Cruising Roatan Island – Honduras

Roatan is an island in Honduras Central America, located between the Utila and Guanaja islands, with Roatan representing the largest of Honduras Bay Islands. Roatan is sizeable – 48 miles long and 5 miles across, with mountains, beaches and jungles. See our Photo Gallery of Roatan Haiti.

Arriving by cruise ship to Roatan, the island is beautiful, lush green hills and several sandy beaches surround the island. The small cruise ship terminal has a few shops. Buses and taxis await to take you on an excursion, where booked through your ship or purchased direct on land. The good news is Roatan can only accommodate one or two big cruise ships, its not a big port of call yet, but its becoming popular for its strategic location for cruise ships heading through the Panama Canal. Unlike others islands and ports that have become overwhelmed with four to seven ships a day, Roatan hosts typically one maybe two big ships.

On our excursion bus, driving by humble store fronts, dilapidated homes, banks with armed guards stationed outside and body scanners in front of the Post Office and Western Union, I would say you aren’t safe traveling in Roatan on your own. So you book an excursion through the ship – at least your safety and your return to the ship on time is assured. However our excursion was a classic cattle call- lining up by a sign, awaiting instructions to be herded to a parking lot where we then waited to board an old school bus, only to wait for our tour guide to count heads, collect tickets and tell us we couldn’t leave the cruise ship terminal for our private beach until everyone booked for the excursion showed us. This is what I don’t like about cruise ship excursion, its painful being processed en masse. Our excursion to French Key Beach was apparently a new tour operator for Royal Caribbean, and our tour guide’s first day working in 8 years. Once we got moving, our bus driver got lost down a long muddy road on the 20 minute drive. On hour later, a small ferry boat finally shuttled us across the bay to French Key Beach – which was beautiful.

Arriving at French Key Beach, we had a nice fresh seafood lunch under a big straw beach cabana bar, unlimited rum drinks, and access to a beautiful sand beach with plenty of beach chairs, umbrellas and trees for shade. Other excursions went kayaking and paddle boarding from French Key Beach. One highlight was certainly seeing a jaguar and his handler swim out to one of the floats in the ocean bay, after a few tricks the jaguar then jumped back into the water with his handler and swam with the few brave souls in the water. An amazing sight, a gorgeous sleek spotted jaguar in the brilliant turquoise waters of the Caribbean.

For other shore excursions in Roatan, there are several snuba and snorkeling trips out to national marine reserves on protected coral reefs, and even shipwrecks. Roatan’s best snorkel trip is aboard a catamaran. Roatan is also home to a Monkey Refuge and Bird Sanctuary at Gumbalimba Preservation Park. For another beautiful beach day, like French Key Beach, you can take a boat out to Las Palmas Pirate Beach.

The Black Pearl Golf Course is a rare 18 hole Championship golf course on Roaton, with amazing ocean scenery at 14 of the holes, from its lofty location at a Pristine Bay Resort, a 405 acres resort.

Roatan has an extreme zipline tour, with 12 zips on twin cables so you can zip tandem. The longest zip span is 1950’ long, so as zip lines go in the islands – this Caribe Zip line is a good one.

Finally you can swim with the Dolphins in Roatan – Atlantic Bottle Nose dolphins at Baileys Key. The shopping at Roatan I cannot highly recommend. You either buy things within the cruise ship terminal, or risk your safety outside in the local shops. As we departed Roatan, with views of the hilly islands from the top deck of the Independence of the Sea, I wished the best for this impoverished but pretty island in Honduras. But I did not have the comfort level to help stimulate their economy. Photo Gallery of Roatan Haiti

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