Roatan Popular Destinations
Most Popular Beach
West Bay is the most visited town in Roatan. There are a few good reasons for this. For one, the beach is has been voted a top destination in global publications. Cruise ships have dedicated trips to West Bay Roatan so the beach can be a magnet for tourist during the days when a cruise ship is docked in Roatan. West Bay makes for great snorkeling, and its calm lake-like waters are prime real estate for water activities. It's easy to understand why West Bay is consistently voted one of the top beaches in the world. It's long white sand beach is surrounded by the second largest reef barrier in the world which makes it an aquatic and adventure paradise. Come here if you want amazing snorkeling just steps from the beach. West Bay beach is also full of wonderful restaurants and the perfect place for strolling, paddle boarding or sunbathing.
PRO TIP: It is cheaper to stay in West End and then take a 3 dollar taxi-boat ride to West Bay for the day.
PRO TIP2: There is a major discount for eateries that are not located on the Waterfront. Find them and enjoy.
Great for Shopping
Water Taxi Central
Roatan's West End Village is one of a kind. This is hands down the one stop fits all destination. West End offers the most diversity in shopping, eateries, scuba, accommodations, and a social scene both during the day and at night. Half moon bay is home to iSoar, a repurposed sailboat which is rigged with several rope swings. Best of all, iSoar is free! See the iSoar Video here.
West End is a funky little beach community and the diving and entertainment center of Roatan. Here you will find dive shops, gift shops, small hotels, and dozens of bars and restaurants. Half Moon Bay is the largest of beach on Roatan, with a few commercial properties right on the sand & offering beautiful sunset views.
PRO TIP: Take a $3 Water Taxi trip to West Bay.
Little French Key
Animal Zoo (Jaguars)
LITTLE FRENCH KEY
Little French Key has been voted the number one attraction in all of Honduras. Once a private island retreat, Little French Key is now available for everyone to enjoy. Play in crystal clear water and enjoy the coral reef. Sunbathe on diamond white beaches. Enjoy a cold cocktail at the swim up bar, or savor a delicious assortment of island delights in one of our three open-air restaurants. There’s horseback riding, snorkeling, jet skis, kayaks, massage treatments, an array of activities and the most extraordinary interactive wildlife rescue center in Central America. And, don’t miss Little French Key West, a Mayan nature center, an underwater museum. Come for a day, or come for a week. You can even spend the night in Little French Key’s luxury beach house or honeymoon suites. Be sure and ask about our discount rates for residents. Either way, you’ll never forget Little French Key, a private island retreat unlike any other in the Caribbean.
PRO TIP: The Mayatlantis underwater replica Mayan sculptures are located here. Great for snorkeling & Paddle Boarding.
Port of Call
Coxen Hole is Roatan's capital. It is named after a pirate, John Coxen. It is rumored that John Coxen is berried in the cemetery adjacent the Port of Roatan. Coxen hole has a downtown area which gets heavily visited while cruise ships are docked in Roatan. Coxen Hole is home to one of the main public hospitals on Roatan. It is also home to Eldon's, one of Roatan's more excellent grocery stores. Coxen Hole is the most populated of Roatan's towns. Roatan's city hall and the post office are in Coxen Hole.
You'll be surprised to learn that Bojangles has three stores in Roatan, two in Coxen Hole and the third in French Harbour. Coxen Hole has a local market (Mercado), which makes for an interesting shopping experience. The market is just a few blocks off the main street. The shopping in Coxen Hole is very local. You'll come across fruit carts and street vendors as you walk the sidewalks from one storefront to the next. Coxen Hole is a bustling Caribbean town and the largest city on Roatan with a population of 5,000.
The Buccaneer Tide Pool
Many of Roatan's established business people call French Harbour home. New developments in and around French Harbour are quickly turning it into a formidable destination in Roatan. French Harbour is home to Roatan's Yacht Club and the Buccaneer. One of the Caribbean's largest fishing fleet sails out of the French Harbour, making it a strong industrial player in Roatan. French Harbour is known as the economic center for Roatan. Because of its centralized location on Roatan, French Harbour is home to many banks, resorts, hotels, a newly remodeled Eldon's grocery store, and several prominent eateries as well.
French Harbor is located at the halfway point between the west and east side of Roatan. It has access to a Yacht Marina. French Harbour is home to Eldon's Grocery Store which is one of the most reputable grocery stores in Roatan Island. French Harbor is an operation and working harbor. Many of the shipping and fishing boats dock and sail out of French Harbor. The Harbor also provides excellent shelter for larger ships when the weather turns bad. French Harbor is not a tourist town. It is a working town with local commerce. Fun to visit, but aside from a few restaurants, the town is more of a local attraction that it is a tourist attraction.
French Harbour is an old community in Roatan and serves as a commercial island hub. The shipping & receiving industry is based here; there are many schools, as well as offices & shops. The island's newest hospital is also based in the French Harbour area and offers a more convenient service to Roatan residents & visitors to the eastern side of Roatan.
Get around in Water-Taxi
Gateway to Helene
Oakridge is located on Roatan's southeast end. True to its fishing heritage, locals get around strictly on boat rides. Oak Ridge is beautiful, and locals paint their stilt homes in vibrant colors. These homes sit right on the waterfront, and they are stunning. Few places bring together Roatan's humble roots with the islands natural beauty. Oak Ridge has several waterways that navigate through it, and that only adds to the mystical nature of the fishing village. The municipality of Santos Guardiola is based in Oak Ridge.
