December 10, 2023

No shirt, no shoes…no problem on this Caribbean island

From International Living

It’s Happy Hour in Roatan’s West End…or at least it’s five o’clock somewhere, as the saying goes.

Eddie is serving up the drinks, and the blender is running. First-timers get a tequila shot—on the house. He offers a slice of lime or a sliver of just-cut aloe, which he says, “Is much better, my friend.”

The soundtrack is classic rock. The dress code is shorts, flip flops, and t-shirts or tank tops. And, while it’s pretty sunny, the breeze keeps things cool.

It’s a ramshackle place, open-air with sandy floor, shaded by a massive tree and a corrugated tin roof over the bar. There are picnic tables and benches spread out on the lot. The customers’ dogs roam freely.

If Eddie is busy, you just head over to the fridge and pull out a beer or pour yourself a glass of wine and jot down your tally in the spiral notebook. Casual, you know.

I’d just got out of the taxi, checked into my hotel, and was exploring the fun and funky West End, one of the favorite hangouts of Roatan’s locals and expats—tourists too. The water front is lined with restaurants, dive shops (some of the world’s best scuba and snorkeling is just offshore), and cute gift shops. Docks jut out into the water—boaters love it. And there is a panoramic view of the Caribbean.

I stopped in Eddie’s place for a few reasons. There was a big red sign that promised $1 beers. There was no bad seat in the house—you can see the water from everywhere—and it looked like a fun crowd, with plenty of well-tanned expats to chat with. They’re a friendly crew, lured to Roatan by the warm weather, laidback beach lifestyle, low costs, and, well, places like Eddie’s where they can just be themselves and hang out with friends.

One lady is an avid scuba diver and, after visiting on vacation and finding the best diving she’d seen in her life, decided to spend at least four months a year on the island. She escapes the winter weather back home in Edmonton, Canada and indulges in her favorite hobby in one of the best spots in the world. She goes out every week and rents a little one-bedroom condo for about $600.

Another patron—a gentleman from the U.S.—was in a car accident a couple years back, which left him in pain and disabled, unable to work. He secured disability, but it wasn’t enough to afford life back home. He says he saves about 30% on his monthly costs living in Roatan. He’d considered other spots in Central America but the fact that they speak English on the island was a deciding factor. Plus, there’s a good hospital on Roatan with specialists, if he needs it.

Of course, the weather and sunshine just makes him feel better too. I think everybody shares that sentiment at Eddie’s.

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