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Roatán is one of the Honduras Bay Islands in the Caribbean Sea.
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Points of Interest in Roatan
- Cameo Factory in Coxen Hole
- Carambola Gardens
- Caves of Helen, explore the caves.
- Dolphin show, at Anthony's Key Resort.
- East end, if you are up for an adventure, visit the east end of the island past Oak Ridge to Camp Bay Beach the largest of all the Bay Island beaches. The road changes from pavement to dirt/gravel mix and continues on to Punta Blanca and Camp Bay. A 4x4 vehicle is not required for the journey and you'll see many driving compact cars and scooters. This end of the island is home to many locals and some expats as well as a few resorts, one that needs to be mentioned is Camp Bay Beach Beach Adventure Lodge which is the only resort on Camp Bay Beach. It is also the home of the Tasty Tarpon restaurant and a place to gain free access to the beach with free parking and a depot for your east end adventure from snorkeling/ diving to flyfishing and Mangrove Forest boat or kayak tours. There are a few other interesting stops along the way such as Marble Hill Farms where wonderful local jams & jellies are made. Asylum bar & grill is on a palapa literally over the calm waters in Camp Bay which can sometimes feel like the restaurant at the end of the universe after the long journey of getting there. Luckily these places always have beer on ice and grilled food which makes the trip worth it. If you're looking to get off the beaten path and out of the tourist ridden West End, this is it.
- Garifuna Village Tour, in Punta Gorda
- Iguana Farm, near French Harbor.
- Mangrove Forest Kayak tour, at Camp Bay Beach Adventure Lodge
- Marine Science Museum, at Anthony's Key Resort.
- Micro brewery, Roatán makes beer.
- Oak Ridge, is a small village on the eastern end of the island. On arrival, you'll be offered water-taxi tours to the Hole-in-the-Wall restaurant, neighbouring communities, and around the harbour, but it's also pleasant to walk through the village, which has many brightly colored the wooden houses on stilts along the shore.
- Pigeon Cayes, visit the deserted islands.
- Punta Gorda, renting a scooter and driving to Punta Gorda takes about 1 hr each way, and goes through some beautiful countryside. It can be nice to get away from the touristy areas and get back into places that look and feel like Honduras. The town of Punta Gorda is friendly and you may run into a beach party if you are lucky.
- Roatán Butterfly Garden
- Whites Beach, is supposed to be beautiful.
- Spanish Lessons, West End (Main Street), ☎ 0050497269133. Spanish and English Lesson with Certified Teachers, wonderful time and extra activities in the Islands, firstname.lastname@example.org.
The island is located near the largest barrier reef in the Caribbean Sea and the second largest worldwide after Australia's Great Barrier Reef. It has become an important cruise ship and scuba diving destination in Honduras.
For many years the island was a hidden gem, with some of the most beautiful white beaches and the best snorkel and diving spots in the Caribbean, but it was 'discovered' around 2005 by cruise ships and hotel developers.
Tourists used to be mainly divers but the islands beaches have attracted additional package tourists and cruise ships. In recent years, several new cruise ship ports have been opened, causing a significant influx of traditional cruise ship tourists to the island. You'll know when the cruise ships are in port because suddenly there are several thousand additional tourists on the beaches and in towns. It is best to avoid buying anything when cruise ships are docked, the prices of food, goods, and services generally double to quadruple to capitalize on the higher expendable incomes of the typical cruise ship passenger.
There are three types of traveling experiences in Roatán. First would be the typical Caribbean resort-oriented beach vacation experience which can be found at any number of islands in the region. This type of vacationing is still developing on Roatán, however, in the past few years it has become a bit more common and the island offers many resorts and activities that would appeal to those who prefer this type of setting. Alternatively, Roatán can still be experienced through the back door and more rustic accommodations are abundant. If you are looking to sleep under a mosquito net with little to no view of any other human, you can certainly experience this on Roatán. The final type of traveling experience on Roatán is the cruise ship, these visitors are generally in town for short bursts of time and come in huge numbers, it's not unusual for you to wake up and have West Bay suddenly be covered with several thousand cruise ship passengers rubbing shoulders to find a small patch of available beach to soak up the sun in. Several cruise ships have ports in Roatán, but some dock only in the exclusive private towns and beaches owned by the resort, and you will hardly notice them except for the large ships on the horizon.
