Looking for Sun, Fun & Treasure? Visit Port Royal, Roatan
For those familiar with holidaying on the island of Roatan, names such as West End, West Bay, Sandy Bay and Coxen Hole often come quickly to the mind. But there’s a whole other side to the island that’s largely unexplored by the average tourist. If you’re looking for something different from the relatively built up areas of West Bay and West End, consider heading to the eastern end of the island to get a different perspective of Roatan. Not only are things much more relaxed than on the busy west end of the island, there’s also a long history associated with pirates dating back to the 17h century. Looking for sun, fun and treasure? Spend a day and visit Port Royal, Roatan. Just ask the staff at Blue Bahia to get you set up for a great excursion. Here is a glimpse into Port Royal’s exciting past.
Roatan’s East End
The East End of Roatan gives the visitor a glimpse of how the entire island used to exist before the arrival of the cruise ships. The population is small and spread out among quaint fishing villages, cattle ranches and dense forests. There is a single mountain road leading to the East End that runs through the center of the island and affords great views of both the north and south coasts along the way. You’ll come across communities of Garifuna people, traditional houses built over top of the water and large swaths of unspoiled jungle.
Old Port Royal
Port Royal was was favored by pirates because it’s secluded, sheltered and has an easily defended harbor surrounded by a reef system with only a couple of deep water entrances. In the mid 1600s Port Royal was home to an array of Dutch, British and French outlaws avoiding the Spanish powers that dominated the Caribbean and Central America. Port Royal was the scene of many battles and ended up being traded back and forth between the British and the Spanish armies well into the 1800s.
The Treasure Hunter
Treasure hunting around Port Royal began in earnest in the early 1900s with the arrival of Frederick A. Mitchell (Mike) Hedges from England. The son of a wealthy accountant, Hedges took an interest in travelling and archaeology at an early age. In his explorations of the area and the islands around Port Royal he discovered many artifacts and archaeologically important sites. This apparently included 4 treasure chests full of gold dubloons, gems and chains which were assumed to be originally buried in the early 1700s by the notorious English pirate, Edward “Ned” Low. Hedges ended up secreting the treasure off the island and selling it for millions of dollars.
More Treasure Hunters
Legend has it that Hedges was never able to export all the treasure that he found and ended up re-burying it in hopes of retrieving it at a later date. Inspired by these stories, writer Robin Moore (The French Connection, The Green Berets) and treasure hunter, Howard Jennings, came to Roatan in the early 1960s armed with metal detectors and naval survey maps from the British Museum. The two ended up publishing a book about their exploits entitled The Treasure Hunter.
Plundering More Loot
While clearing areas of jungle, the pair came across the remains of a fort, old building foundations and, eventually, a treasure chest containing gold and silver. Although the pair wanted to quickly leave the island with their spoils, they still had a few more places they wanted to check out. As luck would have it, they were able to locate and excavate another wooden box that contained gold nuggets and 65 pounds of silver bars before spiriting it away to Jamaica.
Will You Get Lucky?
For modern day treasure hunters, it should be known that removing artifacts from the island without declaring them is illegal and could result in prosecution. That said, just because the likelihood of getting rich with a metal detector is quite low doesn’t mean you shouldn’t visit this end of Roatan. You’ll still be able to dig up decent accommodations, good food and miles of deserted beaches. The ruins of the old fort are more accessible now than they’ve ever been and you’ll be treated to panoramic views unavailable elsewhere. Once you get back to Blue Bahia, grab a tropical drink from the Beach Grill and relax on our dock for the perfect finish to an adventurous day.