Geography, Topography and Weather
Roatan is the largest of the Bay Islands and is located approx 35 miles off the North Coast of Honduras. Honduras is located in the heart of Central America and has borders with Guatemala, Nicaragua and El Salvador.
Roatan is 32 miles long and varies in width from 1 to 3 miles across. The highest point of Roatan is approximately 900 feet above sea level. The island has varying topography from white sandy beaches, iron shoreline, mangroves, tropical hilltops, lush valleys to reef surrounded waters.
Roatan is surrounded by a reef system, which is part of the second largest reef system in the world. At times the reef of Roatan is only a short swim away from the shoreline. A large part of the Roatan reef has been protected by the Honduran government and is known as the West End and Sandy Bay Marine Reserve. This Marine Reserve is home to 38 world-class dive sites and some of the most species rich waters in the Caribbean.
This variety of landscape on Roatan makes it one of the most visually impressive locations in the Caribbean. In the 18th century Captain James Wright referred to Roatan as the "Garden of the West Indies". Today Roatan still retains its true tropical beauty.
The yearly average temperature in Roatan is 80 degrees Fahrenheit. The island receives constant trade winds keeping the climate cool and a reasonable rainfall, which mainly falls in December to February. This rainfall keeps the island lush and green.
How To Get To Roatan
Roatan’s modern facilities include an international airport, which is serviced by American, Continental, Delta, TACA, Islena, Iberia and Aero Honduras who all fly to Roatan in conjunction with local carriers connecting in San Pedro Sula. Currently Continental is flying to Roatan directly on Saturdays and Wednesdays from Houston, while TACA flies direct from Houston on Saturday and from Miami on Sundays. Delta also services Roatan from Atlanta on Saturdays.
The colorful English of the Caribbean and Spanish are both spoken in Roatan and both languages are taught in most schools. The current population of Roatan is approx 60,000.
The Lempira is the official currency of Honduras but US dollars are accepted throughout Roatan and can be used in most parts of the Island. Credit Cards and Travelers Checks can also be used while in Coxen Hole and French Harbor you will find ATM machines for cash withdrawals.
For residents of most western countries to enter Honduras or Roatan you only require a valid passport. Once in Honduras or Roatan you can stay 30 days in the country and a visitor's extension is possible for a total stay of 180 days, then you are required to leave the country for three days. For residents of some countries a visa is required. Check locally with your Travel Agent or the closest Honduran Embassy.
Packing Info for Roatan
Light and casual clothing is best. The Roatan climate is warm all year round except in December and January. A rain jacket and light pull over is a must just in case, as are sandals and a bathing suit for the beach and sturdy hiking boots for walks and hikes.
Sunscreen, sunglasses and a hat are needed all times of the year, as the sun is hot and strong. Bug repellent is also needed mainly for nights and some beaches where sand flies are found.
Additional traveling items
- Photocopies of passport and airline tickets
- Back up money supply in travelers checks or credit card
- Prescription medications
- Camera and film
- Torch (flashlight)
- Day travel bag Always tag or label your luggage when flying to and from Roatan and put your name and address on the inside of each bag as well.
Places and Things To Do
Coxen Hole and French Harbor are the main commercial townships of Roatan. Both towns have grocery stores, banks and a variety of local stores, which cater to all your general needs. The ferry dock is located in Coxen Hole; the cruise ship dock is just west of Coxen Hole and the International Airport just east.
The towns of West End and West Bay are the most popular beach and tourism spots on Roatan, both offer sandy beaches and a close to shore reef. Hotels from luxury to budget can be found, along with water front rental homes, international and local restaurants with fresh seafood being a specialty, dive shops, gift stores and some fun beach bars make up West End and West Bay Beach.
Roatan has really come of age the past few years. The Island had been for many years a hidden secret in the Caribbean and was overlooked as people focused on more popular destinations, but times have changed. Roatan truly does offer the best of both worlds- modern facilities and a relaxed untouched Caribbean charm.
A ferry twice daily connects Roatan to the mainland of Honduras and a cruise ship dock capable of docking two ships daily has recently been finished. You will find public and private hospitals on Roatan and a recompression chamber for divers. Ambulance service is also available. Larger medical centers and hospitals are available on the mainland of Honduras.
Also in past years the international boating community has begun to discover Roatan and the waters of the Bay Islands, so a growing number of marinas have opened offering a wide range of services for boating people.
While this may all sound like many other Caribbean destinations, Roatan still has its untouched charm, miles of remote sandy beaches and small fishing villages. In recent years many quality- planned developments have begun on Roatan. One of the many beauties of the Island is that due to the topography of the Island many such developments can exist while still leaving miles of shoreline. Remote beaches and stunning hilltops are available for people or investors who want to enjoy a more secluded life in the Caribbean.
Roatan is a great place for families and active people. If you love the outdoors and the water there is perhaps no better place in the Western Caribbean than Roatan. The Island is world famous for diving and has been rated as one of the premier locations for diving in the Caribbean. If diving is not your thing you are in luck as the snorkeling, kayaking, boating and sailing options are endless. The sport fishing is great- tarpon, marlin, and tuna are all caught offshore, while on the East End of the Island world-class fly-fishing can be found on the many mangrove and sand flats. Out of the water activities include horseback riding, biking, hiking, and just exploring in search of the ultimate hidden cove or fresh lobster lunch are also popular activities. Almost forgot one of the favorite pastimes, yes, just relaxing.
A recent addition to our island is the Black Pearl a championship Pete Dye designed par 72 golf course located mid island at Pristine Bay Resort a 400 acre multi use development featuring a beach club, marina, luxury hotel and residential areas all surrounded by one of the nicest courses in central america. I am proud to promote and sell real estate in this exclusive community which features single family lots, condos, villas and more.
Roatan is home to a wide, colorful range of restaurants. Whether local or international cuisine is your thing, you will be sure to have your taste buds alight in Roatan. The fresh seafood is a specialty; lobster, crab, shrimp, conch and a variety of tropical fish are served in most restaurants on the island. Also you will find Argentinean, French, Italian, Cuban, Caribbean and Island style restaurants throughout Roatan.
Many special events are held during the year in Roatan. Christmas and Semana Santa (Easter) is a busy time on the Island as visitors come from around the world to soak up the sun and to enjoy some Roatan fun. An international triathlon is held yearly and is becoming known world wide as one of the most challenging and exciting courses on the international triathlon circuit. The Taste of Roatan, a food and music festival, which raises money for local charities, is also becoming a very popular event with people the Island over coming to enjoy the best food from the best restaurants in Roatan and some colorful live music. You will also find a major fishing competition and throughout the year live local music performances, local dances and a variety of community events.
If you would like some more information on Life in Roatan do not hesitate to contact us. We are more than happy to share our life experiences on Roatan with you. We look forward to hearing from you soon.
North American Map
Central America Map