Guanaja is one of the Bay Islands of
Honduras, and is in the Caribbean. It is located approx. 70 km off the north coast of Honduras, and 12 km from the island of Roatan. One of the cays off Guanaja, also called Guanaja or Bonnaca or Low Cay (or just simply, The Cay), is near the main island, and contains most of the approximately 10,000 people who live in Guanaja. The densely populated cay has been described as the Veniceof Honduras because of the waterways that run through itFact|date=October 2007. The other two main settlements on Guanaja are Mangrove Bight and Savannah Bight. Smaller settlements include East End and North East Bight.
Guanaja relies on fishing, shrimping and on the income it receives from tourism. It is often visited by divers and has warm, clear waters that support an extensive coral reef, part of the second largest coral reef in the world [belonging mainly to Belize] , second only to the
Great Barrier Reefoff the coasts of Australia. Currently, there is still access to fresh water on Guanaja, and several waterfalls can be seen.
Guanaja was discovered by
Christopher Columbusin 1502. He landed on Soldadao 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.
In late-October of 1998, most of the buildings and homes on the island were destroyed by
Hurricane Mitch. The islanders have since rebuilt, and although there are still repercussions to the economy from Mitch, tourism has been recovering. However, the majority of the mangroveand pine forests were destroyed as a direct consequence of the passage of the hurricane, which swept across the island for two days.
Transportation is sparse, and as of 2006, there were only three cars on the island. While there is only one road, from Mangrove Bight to Savannah Bight, the most common means of transportation are boats. A channel locally known as "The Cut" allows access from the south to the north side of the island without having to go all the way around. Guanaja is served by the airport (GJA). Service is available from La Ceiba.
* [http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Newsroom/NewImages/images.php3?img_id=17593 Guanaja Island] at
NASA Earth Observatory
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