Luckily there are still parts of the island that harken to past times when Roatán was more of a remote destination. Although development is spreading to all parts of the island, one can still find more rustic settings and establishments east of French Harbor. Keep in mind that traveling to the far eastern end of the island can take time due to road conditions. Those staying around the West End of the island should expect at least an hour of travel time to reach Camp Bay in a car.
Snorkeling, diving and fishing
The fishing is good just off the reef in Roatán. Marlin, Barricuda, Tuna, Wahoo, Mahi Mahi, and much more can be caught in these waters.
There is great snorkeling and diving to be found here and many dive shops to go out with and some people like to dive with the Dolphins at Anthony's Key
If you are a good swimmer, and keep an eye out for motorboats, you can swim straight out from west end towards the white buoys for about 200 m, you will arrive at a 10-30 ft deep reef that is great for snorkeling and freediving. Slightly further out the reef gets much deeper and you hit the wall.
- Bahia Watersports, West End (between ronnies and luna beach), ☎ +504 9994-5308. 42' Hatteras Sportfish for charter. Deep sea fishing, diving, snorkeling, or take a trip to a nearby island like Utila or Cayos Cochinos. This boat has good penn reels and fighting chairs and the interior is fitted with couches, flat screen TV, dvd player, kitchen, bathroom. Also available for overnight charters.
- Caribbean Divers Roatán, Sundancer (Sandy Bay), ☎ 504-9975-6009. Stay at the Sundancer cabanas in Sandy Bay and walk down to the beach to access some of the best diving on the island.
- Coconut Tree Divers (Coconut Tree), West End Roatán Honduras (Take taxi to West End, first shop on the left at the entrance to town.), ☎ +504 2445-4081. 8AM-5PM. The only PADI Career Development Center in Roatán. The shop offers 4 daily dives: the morning boat leaves at 9AM for 2 dives and returns at around 12:30PM. The afternoon dives go out at 1PM and 2.30PM respectively. Night dives are available every Tues & Thurs. The shop's 2nd boat, Wish-U- Were-Here, is dedicated for cruise ship visitors on various cruise ship schedules. 1 day experience program, PADI Discover Scuba Diving, for those who want to try scuba diving for the first time; inc. basic theory in the classroom, a short session in shallow confined water, followed by a 45-60 min dive in the afternoon. Friendly, experienced staff. Nitrox and Trimix are available. Snorkelers welcome. ~US$30/dive.
- Cool Running Tours. Local fisherman providing fishing charter, snorkeling, or an island tour by boat
- Enomis Divers (Half Moon Bay Plaza Center), ☎ +011 504 9 567 8948, e-mail: email@example.com. Enomis Divers is designed for the discriminating scuba diver who want a no hassle, no stress, care free, just-come-and-enjoy the ultimate scuba diving dream vacation on an island paradise.
- Pescado Roatan. With Pescado Roatán, bonefish and permit on the fly
- Stanley Submarines, ☎ +504 3359-2887, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Karl Stanley has been designing, building, and piloting deep sea submersibles for over 20 years. He has logged over 1,300 dives and can take you to depths of 2,000 feet. Strives to provide cost-effective, direct access to the deep water for anyone who wishes to explore those depths. Tours from 1,000 feet to 2,000 feet for 1.5-4 hr. His operation is the cheapest submersible tourist operation in the world. You can visit the website for more details on trips and prices. $400-1,500.
- Steel Pan Alley (Located in the rear of the Colonia de las Brisas in Gravel's Bay. Turn inland at Tiffany's Tower apartments (The big pink building.) And proceed straight, driving through the baseball field.), ☎ +504 3298 2448, e-mail: email@example.com. While Steel Pan Alley has its origins as a free school teaching the local children to play Trinidad steel pans, the school also offers the Steel Pan Alley Experience, where visitors can come and learn to play the pans. In a single morning or afternoon session, visitors can go from zero music experience to playing three songs in just one hour. All proceeds go directly to supporting the school.
