Welcome to Wandering Wednesdays, where we provide brief reviews of naturist places – outside of North America – we have visited, simply to offer our admittedly subjective thoughts about what we experienced there. With over 150 pins on our naturist travel map, we have a lot of reviews to catch up on. Once posted here, I’ll move them over to the “Places” index under the main menu of our blog.
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Paya Bay Resort – on Roatan, Honduras
Imagine you own a yoga and wellness retreat, and you’re looking for a new marketing angle that will keep your place running at capacity when all the competitors are nearly empty. How might you change that up? Offer a naturist week. Or two. Or forty-two! At least, that’s how it worked out for Davinci McNab when he decided to reinvent a small family resort – Paya Bay Resort – on a remote corner of Roatan into an exotic clothing-optional destination. Bear in mind, this is not a luxury resort by any stretch of the imagination. As Caribbean destinations go, Roatan is a bit more “third worldy” than most, subject to power outages and road crews that never quite get the job done. But if you arrive with expectations akin to glamping, and a couple good bottles of insect repellant, you’re likely to fall hard for the place – just like we did. We’ve been twice, once over spring break, and more recently, over New Years Eve 2020 when they staged their own minature Burning Man festival on the beach to usher in the new year. For quite some time, I think the resort was dark during the pandemic, but now they seem to be up and running full-tilt again, with most weeks of the year designated as Naturist Weeks. With the absence of other landmark naturist places like Club Orient and a couple others that once existed on Jamaica, we’re simply excited to have another naked place option where every day is 85° and sunny.
WHAT’S THE BEST WAY TO GET THERE? Getting to Roatan can be a challenge, as it is only served by two or three US airlines and even those only offer flights two or three times a week, clustered around weekends. There are other routings through South America, but that will likely take you a good distance out of your way. Our friend Addie blogged about her day trip to Paya Bay after she made a day visit during a cruise that was in port for the day at the other end of the island. For a modest day fee, someone from the resort actually came to the port to pick her up. Similarly, we’ve always hired a driver from the resort to collect us at the airport. I’m pretty comfortable with rental cars in foreign countries (I say as I’m writing this report from Tulum, Mexico) but even after two visits I would be hesitant to rent a car in Honduras. I’m not terribly confident about who or what I might encounter at an unexpected roadblock, and there are reports of some pretty serious trickery to be found online. Such worries disappear once you’re in the seclusion of the resort itself, but I’d be reticent to take on the island on my own.
WHAT’S THE FAMILY VIBE? Even during “Naturist Week” it should be noted that most of the resort becomes clothing optional. Some of the guests opt to be naked, others opt to wear clothes. It’s all pretty much live and let live. Clothing is always required in the restaurant as it is open to the public, and one of the three beaches is textile as well, though we think it’s the lesser of the three, anyway. There was a family with a pre-teen staying the entire week during our last visit, and though they were textile guests, they seemed completely unfazed by the naked people. In fact, they come every years for the snorkeling and the diving, Unlike some other Caribbean resorts, there’s neither a party vibe, nor any other sort of a sexual undertone at Paya Bay, so a family naturist vacation is very much possible, knowing that there are not going to be loads of other kids around. (I believe the entire resort only has ten rooms or so.)
HOW ARE THE ACCOMMODATIONS? We stayed in one of the rooms perched over the sea during both of our stays, featuring a small veranda where you’ll likely sit mesmerized for hours above the crashing waves. The other bank of rooms lack that special effect, but are larger with king beds instead of queens. The rooms are tastefully decorated and the air-conditioning is a perk not only in regard to temperature, but in dealing with the bugs as well, which can be quite tenacious, especially at night. There are other quirky things as well, like the poorly lit bathrooms with light fixtures that must not be properly grounded as I’ve gotten buzzed at least twice when trying to hang up my toiletry kit. Again, if you’re thinking third world charm, you’ll be fine. If you’re thinking Marriott or Westin – this is not that!
The grounds are expansive with lots of walking trails, a gorgeous yoga hut at the top of the hill, and little nooks tucked away all over the grounds where you can curl up with a book or take a nap in a randomly placed hammock. Once you’re beyond the restaurant located near the entrance to the resort, there’s little or no reason to put your clothes back on anywhere on the resort. We like that!
ANYTHING ELSE WE SHOULD KNOW? When we tell our friends that we’re vacationing in Honduras they typically look at us with concern and start asking questions about drug lords and refugees. Indeed, I think the situation on the mainland it not good, but Roatan is almost a stand-alone country with a fair number of ex-pats from Europe and North America – especially those with a penchant for diving. The port of call for cruise ships, Mahogany Bay, is at the other end of the island, about an hour’s drive away. We’ve never bothered to check that out, but I think that’s about the only place on the island with chain hotels and fancy restaurants. To that end, most of the packages offered at Paya Bay offer at least half-board as the only other dining options on that end of the island require at least a 20-minute journey by boat taxi or car. (We love the boat ride to La Sirena for lunch outings. You can be naked for most of it.) It’s well worthwhile thinking through your snacking and beverage habits for the duration of your stay and having your driver stop at a grocery store between the airport and the resort. The restaurant menu tends to be limited to the special of the day and one or two other options, so if you’re a picky eater, you’ll want to plan accordingly.
Davinci has put a lot of heart and soul into the development of this special place, and the peaceful co-existence between textiles and naturists works better here than almost anyplace else we’ve ever seen. All said, this resort borders on adventure travel, but with most of the creature comforts that makes it worth the price. Be sure to read the most recent Trip Advisor reviews before you go so you’re adequately prepared to enjoy a truly unique nakation.
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