About Roatan

The Bay Islands of Honduras offer a very different world from that of mainlandHonduras. The Islands history, which includes many disputes between the Spaniardsand the British during colonial times, with the British actually controllingthe islands most of time, have given the islands a unique heritage. There areseveral islands within the department, with three larger ones being the mostpopular with tourists: Utila, Roatan and Guanaja. English is so widely spokenin the Islands, that some people don't even speak Spanish, despite the fact thatthis is the official language of Honduras!

Roatan is a long island, measuring almost 40 miles in length and with a totallandmass of 49 square miles. The island has a mountainous backbone and is totallysurrounded by coral reefs, offering superb diving as well as excellent fishing.

There are several airlines offering service to Roatan from La Ceiba, and with connections to the rest of the country. Islena Airlines, Sosa Airlines and Atlantic Airlines all serve Roatan. In addition, TACA International Airlines offers direct non stop jet service to Roatan from Miami and Houston and Sol Air offers non stop service from Miami. Continental Airlines has non stop flights to Roatan from Houston and Delta has non stop service from Atlanta.

Roatan has a paved road that connects the most important communities of the Island. Starting from the Western End of the Island, at the community of West End, the road leads through the communities of Sandy Bay, Coxen Hole, Brick Bay, Mount Pleasant, French Harbour and Oakridge - Punta Gorda. From here, the road continues east for a distance, to the area of Paya Bay, Camp Bay, Port Royal, and other communities. Roatan offers outstanding real estate investment opportunities. There are several world-class developments under way that can be a convenient way of purchasing a piece of paradise.

For the purpose of our description of Roatan, we have broken up the island into five different areas, which are the following:

Coxen Hole

The largest city and capital of the department of the Bay Islands, Coxen hole is the most important city from the point of view of politics. Although there are not many tourism attractions as such, the rich afro antillean influence lend a unique atmosphere to this community. It is also the main gateway to Roatan: Both the airport and the dock where the ferry arrives are located in Coxen Hole. In addition, many of the better souvenir shops are located here. There is regular bus and van service leading both, east towards French Harbour and Oakridge, as well as west towards Sandy Bay and West End.

Banco BGA, Banco BAC-Credomatic and Banco Atlantida all have offices in Coxen Hole with services that include cash advances on your Visa card. The best spot for tourist info is the Libreria Casi Todo / Que Tal Café and internet located at the entrance from West End / Sandy Bay. There are several souvenir shops located in Coxen Hole, the most outstanding in terms of originality and quality is Yaba Ding Ding.

French Harbour

Perhaps the most bustling community on the island, French Harbour is home to one of the largest fishing fleets in the Western Caribbean and is the economic motor of the Island, with many of the banks in the island located precisely here. BGA, Futuro, Sogerin, BanFFAA and Banco Atlantida all have offices here. In addition Credomatic has offices located at the El Faro Building, where the famous Gio's Restaurant is located. Nearby is Red Planet Disco, one of the discos on the island, which is open from Thursday to Sundays.

Continuing east bound, and only a short distance away are the Fantasy Island Beach Resort and Marina and the Coco View Resort. These two are amongst the most exclusive in the island. The Marina at the Fantasy Island offers various water sports, which include deep-sea fishing, sailing and wave runners.
 
On the outskirts of French Harbour, a local islander has set up his own Iguana reserve. According to the owner, Arch, there are over 2,800 iguanas of four different species living on his property in French Key.

West End/West Bay

Perhaps the most famous area of Roatan, and without question the one with more establishments catering to the tourist, West End and West Bay offer idyllic beaches in a very tropical setting. There are many small hotels and restaurants, featuring from extremely budget to the best and amongst the most expensive in the Island. West End offers a variety of activities, ranging from just relaxing on the beach, taking a boat ride to West Bay, a sail along the coast, great scuba diving, with a variety of schools appropriately certified, sea kayaking, horse back riding, etc.

Oakridge/Punta Gorda

Continuing on the road towards the east, you will arrive at Oakridge, located on the southern end of the island. Oakridge is a small and very picturesque community with a strong afro antillean influence. Up until recently, access to this part of the Island was somewhat limited, and therefore, Oakridge has not changed much with the passing of time. On the south side of the island you can find a variety of communities, fringing the coast, starting with Jonesville, Oakridge and Calabash Cay. All three are very picturesque and interconnected by a series of canals through mangrove forests. Fishing here is outstanding. Also, Roatan Ridge Ranch is located in this neighborhood and offers horseback riding tours in the area between Calabash Bight and Paya Bay. The tour includes an English speaking guide and good horses and is rapidly becoming popular. On the opposite side of the Island (The North Coast) is the Garifuna community of Punta Gorda, the only true Garifuna community on Roatan. Punta Gorda was actually the first Garifuna settlement in Central America. The Black Caribs or Garifunas where marooned in Roatan by the British in 1796 and first settled in Punta Gorda. To conmemorate their arrival to Roatan, the Garifunas at this community have a carnival every year on the 12 of April. A new cultural attraction in this part of the island is YUBU, where you will have the opportunity of meeting Garifuna people, experience their exotic dances and culture and even purchase a nice souvenir hand made by them. The Oak Bay diving resort offers some of the most affordable diving packages on the island. The resort is located on the westernmost part of Oakridge, and offers a nice view of Jonesville. Jonesville, a picturesque fishing community has one of the more popular bars in the island, the Hole in the Wall. Access to the bar is only by water, so you will have to hire one of the dory’s that operate as water taxis to take you there.