The Bay Islands
Roatan forms part of the Bay Islands of Honduras, a Caribbean archipelago located from 20 to 40 miles off the north coast of Honduras.
There are three major islands, Roatan, Guanaja and Utila, two smaller islands Helene and Barbareta-which are located off the east end of Roatan– and 70 smaller cays and atolls. The Cayos Cochinos or Hog Islands also form part of the Bay Islands, but are located closer to the Honduran mainland.
The islands are surrounded by a spectacular barrier reef and warm waters, and have long been an international scuba diving destination. The fringing reef formation creates calm lagoons between the coastline and the reef crest for shallow diving and snorkeling, as well as wall diving and deep diving outside the reef wall.
Roatan Measures approximately 60km/37miles from east to west and less than 7km/4miles across at its widest point.
The island rests atop the underwater Bonacca Ridge, a mountainous culmination of eons of tectonic plate movement stemming from the Cayman Trench to the north. From its highest point near 270m/900ft elevation to the white-sand shores at sea level, the entire island rests atop an exposed ancient coral reef.
A mountain ridge runs through the center of the island with the tallest peak rising about 800 feet. The rolling hills are covered by lush foliage that offer spectacular ocean vistas.
The climate on Roatan is tropical and typically hot and humid, but a constant sea breeze keeps the temperatures between a comfortable 70° to 90° F with an average relative humidity of about 75%. The average yearly temperature is 82°F.
Coxen Hole, the municipal center and most densely populated town in Roatan, is your most likely point of ingress to the island, as it is home to the airport, cruise ship dock, and ferry dock. French Harbor is the island’s main center of commerce, though historical Oak Ridge supports a bulk of the commercial fishing industry. Punta Gorda, Camp Bay, and Santa Helena to the east maintain much of their unique cultural heritage. On the opposite end of Roatan, Sandy Bay, West End and West Bay form the island’s tourist hub.
This former sleepy fishing village has grown into a dedicated little community of dive operators, small personable hotels and restaurants, and the central location of the Marine Park. Its beaches, beachfront bars, and dining decks are perfect for a day’s wandering.
Shops have a friendly local feel and plenty of great craft shopping and quick tasty eats. The town comes out at night with live music in many of the local spots.