Roatan


Roatan is one of the Honduras Bay Islands in the Caribbean. The other Bay Islands are: Utila, Guanaja and Hog Islands. Thanks to its location close to the barrier reef, Roatan has become an important scuba diving destination in Honduras. It is also an important stop for cruise ships. Home to beautiful white beaches, the island has been off the radar of mass tourism until 2005, when it was discovered by cruise ships and hotel developers.

Location

The island is located near the largest barrier reef in the Caribbean Sea and the second largest in the world (after Australia’s Great Barrier Reef).

How to get to

Juan Manuel Gálvez International Airport (RTB) serves Roatan and receives several non-stop flights from the US weekly. Alternatively, you can fly into Ramón Villeda Morales International Airport (SAP), located on the mainland, and connect to Roatan by ferry or catamaran.

Flights and accommodation

Just like in the rest of the Caribbean, tourists usually flock to Roatan to escape the cold back home. So December to March are particularly busy. Then there’s the Easter time, when traveling is also at its peak. But the summer months are also popular among travelers, so there’s always somebody traveling to/from Roatan. However, the flights to Honduras are at their busiest and most expensive in July, August and December to March. The same is valid for accommodation , too.

If you plan to do some snorkeling, stay in West Bay. There are some resorts here, as well, but you can find low cost accommodation, too. The beaches are awesome and it’s also an excellent place to watch sunsets.

West End is where you want to be if you look for restaurants, bars and live music. You can also find some good places to stay here. The area has been under development recently so the infrastructure should be much better.

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French Harbor is where most mass tourists won’t venture. So if you look for a quieter place to stay, you’ve hit jackpot. There are good restaurants in the area, too.

It’s best to book the flight and accommodation ahead of time, especially if you travel during the busy times of the year. Accommodation prices vary a lot, depending on the hotel or hostel you choose. High end resorts can burn a hole of US$270 per night in your pocket, while a shared bed in a hostel costs only US$25 per night during the same time of the year (August).

What to do

There are three types of vacations in Roatan. First, you can find the usual Caribbean resort-oriented tourism, still being developed, ,but you can find enough resorts for your stay, offering anything from basic services to top accommodation.

Then, there’s the more laid-back, independent type of tourism. You can still find huts and low cost accommodation where you can sleep under a mosquito net, away from other travelers.

And , lastly, Roatan is a port of call on many cruises. When a ship docks, the tourists flock to the sights but never stay for more than a few hours.

Snorkeling and diving are two of the main activities in Roatan, which can be enjoyed year-round here. Then there are the white beaches , ideal for those who want to just enjoy a relaxing day in the sun.

If you don’t like to spend all the time on the water or in the water, you can walk along the beach to West Bay from West End (about 45 min); or you can try horseback riding on the beach.

Zip lining is also very popular here. Or you can visit a tropical garden to see iguanas and monkeys.

Don’t forget about the gorgeous sunsets and the excellent sea food available here.

You don’t have to stay in Roatan for the entire vacation; either take a ferry or talk to a local to take you on a tour to other Bay Islands. Or you can explore the mainland.

Photo by Jim Bahn