Located 30 miles northeast of the Honduras coast out towards the Caribbean sea, lies a group of islands called the Bay Islands and the largest of them of all is Roatán. Formerly a British colony, the island measures 48 miles long and 28 miles wide. Roatán sits on the one of the world’s second largest coral reef systems and has a number of beaches dotted around the island. We stayed at Roatán’s popular South West area also known as the West End.
Snorkelling and Scuba Diving are one of the most popular activities on the island (with access to one of the largest reefs in the world), I was eager to go in the waters and do a spot of snorkelling with the group (despite not feeling 100% after the choppy ferry ride the night before). Local dive company, EcoDivers provided us with all the kit we needed for $30USD this included 2 hours snorkelling out at sea.
Roatán is one of the cheapest places to learn to scuba dive and some of the group participated in a beginners scuba diving course, with an instructor and diving kit included in their package. The seas were clear and relatively calm, and as we snorkelled further from our boat we could see various fish and colourful corals. I even caught a glimpse of sea turtle!
The following afternoon, we took a taxi boat and headed to West Bay beach for $6 return fare each (price negotiable). This is one of the island’s finest white sanded beaches, but also the most developed with the whole front taken up by bars, gift shops and resturants. This is a prime location, in peak season West Bay attracts hoards of cruise ship passengers to it’s shores, and consequently inflating pricing for food and drinks which has spread to the neighbouring West End. Despite this (and limiting ourselves to one beer at a pricey bar), we swam by the beach, chatted and relaxed until the sun set.
Unfortunately the sunny weather didn’t last and the next couple of days were very wet and we didn’t do much outdoor activities since. But a small number of the group joined our tour leader on motorcycle road tour around the island. This is great way to discover other parts of Roatán including it’s less developed North side.
WHERE TO STAY
We stayed at Hotel La Quinta, excellent low cost rooms with air conditioning and situated at end of West End Rd (south).
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WHERE TO EAT
Along the main street in the West End, there is a multitude of restaurants, bars and cafes. Barbecues, local seafood and Creole dishes are popular, but can be pricey. There are budget eats at low key eateries, our favourite was Calelu’s, serving cheap Baleadas. A couple of doors down is The Tiki Cup cafe, a great breakfast spot. There is a Sarita Ice Cream shop (popular Central American chain) for those who need an ice cream fix along the West End Road near the roundabout.
- Roatán is a touristy developed island and during peak season the island attracts large crowds from cruise ships sailing the Caribbean. It is best to avoid the island during busy periods or visit the other smaller Bay Islands if possible as the beaches, and it’s resturants will be overcrowded.
- The island widely accepts US Dollar and there are ATMs on the main West End Road. Everything is priced is USD for the benefit of the cruise passengers but you can pay in Honduras Lempira.
- If you are on a budget, take snacks and drinks with you on days out to the beaches (often the beachside eateries are pricey).
- The ferry ride from La Ceiba to Roatán was rough, the calm lagoon at the ferry ports can be deceiving. If you suffer from motion sickness do take anti-sickness medication, which is also given out at the port. The island also has an airport for those who want to get there (or leave) quicker.
- Ensure you have good travel insurance when participating in any other activities mentioned.
Gallery Preview, to see the full Roatán gallery click here.
Next Post, we take our first flight on the tour leaving Roatán and headed towards Granada, Nicaragua.