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“Heaven on the villa on Dunbar Rock”

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Villa On Dunbar Rock
Ranked #1 of 6 Hotels in Guanaja
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 23 June 2014

Just got back from our stay on Dunbar Rock. It was simply heaven. It is a 15000 sq. ft. villa with 10 rooms and a complete staff to greet you and take care of your every whim. The staff is friendly and the villa is immaculate. They have wifi, laundry service, and ac. Chef Johnny and his staff prepared 3 great meals a day and James was always there if we needed a cocktail. Captain Denise did a great job taking us scuba diving or where ever we wanted to go. We plan on going back in 2016. It was a great experience staying in the middle of the ocean. FYI Dunbar rock was used as target practice by Pirate Captain Morgan's crew back in the day. How cool is that?

Room Tip: Every room has a view and hammock. They also have a helicopter pad if you would like to arrive by he...
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  • Stayed: June 2014, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank Sophia M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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92 - 98 of 106 reviews

Reviewed 1 September 2013

Just got back from a perfectly tuned week at Dunbar Rock. Shhhhh! Don't tell anyone but your best friends about the unspoiled Honduras Bay Island of Guanaja. Manager and Dive Master Supreme Denis Midence made it all happen, from air connections via Roatan to freshly-caught fish and lobster every day, prepared superbly by his gracious wife Blanca, assisted by the smiling Blanca II.

The diving was amazing...untouched reefs and walls all around the island. We three guests had three relaxed dives each day from The Rock's own large diveboat and accompanied by Denis, Dive Master Daniel, Boat Master Chely and, when he was off from school, "D2", Denis and Blanca's charming son who is the most naturally gifted diver and fish hunter I have ever seen. I left feeling like I have a new family in Guanaja.

I can't wait for my next trip to The Rock. It looks just like the photos...like a small Greek village atop a craggy rock. NO SANDFLIES the whole week! I was eaten alive diving in Roatan last year! Never again. Private balconies have serene views of turquoise Caribbean with small villas on the mainland and the unique local town of Bonacca floating in the distance. Comfortable living - dining room with large-screen TV and large viewing screen for personal videos.

Room Tip: There are 88 steps up from the dock to the lowest rooms, which might be considered when choosing a r...
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  • Stayed: August 2013, travelled solo
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1  Thank vaildiver
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 21 August 2013

We booked our trip in December/January after seeing a flyer on line somewhere. We're a group of 6 divers who get together every year for a big week long trip in the summer. Last year we stayed on Long Caye in Belize, and the previous two years we were on Roatan. We were excited to get back to the Bay Islands and the remoteness of Guanaja sounded great for diving.

Also, we like the look of "The Rock". We bought an all-inclusive package - all food and beverages (including beer), unlimited shore diving, 3-4 boat dives per day, nitrox, and 24 hours on the live-aboard boat. After we booked we were told that the pool would also be ready, but it wasn't part of our reason to book. We booked directly with the resort, through Marla.

Getting there was suprisingly easy - we flew to Roatan and Marla arranged for us to be on an AeroCaribe flight from Roatan to Guanaja. It was quite an experience, but fun and fast, about 20 minutes or so. When we arrived in Guanaja we barely had time to get our bags before Denis arrived with the boat and took us to The Rock.

It's an impressive structure, but solid. Construction is still occurring, more on that later. We were sharing rooms on the north side of the villa, so we unloaded and went to the dining room for snacks and c-card checks. One thing here: there are no elevators and there are about 40 steps from the dock to the main level. If you can't walk up stairs you are going to hate this place. For us, it was great. There were no sandflies or mosquitoes, we never wore any bug spray while on the rock and it was great.

Our rooms were very nice, with tiled bathrooms, tile floors, and large breezy balconies. The A/C was cold and quiet, we could still hear it raining outside when the A/C was on. They had added an extra bed for our sharing, so we had one queen and one single bed. We really weren't in the rooms much, but they were very nice.

We did enjoy the upstairs bar, and we would gather there after dinner to fill in our logbooks and enjoy our free beer. It was always such a great view from there, day or night. The breeze was always blowing, and we were very lucky with the temperatures so it wasn't hot at all.

The main dining room/kitchen also has the living room/couches and TV and Internet. We didn't watch too much TV, but we did all enjoy hooking up the cameras to the TV and sharing pictures from the day with each other while enjoying a free beer.

It quickly became clear that the pool wasn't finished, and wasn't going to be finished any time soon. During our week there we observed construction on the pool and the poolside bar/bathrooms. The roof went on the poolside bar, and the spillway for the negative-edge pool went in. It's going to be spectacular when it's done, but based on the pace of progress we observed we would not expect it to be complete before the end of the year. Maybe it will be, but not based on the pace we saw. Like I said before this didn't really bother us as we were not expecting a pool when we booked.

