About Guanaja



Guanaja Facts & History

Guanaja is one of the Bay Islands of Honduras, and is in the Caribbean. It is about 70 km off the north coast of Honduras, and 12 km from the island of Roatan. One of the cays near the main island of Guanaja may also be referred to as Guanaja or Bonacca in general terms but most commonly is known simply as“The Cay”. It is a town built upon a reef and contains most of the approximately 10,000 people who live in Guanaja. The densely populated cay has been described as the Venice of Honduras because of the waterways that run through it. There are two other main settlements around the island called Mangrove Bight and Savannah Bight, smaller settlements include Sandy Bay and Pelican Reef among others.

Guanaja was discovered as part of the new world by Christopher Columbus in 1502. Notably, this was the first time he came across cacao, which is the core of chocolate. He landed on Soldado (Soldier) Beach on the north side of the island. In later years Cayman Islanders settled in the Bay Islands, which explains the diffusion of Spanish and English language.

Homer Hickam, author of Rocket Boys/October Sky, was one of the first scuba explorers of Guanaja, first visiting in 1973. Along with a team of other scuba explorers, he extensively mapped the reef system around the island for sport divers. He still owns property on the northeast end of the island.

Guanaja has had many historical names, such as:
- Caguamara 1600
- Isla de los Pinos 1600
- Guanaca 1601
- Guanaia 1657
- Guanaja 1749
- Bonaccao 1771
- Bonacca 1779

Inhabited by the Payans Indian, Christopher Columbus landed 30th July 1502, Pedro Moreno landed in 1524, Spanish slaves raids were in 1516-1526, there was buccaneering during 16th and 17th century and removal of Indians to Golfo Dulc.The British Colony of Bay Islands was established 1852 and then the islands were ceded to the Republic of Honduras in 1861, and remains a part of Honduras today.

Local Life of the “Caracol”

The Caracol people are a creole-English speaking people who have been established in Northern Honduras (specifically, the Bay Islands) since the early 19th century and are mainly of European British-Caribbean descent. Caracol is a Spanish word that literally translates as conch, snail or shell and relates to the people of the Bay Islands due to their unique environment and their seafaring culture. In its current usage, the term Caracol refers to all people born in the Bay Islands region, and their descendents. The region of the Bay Islands encompasses three major islands:  Roatan, Utila, Guanaja, there are also many smaller islands or cays dispersed in the area.

The English language spoken by the Caracol changed over time from the English spoken by the first European and British settlers that arrived in the Bay Islands. The language differs mostly in morphology but also in pronunciation and accent and, to a lesser extent, in syntax and vocabulary, from that of the other British colonies, although the languages are still similar enough to be mutually intelligible. Most the islanders speak both Spanish and English. Both are now taught in the area’s schools.

The primary source of income for the islanders is fishing and commercial shrimping. Tourism is confined to a handful of small resorts that cater to divers, snorkelers and adventure travelers. The island's warm, clear waters support an extensive coral reef that is part of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef and second only to the Great Barrier Reef of Australia. There is access to fresh water on Guanaja, and several small waterfalls can be reached on jungle walks for the nature lovers. It is highly recommended that you hike to the top of the island, where you can, on a clear day, see all the way to the Honduran mainland coast and enjoy fantastic views of both sides of the island as well as the brilliant surrounding reefs.

Guanaja is incredibly diverse during the summer, when it receives tourists from all over the world who bask in the hot sun and cool waters during their holiday breaks.

Getting There and Getting Around

Transportation is sparse on the island of Guanaja. As of 2006, there were only three cars but by the end of 2011, there were roughly 40. There is only one road on the island which stretches only two miles between Mangrove Bight to Savannah Bight, making the most common means of transportation to be by boat.A main sea route heavily transited is a channel locally known as "The Canal"which acts as a shortcut and allows access from the south side to the north side of the island without having to go all the way around.

Guanaja is served by the Harry Hunter Guanaja Airport (GJA). As of 2011,access to Guanaja is only by air flights from the Honduran mainland town of La Ceiba and a twice-weekly ferry from Trujillo. Except for private boat or charter plane, there is no direct transportation, between Guanaja and the other Bay Islands. There have been prior attempts at establishing transportation between the three main islands but demand had been too low to be financially sustainable.

Some paragraphs were paraphrased and facts taken from Wikipedia, May 2012.

 

 

 

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