Jewel of the Caribbean
The newest 'Jewel of the Caribbean' - ROATAN ISLAND - is a mystical and seductive Tropical Paradise, isolated from the 'Worldly Hustle and Bustle' of everyday life. With crystal clear, blue and turquoise waters, ROATAN is approximately 36 miles long and, at its greatest width, about 6 miles wide. It is one of the few 'true' Caribbean Islands as it is wholly located in the Caribbean Sea. ROATAN is located about 30 miles north of the mainland coastal city of La Ceiba, Honduras. ROATAN ISLAND orients west to east. It has lush, tropical forests and abundant green, flowering vegetation on its Mountainous Features, some features being over 900 feet high. No flat, dry desert island here! And Sandy Beaches are plentiful, which includes Living Coral Reefs! Almost constant Trade Winds cool the Island, with the 'Rainy Season' basically being from mid-October to the end of November.
Christopher Columbus, on his fourth, and last, voyage (1502-1504) discovered the 'Bay Islands' as he visited the neighboring Island of Guanaja. Soon after the Pirates and Buccaneers began using the Islands for the purpose of Slave Raiding and Raiding Ships for their Treasures .
ROATAN is not located in the main path of Hurricanes. Roatan’s location in the southwestern Caribbean Basin usually keeps it out of harm’s way, as storms commonly divert northward to Cuba or the Yucatan Peninsula. Roatan survived the devastating 2005 Hurricane Season relatively unscathed; Hurricane Wilma, their most serious storm of that season, only caused minor cosmetic damage.
View Roatan Island, Honduras in a larger map
Check out this amazing 'GoogleMap' satellite view of Roatan. 'Double-Click' on anything that interests you to bring it closer in view. Each time that you 'Double-Click', that area continues to get closer and closer. 'Cruise' around the Island by holding down the 'left mouse button', and look at all the Living Coral Reef. The white areas under the water are soft, powdery sands. Everything else is Living Coral Reef and some 'seagrass'. Outstanding!! I have put a 'placemark' on a few of the locations mentioned in this website. 'Click' on the blue 'Pinheads' to get a description of what each represents.
Driving is on the right hand side of the road, with a main, paved road extending through most of ROATAN ISLAND. This paved road links the major towns of West Bay Beach, West End, Flowers Bay, Coxen Hole, through the port of French Harbor, then on towards the east end of the Island. Electricity is generated at 120 and 240 volts. The local currency is the Lempira, but the US dollar is readily accepted. Its time zone is Mountain Standard Time. Roatan has a very relaxing, 'Laid-Back' atmosphere, with friendly, 'English-speaking' Locals. Because Roatan was formerly part of the British Empire, and is a major 'Cruise-Port', English is much more widely spoken here than on the Mainland.
ROATAN ISLAND is most notably known WorldWide for its Diving Experiences. There are over 35 listed Dive Sites around the Island. With the second largest Barrier Reef in the World (Australia's being the largest) surrounding most of the Island, underneath the surface it's a whole new world. The Dive and Snorkeling opportunities are OUTSTANDING. If that is not exciting enough, there are Shark Dives (Nurse and Whale Sharks - they don't 'eat ya'! Ha!) and Wreck Dives available.
Roatan is one of the few 'True Caribbean Islands' that is not bordered by the Atlantic Ocean. The Island is on the edge of the Cayman Trench that provides clear water from the depths as well as a wide variety of open ocean animals such as whale sharks, turtles, dolphin, and rays. The Trench plunges thousands of feet right off the west end of the Island. Roatan is famous for its seafood, with a huge fishing fleet to bring in lobster and shrimp.
Roatan Diving is simply magnificent: Coral Reefs, Shipwrecks, and Warm, Calm Caribbean Waters. You would be hard pressed to find better, more varied, or more reasonably priced Dives anywhere in the World. And most sites are just offshore, the rest being a 'Few Minutes' boat ride from the shore. West End Village and West Bay Beach are full of Dive Shops offering packages for Roatan Diving, either individually, by the day, or for ten dives. Prices are pretty uniform, so it is best to ask around and go with a Roatan Diving Company that is well reviewed locally.
