We took a chance by visiting Roatan in the rainy season, and unfortunately the gamble did not pay off. It poured three out of the four days that we planned to stay on the island and indirectly led to us staying an extra two nights, but more to come on that saga later.
On the second day that we were holed up in our hotel room, I was losing my mind and the kids were driving us crazy with their endless requests to build forts and watch cartoons. We decided that we had to do something even if it meant getting drenched because like most Caribbean islands, there were no indoor attractions to be found in Roatan. When I asked the “activities director” at our hotel for suggestions of things to do inside with our kids, her only idea was coloring. Oh, so helpful.
We settled on a visit to Gumbalimba Park instead. It is a big tourist attraction on Roatan and a common shore excursion for the thousands of people that visit Roatan as part of a Caribbean cruise. If you are looking for an authentic island experience, this is not the place. However, it suited our needs of escaping the hotel room and entertaining the kids perfectly.
Upon arrival to the park, you have the choice of crossing the Pirate’s Bridge or taking the chicken walk around the small lake. Finnegan chose the Pirate’s Bridge and Declan picked the chicken walk. I’m not sure if Declan was afraid or just didn’t want to wait in the line. He had too much pent up energy and was running down the trail before I could find out.
Since Declan took off before we could really figure out how the place worked, we did the tour without a guide. It worked out fine because there are only a few areas where you can hold the animals and it was easy to join in with other groups to hear the commentary.
The first area houses the parrots. There are scarlet macaws as well as green parrots (red crowned Amazon parrots, I think). It was raining during our visit to the park so I had a hard time keeping my lens clear and dry and most of our pictures are a little blurry.
To my surprise Declan ran to the front of the line to hold the parrot. He’s normally a pretty cautious kid, but he had no fear of these birds that were almost as big as him.
Equally surprising was the fact that Finnegan seemed too nervous to hold the parrot so we moved on to the monkey area. The ‘park’ includes a large group of charming, mischievous white face capuchin monkeys. Russ was carrying a backpack with bug spray and a plastic bag in the outside pouch. We were there for less than a minute before the monkeys spied these prizes and stole them in the blink of an eye. As a warning, other people lost much more valuable things like sunglasses and cameras to these sneaky thieves so make sure you hide your things or hold onto them tightly.
Thankfully, not all of the monkeys were so cheeky and a few came down to visit.
On the way back, we met another monkey off on his own. Perhaps he was looking for some peace and quiet or maybe some extra attention.
While we were at Gumbalimba, we also explored the rest of the grounds and visited the Pirate Cave. In nicer weather, there is a pool to enjoy and a small beach with hammocks. For the adventurous, they also have a zip-line tour.
The grounds are very pretty and well maintained. There is even an area with several hummingbird feeders that were very active despite the rain.
The boys raced through the Pirate Cave so we didn’t see too much, but it’s worth a stroll through if you are traveling with kids. There is some information on the history of the island and the famous pirates that visited the area.
If we were traveling on our own, I don’t think we would have paid Gumbalimba Park a visit, but it was a lot of fun and it’s always a thrill to get a chance to interact so closely with animals. There would have been even more to do if the weather had cooperated. Visit the Gumbalimba Park website for a full list of activities.