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This Backpack and Snorkel Travel Guide (Roatan Purple Guide) provides information about the best things to do on a cruise to Roatan and ensures that you will be Making Memorable Moments on a relaxing vacation in Roatan.
The information on this page and much more (google maps locations, more reviews, website links, etc.) is available in our Cruising the Caribbean Guide.
Roatan belongs to Honduras, but it is English speaking and safe island which is a world away from the crime that plagues the mainland. It sits right at the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, which is the second largest barrier reef on the planet, and it has excellent snorkeling and diving. Diving on Roatan is inexpensive and neighboring Utila has some of the cheapest diving lessons in the world.
Roatán is located about 40 miles (65 km) off the mainland of Honduras. It is approx. 48 miles (77 km) long and max. 5 miles (8 km) wide.
The island can be reached by plane, cruise ship or ferry from La Ceiba and Utila.
Tourism is the most important economic sector, with fishing coming in second.
On his fourth and last voyage to the New World (1502–1504), Columbus visited the neighboring island of Guanaja. The contact with the Spanish proved to be the end of the indigenous population through slave trade and diseases like smallpox and measles. None of the indigenous people survived.
The island changed hands between the Spanish and English a few times. After England abolished slavery, lots of English speaking people settled here from the Cayman Islands in the 1830s and 1840s. These people eventually formed the largest group on the island. In the 20th century, there was another, this time Spanish speaking, immigration wave from mainland Honduras. In the early 21st century there as a large influx of English speaking expats from the US, Canada and Europe who made Roatan their home as tourism strongly increased on Roatan.
English is the first language spoken by the islanders and many also speak Spanish.
The climate that you can expect on your trip to Roatan is shown here:
West Bay Beach: This is Roatan's best and most popular public beach and it features white sand, palm trees, turquoise water, excellent snorkeling, many amenities like restaurants and jet ski rentals and glass bottom boat tours. The beach is almost 1 mile long and therefore not too difficult to find a spot even with a cruise ship in town.
Half Moon Bay: This is a busy beach with lots of activities: dive tours and fishing charters leave from the many of docks, there are rentals for paddle boarding, snorkeling, diving, etc. and there are lots of restaurants. And, yes, you can sunbathe, swim and snorkel here too.
There is a street behind the beach, so be prepared for some noise.
Camp Bay Beach: One of the eastern most beaches in Roatan. It is located in a sparsely populated part of the island and, even on cruise days, it will not be too crowded here. As the beach is so remote, there are no services here.
Mahogany Bay Beach: This manmade white sand beach is in short walking distance from the cruise port. It was made for cruise ship passengers and will be busy on cruise days. There is no reef here, so snorkeling and diving are not good, but swimming and sunbathing are wonderful. There are restaurants and your typical cruise ship beach activities.
Tourism is a major source of income on Roatan.
Roatan has two cruise ports and lots of tourists arrive here as part of a cruise. Please also check out Rudy's Cruise Guide for Beginners & Others.
Cruise ships typically offer excursions which comprise of one or more of the following activities:
Roatan's white sand beaches have turquoise water and often good snorkeling. The West End has the cruise port and the highest population density, whereas the East End is much more sparsely populated and you may have some beaches almost for yourself, unless there is a cruise ship in town.
For Pinterest users, here are pins that you can use:
You can book this 1.5-2h excursion incl. drive from and to the cruise port or hotel through their website (https://monkeyandslothhangout.com) or you can combine it with an island and/or snorkel tour for longer excursions.
At the center, you will be able to interact with sloths, monkeys and parrots. The tour also includes explanations about the different plants on this beautiful island.
Here are some more photos taken from various places on Roatan