At the southernmost tip of world's second largest reef (the 700-mile-long Mesoamerican Reef), sits the beautiful Bay Islands. And at its center, is Roatan. Roatan is the biggest island of three main islands. Roatan was once a domain of Spanish conquistadors. British Pirates also dominated and shaped the culture we now find on the islands. The only reef larger than the Mesoamerican Reef is Australia's Great Barrier Reef. Roatan is small and skinny. Roatan is only 45 miles long just shy of 5 miles wide at its widest point.
Roatan is much safer than the mainland of Honduras. Unfortunately, reports coming out of Honduras do not do it justice. But the Bay Islands are insular and offer its residents and tourist a much safer experience. Reputable resorts on Roatan are manned around the clock with security personnel. At first sight, this might give new visitors a reason to pause. But, in fact, security men on and around private property and around resorts, in general, are a common practice.
Sand flies and mosquitos are a part of the landscape. The local Center for Disease Control reports that Zika cases have been detected on the islands. If you are planning to visit Roatan, keep this in mind. Protect yourself.
THINGS TO DO
A good tentative agenda is to plan your days around the exploration of key areas. You can spend a day in West End. You can spend a day in West Bay. And when you get restless, rent a car and travel to the east side of the island which is less explored. The east side of Roatan offers excellent excursions in and around mangrove forest. The east side of Roatan is locally known as the "funky" seaside of the island. For a more complete list of things to do, visit our things to do page.
WEST BAY BEACH
West Bay is at its finest at sunset. Roatan is surrounded by lush gardens above and below the surface. Coral sponges teeming with marine life are fixtures all around the island. Roatan has been a scuba divers paradise for years, because of its world-class reef. But over the years, the island has come to life and now receives cruise ships on a weekly basis. Tourist from all walks of life now visits the island. Roatan offers among the best retro-Caribbean towns, beach-shacks, and an array of friendly local folks.
In addition to diving and snorkeling, visitors can steer a kayak through the turquoise-blue water or try their luck on a charter fishing trip. There are also glass-bottom boat tours, which allow a close-up look at hundreds of different types of corals, marine life, and fish that thrive in the water. The island is a Marine Park thanks to concerned divers coming together in 2005 to form a not for profit organization which is dedicated to the protection of marine life and marine ecosystems.
On dry land, visitors can ride horses along the beaches or in the hills; play miniature golf, and take a thrilling zip line ride over the forest canopy. Roatan also has cultural attractions, including the Institute of Marine Sciences, which offers a dolphin show. The Carambola Gardens and Marine Reserve has nature walks that provide a closer look at the beautiful flowers and plants of Roatan, as well as exotic birds and shy lizards. The garden's "Iguana Wall," is a natural breeding ground for iguanas and parrots. Other activities include fishing and horseback tours of this beautiful island. Sandy Bay is where the Institute of Marine Sciences resides as well as the Roatan Museum.
"Roatan is the Caribbean best kept secret"
BEST KEPT SECRET
Roatan offers a blast to the past compared to other ports of call. Roatan is mysterious and quickly gaining in popularity. Visit now before all the beachfront real estate is dominated by luxury hotels and second homes. Roatan is an island get-a-way that will please those from colder climates that are searching for warm waters and a tropical setting. This is a destination that has many activities for adults and children alike. The beaches are powdered sand that feels heavenly, and the accommodations and restaurants are very affordable.
NOT LIKE ALL THE OTHERS
If you are looking for a tropical holiday, this may be just the spot for you. The chance to see a culture totally different than what you are familiar with is always interesting to tourists. Further, Roatan has many water activities such as scuba diving, swimming, and snorkeling. Diving is another option that can be done as little as 100 feet away from the beach. This island is the second largest barrier reef in the world.
THE BIG ISLAND
Roatan, the "big island" of the Bay Islands off the northern coast of Honduras, is emerging as a port of call for cruises of the Western Caribbean. The island has a mountainous, jungle-covered spine; lovely beaches; and the world's second-largest barrier reef. The reef creates a paradise for sea life and divers, but there is much more to this 40-mile long island.
Where is Roatan?