Roatan; An island in the Caribbean off the northern coast of Honduras, this island is known for its incredible diving and snorkeling. It has numerous offshore colorful coral reefs, fascinating shipwreck sites such as the Odyssey and Aguila, and an array of different fish and shark species. If you have diving with magnificent whale sharks on your bucket list, this is the place for you. This island is an ocean lover’s paradise and one place to knock off your bucket list of diving or snorkeling spots. You’ll get the white sand, turquoise waters, and even see squid and sea turtles if you’re lucky.
“The sunsets alone could attract a slew of tourists! It really is a small, quiet, beautiful paradise off the beaten path you shouldn’t miss.”
If the water isn’t your first motivation and true love, don’t worry! There is also so much more than that. There is so much nature, lush green forests, beautiful and exciting animals to engage with, and so much good food for such a small island. The sunsets alone could attract a slew of tourists! It really is a small, quiet, beautiful paradise off the beaten path you shouldn’t miss. I really loved the more casual, almost hippie vibe there, even for a glamour city girl like myself. Everyone was chilled, kind, and down to earth. There is no rush to go anywhere and really no stress at all to do anything. It’s incredibly laid back, which is ideal for an island vacation. I’ll now give you a guide on the best things to see and do in Roatan, as well as some great restaurants to visit while in Roatan. There is an excellent variety of food there for everyone, even gluten-free tourists like myself.
The best place to stay, in my opinion, is The West End. It’s a great location with excellent restaurants and situated a little away from the busier West Bay. West End is also slightly cheaper and is closer to walk to the restaurants and bars. West Bay gets cruise ships twice a week, so it can get jam-packed. West Bay also has chain restaurants that are expensive for the quality of food they have. The food in West End is much nicer and cheaper. West Bay does have an incredible beach, though, so you can’t miss visiting there. I think it’s great for an afternoon or two. It’s a short boat taxi from the West end. The west end also has terrific snorkeling.
“There is also so much nature and lush greenery around the hotel, which I loved. It was like being in a secret garden of peace and beauty”.
In the West End, I stayed at Cocolobo Hotel. It’s an attractive ocean-front hotel with all ocean front studio rooms with amazing sunsets and ocean views. The beach in front is an old coral reef, and it’s rocky, but there is an infinity pool to enjoy, and the sandy beaches are only a 7 min walk from the hotel. I loved Cocolobo because the rooms were big, with oversized patios equipped with hammocks and chairs to enjoy the ocean and sunset views. There is also so much nature and lush greenery around the hotel, which I loved. It was like being in a secret garden of peace and beauty. The location is excellent as well. You can walk to all the bars, restaurants, and beaches in 7-10 minutes. The staff there is so helpful and engaging, and they made a delicious breakfast for us! I loved staying here!
“At both parks, I felt like they really give you plenty of time with the animals and the experience. It was so worth it, and I’m glad that I went and visited. If you’re an animal lover, you cannot miss these parks”.
Visit Gumbalimba Park, AJ’s Monkey and Sloths, and/or Daniel Johnson’s Monkey and Sloth Hangout. I typically don’t like animal parks, but these are more sanctuary-style. The animals are looked after really well, and the birds actually have free range at GumbaLimba to fly away, but they always end up back home at night to eat and sleep, which I found to be so interesting. Gumbalimba has so many giant iguanas, exotic macaws, and mischievous monkeys. You really get to get up close to them and hold them, play with them, etc. The monkeys aren’t in cages at Gumbalimba and really can be naughty, so watch your personal belongings. I had one that kept jumping on my head looking for bugs and lice, the guy said. Luckily, I was pest-free except for the little monkey on my head looking for them. Ha-ha. I also went to Aj’s Monkey and sloths and got to hold the cutest sloth for ages. I was so happy and excited to do this as we went into the forest looking for them and sadly didn’t see any, so my dream was fulfilled here, and it really was one of the highlights of my trip. I loved it so much, and the sloth was so cute and sweet. At both parks, I felt like they really give you plenty of time with the animals and the experience. It was so worth it, and I’m glad that I went and visited. If you’re an animal lover, you cannot miss these parks. Do a snorkeling or diving tour. Like I said, the diving is meant to be epic. It is by far the most popular attraction here. If you are certified, then I would 100 percent recommend diving there. There are so many great excursions and things to see. Don’t miss out. I don’t scuba dive…. yet. But I do snorkel, and I had the best time here. I saw eels, colorful schools of fish, a small squid, and lots of coral. I hired a private guide named Olvin Varela to take me to the best spots and even had him get into the water and show me some incredible underwater reefs. He was excellent and super professional. He pointed out so many creatures and told me their names. (His contact info is +504-9509-2658 or firstname.lastname@example.org) He owns his boat and does all sorts of curated boat excursions.
