Roatán is one of Honduras’s Caribbean Bay Islands. Part of the huge Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, it’s known for its beaches, dive sites and marine life, including whale sharks. Roatan is the largest of the Bay Islands, which are a part of Honduras, lying just over 30 miles from the northern coast of the Honduran mainland.
Virtually its entire coastline is fringed by an astonishingly diverse coral reef teeming with tropical fish. On land, exquisite white-sand beaches like West Bay, a mountainous interior of pine-forested hills and the remote wild east of the island beg to be explored.
Roatan has a mild climate year round with sea temperatures fine for swimming all year. The weather does not always permit swimming, however. Stormy weather brings rough and dangerous seas, but that is more like to occur during the rainy season.
Coxen Hole is the largest town on Roatan. It is home of government offices, the airport, and the cruise ship dock. It streets are narrow and crowded with people and honking cars. Street vendors offer peeled oranges, a variety of other fruits, newspapers, and souvenirs for tourists. Coxen Hole is one of the less attractive communities of Roatan. A low-lying part of Coxen Hole is called “the swamp” with slums. This area is not safe at night.
French Harbor is the second largest community on Roatan. It is a thriving business center, with grocery stores, banks, real estate offices, shrimp boat docks, and shipping companies. French Harbor also offers a nice shopping center featuring a restaurants, a grocery store, and many other businesses.
Punta Gorda has the largest settlement of Garifuna people on the Bay Islands. There are also Garifuna settlements on the mainland of Honduras. The Garifuna have a fascinating culture, preserving their African roots. They beat African drums and still speak the Garifuna language, which is very unusual sounding.
West End is one of the main tourist destinations of the island, with dive centers, hotels, restaurants, and tourist shops. West End has rental properties and condominiums available for travellers who choose to stay longer on Roatan.
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