Named for the former president of Honduras, Jose Santos Guardiola, this municipality possesses a unique beauty that is not found anywhere else on the Bay Islands or the main land of Honduras. With unspoiled, natural beauty that can be seen on the hills and ridges that are concealed within Oak and Gumbalimba Trees, beach covered with white powdery sand that stretches longer than any other beach on the island, and the second largest coral reef in the world that extends as far as the eyes can see, this picturesque community has a lot to offer when it comes to its breathtaking and splendorous beauty that remains untouched by the hands of the modern world.
The magnificent mangrove canals and lagoons that adorn and protect this Caribbean enclave are a feast to the eyes, and the small cays that surrounds this community are nature’s give to its inhabitants.
JSG was once a thriving community with a ship building industry and a seafood factory that provided jobs for local residents. As home to the largest fishing fleets in Roatan, these boats provided jobs for local and non-local men in the fishing industry and kept the community in good economical
standing. While the fishing fleets provided jobs for the seamen, the busy seafood factory provided jobs for the women in Oak Ridge and surrounding communities. With dozens of shrimp and lobster boats in and out of the canals of Oak Ridge, delivering products to its seafood factory, its harbor was one of the busiest on the Bay Islands. Boats from around the island and the mainland would come to Jose Santos Guardiola’s dry dock, located in Oak Ridge, for repair and maintenance. The prosperous economy of JSG attracted job seekers from surrounding community and the mainland of Honduras.
In recent years JSG and its capital Oak Ridge was the place to be. As a matter of fact, Oak Ridge was the heart of Roatan and the nest of JSG booming fishing industry and would attract people from surrounding community that came to grocery shop, sell home made goods or to simple have a good time at its famous and now defunct “Casa Grande” bar located on Laurence Hills, Oak Ridge. This famed establishment did not only attract party goers from surrounding community, but from neighboring islands as well. There were other local bars that attracted fun seekers as well such as the popular “Campos bar” in Oak Ridge Bight, and “Happy landing” on Oak Ridge Point.
Although the JSG of today remains undeveloped, and has lost the booming economy that sustained its residents, it still possesses vast land of lush green vegetation, wide open spaces, and the potential to once again become the heart of Roatan as it was in the past. JSG mangrove canals in Calabash Bight and Jones Will are seconds to no other and attract tourists to their shores on a weekly basis. Most of the aggregates materials used in the building of hotels and resorts on the island of Roatan come from the hills of Diamond Rock. Camp Bay houses the largest and most pristine beach on Roatan. JSG is also home to the first Garifuna settlement in Honduras and whose dance “La Punta” is considered Honduras national dance. These proud people and their unique culture is an important part of Jose Santos Guardiola.
The capital of JSG, Oak Ridge, has been compared to the Italian city of Venice. In Venice, homes are built around canals where human propelled gondolas are used to transport tourists on romantic, sightseeing tours. Oak Ridge has earned this comparison because of the way it homes are built on the edge of the sea and because dories (which resembles gondolas) are used to transport residents from one side of the island to the other. With all its history, culture, young population and undeveloped land, JSG has the potential for growth and greatness; and it all depends on its people, the choices they make concerning their children’s education and up-bringing, their protection of the environment, and the leaders they choose to lead this “Venice of the Caribbean” known as Oak Ridge, the capital of Jose Santos Guardiola and an unspoiled paradise.
Share your thoughts and memories about old SJG and Oak Ridge and the way things used to be. What changes have you seen in the last decades? What changes would you like to see? Share your ideas and information that can bring positive changes to Oak Ridge and Jose Santos Guardiola; help rebuilt your community!