Roatan is the largest of the six Bay Islands and is located in the Caribbean Sea approximately 35 miles off the North Coast of Honduras. It is 32 miles long and varies in width from one to three miles across.
A valid passport is required to enter the country of Honduras. Honduras requires no visa to enter the country, but visitors who intend to stay longer than 30 days should apply for a 90 day visa from the Honduran consulate before arriving. Residency paperwork can also be found at the consulate.
The colourful English of the Caribbean and Spanish are both spoken in Roatan and both languages are taught in most schools. The current population of Roatan is approx 60,000.
The Lempira is the official currency of Honduras but US dollars are becoming more and more accepted throughout Roatan and can be used in most parts of the Island. Credit Cards and Travellers Checks can also be used while in Coxen Hole you will find ATM machines for cash withdrawals.
Roatan's economy was traditionally based on fishing, but over the last decade tourism has slowly caught up as an important economic mainstay.
Throughout Honduras and Roatan, 110 volts, 60 MHz, is used. This is identical to the US with the same plugs. Voltage drops and irregularities in quality of electricity can occur, so consider bringing a surge protector.
The yearly average temperature in Roatan is 80 degrees Fahrenheit. The island receives constant trade winds keeping the climate cool and a reasonable rainfall, which mainly falls in December to February. This rainfall keeps the island lush and green.
A variety of Airlines offer direct flights from the USA to Roatan:
Continental - flights leaving from Houston and Newark
Grupo Taca - flights leaving from Houston
Delta - flights leaving from Atlanta.
Also flights can be taken to San Pedro Sula or Tegucigalpa where local carriers Islena, Sosa and Atlantic Airlines offer 2 to 3 daily departures to Roatan. There is also a passenger ferry which offers 2 daily return trips between Roatan and La Ceiba. Traveling time is approx 2 hrs one-way. The ferry docks is located in Brick Bay, Roatan (between French Harbor and Coxen Hole).
The commercial and administrative center for Roatan is Coxen Hole, the capital of the Department (state) of the Bay Islands. Cruise ships arrive in Coxen Hole and the airport is located just outside of town. French Harbor, the next largest town, is where the shipping, fishing and shrimp boats dock. West End and West Bay are the most popular beaches. West End Village is a funky little beach village with meandering sandy lanes. This is where most of the hotels, restaurants and dive shops are concentrated. Sandy Bay, one of the oldest towns on Roatan, stretches for 2 to 3 miles along the beaches of the northwest shore.
For any medical emergencies, both Woods Clinic (a small hospital) in Coxen Hole and a new, modern, 24 hour clinic on the East End are available. A decompression chamber for divers is located at Anthony's Key Resort in Sandy Bay.
Bilingual schools can be found throughout the Island and recently a University opened its doors in French Harbor enabling Roatan youth for the first time, the chance to obtain a University Education without leaving the Island.
Roatan is a great destination for lovers of the great outdoors. The islands activities are so varied and continue to grow as the island develops. For the water lovers there is PADI diving courses and snorkeling on some of the Caribbean's best dive sites, mangrove and sea kayaking, sailing locally or to close by islands, deep sea and fly fishing, glass bottom boat rides and of course relaxing and swimming at the beach.
For the land lovers there is hiking on tropical rainforest trails, horseback riding, you can rent a bike or moped to explore the island, take a canopy tour or just walk and explore the miles of beaches.