Found off the north coast of Honduras in the beautiful surrounds of the Caribbean Sea, Roatan is the tropical island of dreams. Surrounded by one of the world’s most bio-diverse coral reefs, the island has long been a favorite amongst divers and snorkelers looking to explore the unbelievably large array of marine life that live off the coast.
Away from the stunning beaches and picturesque coastline, Roatan has a beautiful, green and mountainous interior that is becoming an ecotourism hotspot, with adventurous opportunities awaiting those looking to explore.
From high-end hotels to basic, beachside accommodation, a trip to Roatan can be for everyone. Get ready to explore the water, the jungle and the intriguing, multicultural history of this Honduran Island. To help you plan your trip, here’s our ultimate guide to visiting Roatan Honduras.
Where is Roatan Honduras?
Roatan Honduras is a just a small, narrow island, being just under 40 miles long and only 5 miles wide at its longest stretch.
It’s small, but it’s perfectly situated in the middle of the beautiful Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, the second largest barrier reef in the world – after the Great Barrier Reef in Australia of course.
The island is found 40 miles off the northern coastline of Honduras, and it is the largest of the seven Bay Islands, and largest settlement in the region.
Language and Currency in Roatan, Honduras
Roatan is part of Honduras, which is a majority Spanish speaking nation, however, due to its complicated colonial history, the primary language – unlike the rest of the mainland – is in fact English.
This is reflected in the place names and the names of the locals and you will find that English is the number one language to use.
US Dollars are widely accepted on the island, however, you will find that paying in US Dollars will cost a premium, so it’s best to change up your money on arrival in Coxen Hole at the many currency exchanges, for the best rates on the island. The local currency is the Honduran Lempira.
Is Roatan Honduras Safe?
Mainland Honduras has an infamous reputation for violent, gang-related crime and many of the cities are not that safe for tourists to visit. Don’t let that put you off traveling to Roatan however, because the island is a very separate entity to the rest of the country.
The violent crime of the mainland is rarely found on the island and with the local economy reliant on tourism, they go out of their way to ensure visitors feel safe. Petty theft may occur, as it does anywhere in the world, but Roatan is a safe destination for a vacation.
Don’t leave home without your Lonely Planet Honduras & the Bay Islands (Travel Guide)
Things to do in Roatan Honduras
From beautiful reefs and endless diving and snorkeling opportunities to relaxed beach days, sunset cocktails or even an intense jungle, zip lining experience. There’s a lot to do in Roatan Honduras, and here is the best of it all.
Snorkeling and Diving
The snorkeling and diving opportunities are perhaps the main reason to visit Roatan. Being surrounded by the second largest barrier reef in the world means that the underwater life is some of the most diverse in the world.
There are several excellent companies that can arrange trips out to the reef and that offer diving courses too. Most are located on the west side of the island, to cater for the tourists that stay here.
There are hundreds of potential dives sites, because of the sheer size of the reef!
Snorkeling & Diving Tours:
- Snorkeling Tour from Roatan Island, Honduras
- Discover Scuba Diving Course
- Roatan Shore Excursion: Snorkeling Tour
- Private Fishing and Snorkeling Tour from Roatan Island, Honduras
Glass Bottom Boat Tours
If diving or snorkeling isn’t for you, but you’d still love to experience the majesty of the reef, then the best option is to join a glass bottom boat tour. These travel out to the best spots in the surrounding area and allow you to really see the best marine life without having to ever get into the water.
Glass Bottom Boat Tours:
- Roatan Shore Excursion:Small Group Glass Bottom Boat Tour
- Roatan Private Tour: Shopping, Sightseeing and Beach Tour
Beaches in Roatan
Roatan really is a tropical paradise and some of the Caribbean’s best beaches can be found around the island. The most popular ones are found in the west.
Visit West Bay Beach to enjoy the whitest sands and most tropical outlook on Roatan. If you are after a bit more seclusion though, travel to the east end, and visit Camp Bay Beach. It’s much more isolated and remote, but the effort involved getting there will see that you might be the only person on the beach.
