Roatan is a small island off the coast of Honduras surrounded by crystal-clear Caribbean warm water. I was born and raised in Honduras and I used to go every Easter break or New Years to the island. Since It was such a routine trip for me, I took it for granted. After leaving Honduras and living overseas for more than 7 years now, I am blessed to travel as often as I do and I’ve gotten a chance to visit great, amazing beaches. Ive been to almost every island in the Caribbean, beaches in Brazil and while yes they are beautiful, nothing compares to Roatan. I don’t mean that lightly, it’s the honest truth. While the others may be more touristy and more developed, the Bay Islands is pristine heaven.
Roatan (largest of the Bay Islands) has the second largest reef in the world, it’s home to 16,383,826 unique species, and it has the clearest, bluest waters you’ve ever seen. It truly is paradise on earth. Every chance I get to go back home, I always make time to spend at least a weekend soaking up all its beauty. Never taking it for granted again…
Here are some of my suggestions once you arrive:
1.Tour the Island
My #1 activity wherever I go is to tour the place. Roatan in basically one road that circles the island. I would recommend you renting a car or book a taxi and just spend the day visiting downtown, Punta Gorda, West Bay and West End. Take advantage and talk to our kind, welcoming people. Learn about our culture, meet our garifuna community and try their local food.
2. Visit Starfish Alley
You’ve probably seen numerous pictures of smiling tourists holding brightly colored starfish during their vacation in Roatan. There is a stretch of water between West End and West Bay called Starfish Alley. There, you can find dozens of red, orange, beige, and even green starfish! And you don’t need a bit of scuba gear to see them, as they are hiding in less than 3 feet of water! Please keep in mind to always keep the starfish inside the water while you take pictures.
2. Visit the Pirate Hideout
Roatan has a long and rich pirate history. Notorious pirates such as Blackbeard, Henry Morgan, and Van Horn used the island as a hideout. In fact, Roatan’s largest city Coxen Hole is named for John Coxon, a plundering pirate captain that escaped the gallows on more than one occasion. We did visit the small pirate museum at Gumbalimba Park, but there are more authentic pirate memorabilia, tours, and actual hideouts that can still be visited. If we ever make a return trip, I would make it a point to visit Old Port Royal, which was a center for pirate activity in the 1700s.
3. Take a boat tour to Cayos Cochinos
Cayos Cochinos are 2 small islands in a Marine Protected Area near Roatan in the Caribbean. The islands are surrounded by pristine turquoise waters untouched by commercial divers or fishermen. Inhabited only by the indigenous Garifuna people, Cayos Cochinos have no cars, roads, or even bikes, only hiking trails and footpaths that lead to residences and a lone lighthouse on the highest point of the island. Accessible only by chartered boats. If you are staying in a hotel they can arrange a tour for you or book here
4. Zip Lining
While, there are several zip-lining options on the island, we zip-lined at Gumbalimba Park. Their zip-course consists of 17 different zip-lines that zoom through the jungle canopy at speeds up to 35 miles per hour! The guides were friendly, fun, and knowledgeable. Although I am terrified of heights, I never felt unsafe on the lines or platforms (except for when the iguanas got a little too close).
5. Spend the day at Little French Key
6. Go Parasailing
7. Tour The Mangrove Forests
The mangrove canals on the east end of Roatan are considered by many as one of the most beautiful and exotic natural landmarks on the entire island. This intricate network of mangrove canals link these coastal communities, granting commuters safe passage through much calmer waters, instead of going outside the reef into the open ocean. A specific section of these canals cuts through the dense red species of mangroves that grow naturally in the area. The locals call this “The Venice of Roatan” and once you explore them you will definitely get that feel.
8. DO NOT swim with the dolphins but hire a catamaran and see them swim on open water .
Despite images of happy-looking dolphins and laughing children you’ve probably seen before, don’t be fooled by their smiles. Dolphins living in captivity are suffering silently for the sake of entertainment. Instead I recommend you book a catamaran and see them swimming freely in packs, plus, you’ll get a nice boat ride and a snorkel out of it.
9. Take a Dive
Roatan is perfectly suited for new and veteran divers alike. With coral gardens, shipwrecks such as the Odyssey and Aguila, sand flats full of hidden delights, and action-packed shark dives, there’s never a dull moment underwater. Its also in the southernmost portion of the Mesoamerican Reef, which spans more than 600 miles. It’s the largest barrier reef in the Western Hemisphere and the second-largest reef in the world, what else could you possibly need?
10. Watch the sunset
Is there anything more magical than a sunrise/sunset? Roatan will always gift you the best sunset while you enjoy with an ice cold drink.