Scuba Diving Vacation at Antony’s Key Resort, Roatan

Ever since our amazing Tahiti trip where we first saw them, we’ve always wanted to try an overwater bungalow! We were delighted to find out that it’s possible to do this without traveling all the way to the South Pacific. Anthony’s Keys Resort is one such place on the island of Roatan in Honduras that offers overwater bungalow accommodations on a private key.

What’s great for us is that Roatan is just a short distance from Miami in the Caribbean and we could get there with a two-hour direct flight.

Roatan is also world-renown as a top scuba diving destination and this was certainly a big plus for us. Non-divers are of course welcome too and the resort offers dolphin encounters, horseback riding, snorkeling, paddleboards and kayaking and even has wedding packages with massages and spa treatments.

Grouper

For the most part the visitors we met (many return guests) were all hardcore divers. There is also a dive shop offering courses, and undergrads or recent grads can look into internships at RIMS (Roatan Institute for Marine Science) on coral reefs or dolphin training and research.

Our package

The dive package we chose offered three boat dives a day, two night dives a week and if that wasn’t enough unlimited shore dives right off the resort. All meals were included as were the transfers to and from the airport along with luggage handling and basically everything. There was even a free visit to Maya Key (a private key owned by AKR) where we found some Mayan replicas and various rescued birds and animals. The only things not included were tips and optional nitrox for diving.

The Accommodations

The resort offers three types of accommodations, standard, superior, and the top of the line being the overwater bungalow or ‘deluxe room’. The idea of being in one of these appealed to us and we splurged for the deluxe. Our unit had a wonderfully long balcony with beach chairs right over the ocean and we enjoyed some marvelous sunsets out there.

We really liked that each of the units was unique and different. Some had screened in balconies, some were right over the water, and others had adjoining decks for groups to share.

It made it more special than the cookie cutter rooms you usually find at the larger name brand chains. Our room also had some nice touches like a clothesline on the back lanai (ideal for drying dive gear and wet bathing suits). There were also powerful ceiling fans and a capable A/C wall unit to keep the place cool. Along with a mini fridge there was a good-sized cooler that managed to keep ice for days. We also really liked that there were lots of plugs for charging dive lights, cameras and cell phones. Well thought out and surely with comments and input from years of catering to scuba divers 🙂

The rooms themselves (even the deluxe ones) did not have TV or a phone, but we actually didn’t mind and enjoyed the peace and quiet. Most of the time there was wi-fi all over the resort with the occasional glitch. Ok, many consider Internet connectivity a necessity like air and water nowadays, but there was nothing to panic over. The resort has even launched an app with local schedules and activities but unfortunately the dive schedules were not updated on the app and the features were somewhat limited. You could see that this was still a work in progress, but a great idea. We were able to get our dive schedule at the dive shop after the week to log all the sites in our logbooks.

The app would also have been a good place to update us on schedule changes. Once, due to weather, they moved up the morning dive from 8:30 to 7:45 as they were going to Maya Key and one poor couple missed out. Be sure to check the dive schedule on the board before you retire at night.

While some rooms are on the main island, our room was off on a Key where we took a small shuttle boat for a 1-minute ride each way.

Not an inconvenience, it was really quite special. The small key was nicely cared for with beautiful gardens and manicured paths. There was a small spa, kayak and paddleboard launch, pool with a bar as well as ice machines. We even found a couple of cats that graced us with their presence hoping for some left over dinner. Made us feel right at home and we really had all we needed.

Ixora Spa

There is not much of a beach, and a lot of the coast is made up of coral rocks and entry into the ocean is limited to a few areas. You can find a sandy patch here and there where they do shore dives or where you launch the paddleboards.

Sitting out on our private lanai swinging in a hammock listening to the ocean was extremely relaxing and the perfect end to a day of scuba diving.

The Restaurant, Bars, Shops and Meals

There are two bars, one on the key and one on the main island near the reception.

There is a small snack shop to get drinks and an assortment of ‘diver food’ (cookies, chips, and bars). They also have some emergency meds and dive equipment odds and ends, a bigger selection of equipment is available in the gift shop.

The restaurant is next to the reception and up about 60 wooden stairs. Great way to work off those deserts, but do be careful as we did witness one lady slip and hurt her ankle. These stairs can be slippery when wet.

The formula is an all-inclusive. Breakfast was served from 7-10 with a choice of pancakes, eggs, omelets and French toast. Fruits, pastries and cereals were also available. Lunch was served from 12-2 and dinner from 6-9. Both offered 3 choices and portions were reasonably sized.

We hate to see waste and it was good to see the chefs serving onto plates with individual portions at the table as they did on most nights. The meals were tasty and the waitstaff friendly and prompt. They put out a hand sanitizer at the entrance and encourage their guests to use it.  Scuba divers don’t want to catch the sniffles that can affect your ability to dive!

There were some sand fleas and mosquitoes and much of the resort is out in the open. We would encourage visitors to bring and use lots of bug spray (also available at the shops).

