Roatán is one of the most popular places in Honduras for those looking for that perfect tropical vacation. There are direct flights to Roatán from Italy, Canada, and the United States, and those on holiday from the latter are happy to find that the primary language spoken is English. The island of Roatan is laden with white sandy beaches, and surrounded by coral reefs, which makes it a diving and snorkeling haven.
There are many resorts to cater to your every desire, and plenty of island activities and attractions. Roatán is the perfect location to dip into water sports of all kinds: kayaking, jet skis, banana boat rides … or opt for the quieter activities such as scuba diving, snorkeling, and snuba. Even those wanting a bit of education thrown into the mix will not be disappointed, with The Institute of Marine Sciences, the Roatán Museum, a butterfly garden, the Carambola Gardens and Marine Reserve to visit.
You can choose any number of areas on Roatan to spend your vacation. West End, Coxen Hole, Sandy Bay – it won’t be easy to choose. Luckily there are water taxis to transport you from one end of Roatan to the other, allowing the holiday traveler the ability to see and dine at any of them.
Roatan is definitely a contender for some of the absolute best vacation options. The more you learn, the more cetain you’ll be that plans must be made for a trip to the island of Roatan.
Best of Roatan
- Best Restaurants on Roatan
- Best Marinas on Roatan
- Best Resort Communities on Roatan
Roatan is a Gem in the Bay Islands of Honduras
Roatan is the largest of the Bay Islands. It is a long, narrow, hilly island, almost 60 km long (about 37 miles) and only 5 km wide (3 miles) at its widest spot. Its rolling hills and mountains, with a maximum altitude above sea level of approximately 900 feet, makes every piece of property virtually a unique ocean view lot. The island is completely surrounded by a large reef system, part of the Mesoamerican reef which boasts the largest marine biodiversity in the world and is part of the second longest barrier reef in the World, extending itself from the Bay Islands in Honduras on the south end to the Mexican islands of Contoy, Isla Mujeres and Cozumel to the North.
The coast line of Roatan has outstanding white sand beaches, iron shore bluffs and mangrove forests surrounding the island. The combination is almost perfect and provides the best of all three worlds, tropical beaches, such as the one in West Bay is considered the best beach in Central America and one of the best in the world; The iron shore bluffs offer some of the best ocean front views on the island, and the mangrove swamps offer an insight to the tropical wetlands of the Caribbean and Central America.
In addition, the original vegetation of the island can still be seen on the eastern end of the island, here you will find the presence of the unique Caribbean Pine, a species of pine tree that has adapted itself to the hot, lowlands of the island, and that is unique to the Bay Islands of Roatan, Barbaretta and Guanaja. This pine species can also be found in the Honduran mainland, specifically in coastal areas. The pine forests coexist with an oak forest that gave its name to one of the most important cities in Roatan: Oakridge.
Most of the islands communities have English names. This is due to the fact that the islands were part of the British Empire until they were ceded to the country of Honduras in 1859 – 1860 as part of the treaty of Comayagua. Since the original settlers were brits from the Cayman Islands, they named the different communities with English names, that have persisted to this day.
Names such as Coxen Hole, French Harbour, Oakridge, Calabash Bight, Politilly Bight, Sandy Bay, Flowers Bay, etc are all proof of the above. The descendants of the original settlers all have English names, Bodden, McNab, Hyde, Jackson, McLaughlin are all common names on the island, and to this day, islanders prefer to speak English over Spanish, which is the official language of Honduras.
Roatan has two different private cruise ship terminals, an international airport and regularly scheduled passenger ferry service from the port city of La Ceiba in mainland Honduras. It has a main highway that serves as a backbone to the island, linking West End, the westernmost community on the island to Camp Bay and Old Port Royal, the easternmost communities on Roatan. The majority of this road is paved, and the part that isn’t paved is an all weather dirt road that can be driven throughout the year. Many less important roads interconnect with the main road and lead to smaller villages as well as to modern resort developments on the island.
Politically the island is divided in two municipalities: The Municipality of Roatan, with its seat of government in Coxen Hole, and the Municipality of Santos Guardiola, with its seat of government in Oakridge. There is no doubt that the most developed part of the island is in the municipality of Roatan. The airport, ferry terminal and both cruise ship terminals are within its limits. In addition, the most developed tourism center on the island, West Bay is also within its limits, and many of the most important projects are here: The Black Pearl Golf Club, Roatan’s only golf course is a perfect example.
Don’t let the glamour of the west end of the island keep you from visiting the eastern side of it. Here, you will find the most authentic Caribbean villages to be seen on the island. Oakridge, Calabash Bight, Jonesville are but some of the hidden treasures that you will discover in this area. Many of these are off the main road, and require a bit of an effort to get to, but if you are looking for a pleasant Caribbean setting, friendly English speaking people and a more authentic and natural setting, this is your side of the island! However, this does not mean that there is no development going on here! The most exclusive residential development on the island, with the most ambitious marina, and most elegant condominiums can be found at Parrot Tree Plantation, a development that has been made with attention to detail and that is set on a class of its own!
There are several other developments under way in this area that are worth looking into if you are interested in investing in Roatan.
Photos of Roatan
See more about Roatan
See more about the Bay Islands
See more about Honduras