- Tyll's Dive (Tyll's Dive Shop), West End (When you enter into West End turn left and we are across the street from The Blue Marlin (formley known as Purple Turtle)), ☎ +504 9698 0416. 9AM-5PM. Scuba divers with a small family atmosphere. Caters to small groups of 8 or less. Offers 3 dives a day starting at 9AM, 11AM. and 2PM, six days a week, Sundays and night dives upon request. Prices include all dive rental equipment. Small dive classes are offered from Open Water to Dive Master. 1 on 1 dive instruction available, Crowd free diving, multi-lingual staff, well-maintained dive equipment and an on hand technician. All the dive Instructors are PADI Certified as well as emergency first aid responders. From $25 per dive.
You can walk along the beach to West Bay from West End in about 45 min, and can take a water taxi back if you like ($3 USD). They seem to stop running around sunset, so make sure to catch them before it is too late.
- Shirkie's Barrio Dorcas Ranch, ☎ +011 504 9555-4880, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Horseback riding on the beach at West End. $40-50 (Extra if transportation from a cruise ship landing is added).
- Kayak trips around the Island and through the mangroves on the east end of the island.
- Mini-Golf in Sandy Bay, cold drinks & burgers.
- Zipline, Roatán has 4 zipline jungle canopy tour adventures
The restaurants you will find along the West End beach are slightly more expensive than similar restaurants on the mainland but the food is of a very high standard. Seafood abounds and you can find top quality lobster for dinner for around US$10 US. Argentinian steaks are also popular.
There is a small food caravan located on the main road hosted by an ex-pat Aussie. The food is cheap, and he is open late which is perfect for when you return home from one of the West Ends night spots.
- Asylum (Location is approximate), Camp Bay Beach (Far northeastern end of the island past the main paved road), ☎ +011 504 3320-6004, e-mail: email@example.com. 9AM-9PM or whenever the drinking stops. A Beach Bar on the end of a 40 ft dock stretching into the waters. Offer fishing trips on the Cayuca boat. Reef snorkel a few hundred meters from the dock, bring your own snorkeling gear, or rent a package for $5 a day. Camp on the beaches of Asylum for free with your own equipment or rent a camping package for $5 a night. Local residents of Roatán can utilize the camping packages for free. Asylum's Mermaid Grill will cook any fish you catch and prepare a meal for you. moderate.
- The Beach Club San Simon, West Bay, Roatán (Between La Sirenas Resort + Mayan Princess), ☎ +011 504 445 5140. 10AM-10PM. Lounge style feel with changing rooms, showers, and beach beds. Free wifi. Moderate.
- Gio's, French Harbor. One of the nicer dining experiences on the island. It's a longtime mainstay for expats and islanders who can afford to dine out. Seafood is the specialty of course.
- Hole in the Wall, via Jonestown (You must take a small water taxi from Jonestown). All-you-can-eat lobster and steak on Sun and Wed. This restaurant is a hidden gem on the island. It is very popular with the people who own vacation homes on the island. It is low-key, and has some of the best food offered on the island
- JavaVine Cafe & Wine Bar (Internet Cafe, Wine Bar & Lounge), West Bay Beach Mall (formerly Cool Beans Coffee House), ☎ +011 504 2445-5048. 7:30am-10pm. Serving the best coffee and coldest beer on Roatán. Pastries, sandwiches, pizza, and tapas in a relaxed, chill atmosphere with soothing tunes. Fully licensed, with a large selection of wine and spirits. Free WiFi for all customers. Only a 2 minute walk from beautiful West Bay Beach. $1-20.
- Ooloonthoo Restaurant, Mangrove Bight (Main road outside West End), ☎ +011 504 9936-5223, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 6-9PM. The only Indian restaurant in Honduras. World class progressive Indian cuisine. A/C dining and year round sunset views. Reservations required. $40.
- Rendezvous Sushi Grill (Roatán Sushi), Main Road, West Bay, ☎ +011 504 9978-6955. 6:30AM-10PM. Sushi. Quiet, romantic and away from the 'boom, boom, boom' of the beach. Reservations required.
- Punta Blanca. Meals, good view
- Smugglers Beach Bar & Grill, West Bay (Lighthouse Point), ☎ +011 504 9861-0826. 9-10PM. Try the Monster Nachos with your choice of chicken, steak, or lobster. Or maybe try our lobster burger or fresh quesadillas, made from fresh, quality ingredients. $1-20.