We were expecting Nitrox, and there was none. While we were there the compressor was delivered, but it wasn't hooked up, and we were sucking cold dry air instead of minty-fresh nitrox. Denis was very apologetic of course, but I think we should have known beforehand that nitrox wasn't going to be available for our trip.

The dive boat ("Freedom") was a new addition according to Denis. Some work was done on it while we were there, but it was a great dive boat for us. We were the only divers on the boat, but it could have handled more divers easily. There's a platform on the back at water-level for an easy giant-stride entry. Getting out was fun as there was no ladder, but we were assured that the ladder would be added just after we left. We handed up our BCD and did a fin-kick to land on the platform and roll around like a beached whale. We got good at it quickly, and we didn't really need our fins on to get out. But it was a great opportunity to make fun of your fellow divers.

The diving itself is fantastic - and the nice thing about Guanaja is that it's easy to get to the north side of the island on the dive boat. The water clarity (visibility approaching 200 feet at times) and the canyons and caves are spectacular on the north side. On the south side, near The Rock, are spectacular walls and great drift dives. Around The Rock itself is a reef area, it's not very deep (I think we found 13') but it comes alive at night and we had one of our most spectacular night dives ever there, with shrimp, octopus, squid, rays, etc.... all right from the boat dock.

Our food was most delicious, and we were told that Blanca had just come back from chef school. Well it showed, with hearty tasty breakfasts (eggs, pancakes, bacon), delicious lunches (and appetizers like conch ceviche!) and every night was a 3-course meal with home-made soup, fish, lobster and crab (some chicken), and a fine dessert to follow. We know it was fresh caught fish and lobster as we were on the boat when it was caught. One day Blanca tried her hand at a Chinese-style chicken stir fry which we could not get enough of. Of all the dive resorts that we have stayed at we all agreed that Dunbar Rock has the best food. Blanca (and Blanca and Marlen) made sure we were full, and that we liked the food. It's possible that some of the other reviews for food were from the time that Blanca was getting trained, because we definitely were not eating soup from a packet or ketchup sandwiches!

One neat thing we really liked was when we would picnic on the boat. One or two days it was food prepared by the kitchen that we brought with us. One day Denis brought the BBQ along and the crew (mostly Daniel) caught some fish and lobster and Denis prepared it right there on the boat for lunch - fantastic, and a unique experience.

As an aside, we became quite used to Daniel cruising around with a speargun and lobsters or fish as we dove. We had a bit of a shock when he brought a sea turtle to us. We thought for a second that this was going in the pot, but thankfully it was just for us to get pictures of and was safely on it's way in just a few seconds! It ended up being the only sea turtle we saw while diving, so we suspect that perhaps sea turtle still makes up part of the local diet. Hopefully that will change soon so that we can see more of these while diving.

We went to the Manati bar once (you can see it from The Rock) which was very nice with $4 german dark beer. But bring your bug spray. We also went to Graham's Place once, and had a nice time sitting around watching the waves (and no bug spray needed). On The Cay (Bonacca Town) Daniel took us to an outdoor bar that he had built and we enjoyed $1.25 Salvavidas while the crew ran errands. It was very pleasant and also no bug spray was needed.

The last thing that we were expecting that didn't materialize was a night on the live-aboard. Apparently there was a mechanical issue with one of the generators. It wasn't a killer, but all in all it added up to a decent case of overselling combined with the lack of nitrox and the pool construction. One of us had been expecting a fitness center. There isn't one (other than the stairs.)

But, we went for the diving and it was great, and the food was the best we've had at a dive resort. When the pool is done, the nitrox is running, and the liveaboard is seaworthy we think that Dunbar Rock will be one of the premier dive resorts in the Bay Islands, maybe the top one!

Room Tip: We were in rooms on the north side, they were spacious and cool and had island-views from the balcon...
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  • Stayed: August 2013, travelled with friends
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9  Thank David W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 15 July 2013

EASY, BREEZY, UNFORGETTABLE!!!
The owners & staff of Dunbar Rock really know how to make people arrive as guests and leave as family! Everything we wanted to do, we did and with such smoothness! The diving and snorkeling was spectacular and worry-free! The nature/waterfall hikes were adventurous and breath-taking! I am anxious to return to the island and to bring my friends and family with me to share the amazing experiences I had!!

