Where is Roatan located?
Roatan is part of the three Bay Islands from Honduras: Utila, Guanaja and Roatan on the north coast.
Utila is usually more popular around backpackers and divers. In fact, many of the people I met in Central America was going to Utila for the famous low-cost week diving courses, which are offered on this island.
Roatan is the biggest island between the three and the most tourist-oriented. Coral reef and tropical fishes surround its long shape. Almost forty miles long and about three miles wide.
Health requirements for Honduras
COVID-19 Times to Enter Honduras
- The customs declarations form
- The precheck
- A health survey
What vaccines do I need to enter Roatan?
If you are traveling from South America or Africa, it’s required to show proof of the Yellow Fever Vaccination.
As a personal experience, even if you are coming from another area, but your passport has a South American stamp, they are most likely to ask you for the vaccine. Even if it was a time ago.
For other vaccines check with the embassy of your country, but I will say that this one is the most important one.
Roatan: Diving and snorkeling paradise
Diving in Roatan is most affordable than most other places. However, food and hostels can be a little bit overprice, especially when comparing with the rest of Honduras.
Swim, snorkel, scuba dive, or sea kayak the day away at one of the fine beaches at West End or West Bay. There are more than 130 dive sites scattered around the island.
Don’t worry if you don’t have snorkeling gear, it can be rented at all dive shops, gift shops and even some restaurants.
The islands are one of the most affordable places to take your diving certification. Even in the last years, they got a little bit more pricy, they are still one of the inexpensive places with a memorable marine life. Don’t think about it, take your Open Water Diver certification in Roatan.
I’ve never seen so many dive operator in a row like in Roatan, and it is not a lot of space in the island anyway. Roatan is well equipped to accommodate every diver’s need.
Most dive shops will offer a lower price after several dives.
If you want to see white sharks, Utila is the island to do it, especially in peak season between June and September.
Protect the reef
Why is Roatan's diving so good?
Check out these posts to help you plan your trip to Central America:
What to do in Roatan besides diving
- Zipline over the Roatan jungle. There are four canopy tours around the island, all of them offering a ride over the rain forest. Is it worth the money? I don’t think so.
- Learn some Spanish with a local family, and take advantage of your stay on the island. Combine your stay with a dive certification.
- Explore the mangroves over on the east end.
- In Sandy Bay you can find the Roatán Museum and Institute of Marine Sciences, honoring the island culture and history. The Institute also offers technical lectures about the ecosystem and the island wildlife.
- Spend the day at a resort. Some of the fancy hotels offer day passes for affordable prices. You will be able to use the public areas like the swimming pool or have a chair with an umbrella on their piece of beach.
When is the best time to go to Roatan?
Being in the Caribbean, Roatan has good weather all year round with an average temperature of 30 degrees (85°F)
The rainy season goes from October to February, usually pouring in the evenings and occasionally storms. The hottest and humid season is from March to April.
Be conscious that the island also has a hurricane season between September and November.
Where to stay in Roatan on a budget?
Budget tips for Roatan
Let’s be clear, once you step off the plane in one of the Bay Islands, prices will double from Honduras mainland. But there are still ways to enjoy Roatan affordable.
Some diving centers will offer discounts for hostels and restaurants if you book a diving course with them, and the other way around too. If you are planning to dive or take a PADI certification, check the schools that can offer you some packages or discounts.
There are beautiful cafés and restaurants with ocean views in Roatan. The path on Moon Half Bay is just diving centers, cafes and restaurants. However, if you want to cut costs, book a hostel or an airbnb with a kitchen.
There is a big grocery store in French Harbor named Eldon’s, and small supermarkets around the island.
Eat a lot of tropical fruit. Look for stands and vendors on the road and buy some delicious and juicy fruit, it’s no way you are going wrong with that. Some vendors also offer quick foods and the Honduran baleadas (tortillas wrap up with frijoles and cheese).
Utila and Roatan are among the cheapest places in the world to become PADI certified in diving.
Most places in Roatan take dollars; in fact the ATMs I encountered also dispense dollars as well as lempiras.
One of the cheapest ways to move around the island is by taking minibusses or colectivo taxis. The payment in this public transport is usually only in Lempiras.
Beware of Roatan's sandflies
How to get to Roatan island?
From the capital Tegucigalpa, there are a couple of flights to Roatan daily, as well as from La Ceiba and San Pedro Sula.
To flight from the Honduran mainland, I will recommend Aerolineas Sosa. The airline has a small 15-passenger plane. Just so you know, the couple of times I took the flight with them, I was weighted before boarding to control the weight of the plane.
Check beforehand what the restrictions for luggage on the plane are. Most airlines only allow a small bag per passenger because of the space and the weight of the small plane.
There are also flights between Utila and Roatan, but they don’t go every day so plan ahead.
If you are coming from the States, there are a few direct flights to Roatan between Atlanta, Houston and Miami.
The view of the Caribbean water from the plane is awesome; you see the reef shadow and the green island. You will know at that moment that going to Roatan was a good decision.
It is a departure tax to pay at the airport that needs to be paid in cash, either in US dollars or in lempiras. The international tax is around $30 and for the domestic flights is $2. Make sure the tax is included in your ticket; otherwise you will have to pay and present the receipt.
How to get around Roatan?
From the airport
From my experience, the hostels where I stayed offer me a ride to their location from the airport for a good value. Since there are only a couple of flights a day, it’s easy to arrange and not bad pricing since you will probably share the car with other people.
If the accommodation offers you private transport for $10 maybe it’s worth that first ride.
Private taxis are also waiting for you inside the airport. Try to walk outside the airport where the highway is, taxis can lower the price there.
From the highway, you can also take a colectivo taxi for around $2 (50 lempiras). Colectivos are shared with other people and only drive on the highway; they will not take you to the hostel door, but close enough.
Minibusses run from Coxen Hole every 30 minutes from the main street to the main points of the island by the paved road.
From the ferry terminal
Private taxis are expensive from here. Again, ask your hostel to see if they have some kind of transport deal.
Similar to the airport, walk to the highway and ask from there. Colectivos are also a choice here, but you will have to take two: the first to Coxen Hole and from there another to West End if that is your destination.
Moving around Roatan
The main highway that stretches from end to end of the island is in good shape. But once you get off this the roads become muddy and with less maintenance.
One of the choices is to rent a car, a motorcycle, or a scooter to drive around the island.
Several car rental agencies are at the airport, you can have a discount if you rent them for long periods of time like an entire week.
There are also water taxis from West End to West Bay that also stop in between for around $3 (50L) the ride.
Did I miss some information about Roatan? Have you been there already? I would love to know. Let me know in the comments
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