The gift shop also has a large selection of resort branded shirts and local art, decorations and dive accessories.

The Diving

Anthony’s Keys Resort (or AKR) is certainly an excellent dive operation with 7 boats and a large staff. Multiple diesel generators and compressors are humming away filling tanks and there is a buzz about the place that just says diving is what they do.

While it was not the ‘concierge white glove diving’ we’d experienced elsewhere the operation was easy to understand and efficiently run. Basically we were assigned to a boat for the week with our divemaster and captain.

We had 10 divers for the one divemaster, which is slightly higher than what we’re used to. The dive group had varying experience and we found that the dive guide wasn’t always able to corral the group together in currents and sometimes we had to cut a dive short when one of the divers ran low on air.

Return guests can request a particular boat or crew we were told, but perhaps the resort tries to match up the groups with the same level.

Since we were using nitrox we were instructed where and how to measure and label our tanks the night or morning before the dives.

We were assigned a locker near the dive boat and we would break down our gear, rinse it in the multiple rinse buckets each day and hang it in our lockers. The next morning we would reverse the process bringing our semi-dry gear back on board and setting it all up again on fresh tanks.

Nitrox was an 8$/ tank supplement and each tank was logged and charged to our room at the end of the week.

We don’t mind doing our own gear and many divers prefer it that way.  If you prefer having someone take care of everything for you, it might be seen as a negative.

I know that Roatan is world-famous for its diving but unfortunately for us we happened to come right after a major tropical storm had managed to churn things up. Our week of diving had reasonable 40-50 foot visibility most of the time, but occasionally we only had 30 foot visibility. While our dive guide tried to find us good sites, we did end up in strong currents and challenging conditions more than once. It can happen, and I suspect that the diving is usually better but for our week we found that the conditions were not the best.

All the same we got some cool shots of banded shrimp, arrow crabs, a few turtles and groupers, and the reef looked pretty healthy. There seemed to be a lot less life than how we remembered the dives we had done here when arriving by cruise ship some years back. Some of the locals told us that parts of the reef were in distress due to the warm waters, but the passing of the storms had lowered the water temperature a lot and they hoped things would recover.

Banded Shrimp
Arrow crabs inside a sea sponge
Sea turtle being cleaned by a remora

For more pictures, view my Life on the Reef Gallery

Two of our favorite dives were the two wrecks: the Aguila and the Odyssey. We had good conditions the days we did these and loved the dives. Being from Florida we see a lot of wrecks but the usual 30-40 foot visibility we get rarely lets us see more than a partial view of the wreck. The clearer water around these two with good visibility was a treat. Our new wide-angle fisheye lens was also great for capturing the perspective.

El Aguila
The Odyssey

There were numerous canyons dives where we could navigate through the mountainous reef structures often going through narrow passageways and crevices.

We were told that we might find seahorses here but we were not lucky to see these elusive creatures.

Supposedly there is still a lot of trade with locals catching and selling dried seahorse souvenirs, which we think is such a shame. The powers that be  are trying to control and discourage this behavior and we do hope they succeed in protecting these little creatures and realize that their dive industry and tourism can being much more return than a few dried trinkets. I’m sure the seahorses agree.

The resort actually has its own Hyperbaric Chamber and Medical Clinic on site, which is pretty cool.  One of these things that you hope you’ll never need, but a real peace of mind knowing it’s next door.

The overall feel

The resort was not full but they had a couple of large dive shop groups that come yearly as a group outing. You could tell by the greetings between the staff that has been here for years, and those that were visiting that there were many on repeat trips. There were also some families, and couples, I would say 90% were divers and the groups ranged from teenagers to grandparents. If I had to guess, I’d say we saw some fit 75 year olds putting on tanks and suiting up giving us hope that we could be diving for many years to come if we kept in shape.

At dinner you’d see just about everyone sporting shirts and bags from an assortment of exotic dive resorts and liveaboards. We met a lot of friendly people and quite a few had decades of diving under their belts. Hardcore divers who had sampled some of the worlds best dive locations! Most told us they would dive every chance they got and every holiday a dive trip.  Dive hards!!

We learned some photo tips and exchanged contact information making new friends from all over the world.

Conclusion

Anthony’s Keys Resort is a family run resort and has grown into what it is today over the last 50 years. The all-inclusive is a great formula and perfect for people wanting to just get here and dive and not have to worry about anything else. They have all you need to make for a great dive holiday.

They will be celebrating their 50th anniversary next year and they are running a 2 for 1 special so check it out at: Anthony Key Resorts Promotion.  We can see why people return over and over again, especially for the diving.

Note: We were not compensated for writing this review and all opinions expressed are solely ours, we cannot guarantee you will have a similar experience and encourage you to do your own research before choosing any destination.

That said, we gave Anthony’s Keys Resort a five star review on Trip Advisor and we hope to return one day again.

I wonder if he’s still waiting for us…

Related Post:

Diving the Graveyard of the Caribbean in Roatan

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