Room Tip: there is NO bad room in this place!!!!
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  • Stayed: July 2013, travelled with friends
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2  Thank April H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 13 July 2013

We sailed into Guanaja a few weeks ago...what a tropical paradise: rolling green hills, fresh water springs, and no roads. We anchored in the bay across from Dunbar Rock. As some friends were flying in to meet us, we reserved ourselves a couple of rooms on 'the rock'. We have sailed all over the world, and this is one of the most beautiful spots we have seen! Now understand, if you are looking for loud night life, go to Cancun. Being on the Rock is a lot like being on a boat, you're just not moving in the middle of the water. If you have teenagers who cannot do without their video games for more than a day, or you have a fast food habit, stay in middle America....There are some wonderful, quaint bars scattered around but you will want to spend your time on Dunbar's rooftop bar. Sit in a swing and watch the sunset while sipping a pina colada. Better, lay out under the stars at night on the roof. Amazing!! The food is basic and typical of Honduran fare. Were told that a new chef from the mainland is coming in the fall. There is construction going on down below the living and guest suites. An infinity pool with bar is going in but should be finished within a couple of months, we were told. All this will raise the price, so I am glad we got in with 'construction rates'. Denis took us out for fabulous dives--we were the only people I saw on all of the dives. We felt like family by the time we left. Here are the highlights:
Daniel taking us hiking to the waterfalls
Air conditioning
Gorgeous reef and marine life/great dive crew
Stargazing on the roof
Walk in showers
Balconies for each suite
Free wifi
AND--since we were on 'the rock', NO sand flies!
We have already planned a trip for next year.

Room Tip: We were told that many guest spend most of their time indoors. (??) Stay on the swings and sit out t...
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  • Stayed: June 2013, travelled with friends
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2  Thank sailingthew0rld
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 27 June 2013

Well, this was an interesting experience. There were some real highs and very disappointing lows to this trip and this location but I can’t say enough good things about Denis and the dive staff at Dunbar Rock. That makes ratings a little hard as their service (the dive staff) was superb and one of the housekeeping/kitchen staff was great. I almost just gave this a two but the dive staff and Evelyn rose well above the general attitudes and overall quality of the place, hence the three.

However, there are/were some issues. First of all, I was told by the broker, US Dive Travel, multiple times that the villa had just undergone a multi-million dollar renovation and was just incredible. It seems that “just undergone” means “just started,” in this case. The only concern USDT had was that the new pool might not quite be done but they were working hard to get it completed before we arrived. Let me put it this way, right now, Dunbar Rock is a construction site, plain and simple. If they ever complete what they’ve undertaken, it will truly be a fantastic place. But completion isn’t, from what we could see, in the near future. It’s definitely construction at Caribbean speed.

USDT did leave a message with my office that there was some unanticipated construction under way (they were there for a week before we arrived) literally 12 hours before our flights departed. They’d called my cell phone during their entire, paperwork-heavy process but, for some reason, opted not to do that with their cautionary call. I only note that as it seemed odd to me. Once there, their phones (and mine) were pretty much useless, so I had no real way to communicate with them other than email, which they couldn’t access.

The walkway from the dock is dangerously lined with rebar and there is construction debris everywhere. The place really does need work and it seems they’ve acknowledged that, but it was far from what was represented to me. The saving grace was that this was a guy’s trip that, annually, brings a group of us together in new and interesting dive locations. This truly fit the bill.

I’m not sure what the difference was in our food experience and what others have said here, but the food was, ummmmmm…not good. We even had two teenage boys with us who’ll eat virtually anything and they both stopped eating most of what was served. Soups from packets, overcooked seafood (when we got it), spaghetti with a hot dog cut up in it, frozen chicken fingers, what appeared to be catsup on white bread as sandwiches for an afternoon snack…you get the picture. Oh, and Tang. I haven’t had Tang since I was a kid but that’s what the breakfast drink was, every day. No fresh (or even frozen) juices—a first for me in the Caribbean. Brenda, the “cook,” didn’t crack a smile the entire week and we felt as if she found it a burden to have to cook for us. Emely, on the other hand, was a jewel and was always happy, smiling and willing to help in any way. Five stars for her. Oh, we did have fresh ceviche one day that was wonderful. It wasn't so good when it was made from frozen fish later on.

The rooms were fine but, like most everything there, can use a little work. Our door dragged so badly that, every time we opened it, people knew we were going in or out. There are a lot of little things like that that need to be addressed. An on-site manager of some kind would go a long way here. Denis is in charge of things but we kept him busy with diving-related duties all week and it’s hard to imagine he has time to supervise everything going on there.