- The Thirsty Turtle Beach Bar & Grill (West Bay at Bananarama) (At the very heart of West Bay beach between to Bananarama Dive and Paradise Beach Villas), ☎ +011 504 2445-5005. As early as 10AM, as late as midnight. On the beach with plenty of room at the covered bar as well as at outdoor tables, large flat-screen TV, cold and blended drinks, and island-style fresh fast food. Activities almost every night: karaoke, crab races, fire dancers, live music, trivia... Happy Hour drinks and food. inexpensive to moderate.
- Hot Dog Hut, West End (Between Nova and W.E. Cigar Bar), ☎ +011 504 9712-4305. 11-8. Serving gourmet Hotdogs, Chili Dogs, Bacon Wrapped Dogs, Chicken Salad Sandwiches, and daily specials. Offers a variety of toppings such as Tequila Caramalized Onions, Habanero Aioli, Sauerkraut all made from scratch! $5.00 plates include 2 Chili Cheese Dogs, a side and a fresh squeezed limeade or brewed sweet tea. $1-$5.
Roatán boasts a wide array of experiences for night life depending on your taste. Since the arrival of cruise ships, prices have risen somewhat and restaurants and bars cater to cruise passengers as well as North American and European tourists. These types of establishments are relatively easy to find as they are mostly located in and around the West End. Prices here are generally higher than in most other places on the island.
The best part about drinking in the west end is the pub crawl that occurs almost every night. Its virtually mandatory to start at Sundowners and enjoy drinks whilst watching the sun go down over the beautiful bay in front. When Sundowners shuts at 10PM the whole bar shifts about 50 m down the street to kick on at the Purple Turtle where you can enjoy live music out the back. The Purple Turtle closes at midnight and from here most people continue on to the Nova Bar or the Twisted Toucan's will be the joint to party at and where you will meet most of the locals in the region this being a favorite haunt. Most people go home from here but if you really are feeling like an adventure grab a group of friends and head down the beach to FuBar.
- JavaVine Cafe & Wine Bar (Internet Cafe, Wine Bar & Lounge), West Bay Beach Mall (formerly Cool Beans Coffee House), ☎ +011 504 2445-5048. 7:30am-10pm. Serving coffee and cold beer. Pastries, sandwiches, pizza, and tapas in a relaxed, chill atmosphere with soothing tunes. Fully licensed, with a large selection of wine and spirits. Free WiFi for all customers. Only a 2 minute walk from beautiful West Bay Beach. $1-20.
- La Sirena, Camp Bay Beach (In Asylum). Sunday barbecue with cold beer. A palapa bar/restaurant built over the water, good if you are on the less populated east end of the island.
- FuBar (formerly Black Pearl and before that Loafers). Until late.
- Foster's. Until late. DJ. Good on Fridays.
- Nova Bar. Until late. Haunt of locals who stay out late.
- Purple Turtle. Until midnight. Look out the back for live music.
- Sundowners. Until 10PM. Good place to start the night.
- Booty Bar (across from Eagle Ray's). Until late. Caribbean Pirate themed bar.Mix of locals, expats and tourists. Great sunsets. Happy Hour 5PM-9PM every day. Good for dancing after 9PM.
- Turtle Shack Cafe (Turtlegrass), Calabash Bight (east of Oak Ridge), ☎ +011 504 8950-7588. A water access only restaurant on the largest bay on Roatán. Seafood gumbo to cheeseburgers, cold Honduran beer and fruity island drinks. Boat transportation provided from Oak Ridge. Also a great stop for those on the mangrove tour. Meals $6-8.
The US dollar (US$) is generally accepted all over the island, however, your change is mostly given in Honduran lempiras. This method of money exchange is not recommended generally but if you're only stopping for the day from a cruise ship, it's an easier option to changing money that you may not use up.
Prices of everything skyrocket when cruise ships are in town, if you are looking to purchase anything, including food, it is best to wait until they have left port.
Local handicrafts abound and can be had for very little money. Look for Central American arts and crafts, brightly-painted pottery, wood carvings, costume jewelry, tee-shirts, cigars and clothing. Remember that the asking price should only be considered a jumping-off point for some downward haggling. It's expected and if you have the stomach for it, you'll likely end up with a final price somewhere around 40-50% lower.
- Woody's Grocery Store. Buy up and have a cookout.
- Supermercado Eldon's. Near the airport overlooking Coxen Hole
- Emily's Pulparia, Near Sandy Bay.
This article is based on Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike 3.0 Licensed text from the article Roatán on Wikivoyage.