Roatan, Honduras, located in the Caribbean sea is definitely worth a visit. This beautiful island boasts stunning beaches and a rich cultural heritage, influenced by its past as an English colony and later ceded to Honduras, creating a unique blend of English and Spanish customs. One of Roatan’s main attractions is the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, the second-largest barrier reef system in the world, which offers unparalleled opportunities for snorkeling and scuba diving. But Roatan is much more than just its underwater beauty; it also offers a variety of sightseeing and outdoor activities, making it the perfect destination for adventure seekers and nature lovers alike. Use this comprehensive travel guide to Roatan to help plan your trip.
Getting to Roatan
The Juan Manuel Gálvez International Airport, located on the west side of the island, is Roatan’s international airport. Several major airlines serve the airport, including American Airlines, Delta, United Airlines, and Avianca. There is also a ferry from La Ceiba on the Honduran mainland, which takes just over an hour to reach Roatan.
Where to stay in Roatan
- West Bay Beach: This area is home to many high-end resorts and hotels that offer luxury accommodations and excellent amenities. The stunning beachfront location is a major draw for visitors.
- West End: This charming village offers a range of accommodations, including hotels, resorts, and vacation rentals. West End is known for its excellent shopping opportunities,lively atmosphere, nightlife, dining, and diving options.
- Sandy Bay: This area is located on the northern coast of Roatan and is home to many eco-friendly resorts and hotels. It’s a great place to stay if you want to experience the natural beauty of the island.
- French Harbour: This area is located on the eastern side of Roatan and is known for its marinas, fishing charters, and upscale resorts. It’s a great place to stay if you want to be close to water activities and enjoy a quieter atmosphere.
- Coxen Hole: This is the largest town on Roatan and is a hub for transportation and shopping. It’s a good option if you’re looking for affordable accommodations or want to be close to the airport and ferry terminal.
The best time to visit Roatan
Generally, Roatán has pleasant weather all year round; however, the best time to visit Roatán is during the dry season, which lasts from February to June. May and September are also great months to visit Roatán, as the weather is still great and the island is not overcrowded with tourists. The rainy season in Roatán is from October to January. If you don’t mind the rain, the rainy season could be a good time to visit as it is less crowded and accommodations are less expensive.
Currency in Roatan
When it comes to spending money in Roatan, carrying US dollars is ideal. The official currency is the Honduran lempira, but many places on the island accept US dollars. While credit cards are accepted at most businesses, having cash on hand is the best way to go, especially for small transactions or tipping.
Cultural diversity in Roatan
Roatan’s population is a melting pot of different cultures and ethnicities. The Garifuna people, who are descendants of West African, Caribbean, and indigenous Arawak peoples, make up a significant portion of the island’s population. You can experience their culture through their music, dance, and cuisine. You’ll also find a mix of other cultures, including Honduran, American, and European.
Roatan offers a variety of dining options, including local seafood, Caribbean cuisine, and international dishes. The national dish of Honduras, called Plato Tipico, which features beef, fried plantains, and beans, is also a popular dish on the island. Some of the popular dishes in Roatan include conch fritters, ceviche, and the famous baleadas, a thick wheat flour tortilla dish stuffed with refried beans and cheese. You can also try local drinks, such as the Honduran beer Salva Vida.
Things to do in Roatan
Snorkeling and diving
Roatan is famous for its spectacular snorkeling and diving opportunities. For those who love snorkeling, there are plenty of excellent sites that are easily accessible from the beach. West Bay Beach, in particular, features some of the best shore snorkeling experiences in the region.
Additionally, the island’s underwater world is abundant with magnificent marine life, including seahorses, giants of the ocean, and diverse coral gardens, offering divers the chance to discover a diver’s paradise. Roatán is perfectly suited for new and veteran divers alike, with incredible visibility and warm-water conditions. Roatán has a dive culture for everyone, with a variety of options, including wall dives, shallow corals, and macro marine life, among others.
Roatán boasts some of the most stunning beaches in the world, making it an ideal destination for beach lovers. Famous West Bay Beach is a must-visit with its white sand and crystal-clear water, offering an array of water activities such as snorkeling, parasailing, and paddleboarding.
Another popular choice is Tabyana Beach, with its outstanding snorkeling opportunities. Mahogany Bay is another great option that offers a wide range of activities, including snorkeling, kayaking, and paddleboarding.
Visit Gumbalimba Park
Gumbalimba Park is a must-see attraction for visitors to Roatan’s beautiful island. This family-friendly park features a museum, a waterfront, and water-filled activities. Visitors can also get up close and personal with some of the park’s colorful exotic birds and monkeys, which add to the park’s charm. The park’s foliage and flowers make for a stunning visual experience as visitors explore the gardens and take in the beauty of the surroundings.
Visit the Carambola Botanical Gardens
The Carambola Botanical Gardens, located in Sandy Bay, span across 40 acres of trails, showcasing a tropical paradise of flora and fauna. It is a perfect place for hiking, wildlife observation, and scenic photography.
Carambola Botanical Gardens is home to many different varieties of tropical plants, including one of the country’s most extensive orchid collections. Visitors can easily spend a leisurely day seeing the sights and exploring the beauty and tranquility the gardens have to offer.
Visit the Roatan Butterfly Garden
The Roatan Butterfly Garden, located near West End Village, is a must-see tropical haven with fragrant plants, flowers, fruit trees, and 15 to 20 different species of colorful butterflies. Visitors can take a self-guided tour of the almost 3000 square foot garden to see over 200 butterflies in their natural habitat.
Day Trip to Cayos Cochinos
For those seeking a more isolated retreat, don’t miss adding a day trip to Cayos Cochinos to your itinerary. Located just 20 miles off the coast of Roatan, this little-known archipelago is a hidden gem where visitors can enjoy activities such as swimming, snorkeling, and exploring, as well as a delicious traditional Garifuna lunch on the sandy shores of the island.
“Take memories only, leave footprints behind.”