Their boat fleet (two boats, it seems) is a challenge to keep running. Either the dive boat or the “speedboat” they use to deliver scuba cylinders to the dive boat as well as assorted other errands broke down every day…except for the last one. Denis did take a couple of us over to see the dive boat they’re having refitted and, if it ever gets done (sound familiar?), it’ll be an excellent boat. Right now, the motor is hanging from a pulley and there is no engine or steering controls…or anything else, for that matter. The hull looks just fine. Denis says that they’re getting another one just like it and don’t plan to take more than 10 divers per boat. If that’s the case, you’ll have more room to gear up and move around than I’ve ever seen on a dive boat.

Again, the dive staff did an excellent job. Denis and Chele were on virtually every dive with us and we were only nine divers, all pretty experienced. Denis took a couple of dives off but, when he did, Chele and Daniel accompanied us. That worked well because half of us are very slow movers, looking for little stuff, while the others preferred to move along and see more of the reef.

The reef is gorgeous. Enough said. That alone will make us want to return but, before we do, we’ll want assurances that all construction is complete, the new boat(s) is ready and the food has seen massive improvement.

Just to emphasize, one of the best dive staffs I've ever enjoyed. Give these guys good equipment and they'll be among the top in the industry.

  • Stayed: June 2013, travelled with friends
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6  Thank DVenturesMark
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 18 February 2013

I was a little worried I might get bored, but that wasnt the case! It was actuall quite nice not having the crowds and schedules to keep. Denis is a great divemaster and with Daniel the assistant divemaster and Chile the boatboy the dive trips were fantastic. The staff at the Villa were great as were the rooms. Brenda is a fantastic cook and they are very flexible about eating times, etc.

  • Stayed: February 2013, travelled with friends
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2  Thank Barry S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Villa On Dunbar Rock

Address: Sandy Bay | Sandy Bay, Bay Islands, Guanaja IB2101, Honduras
Region: Honduras > Bay Islands > Guanaja
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Fitness Centre with Gym / Workout Room Restaurant Spa Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 6 Hotels in Guanaja
Number of rooms: 11
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Looking for something new and different in the Caribbean? Then it’s time to consider the Villa on Dunbar Rock, Winner of a 2016 TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence. Practically everything about this trip will deliver a unique experience to a destination that is closer than you think, yet still off the beaten path. Take the island of Guanaja. Of the three well-known Bay Islands, locals describe Guanaja as being what neighboring Roatan and Utila looked like some 35 years ago. The difference is obvious the minute your plane lands on the tarmac and you realize all of the passengers are being picked up by boat not by car. Good thing since there aren’t any roads leading to or from the airport! Then there’s the resort - a one-time private villa perched on a private cay with 360 view including Sandy Bay, mainland Guanaja and the island of Bonacca Town, the third world Venice that is home to the majority of the inhabitants of Guanaja. This unique resort blends beauty, serenity and something unidentifiably special in a laid-back, inviting atmosphere. The 15,000 square foot property is spread across 4 floors, complete with ten air-conditioned rooms, all with private bath and ocean front balconies. The common areas include a cozy living/dining area, 2 bars, private helicopter pad, infinity pool & indoor cardio room and a small beach area. What it doesn’t have, we are happy to say – are the sand fleas that plague many mainland and Bay Island locations. And of course, there’s the diving, the real reason you’ll want to go. Guanaja’s fringing reef is a protected marine reserve making it an ideal spot for diving and snorkeling nearly anywhere offshore the mainland. It offers a mixture of pinnacles, vertical walls, lava tunnels and wrecks including the nearby Jado Trader, one of the most sought-after wrecks in the Caribbean. Similar to the diving that made Roatan famous, except you’ll most likely have it all to yourself. Nearly all of the sites offer lively shallow terraces that are perfect for snorkelers joining the group. The resort has its own PADI/SSI dive center stocked with brand new rental equipment and three custom-designed dive boats. Diving the circumference of Dunbar Rock offers up some of the best shallow water shore diving imaginable. You'll find a mix of sand, turtle grass, concrete and natural boulders, coral heads, sea fans, squid, eels and a surprising large number of fish. Those of you who would otherwise disregard the idea of diving in 10' - 15' of water should think again when it comes to diving the parameter of our Rock. Experienced divers, adventure seekers and macro photographers all know that this is where you go to discover the weird and the wonderful! It's the kind of place a trained eye can find a 1/4 inch Heart Urchin Pea Crab, a gigantic Barracuda or the colorful Scarlet Striped Cleaner Shrimp. Unlimited tanks for diving this area are include in the dive packages, so be sure to give it a go on your next stay with us both during the day and as a dawn or night dive. Packages are available for seven night Saturday - Saturday stays including accommodations, all meals, and diving. If you define the perfect dive vacation as one including no crowds - except perhaps the one you bring with you….not having to dress for dinner, concierge dive service and a reef system you can practically call your own, it’s time to pack your bags and head to the Villa on Dunbar Rock. ... more   less 

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