Sandy Bay, Roatan, Honduras
Anthony's Key is a must for divers. It was the first up–scale Honduran resort (now 50 years old) and has long been the cornerstone of Roatan tourism. Located on the world's second largest barrier reef, Anthony's Key is for guests who want to live, eat, and sleep diving. (And maybe swim with some dolphins too.)
After gratis airport or ferry pickup, a welcome cocktail and orientation are waiting upon arrival at Anthony's Key. Part of the resort occupies the main island hillside where the reception room, dining room, bar, and a few guest huts hidden behind the foliage are located. Down the hill along the water are all the dive–related buildings including the Dolphin Café, dive shop, the Roatan Institute for Marine Sciences, and the Roatan Museum.
Premier accommodations are located on a small, idyllic private island from which the resort gets its name. All Key accommodations are located on the water's edge with some island–style overwater cabanas on stilts. Cabanas are basic, featuring use of local woods with bedspreads offering a splash of color. The view is the thing. All rooms have a porch with a drop–dead view. On–demand motorized shuttle service provides access to the private island. Opt for Key Superior accommodations to get the most space and prime spots. Don't expect much pampering though, as amenities are bare-bones.
The resort has continued to expand over the years and Anthony's added five new bungalows in the mid '10s. They also upgraded some of the existing ones and extended Wi-Fi to more of the rooms.
Most meals are served in The Lodge located up two flights of stairs on the main island with views of the water but service so inept that it is laughable. Fresh seafood is offered daily of course. A weekly barbecue is held poolside on the Key. Snacks are available poolside for a cost, but finding a waiter is next to impossible when most guests are off diving. The Dolphin Café and Frangipani Bar offer a variety of international drinks and snacks. Keep in mind that Anthony's Key is for the diving connoisseur not the dining connoisseur. Meals are ample but quality and variety can be inconsistent depending on the chef. Wander elsewhere to get a good variety. Most guests have an all–inclusive weeklong package but Roatan is a narrow island only 40 miles long so nothing is too far away, including some good restaurants. Free Honduran coffee is always available by the pool and in the lodge.
Water–related activities are the main draw. A 30 x 60–foot fresh water pool is located on the key, plus you can experience the dolphin encounters or go kayaking, canoeing, fishing, or snorkeling. This is a serious scuba destination: there are seven 42–foot and four 48–foot dive boats. The staff will organize horseback riding, canopy tours, and other optional island activities. Typical of Hondurans, the staff is friendly, willing to serve, and will try to meet all requests, but may be a bit slow on the uptake. (Our bags took three hours to make it from the reception area to our bungalow.) They seem especially over–taxed during the full swing of high season and when there is unusually high occupancy during low season.
One of the unusual features at Anthony's Key is the Roatan Institute for Marine Sciences. A teaching institution, founded in 1989, the primary objective is the preservation of Roatan's natural resources through education and research. In conjunction with this, Anthony's offers a unique experience that thrills guests and brings in lots of outside visitors: the chance to snorkel with dolphins. This is no cheesy swimming pool experience though. The dolphins are housed in a huge enclosure in the sea and have plenty of room to roam.
Anthony's has long been the premiere Roatan destination and for decades it had no real competition for demanding travelers. Despite the middling service and food, there is nothing to compare it to in Honduras or on most other parts the Caribbean coast of Central America. There are several dive resorts in the Bay Islands, but none have the number of boats, extensive educational facility, or such a well-equipped dive center, complete with an on–site hyperbaric chamber. Anthony's Key is for those who want to "eat, sleep, and dive." Guests who want to divide their time between diving and other activities should consider some of the other options on Roatan that are more upscale.
Web Address: www.anthonyskey.com
Total Number of Rooms: 56
Published rates: $151 - $241 per person per night including meals and transfers. With diving $203 - $293 pp.
Review and photos by Timothy Scott.