“If you are a new snorkeler or someone like me, who was once afraid of the water, I would just snorkel at West Bay Beach as reefs are right near the shore, and they are still loaded with fish”.
Anyway, back to my snorkel adventure. I saw some unique fish I had never seen before. I was so excited about this experience and being in the water alone as two years ago, I was too petrified to even get in, so this was a big deal for me, and I loved it. It’s so important to face your fears head-on. The growth you can make is so unique and unlimited. If you are a new snorkeler or someone like me, who was once afraid of the water, I would just snorkel at West Bay Beach as reefs are right near the shore, and they are still loaded with fish.On that same tour, he took my friend and me to see the Mangroves. Mangroves in Roatan are vital for the ecosystem as they provide shelter for certain species, breeding grounds, and access to reliable food sources. They also protect the coasts and coral reefs from storms. There are four types of them, and walking inside a tangled mangrove forest is very calm and almost a spiritual experience. It was like wandering inside this labyrinth of roots and small creatures under the sunlight. I loved it. It gave me such a sense of peace inside there.
“The water is so clear, warm, and lovely. It’s the ideal beach you would dream of. It’s truly paradise there”.
If you’re looking for some sun, I would go to West Bay beach as it’s the most beautiful on the island, a little busier, but if you go early and get a spot, you’ll be good. I would find out what days the cruise ships come in and maybe avoid the beach that day; that’s only twice a week, though. The beach there is so beautiful and as I said there is snorkeling there if you would like to get in the water. The water is so clear, warm, and lovely. It’s the ideal beach you would dream of. It’s truly paradise there. If you want some peace and quiet when laying out, then the beaches at the West end are a little quieter and smaller, and there is always the infinity pool and patio set up at Cocolobo you can enjoy.
If you’re a thrill-seeker, then I would go zip lining. There are multiple places to go, but the best ones I think would be Jungle Top Adventures or South Shore Canopy Zipline. You can also do tours where you combine ATV, water experiences, animal encounters, and zip-lining. This could be a great deal if you’re interested in doing all of them. It also saves time if you are on a time crunch.
“Por Que No is another great spot for drinks and casual dining. It’s colorful and fun. I loved just hanging around the beaches having a beer from time to time”.
Go eat some of the incredible variety of food here. I was so surprised at the different cuisines, and I even met some of the chefs who had moved there from South Africa, The USA, and Italy to open restaurants. I really had a variety of great cuisines there. My favorite restaurants were Pazzo (amazing pasta from a South African chef) place is always slammed. Cal’s Cantina for great food and views. Happy Harry’s Hideaway, great for cocktails and swinging. (on chairs, not with other couples) hahaha. The Drunken Sailor, which was maybe my favorite spot, I went twice. Italians working there and really know how to cook. They also had Gluten-free options, which was appreciated. Gio’s restaurant is excellent for the seafood and views. Sunsets are incredible from here. Sundowners is fun for drinks at the end of the night. It’s a very casual beach bar filled with tourists and backpackers from all over. Por Que No is another great spot for drinks and casual dining. It’s colorful and fun. I loved just hanging around the beaches having a beer from time to time. There are so many cute places if you just walk around the island. So many have great views of the sea and sunsets. It’s so lovely to just sit on the beach in the west end next to the restaurants near the boats, chill, meditate, and take in the stunning sunset while in a calm and natural environment. I never felt unsafe here, and we would walk at night from the restaurant area back to Cocolobo. It’s just a tiny, safe, little island area. I enjoyed it so much here. If you have reservations about coming here due to safety, then please don’t. You will be fine, and once you arrive, you’ll get a sense of that.
“If you’re an ocean lover, beach lover, nature lover, or animal lover, this really is an excellent destination for you. There is so much to do in the sea and in the forests”.
In conclusion, if you’re an ocean lover, beach lover, nature lover, or animal lover, this really is an excellent destination for you. There is so much to do in the sea and in the forests. There is also the little French Key, a private island resort in Roatan that is so nice. I didn’t make it here sadly, but I heard great things from locals. I think 3-4 days here would be perfect! It’s cheap, beautiful, safe, and genuinely full of nature and wildlife experiences to remember forever.