For most residents in Roatan the term Santa Helena conjures up images of adventure, mystery, and a sense of the way things used to be in Roatan, the kind of small, almost hidden communities that this place was before the resorts, restaurants, and gift shops. Those who have visited this place are of two factions; adventure thirsty tourists, or old time islanders residing in Roatan’s easterly sections.
Split into four sections; North, south, west, and east, the majority of Santa Helena’s population resides in an area designated as Seaco (loosely translated) and North Side. Saeco, which is located on the island’s southwest corner, and according to local residents the community hosts the highest population of around 500 people. This is also where Helena’s small clinic and bilingual school are located. When you enter you are greeted with Seaco you are greeted with bright faces and a smile a mile wide. This area does not have many visitors and it’s said that there are even locals here that have never been to the North Side, which without a boat can be quite a hike. If things seem as though they move a little slower than normal in Camp Bay, this place is comatose. The community just received their first “power plant,” a large and rather noisy generator about two years ago.
Helena’s North Side community takes the visitor through another cut of mangroves and around the west points of the island. From these vantages the sights of Barbareta and Morat Island’s is stunning. There is no view from sea level quite like this throughout the entire Bay Islands. Pigeon and Rose Cay are also scattered along the west. A 10 minute boat ride is about all it takes and as you cruise parallel to the island you can often see soccer practice taking place right along the shore. North Side seems more mountainous than Seaco and the terrain can be quite arduous. The community boasts a population of around 300 and the primary food staples for all of Santa Helena is alligator, carp, bonefish, and snapper. It is said that before Hurricane Mitch devastated the island the mangrove roots were large enough that those who felt a little hungry could simply walk along them and catch fish and lobster in the shallow water system. Even today there are people who love amongst the mangroves and as you pass through the “cut” you can see their private property sign strewn about.
The journey is through Santa Helena can hours or a full day from morning till night to complete. It is a trip well worth the time and little cost, and most certainly, when finished, a sense of excursion and accomplishment shall manifest. For this place is truly our wild wild west of the Caribbean in modern day. [/private]