Situated off the coast of Honduras, Roatan is one of the three Bay Islands, and is the undiscovered secret of vacationers from the colder North and South American locations that are looking for a tropical vacation destination with a variety of water activities, un-crowded white, soft powdered beaches, and inexpensive hotels and restaurants.

Roatan is a long narrow island of almost 40 miles in length. It is a beautiful island with mountains and lush green tropical foliage.

Roatan’s weather is ideal and rarely affects having a good time and has a mild rainy season that occurs from November to the end of January. The northwest side of the island is protected most of the year from the southeast Even then, the West End and northern side may be calm and enjoy excellent diving and beach activities. If wind conditions or weather becomes and issue, the dive operators and resorts will simply move their boats to the “lee side” of the island and calmer waters

The popular tourist spots on Roatan are West End, West Bay, Sandy Beach, and Oak Ridge/Punta Gorda.

Roatan’s two largest cities are Coxen Hole and French Harbor and offer very little for the tourist, both of which are the main concentration of inhabitants living under poverty level conditions. Coxen Hole is the capital and is location of the international airport and the docking terminal for cruise ships. Beyond that, the reason tourists come to Coxen Hole is for the banks and rental cars. French Harbor is home to the largest fishing fleet in the Western Caribbean. The reason most tourists come to French Harbor is for their two popular waterfront restaurants, Gio’s and Casa Romero’s

The main attractions in Roatan are scuba diving, snorkeling, beautiful beaches, a laid back, relaxing way of life. The island is on the world’s second largest barrier reef with a variety of world class dive sites, easily accessible by a short boat ride or as close as 100 feet from the beach.

Oakridge/Punta Gorda

Oakridge is located about one mile past the paved road on the Eastern end of the Island. It is a small picturesque community with a strong afro-Antillean culture. It is only in recent years that access by car to this area has been opened and hasn’t changed much with the passing of time. Tourist services here are scarce. The fishing is excellent, and on Roatan Ranch they offer English speaking horseback riding tours of the area.

Nearby Punta Gorda on the opposite side of the Island was the first Garifuna Settlement in Central America. The Garifuna or Black Caribs were marooned in Roatan by the British in 1796, and every year on April 12th they commemorate their arrival with a carnival. This is also the home of YUBU where you will meet Garifuna people and see their exotic dances and purchase souvenirs made by them.

Sandy Bay

Sandy Bay is considered the cultural center of Roatan and is the location of the Institute of Marine Sciences, the Roatan Museum, the Carambola Gardens, and the Marine Reserve. It is also the location of Anthony’s Key resort one of the first and largest dive resorts on the Island.

West End

Commonly referred to as “Gringo Central”, this little town with a “Jimmy Buffet – Margarita Ville” atmosphere is located on Half Moon Bay. Here you can access all there is with a walk along its un paved sandy main street that rims the bay and is lined with palm trees and rustic, weather beaten wood restaurants, bars, hotels, and t-shirt shops. The prices for food, drinks and hotels are extremely inexpensive. There is a very informal, relaxed — let it all hang out attitude that can be enjoyed without ever getting out of your sandals, shorts, and t-shirts.

West Bay

West Bay has one of the finest beaches in the world. It’s white, soft, powdery beach is un-crowded, although with development of new hotels and condominiums, this is rapidly changing. This is an excellent location for families and for snorkeling right off the beach. The hotels and restaurants along West Bay are more upscale and expensive than West End.

West Bay is also the home of Gumbalimba Park, a privately owned and managed ecotourism park with lush tropical flowers and forests, exotic birds, monkeys, a hanging bridge, and zip line canopy rides.

Frank Dalotto