Roatan diving is one of the most popular activities in Honduras. Second in size only to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, the the MesoAmerican Barrier Reef off the coast of Roatan provides fabulous dive sites and have gained extensive popularity in the diving community over the last several years. Offering a vast expanse of unspoiled underwater sea life and a wide variety of resources for divers, including a hyperbaric chamber at the Cornerstone Medical Clinic, Roatan diving has something for every underwater interest and skill level.
Expert & Beginner Diving
Due to an abundance of shallow reefs, Roatan makes an excellent place for beginners to learn to dive. The island offers many classes, certifications, and hands-on dive excursions for any beginning diver. Typical beginner lessons are small in size and include one-hour of instruction taught by certified instructors, followed by an actual dive in a shallow reef. As with all dives, precautions and the presence of a certified instructor insure divers’ safety as they take in the stunning underwater plants and sea life. Once a diver masters the basics, Roatan offers a comprehensive variety of dives for experienced enthusiasts. There are many master divers who are qualified to certify their clients. If you are looking for certification, you will find an appropriate operator easily.
Roatan Dive Sites
While dive sites can be found around the entire perimeter of Roatan, the most popular sites are located in the West End in the Sandy Bay Marine Reserve on the island’s West End. Here, divers can take in the low-light corals that reside in the 90-foot depths of Spooky Channel or the seahorses that shelter in the cavern at Bear’s Den. Eels and stingrays can be found at Peter’s Place, while the current near the West End Wall offers excellent drift dives. Small systems of caves and caverns extend throughout the reserve, while shallow sloping zones offer excellent underwater photography of various coral and sea life. Experienced divers especially enjoy an area called Texas, so named due to the large size of its sites.
In addition to offering a variety of underwater sights, Roatan diving also offers a diverse selection of types of dives. Divers can choose from dive themes such as those that focus on improving performance, sustaining the ecology of the reef, or simply identifying the species that call this reef home, including sharks and dolphins. Brave and experienced divers also enjoy the many night dives in Roatan, especially popular within the ten days following a full moon. During this short window, microscopic shrimp leave a trail of phosphorescence in the water, creating a phenomenon called the String of Pearls.
While all of Roatan’s dive sites are protected and carefully patrolled in an effort to preserve the natural beauty of this underwater wonder, perhaps the most popular type of Roatan diving is man-made wreck diving. Some of the vessels off the coast of Roatan sunk accidentally, while other wrecks were deliberate, used for training divers and encouraging growth of the reef.
In 1993, a popular Roatan resort intentionally sunk a 287-foot long cargo ship named El Aguila, or the Eagle. In 1998, the force of Hurricane Mitch broke the wreckage into three pieces, creating additional interest for divers. Roatan’s largest underwater wreck, the Odyssey, was also deliberately sunk, though the midsection has since collapsed. In 1987, the Prince Albert freighter sunk off the island’s south side, and its still-undamaged hull is now home to many species of soft coral and sea horses. At a depth of nearly 200 feet, the wreckage of the Josie J cargo ship off Roatan’s West Bay is reserved for divers with advanced experience.
Roatan Diving Shore Excursions
There are two cruise terminals for large ships on the island - one at Coxen Hole and the Carnival Cruise Lines new terminal in beautiful Mahogany Bay. All cruise lines will offer shore excursions that involve scuba diviing. Most of these excursions are only a couple hours or a half day, since cruise ships usually only dock for a single day. This allows the passengers the opportunity to see more of the island, including mangrove canal tours or visiting places like Iguana Park.