Roatan, a small island located 37 miles off the north coast of Honduras, is one of the hidden gems in this world. Most people have never even heard of it because it’s not advertised too often. Cruise ships occasionally stop at this island for a day though, and a friend had been there and told me that was her favorite place the cruise visited. I began looking into it when Joe and I were looking for a tropical New Years getaway for the end of our 2014 and beginning of 2015, and came across just a few other friends who had traveled to Roatan before. We heard nothing but rave reviews from these friends and other online forums so decided to go for it. Below you'll find more info about our adventure and a quick video of our favorite clips from the trip!
This random, tiny island ended up being one of the coolest places I’ve been. The locals are an amazing melting pot of cultures. We met tons of other people throughout our week in Roatan, and found that most of them traveled here to snorkel and ended up loving it so much that they decided to return permanently. I think that says a lot about the culture of the place. Most people that live on the island are transplants, which I think says a lot about the place. It means that something about this Honduran island made them want to pick up and leave everything to move across the world to be there, and that is truly special.
Most of the people that we met on the island were big into scuba diving. They traveled from all over the globe to dive in Roatan, and told us that Roatan is one of the most sought after diving spots in the world. I had no previous interest in scuba diving ever. I’m used to the darker blue waters we have here on the Pacific Coast and the constant paranoia that some shark is lurking behind me. But once I visited Roatan, Joe and I decided that we want to get certified in a place like this with crystal clear waters, colorful corals, and shipwrecks.
The island is basically made up of a jungle that ends on the beach; it has the best of both worlds! You can literally zip line through the jungle from the top of a mountain all the way down to the beach, which is pretty darn amazing! This island also has lots of wild life. You’ll see monkeys and wild birds in the trees as you’re zip lining! The island is easy to drive across. The roads have lots of potholes so be warned, but you can rent a scooter or ATV to get around. We liked to explore different areas around the island to do different activities like yoga, kayaking, and snorkeling.
The main two areas where people stay are West End and West Bay. West Bay is known for its resorts, lounge chairs on the beach, and great snorkeling. West End is more where the locals and the divers stay. There are little B&Bs, local restaurants and pubs, stores and dive shops. You’ll find restaurants and bars on the beach in both locations, and to be honest, you can’t go wrong with either on such a small island. You can take a cheap 10 minute water taxi ride (which is also very beautiful!) from West End to West Bay and vice versa until sundown, so it’s easy to hang out in both areas no matter where you do choose lodging.
Another thing I really enjoyed doing in Roatan was visiting Anthony’s Key Resort. You can stay in bungalows here, which look absolutely amazing, but we just visited for the day. Anthony’s Key Resort has lots of activities you can do. I’m very against dolphin captivity, but Anthony’s Key Resort is actually a Caribbean Marine Laboratory & Educational Facility. It is so refreshing to see that they treat the dolphins at the facility so well here. They actually stay in the bay surrounding Anthony’s Key Resort, and are brought out daily to the deep sea. The dolphins actually choose to come back on their own because they are treated so well here and prefer the free food. I also learned that they have a few dolphins who were actually born in the wild and lurked around the closed off area where Anthony’s Key Resort is. When they let the facility’s dolphins out to swim in the wild, the dolphins snuck in and decided to stay for good. They are now trained and participate in the daily activities with the other dolphins and humans. I really appreciate how well they treat the animals here, so decided to visit and play with the dolphins one day!
We got to actually snorkel and swim in a big bay with the dolphins. The water was about 30 feet deep and there were 10 dolphins swimming with us. We learned tricks to swim down and play with them by feeding them sea grass and knocking rocks together to get them to come to us. I won’t lie, it was a little bit scary to be in such a large area with so many massive animals surrounding us at high speeds. It was such a great experience that I will never forget! If you love dolphins and want to play with them, this is a great place to travel to since they treat them with so much respect.
My Roatan To-Do List
download it here!
Things to do:
-Snorkel or scuba dive in West Bay.
-Zip Line in West Bay.
-Take a water taxi from West End to West Bay or vice versa and explore both areas.
-Grab a drink at the beachside restaurant bars (the "Monkey La La" cocktail is a Roatan MUST!)
-Visit Anthony’s Key Resort and swim with dolphins in a non captive setting! among other activities (this is a great place to stay too!)
-Renting a scooter or ATV is a fun way to get around the island, definitely drive through the non-touristy town area of Coxen Hole.
Restaurants and Bars:
-Sundowners, West End: Beachside restaurant with cheap drinks and chaise lounges for you to hang at! Fun for both daytime tanning/lounging and nightlife. Live music some nights!
-Roatan Oasis, West End: A 5 star menu with contemporary food in the middle of nowhere!
-Creole’s Rotisserie Chicken, West End: Excellent island-style roast chicken!
-Monkey Island Beach Cafe, West End: Fun for dinner and to go out drinking at. Lots of live music here!
-Bite on the Beach, West Bay: Grab lunch here and you’ll get to eat over the water with an unbeatable view.
-BoHo Beach Bar, West Bay: Great spot for lunch or dinner, or for drinks later in the night!
-Argentinian Grill, West Bay AND West End: Great, cheap Argentinian food, which is similar to Honduran local food.
-Beachers, West Bay: A great place to hang during the day. If you grab drinks or food here, you can lay at the lounge chairs all day. It’s also fun at night and often has live music!