Sometimes considered a “throwaway” port on a cruise ship itinerary, Roatan has become the darling of the adventure set. Now, it’s the rare visitor who isn’t delighted to discover the appeal of the “undiscovered” island. It’s not hard to understand why.
The island is approximately 35 miles off the mainland, situated at the southern end of the 700 mile-long Mesoamerican Reef, which ranks second only to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.
The reef is easy to get to, and the snorkeling couldn’t be better, with lots of marine life to captivate you. Swim with colorful fish and experience up close the beautiful living coral and fascinating sponges. Fish for barricuda, mahi-mahi, wahoo or marlin off the reef; there are numerous eateries that will be happy to cook your catch!
Dive among sea turtles, dolphins as you explore the fascinating shipwrecks that are close to shore. You may even get an underwater view of a sea turtle or a whale shark. Or give in to fantasy and swim with the dolphins for a memorable experience that can’t happen everywhere.
If that’s not enough to recommend Roatan as a destination, consider this: As, one of the group of small land masses known as the Bay Islands, it’s only about 40 miles long and not even three miles wide, meaning that it’s easy to get from one spot to another.
There are lots of beaches, and they’re all spectacular. Book a dive or snorkeling experience or simply book a beach lounge and enjoy the view. Rent a kayak or wakeboard, or sail and water ski in calm bays.
Norwegian will dock at a modern facility with shops and a couple of restaurants. But it’s easy to hail a taxi to head out for explorations if you want to go beyond the beaches for a little bit.
Sample local fare like baleadas from a funky beach shack, or get a “six pack” of Honduran tacos that feature soft tortillas filled with refried beans, chicken, cheese and fresh avocado for a great midday meal!
Sandy Bay’s Carambola Botanical Gardens is worth a stroll, if only to enjoy the jungle trails and the sights and smells of stunning orchids, medicinal plants, exotic species like the “Chocolate Tree” and Honduran Mahogany, playful spider monkeys, iguanas and parrots. Climb to the summit of Carambola Mountain for a new perspective on the sea and the reef. It makes for an unforgettable photo op.
Zipline above the tropical landscape for a breathtaking experience that is suitable for both adults and children above the age of five. There’s a lot to see and experience, and you’ll be invigorated by the views.
But, if you’d rather keep your feet on the ground, opt for a jungle walkway tour that includes paved paths and a series of elevated suspension bridges with mind-boggling views. Hummingbirds will be likely to keep you company, and you might even spot the rare yellow-headed parrot.
Shop for local and South American crafts, pottery, wood products, woven baskets, textiles and leather goods, as well as t-shirts and trinkets in shops near the beaches and in West Bay and French Harbour.
Sample local rum and rum cake at the Roatan Rum Company, if you’re so inclined!
Whether you choose to explore underwater, or stay on land and simply look out on the sparkling vista, it’s not hard to imagine a time when pirates and pirate ships held sway here; in fact, you might even meet descendants of some of those legendary pirates among the multi-cultural local population.
But, if you’ve harbored doubts about your time on Roatan, you may find that it becomes a port to recommend to friends, or an island worth a return visit. Its clear water and sunshine, natural wonders, exotic flora and fauna, interesting history, and friendly people are sure to capture a place in your heart!