The plantation has expanded to include many fresh herbs, and has another section that’s an orchard of many exotic fruit trees, as well as flower gardens, and a solarium with waterfall and labelled plants. The plantation is now open for tours, so I went to check it out to see if it was something that our Barefoot Cay guests might enjoy. There are two separate tours, one of the hydroponic section, and the other of the orchards and gardens, so you can do one or the other, or both.
It was pretty fascinating to show how the hydroponic growing worked. There were rows and rows of tubing a couple feet off the ground, each lined with holes to accommodate the lettuce plants. Each lettuce has its roots growing in a square sponge, similar to a florist sponge, with a constant stream of chilled water running through the tube that it sits in. The water recycles throughout the system. Lettuce generally doesn’t grow well in the heat, so the chilled water helps it to thrive, and only varieties that spread out their leaves are chosen, as these help the lettuce not to retain heat. There are several varieties of lettuce grown. Twice a week, the lettuce gets harvested, and delivered around the island to the grocery stores, as well as restaurants and resorts, including to Barefoot Cay. I brought along my 9 year old son, and he found it really interesting too. We also saw mint, basil and chives grown in a similar manner.
Then we left the hydroponic section and went to wander through the gardens, and over to the solarium. All sorts of beautiful tropical plants surrounded us, each with a name plate for each identification. Outside, we fed the ducks, and walked through all the different fruit trees.
Though for many people, Roatan’s all about the diving and beaches, it’s also great to discover new places hidden around the island. Blue Harbour Plantation makes an interesting stop during an island tour, especially for those with an interest in gardening.