Roatan Honduras is the jewel of Honduras. The largest and most popular of the Bay Islands, Roatan Island is surrounded by a vibrant living reef, part of the large Meso-American Barrier Reef, the second longest reef on earth after Australia's Great Barrier Reef. Each year, thousands of people take a Roatan vacation to experience the great diving, white sand beaches, and easy-going Bay Islands way of life. Two other islands, Utlia and Guanaja, also draw visitors.
Because Roatan Honduras was formerly part of the British Empire, English is much more widely spoken here than on the mainland. More Spanish-speaking Hondurans have relocated here in recent years to work at the resorts or in construction, but if you can pick up on the Caribbean accent, you will have no language difficulties in Roatan.
Because of the extensive barrier reef, Roatan diving has become more and more popular, and the island boasts many dive resorts, including the unique and rustic Marble Hill Farms and beautiful Turquoise Bay Resort. The are great dive sites all around the perimeter of the island. These include a number of wrecks, caves and labyrinths, sheer walls that shelter coral forests, sponges, sea horses, starfish, moray eels, large groupers, stingrays, hawksbill turtles, and myriad small tropical fish.
A number of airlines fly to Roatan Island, landing the city of Coxen Hole's airport. There are flights from Atlanta, Houston and Miami - and even from Milan, Italy. It is often more economical to book a ticket into Tegucigalpa or San Pedro Sula on the Honduran mainland and get a connecting Roatan flight to the island. Flights are also readily available from La Ceiba in northern Honduras. An alternative to getting a Roatan flight is to take a ferry from La Ceiba. The boat ride from La Ceiba to Roatan Island takes about an hour, and is economical. Transportation around the island is provided by taxis, buses, a tour companies.
West End & West Bay
However you begin your Roatan Honduras vacation, you will arrive in the far west of this 35-mile long (and just 1.5- to 3-mile wide) island. Most Roatan hotels are fairly close to the airport or ferry harbor. The two main resort areas are West End and West Bay, about ten minutes from each other by water taxi. West End is the more affordable of the two areas. Rooms are available for as little as $25 a night, dorm beds can be found for $10 or under. There are also some high-end Roatan hotels in West End and the restaurants are generally excellent. To the south, West Bay has some of the finest resort hotels in Honduras, and a beach that is unrivaled anywhere else in the country. Most hotel rooms in West Bay are right on the beach, and almost every vista seems lifted from a travel catalogue.
Other Areas & Attractions
There are also some good Roatan hotels in French Harbor and Oak Ridge, though the eastern part of the island is less developed and more run-down than the west. Still, a bus ride along the coast is a good way to spend a day on a long Roatan Island vacation. Some of the Garifuna towns away from the resorts seem plucked from the past. There are mangrove canal tours through tunnels of thick vegetation, zip line excursions, and even a golf course. Some specialty destinations include Facinating Iguana Park and the Stone Castle cameo factory, where you can watch artists carving beautiful designs into sea shells.
Roatan Honduras is a true island paradise. Development has changed part of the coast line, but heavy efforts to preserve Roatan diving spots and the beautiful beaches ensures that this will be a vacation hotspot for years to come. No Honduras vacation is complete without a trip to Roatan.