Climate and Geography on Roatan
Located in the Caribbean, about 35 miles off the northern coast of Honduras, Roatan is the largest of a group of islands called the Bay Islands. Approximately 40 miles long and about 5 miles at its widest point, Roatan enjoys an incredible array of topography. A central ridge runs nearly the full length of the island, rising up to about 900 feet above sea level. Pristine, white sandy beaches meet stunning iron shore and intricate mangroves along the entire shoreline. Tropical hillsides lead into lush valleys, giving Roatan the luxury of both jungle and beach.
The Mesoamerican Barrier Reef system extends from the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico, past Belize and Guatemala, and ends around the Bay Islands of Honduras. Roatan benefits from the close proximity of this barrier reef to shore, protecting the island and keeping the lagoons between the shore and reef amazingly calm. A large majority of the reef is a protected marine area, with fishing and boating regulations in place to preserve and protect this environment. SCUBA diving and snorkeling have long been popular activities around Roatan, with the tourism market now bringing people from all over the world to enjoy the incredible array of marine life and astounding coral structures all around the island.
Roatan’s yearly average temperature is 80 degrees Fahrenheit, making it a true tropical paradise. The island receives constant trade winds, which keep the climate cool, along with moderate rainfall, which predominantly falls between December and February. This rainfall helps the island maintain a lush, verdant landscape to contrast with the bright blues of the sea and sky.
Roatan is often referred to as the “Gem of the Caribbean.” The island has retained its natural beauty despite its increasing popularity, so you can still enjoy a charming, quaint Caribbean island with much to discover.
How To Get To Roatan
Roatan offers amazing convenience through its international airport, which is serviced by international direct flights from Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, Miami, San Salvador, Toronto, Montreal, and Milan (seasonal flights from Canada and Italy). Additionally, daily regional flights arrive from La Ceiba, Tegucigalpa, and San Pedro Sula. Airlines that fly to Roatan include: American, Delta, Avianca, United, Isleña, Sun Wing from Canada, and Air Italy Charters.
Basic Information About Roatan
The population of Roatan is currently estimated to be around 80,000. The official currency is called the Lempira, although U.S. Dollars are accepted everywhere. While Spanish is the official national language, English is widely spoken as a first language in the Bay Islands. Visitors from North America, most European countries, as well as Australia and New Zealand, do not require advance visas to visit Honduras. Upon arrival, a tourist visa for 90 days will be issued. Tourist visas may be extended one time for 30 days at an immigration office.
What should I pack for Roatan?
Roatan is very casual, so there is no need to pack several suitcases for a brief visit. Keep in mind this is a tropical environment, so light clothing is always best. If you come during the rainy season (end of November through February) bring a light rain jacket as well. Of course, don’t forget your swimsuits and sandals, as you’ll be in those most of your time here!
Sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat are needed all times of the year, as the tropical sun is hot and strong. Bug repellent is also needed mainly for nights and some beaches where sand flies are found. We like to say that the bugs are here to remind us that this little paradise is actually real.
Additional items to bring with you include:
- Photocopies of your passport, credit cards, and airline tickets
- Back up money supply (i.e. debit or credit card)
- Prescription medications
- Torch (flashlight)
- Small day bag for excursions and the beach
Roatan Island Overview
The island of Roatan is divided into two different municipalities. Coxen Hole houses the Municipality of Roatan, while Oakridge houses the Municipality of Santos Guardiola. The main commercial areas on the island are Coxen Hole and French Harbour. Both areas have several grocery stores, banks, and a variety of local stores, providing everything from furniture to hardware stores.
The ferry terminal is located in Dixon Cove, which is conveniently between Coxen Hole and French Harbour. There are two cruise ship docks on the island: the Port of Roatan is in Coxen Hole and Mahogany Bay is in Brick Bay, just before French Harbour. The international airport, code RTB, is located just east of downtown Coxen Hole.
The most popular tourist areas on the island are West End and West Bay. Both offer sandy beaches and easy access to the coral reef. A wide range of hotels, from luxury resorts to budget accommodations can be found in both areas, along with an incredible variety of rental homes. A multitude of local and international restaurants can be found in both locations, many of which offer fresh seafood dishes. Dive shops, gift shops, and some fun beach bars make up the rest of West End and West Bay Beach.
Roatan is a perfect place for families and for active people. If you love the outdoors and the water, there is perhaps no better place in the Western Caribbean than Roatan. The island is world-famous for SCUBA diving and has been rated as one of the premier locations for diving throughout the Caribbean. If you are not interested in diving, take advantage of the amazing snorkeling instead, or try your hand at kayaking, paddle boarding, or sailing to stay above water. The sport fishing is fantastic with tarpon, marlin, and tuna all caught offshore regularly. On the East End of the island, world-class fly-fishing can be found on the many mangroves and sand flats.
Out of the water activities include horseback riding, biking, hiking, canopy tours, and just exploring the many hilltops and beaches around the island. And don’t forget to take advantage of the concept of Island Time and simply relax every once in a while, too.
A recent addition to our island is the Black Pearl 18-hole championship golf course designed by the legendary Pete Dye. It is optimally located mid-island at Pristine Bay Resort, which is a 400-acre multi-use development featuring a beach club, marina, luxury hotel, and residential areas, all surrounded by one of the most prestigious golf courses in Central America. I am proud to promote and sell real estate in this exclusive community, which features single-family lots, condos, villas, and more. Send me a message to see what is currently available.
The international boating community has also begun to discover Roatan and the waters of the Bay Islands. With that interest has come a growing number of marinas offering a wide range of services for boating people. While this may all sound like many other Caribbean destinations, Roatan still has its untouched charm, with miles of remote sandy beaches and small fishing villages.
For many years, Roatan was a hidden secret in the Caribbean and was overlooked as people focused on more popular destinations, but times have changed. Roatan is now frequently listed in top places to snorkel, dive, and visit on worldwide charts. With this increased interest has come quite a jump in development as well. The casual charm of the island remains, however, while Roatan grows with more modern facilities and opportunities. Medical services have increased in quantity and quality in recent years with this increase in infrastructure and development. Medical clinics as well as public and private hospitals are all available on Roatan, including a recompression chamber for divers. Ambulance service is available, as well as medical evacuation to the mainland through the U.S. military base located there.
In recent years many high-end developments have been built on Roatan. One of the many beauties of Roatan is that due to the topography of the island, many such developments can exist while still leaving miles of shoreline. Remote beaches and stunning hilltops are available for people or investors who want to enjoy a more secluded life in the Caribbean.
Throughout the calendar year, you will find many events and celebrations being held on Roatan. Christmas and Semana Santa (Easter week) are both very busy times on the island as visitors come from around the world to soak up the sun and to enjoy some Roatan fun. The International Fishing Tournament is held every year in September, the Caribbean Cup is an international freediving competition held every year in May, and throughout the year you will find live local music performances, local dances, and a variety of community events and fundraisers.
For more information about life on Roatan, download the Roatan Relocation and Investment Guide, and of course do not hesitate to contact us. We are more than happy to share our life experiences on Roatan with you. We look forward to hearing from you soon!