The island of Roatan off Honduras is located 30 miles off the north coast atop the worlds second largest coral reef. The reef attracts many fish, and is world known for scuba diving. Roatan is the largest of the Bay Islands at about 77 kilometres (48 mi) long, and less than 8 kilometres (5.0 mi) at its widest. The island has a number of beaches, all of which are public. Originally an English colony, and later ceded to Honduras, Roatan has a mixture of english and spanish speaking natives. With two cruise ship ports, Roatan has become a cruise destination, and roads and beaches can be busy when ships are in port. Prices for services may be higher when a ship is in. In recent years the island has experienced a lot of development and has a number of resorts along with more rustic accommodation as well. The western side of the island is the most populated and where most tourists stay, and the eastern side is more remote and isolated. Roatan has a warm climate with daytime temperatures between 80-90 year round.
Rotan island layout
- West Bay – is the furthest-west area of the island, has some good restaurants and places to stay, and several large resorts have been built on the beach. It’s arguably the best stretch of beach in the western portion of the island – powder-white sand that is very well maintained. The reef is a short swim away for excellent snorkeling, especially near the west-most tip, also known as Tabyana Beach. West Bay is also home to some of the best sunsets. It is recommended to spend beach time in the West Bay and bar time in the West End.
- West End – has some good restaurants and places to stay, and it is definitely the most fun town on the island. There are bars, restaurants, live music, right on the Caribbean. The are also a multitude of dive shops, if you are interested in learning to dive, or would like to do some fun dives as a certified diver.
- Sandy Bay– a mostly residential area, Sandy Bay also has a few resorts, such as Anthony’s Key Resort, where you can swim with dolphins, as well as a hostel, Roatan Backpackers’ Hostel. There are also a few restaurants such as The Blue Parrot, The Beach Grill at Blue Bahia, and Tranquil Seas. Octopus Divers is in Sandy Bay, if you’re staying in the area and would like to do diving. The Carambola Gardens is located in Sandy Bay as well. If you are interested in doing volunteer work on the island, there are several non-profits in Sandy Bay, such as Clinica Esperanza, Care4Communities, and the SandCastle Library. The Sandy Bay beach gives easy access to beautiful snorkeling, which is about a 200 meter swim from shore.
- Coxen Hole – is where the airport is located, and most of life’s necessities can be found here, including stores, restaurants, and banks.
- French Harbor – has some good restaurants and resorts and most tourists do not venture further east than French Harbor, which is at roughly the mid point of the island. Past this point are a few newer beach resorts, resort communities, and some private towns with beaches and resorts. Many of the resorts, restaurants and bars on this part of the island were in the past a secret of locals and expats but with the west end becoming more crowded the secret is out and more tourist are finding their way to the east end of the island. One point of interest would be Jonesville and the infamous Hole in the Wall restaurant reached by taking a small water taxi from Jonesville to reach it. Another is Camp Bay Beach Adventure Lodge and the Tasty Tarpon Restaurant located on Camp Bay Beach the largest of all the beaches of the Bay Islands and can be accessed by car or boat.
- Punta Gorda – Fishing community of the Garifuna.
- Oak Ridge Fishing community with few roads, and buildings on stilts over the water.
- Camp Bay – is a further on from Oak Ridge about 4.5 miles and home to the largest natural beach on all the Bay Islands – Camp Bay Beach, which you can gain free access to at a couple different locations and has a small beachfront resort and restaurant: Camp Bay Beach Adventure Lodge. Camp Bay is about the furthest you can go in a car. Past Camp Bay are the mangroves which are quite beautiful when navigated by boat and kayak. There are many tours through the mangroves which can be chartered from various points on the island.
- Port Royal Small community, originally founded by English pirates