Cruise and Beach Destinations
in the Caribbean, Mexico & Beyond

Roatan Travel Tips: Hotels, Attractions, Weather

Roatan beach
Roatan beach. Credit: Pixabay license

The long and slender island of Roatan off the coast of Honduras is becoming a hot spot for Caribbean beach vacations.

It is also a popular destination for western Caribbean cruises. The island receives more than 500,000 cruise visitors a year, the Port of Roatan says.

The municipal capital and largest town is Coxen Hole with a population of more than 12,000 people. The Coxen Hole cruise port is a half mile from the town. (Mahogany Bay is another nearby cruise port.) Other major towns include West End, French Harbour and Oak Ridge.

The island is nearly 40 miles long and less than five miles wide at its widest point. Roatan has the second largest coral reef in the world, which creates many opportunities for snorkeling and scuba diving.

Where is Roatan?

Roatan is one of three islands making up the Bay Islands. They are about 30 miles off the northern coast of Honduras and lie directly east of Belize, which is another popular destination for western Caribbean cruises.

Hotel and Resort Tips

West End Roatan
The West End is a popular destination for hotel visitors. Credit: Wikimedia Creative Commons license

Anyone who is thinking about Roatan as a beach vacation should know it is a quiet island compared to other beach vacations in the Caribbean.

In many ways, Roatan is almost a twin of Anguilla. Both islands are about the same size, lie in a thin strip from southwest to northeast and have hotels and resorts clustered in the southwestern half.

Vacationers will fly into Juan Manuel Gálvez International Airport, which is just outside of Coxen Hole. It’s a brief eight mile ride from the airport to West End Village, which is one of the popular hotel areas.

The island has no major international hotel or resort chains. Nearly all of the properties are smaller hotels and only a few are all-inclusive. Most of the hotel prices are less than $200 a night and quite a few lower rated ones are less than $100 a night.

Roatan Attractions

Roatan is a popular destination for snorkeling and scuba diving. It lies near Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, which is the second-largest coral reef in the world.

Arch’s Iguana Farm & Marine Park in French Cay has more than 4,000 iguanas on 12 acres. Visitors can pet and feed the reptiles. The park also has monkeys, tarpon fish and rescued sea turtles.

The 40-acre Carambola Botanical Garden in Sandy Bay has hiking trails, monkeys, bird watching and flowering plants. Visitors can go to the top of Carambola Mountain for a wide view of the area.

Standard excursions and things to do include zip line jungle canopy tours, horseback riding, deep diving submarine, glass bottom boat and sailing tours.

The island has one golf course—the Black Pearl—and the South Shore zip-line facility for more adventurous visitors.


Turquoise Bay Roatan
Turquoise Bay, Roatan. Credit: Wikimedia Creative Commons license

Most hotel and resort visitors don’t have to go looking for beaches. Roatan has plenty of them, especially in the area called West End—actually the southwest half of the island.

Two of the most famous and popular beaches in West End are West Bay and Tabyana, which lie close to each other. Anyone who isn’t staying at a hotel on either beach won’t have to drive far to reach them.

Tourism / When to Go

“A U.S. passport valid for at least three months from the date of entry is required to enter Honduras. Though not required by law, some travelers have reported difficulty departing Honduras using a passport with less than three months of validity beyond the date of departure. A visa is not required, but tourists must provide evidence of return or onward travel,” according to the U.S. State Department.

“Parents should not rely on birth certificates for their children’s travel; rather, prior to travel they should obtain U.S. passports for infants and minors born in the United States. U.S. citizens are encouraged to carry a photocopy of their U.S. passports with them at all times, so that if questioned by local officials proof of identity and U.S. citizenship are readily available.”

Roatan Weather

The weather is subtropical in lowlands and temperate in mountains. The inner areas of Honduras average in the mid-80s Fahrenheit during the day most of the year except for November through January. There are two rainy seasons—May and June, and again in September and October.


Honduras is the second poorest country in Central America and has high unemployment. As a result, the crime rate throughout the country is high.

The Honduran government has established a special tourist police in resort areas including Roatan. The crime rate there is lower than in other parts of the country.

But the U.S. State Department advises avoiding isolated beaches and walking through the town of Coxen Hole after dark.

Currency / Tipping / Taxes

The lempira is the official currency of Honduras. U.S. dollars are widely accepted, but Euros are not. Most businesses accept Visa, American Express, Mastercard and Diners Club.

Culture / Geography

The official language is Spanish, but English is widely spoken.

Sources / More Information
Scott S. Bateman is a professional journalist who has traveled widely throughout the Caribbean and the Americas. He is the author of four books about cruising in the Caribbean, Alaska and Mexican Riviera.
August 09, 2023

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