I visited Guanaja for the first time in 1997, a few months after Hurricane Mitch had wreaked havoc on the island. I was instructing diving at the time, and a few of my students were traveling around on their sailboat, so they offered me a ride over.
Once I was there, I went to the former Bayman Bay Club to visit with the manager, who I had met at a dive show in the US. They had some guests that were interested in doing a dive course, and they had no instructor on staff, so it worked out perfectly! I stayed at the hotel for a few days, taught a course and earned money to catch a flight back to Roatan.
Ever since then, I had thought about going back to visit, but there were no ferries from Roatan, and flights were pricey and had to pass through La Ceiba. I met someone at the hostel who was living in Guanaja and interested in starting a hostel there on his uncle’s property. I encouraged him to get started, and would occasionally contact him when one of our guests was interested in Guanaja, to see if he had gotten anything going. A few years later, he still hadn’t gotten anything started, so I decided to plan a trip over with my boys and give him some motivation as well as getting to know the island better.
We loved our days in Guanaja, and we helped give Aaron a nudge to get his place going. We planned several trips over after that, and one summer, the boys spent a week there at a fly fishing camp.
Now that my boys are starting adulthood, Deo’s been considering buying a piece of land. He wants one on Roatan, but I thought I’d look for something for the 3 of us to buy together in Guanaja, so we could enjoy both islands.
I went over in March 2022 to spend a few days on Guanaja at Aaron’s place, and arranged for a realtor to take me to see a few properties. I was mainly interested in the leeward side of the island, as I don’t like constant wind. We went to see a few pieces of land on West End. It’s a beautiful stretch of beach with almost nothing on it. 2 houses that are vacation properties with caretakers, and a rundown former resort that was being sold. That immediately attracted me, I was so excited about the thought of it. I sent the boys videos and photos. There was another piece of land a few doors down from there, but I pretty much immediately dismissed it as being more than we wanted to spend for completely undeveloped land.
I started day dreaming about the business that my kids and I could develop together over there. I headed back to Roatan, worked on an offer with the realtor on the 1st spot, and waited to hear back. Unfortunately they turned us down flat, not even a counter offer. I asked the realtor to find out their best price, but it seemed like they weren’t really interested in selling.
I shelfed the day dream, and tried not to feel to disappointed. I figured the right thing would come up at the right time.
Fast forward a month later, and the realtor contacted me to let me know that the owner of the 2nd piece had dropped his pricing by $30,000. I called the boys, and we discussed whether we wanted to make an offer. It had to be a team decision, we were only moving forward if all 3 of us were ready to commit together. The boys hadn't even seen a photo of the property, but they trusted my judgement, so we decided to put an offer in. After a few weeks of back and forth, we had a signed deal in April 2022, with a close date in August. Power of attorney paperwork issues with the absentee sellers turned the close date into November.
I'm Mel. Together with my 2 sons, Deo and Auri, we form the DAM team (Deo, Auri, Mel). I'm Canadian, my boys are half Canadian, half Honduran, and have grown up on the island of Roatan. We have a hostel in Roatan called Roatan Backpackers' Hostel, which I started when the boys were young. Now that they are adults, we've decided to start a new venture together on the beautiful neighbouring island of Guanaja. In 2022, we purchased our land, and in March of 2023, we put up a little cabin so that we have a little spot to sleep in and store things while we slowing work to get our project together. We are hoping to get our business running in the next 3-5 years, with these next few years giving us a chance to save up capital and advance a bit at a time at planting and infrastructure. Our blog will share our adventure with anyone who wants to follow it!