What’s there to do in Roatan?
After two days at sea, our first stop is Roatan, Honduras…
Take a look at some exciting adventures you’ll find in Roatan! Enjoy listening to Augie Meyers song ‘Hey Baby, Kep Pa So’.
English is so widely spoken in the Island, that some people don’t even speak Spanish. About 45,000 people reside on the island full time and about 7 million in Honduras proper. And even though Spanish is the official language of Honduras, most people on Roatan speak both Spanish and English so cruisers should not have any problems communicating while onshore.
Roatan is one of the fastest growing cruise ship destinations in the world and for good reason. The local population is very accustomed to hosting cruise visitors, and is very welcoming. The Port of Roatan at Coxen Hole is a secure and safe port, adhering to international standards for port security required by the major cruise lines and United States Homeland Security.
The Royal Caribbean ships dock at Coxen Hole.
Roatan is located in the Caribbean Sea, 30 miles off the coast of mainland Honduras. Yep, it’s an island in the Caribbean. The island is 40 miles in length and about 8 miles wide. The island has a mountainous backbone and is surrounded by coral reefs, offering superb diving and excellent fishing. The island has year-round tropical weather with an average temperature of 80 to 85 Degrees Fahrenheit. During the year, the water temperature varies from 70 degrees minimum to 80 degrees maximum.
Don’t worry; the US dollar is very good here. The Lempira is the official currency of Honduras, but United States dollars are accepted all over the island. This is not the same case for Euros, which are accepted in very few places. It is important to know that the exchange rate for foreign currency may slightly vary from place to place, however, most businesses accept credit cards: Visa, Master Card, American Express and Diners Club. VISA and MasterCard machines are more widely available, and extremely few ATMs will accept Discover cards.
($1.00 USD = 19.00 Lempiras) Banco Ficohsa, a leading Honduran bank, has a branch in the Town Center. Other banks including Bank Credomatic and Bank HSBC have offices in Coxen Hole. Banks are typically open from 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, and on Saturdays from 8:00 a.m. -11:00 a.m. If you plan to travel to the western parts of Roatan, do your banking at the Town Center or in Coxen Hole before, as there are no banks in West End.
Roatan is surrounded by the world’s second largest barrier reef. The reef hugs most of the island’s shore and features amazing biological diversity which is often called “the rain forest of the sea”. Public beaches include West Bay Beach, West End Beach & Camp Bay Beach. Texas Cruise Company has had many reports of West Bay Beach being a wonderful beach to spend time on, but in reality, any of the beaches are rated as good!
There is regular bus service available when you arrive at the dock. Taxis are also available at the dock. Typical taxi fares are $5 USD per person to town and $15 – $20 USD per person round-trip to the West End. Always, always confirm the price of a taxi ride. Before entering a taxi, confirm the fare. If the driver says 20, make sure he’s quoting USD, not lempiras.
Most cabbies accept both U.S. dollars and Lempiras.
How to get to town
When you arrive at the Port of Roatan at Coxen Hole, you are already in town. The Port is the Town Center. The Town Center has a mix of shopping and entertainment options, which will make your stay in Roatan an enjoyable experience.
About 1/2 mile from the Roatan Port is the town of Coxen Hole. From Coxen Hole, regular bus services can take you to Sandy Bay or West End, or east to Brick Bay, French Harbour or Oakridge-Punta Gorda. West End is approximately 14 miles from Coxen Hole.
Just off the pier at Coxen Hole
There is an open market with plenty of merchants at the end of the pier. The nearby town of Coxen Hole is not really a tourist destination, although visitors will find a number of fun and interesting shops.
At West End beach, a destination for many of the ship’s tours, guests will find some nice shops and boutiques. Keep a lookout for the works produced by local artists and artisans. Some of their creations are very creative and unique. There is a bus route that runs east and west. Besides Internet access, an ATM, a small shopping mall and a handful of restaurants, there’s little here for tourists. It’s a good place to buy cold drinks and sandwiches before venturing east toward French Harbor and
Oak Ridge, and west toward Sandy Bay and the West End. Don’t be afraid to tour the island.
Ship provided excursions:
Be sure and check with Royal Caribbean’s website and look at shore adventures and excursions offered through them. I looked recently and found 28 different shore excursions offered in Roatan by booking them with Royal Caribbean. There is a special desk as you board the ship and you can almost immediately start booking excursions when you board. If you have something special you want to do, book it quickly as it may fill up. You can also make reservations online very easily. You have to have a booking number to reserve the excursion, but you can look through the excursions without booking.
Here are some of our ‘Best Bets’ for visiting cruisers
Things to do here: Kids and beginners can join experienced equestrians in a memorable horseback riding trip along the beach and into the hills at West Bay (Keifetos Resort) or between Calabash Bight and Paya Bay on the island’s south side (Roatan Ridge Ranch).
Here’s another: Sueno del Mar Dive Center (800-298-9009), voted best on Roatan by Scuba Diving magazine, offers introductory diving lessons. Certified juniors, ages 10 to 15 years, must dive with an adult.
Snorkeling and Kayaking: After paddling down the coastline at either Half Moon Beach or West Bay Beach, leave your kayak onshore to explore the coral reefs. Snorkeling equipment is available for rent through tour operators as well as dive shops, some restaurants, and gift shops.
The Butterfly Farm: Located just before the entrance to West End. A couple of hundred exquisite butterflies representing 15 to 20 species flit around a 3,000-square-ft. enclosure. This is also home to stunning hummingbirds, parrots and toucans (guided tours, open daily except Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.). Don’t forget your binoculars and camera.
Best Beach to visit for activities: West End offers beaches, coral reefs for snorkeling, places to eat, and water sports like sea kayaking, diving and sailing. At the entrance to West End is palm-lined Half Moon Bay beach. Be prepared for large crowds on cruise ship days.
Best family Beach: West Bay Beach, near the northern tip of the island, features clear, shallow water (about five feet deep) teeming with coral and colorful fish right offshore. With a dozen stations marked by buoys, the Natural Aquarium Snorkel Trail at the Bay Islands Beach Resort at Sandy Bay is a fun way for kids to see everything from eagle rays to sergeant majors (open daily from 9 am until 4:30 p.m.).
For adventurous families with children: Ages ten and older, the Tabyana Beach and Canopy Tour has a great beach and snorkeling tour and features a zip line canopy tour. This tour starts at Creation Rock, where you are outfitted in a harness, pulley and gloves and attached to a cable. With 11 stretches of cable and 13 tree-top stations towering 18 to 30 feet above the ground, this will make some great family memories.
Best Secluded Beach: Camp Bay Beach past the village of Diamond Rock is a two-mile idyllic stretch of white sand with swaying coconut palms perfect for snuggling under. Rent a 4-wheel drive for the unpaved road and don’t forget a picnic lunch.
Casual Lunching: In-Town: In the center of Coxen Hole, Warren Supermarket’s is a 50′s-style cafeteria that scrambles up eggs, along with fried beans and tortillas (open Monday to Saturday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m).
The Lighthouse, located in West End on the south side of the point, offers some of the best fish tacos, grilled lobster and conch soup on the island (open 7:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily).
Gourmet Lunches: Pura Vida, in the center of West End, cooks up homemade pasta, pizza, and seafood (open 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily).
Las Rocas at West Bay is known for authentic Bay Island dishes like shrimp with rice, chicken in coconut milk, and beef in coconut milk (open for lunch and dinner, 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. daily).