PRO TIP: Roatan Expats frequently hang out at a local pub called BJ's Backyard. BJ's offers a live music experience Friday afternoons, and it is part of the local band live music tours.
Video of Oakridge, Roatan
Home of the Garifuna
Punta Gorda is home to Roatan's Garifuna People. Each year, in April, the Garifuna Festival is celebrated in Punta Gorda. As the oldest settlement on Roatan, Punta Gorda is well established and rich in its heritage. Punta Gorda is located on the northern coast of the eastern end of Roatan. Exiled by the British, Los Garifuna came from San Vicente in the Grenadines. The Garifuna culture is preserved to this day, and young children are taught to speak Garifuna in school. They are even required to wear the traditional Garifuna attire once each week. See video of Punta Gorda.
The oldest settlement in Roatan is Punta Gorda. It was founded in 1797 by the Garifuna people, who trace their heritage back to a slave vessel which wrecked on the coral reefs off the island of St. Vincent in early 18th Century. Today, the town is a small seaside village that remains a proud center for Garifuna culture and heritage.
PRO TIP: On your next visit to Punta Gorda be sure to order an authentic Garifuna cuisine dish by the name of "Machuca." It is coconut milk and seafood dish.
Video of the Garifuna Festival
Hole in the wall
Jonesville is one of Roatan's original fishing villages and settlements. Residents of Jonesville get around via boats. There is excellent mangrove forest to explore in the area. Jonesville Roatan is also a very picturesque town. Most tourists do not visit Roatan, but it is a favorite among residents and among visitors who can visit Roatan on a longer trip.
PRO TIP: If you make it to Jonesville have a local water taxi take you to one of Roatan's most interesting destinations, "Hole in The Wall." This is a dockside restaurant that is accessible only by boat.
Large Expat Community
Nearby West End
Sandy Bay has grown in popularity. It is located in Roatan's west end. It is located in the town of West End and Coxen Hole. The largest Expat Community lives in Sandy Bay. The Institute for Marine Science (RIMS) is also headquartered in Sandy Bay. This institute and Anthony's Key are the folks responsible for the Dolphins encounter tours in Roatan. There are new business centers in Sandy Bay, and the village has always had a nice retail and restaurant offering.
Sandy Bay is home to the Roatan Sotheby's International Realty (SIR's) office! The area encompasses a large part of Roatan’s northern shore and includes the luxury neighborhoods of Lawson Rock and Anthony’s Key. It has a long sandy beach that is wonderful for snorkeling, and it also is home to the RIMS (Roatan Institute of Marine Sciences) (RIMS) and the Carambola Botanical Gardens.
PRO TIP: Be sure to stop by The Beach Grill and be sure to visit Gumbalimba Park
Camp Bay Lodge
CAMP BAY BEACH
Camp Bay is a beach in Roatan's wild, and undiscovered northeast. It is one the island's best-kept secrets, unknown to most tourists. Here you will find soft white sand, swaying palms, clear blue water, as well as a couple of cute island bars.
PRO TIP: Camp Bay is home to Roatan's largest Kite Surfacing community. Ever been airborne?
Fauna & Flora
ST. HELENE (Santa Helena) is adjacent to Roatan, on its eastern tip. The easternmost point of Roatan Island is comprised of large mangrove forest which bridges Roatan to Santa Helena Island. From the air, Santa Helena and Roatan appear to be one contiguous island. But, in fact, these are two separate islands. There are several canals through the mangrove forest but one connects the northern and southern shores of Roatan and Santa Helena. Some of the most interesting mangrove tunnels are located between the island of Roatan and the island of Santa Helena. Spending time in Santa Elena is like spending time in the Caribbean as it was 100 years ago. It’s incredibly unique and an experience of a lifetime.
ST. HELENE is better known as "Helene" to its inhabitants, is roughly 2 miles long by one mile wide. The small island of St. Helene is separated from Roatan by a natural canal which runs for an estimated 2 miles and is approximately 20 feet wide. The highest point summit at 194 ft above sea level. The island is populated on both its northern and southern shores by English speaking creole islanders. Still today, Helene has some of the most unspoiled island countryside located in a rich and rapidly changing archipelago. Travelers can still find and discover the "old Caribbean" culture and charm.
PRO TIP: St. Helene is very remote and lacks electricity and running water. It is spotted with Cave systems and it represents some of the most remote parts of the Bay Islands.
PRISTINE BAY/GOLF COURSE
Pristine Bay is an exclusive luxury resort and private home community anchored by a 25,000 sq. ft. Beach club with incredible swimming, beach and tennis facilities. The star though is the 18-hole Pete Dye Golf Course with dramatic vistas overlooking the Caribbean. The community is also home to the beautiful Las Verandas Hotel and Villas.
Built against a lush, hilly backdrop, Parrot Tree Plantation is a beachfront Mediterranean-style resort located mid-island. Accommodations range from studios to large villas. Amenities include a fully functional marina, a private lagoon, and the Palapa Bar and Grill. Enjoy aquatic adventures; hike an on-site nature trail; play beach sports, or just relax and rejuvenate.
Port Royal is a tranquil, undeveloped deepwater port near Roatan's national park and is one of the highest points on the island. It was once home to Roatan's swashbuckling pirate and buccaneer community back in the 17th century!