- West Bay Beach with Lunch
- Roatan Shore Excursion: Snorkeling Tour and West Bay Beach
- Zipline, Monkey & Parrot Watching, and Beach Resort Relaxation on Roatan Island
- Roatan Fun in the Sun Beach Break
Jungle Canopy Tours
Beaches aside, Roatan has a large area of dense jungle to be explored in the island’s interior. There are several eco-adventure tours which take visitors through the canopy of the jungle, exploring the wildlife and flora of the island while experiencing the thrill of ziplining between trees.
Jungle Canopy Tours:
- Roatan Shore Excursion: Zip ‘n’ Dip Canopy Tour
- Roatan Ziplines, Beaches and Monkey Park
- Zipline, Monkey & Parrot Watching, and Beach Resort Relaxation on Roatan Island
- Roatan ATV Jungle Tours: Thrilling & Adventurous
Bars and Nightlife
Roatan has a legendary nightlife scene in Honduras. Because of the number of tourists visiting, in high season, the parties can go on long into the night.
There are many great beach bars, most of them to be found in the popular West End, as well as more relaxed restaurants on the beach fronts, where it’s easy to relax the day away and watch the sunset with a cocktail in hand.
Some places to check out on your visit to Roatan, Honduras:
- Booty Bar & Caribbean Restaurant
- The Reef Rider
- Larry and Luey’s Fly High Bar
Roatan Honduras Travel Planning Guide
How to Travel to Roatan Honduras
Being a popular diving and holiday destination, Roatan is well connected and relatively easy to travel to. Several major airlines offer direct flights from the US, from transport hubs such as Miami and New York, however, these tend to be only seasonal in keeping with demand.
Roatan is well connected to the large Honduran city, San Pedro Sula. There are daily flights from the city to the island, and San Pedro Sula is itself well connected internationally, especially to the US and surrounding central and southern American nations.
The more adventurous traveler can even take a ferry from the Honduran mainland to Roatan. The island is just a short ride away from the coastal city of La Ceiba and a fast, modern catamaran makes the journey twice a day, in the morning and again in the afternoon, connecting Roatan to Honduras in 70 minutes.
Many cruise ships also visit the island during the Caribbean cruising season, and this can be a great way to see the highlights of Roatan on a whistle-stop tour. It can get busy though when the ships are docked.
Getting around Roatan is easy, considering the island’s small size. The airport and ferry terminal are located in Coxen’s Hole, which serves as the main transport hub of the island, and the best spot to find amenities and shops.
From here, buses run the length of the island at regular intervals. There are many taxi drivers on the island looking for fares too, just ensure you barter before accepting a lift.
Scooters can be rented daily and are an efficient way to travel around Roatan, but can be potentially dangerous for those unused to riding them or unused to the roads.
Make sure to check out Fodor’s Caribbean Cruise Ports of Call if arriving by cruise ship.
Best Time to Visit Roatan Honduras
Roatan experiences very consistent temperatures throughout the year, with hot, warm weather all year around. The tropical weather though means that the island does experience distinct wet and dry seasons.
The dry season runs from July to January while the wet season runs from February to June. The area does, however, experience the odd shower even in the supposed dry season, so be prepared for this.
The best time to visit is, of course, the dry season, especially if you are visiting Roatan to snorkel or dive. The water is clearest at the end of the dry season when the runoff from the rainy season has dissipated, and the surrounding coral looks at its best.
The dry season of course, is also when the cruise ships tend to visit and prices may be significantly higher than in the off season.
Check out this tour: Roatan Hop On Hop Off Bus Highlights and Beach
Where to Stay in Roatan Honduras
The vast majority of the accommodation in Roatan can be found located in the west of the island. Coxen Hole may be the transport hub, however, most tourists will choose to stay elsewhere, along the more scenic stretches of coastline.
West Bay and West End are not far from Coxen Hole and are favorites for those on holiday. There’s quite a range of standards and prices available across the island, but here are a few highly rated options to choose from.
- Top luxury hotel in Roatan: Xbalanque Resort
- Top mid-range hotel in Roatan: Splash Inn Dive Resort
- Top budget hotel in Roatan: Reef House Resort
- Top hostel in Roatan: Roatan Backpackers’ Hostel
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