Unlike most islands we’ve talked about here on this website, Roatan is a very busy place. Aside from its beaches, which are often teeming with visitors and locals alike, the cities on this almost 37-mile long island are likewise filled with many locals. Roatan Honduras may prove too much for some, but reviewers say that the rich cultural heritage and the large population only make the whole place a far more interesting and authentic experience than many of the other Caribbean isles.
The main argument seems to center around the fact that other islands such as Anguilla or Cozumel are too perfect. This means that they disconnect the weary traveler from all the problems he or she had before arriving on the island. Then these havens present a place so perfect that leaving the islands proves extremely difficult. As you may have guessed, Roatan Honduras presents a wholly different scenario. The island is far from perfect and even has some of that hectic city-life to go with your stay. But without this, many reviews say it would lose its charm.
Where is Roatan?
Given that it’s part of the country of Honduras, one would assume it’s pretty close to the mainland. And it would be true. Roatan is part of the Bay Islands. It’s also the largest of them and is accordingly nicknamed The Big Island. To find it, look to the north of the Honduras mainland area. There should be about five islands off the coast. One of these has an elongated shape and is also visibly bigger than the other four.
If you can see the island above, then you’ve found Roatan. The problem is that you now need to find some way to get there. There are multiple paths you can choose, depending firstly on your budget, and secondly, on your preferred way of travel.
One can travel to Roatan by plane. This can be done in two ways: either a direct flight or a flight through Honduras. Direct flights to the International Airport of Roatan are available from major cities in Europe as well as from Miami, Houston, and New Orleans in the US.
Flights through Honduras are cheaper. Visitors can first go to San Pedro Sula or to La Ceiba (both in Honduras), from where they can take a connecting flight to Coxen Hole in Roatan. While the second option is cheaper, the direct flight is recommended as Honduras airports tend to close in the case of heavy rain or of smoke from the frequent wildfires.
If flight seems scary to you, or if a more romantic journey seems appealing, there’s also the option of a cruise ship or of a ferry from La Ceiba.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Roatan Excursions
Because it’s still part of a developing country and because of the Roatan real estate boom that took place over the past century, the island is now a fascinating mix between social classes. Within the same city, one can find wealthy and poor alike. Naturally, this has resulted in problems for some tourists.
Next, we’re going to pinpoint exactly what these are and how you, the potential visitor, can avoid them. As a counterbalance, we’re also going to restate the advantages of Honduras’ most famous island.
Advantages of Roatan Excursions
- Fascinating Coral Reefs. Unlike other Caribbean retreats, Roatan Honduras is the perfect spot if you don’t want to literally shoot a hole in your wallet. It’s one of the cheapest ways in which one can experience the famous Mesoamerican Barrier Reef (better known as the Great Maya Reef). There’s no better place in the world to put on a snorkel and just look at the fascinating corals.
- Snorkeling and Scuba. As we’ve said, snorkeling is really great in the waters surrounding the beaches of Roatan Island. Recommended places are the Little French Key, the West Bay Beach, the Tabyana Beach, and many, many others. Scuba diving is also a great way to have fun in Roatan, and many Roatan hotels and Roatan all inclusive resorts have deals with scuba instructors that can help their guests get the most out of their Roatan vacations.
- Boat and sightseeing tours. Travelers feeling particularly adventurous can go for a sightseeing tour through the incredible wilderness of the Roatan Island. This Caribbean retreat is full of fascinating wildlife: from birds to small mammals and to larger ones. Still, if that’s not enough, tourists can also go for a Roatan boat tour which will take them around the island. This type of tour is amazing for those wishing to also take a closer look at marine wildlife.
- Gumbalimba Park and the Blue Harbor Tropical Arboretum. If the advantages above are not enough, these surely are. In Gumbalimba Park, tourists can find the best Roatan has to offer: zip line adventures among monkeys, lizards, and other cute and/or weird animals. Yet this is just one of the many amazing parks. The Blue Harbor Tropical Arboretum, on the other hand, presents tourists with fascinating examples of plant life gathered from all the Caribbean Isles and presented in the same spot for your convenience.
We’d love to talk more about the many beautiful things that await travelers in the small paradise island of Roatan. However, there are many disadvantages to going there that tourists planning their trips simply have to take account of.
Disadvantages of Roatan Excursions
- High population. Although it’s a relatively big island, we must remember that it’s still an island. That being said, the population of over 52,000 is a bit too high. Especially for most of the tourists’ taste. However, finding a small retreat away from the larger cities is easy. Because of the thriving tourism-based economy, many mainland Hondurans migrated to the island during the 20th century. This left the economy of the island devastated, and the struggle to provide a workplace for all the locals still continues today.
- Coxen Hole. Coxen Hole is the capital of Roatan Honduras. It’s home to the largest part of the population and it also houses some of the nastier areas of the whole island. Particularly: slums. Although most of the island is safe, even the promotional touristic website of the island warns visitors of the dangers of walking around the wrong parts of Coxen Hole at night.
- Power outages. As a precaution, all travelers to Roatan Island are advised to bring filters for their electronics so that the fluctuations in current don’t affect their devices. Another warning by official Roatan pages says that a power outage in the area usually lasts for several hours.
If you’re willing to ignore these small disadvantages to traveling to Honduras’ proud Isla Roatan, then pack your bags and book a flight! Just don’t forget to check the Roatan weather before departing. Unlike other Caribbean isles, the Roatan Island promises a more realistic experience for a more affordable price.