I first traveled to Guanaja in 1997, a year before Hurricane Mitch sat on the Honduran island for three days, stripping it of every little piece of green. My trip—a kayak circumnavigation—only took a week, but Guanaja left a lasting impression on me. After returning once or twice a year afterward, my husband and I bought property on the island, and we’re working to build a house and some cabañas for our kayak clients.
If someone had told me during that first trip that I would eventually consider living on Guanaja, I probably wouldn’t have believed him. While it’s an amazingly beautiful island with nice beaches, clear water, a vast coral reef and lush jungle—at the time, it didn’t fit my ideal of living abroad. I saw myself in a Parisian café before I saw myself in a bar on Guanaja.
But that year changed the way I travel. Previously a stranger to spending time in developing countries, I now prefer getting off the beaten path, and count my time in Honduras as necessary for recharging and getting back to basics. Right now, those basics involve visiting with friends, snorkeling, chilling out in a hammock, getting land cleared of weeds, planting native plants and trees, and dealing with construction—from house foundation to a dock.
Even though I’d been to Guanaja many times before, buying that property was just the beginning of an island adventure that, so far, has come with plenty of life lessons. And I’m sure there will be plenty more.