ready for some new sailing charter business, so we took off early the next morning, and sailed back to Roatan with our friends Sterling and Nicol on S/V Doc Sea. We had such a grand time we can’t wait to go back and do some more diving with the Clearwater Paradise Resort on the amazing Honduran Bay Island of Guanaja. Let us know if you want to take a trip to Guanaja over there one of these days. We’ll put together a package exploring this gem of the Western Caribbean and we'll make sure you have the time of your life!


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