Roatan is an easy travel destination. An International Airport (RTB) is located on ROATAN, with several Major, Worldwide Airlines having Daily non-stop Flights to and from Roatan. American, Continental, Delta and TACA are the Major Carriers that fly into this area. Not just 'prop-jets', or propeller planes, but large Commercial Jets. It is a very safe, straight in landing from the sea. The airport may not have all the 'niceties' of a major city airport, but it is sure convenient when you can disembark from the rear door and not just the 'normal' door towards the front.
There is also a High Speed Ferry available to and from the East coastal city of La Ceiba, located on the Mainland of Honduras.
The larger towns are mostly located on the west and southern length of the Island. The capital of Coxen Hole, Roatans largest town, is approximately a 30 minute car taxi ride from West Bay, as are the International Airport and High Speed Ferry.
French Harbor is east of Coxen Hole about 20 minutes. It seems a little more progressive with newer businesses, etc. The new, larger Mall is located there. Also, the Caribbean's largest fishing fleet is ported there. That allows for some great seafood bargains on Fresh Fish, Conch, Lobster and Shrimp.
Carnival Cruise Lines just completed their 5 year, US67 Million dollar Port Docking Facilities at Mahogany Bay, just east of French Harbor. The Facility includes two Berthing Docks, Shops, Restaurants, Private Beach, etc.
Not to be outdone, Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines spent over US$30 million and recently completed adding to their Facility at Coxen Hole with two Berthing Docks, Shops, Restaurants, etc.
Obviously, Royal Caribbean and Carnival believe there is a great future for the Tourist Industry on ROATAN. Companies investing those large sums of monies understand the 'Charisma of Roatan', and its future.
Another great investment in ROATAN is the brand new, 18 hole, championship golf course, The Black Pearl, located at Pristine Bay. Professionally designed by Paul 'Pete' Dye, and very eco-friendly, it offers lots of Great Golfing, with Clubhouse, Marina, Restaurants, Boutique Shops, Coffee Shops and Entertainment.
There are several Car and Scooter Rental Companies, and Taxi's are available all the time, for Tours of the Butterfly Gardens... Dolphin Experience... Iguana Farm... Carambola Botanical Gardens... Gumba Limba Park... Canopy Zip Lines... Deep Water Submarine... Glass Bottom Boat... etc., etc., etc.
Other websites that talk up their Caribbean Island push what they think are positive points about their Island. That's fine. I am doing the same. However, they talk about not having much rain, so the weather is always great; it's flat so it is easy to get around; it's secluded so you have all kinds of privacy; it's undeveloped so you can get away from the 'RatRace' where your Primary Residence is located, etc., etc.
My 'thoughts' on their 'positives' are the following:
"Not much rain, ..." makes the Island deserty, with Cactus, Dead-Looking Plants, Browns, etc.
I like 'G-R-E-E-N', with lots of Flowers, Trees, Shrubs, etc. No, it is not 'SunShiney' every day on Roatan. But a rain, when the temperature is 88 degrees, is 'refreshing'. Almost like being in your shower. Not a big deal. How wet do you get swimming at West Bay Beach in mid-80 degree water?
"It's flat, so it is easy to get around".
Well, talk about a 'Boring Island'. Roatan Island is a Unique Caribbean Island because it does have Mountains. A lot of Caribbean Islands were formed just from Corals. Hurricanes love those types of Islands - not very far above normal sea level, with no natural protection. Hurricanes generally originate from the southeast Atlantic Ocean, off Africa, and head north. That causes a vast majority of them to completely miss Roatan entirely. And even if one would inadvertently hit the Island, the Mountainous Features and abundance of vegetation offer natural protections from the weather.
"It's secluded, so you have all kinds of privacy".
I imagine there are people that would like to just be a 'Hermit' and 'fall off the grid'. I am not one. I enjoy having a modern 'infrastructure' and conveniences that the exciting and popular destination of Roatan Island affords.
I, also, think it's great - that I can take a non-stop flight from 'The States' directly to Roatan International Airport (RTB). And not on a 'Puddle-Jumper', but on larger Boeing Aircraft. And several flights a week are available.
I think it's great - that there are all kinds of Things to Do, Places to Go, Activities, Entertainment, Sights, Sounds, etc., etc., etc.
I think it's great - that if I want some 'Seclusion', I can easily find it on several Deserted Beaches, View Lots on the Mountains or a Trip to the East End of the Island, etc.
"It's undeveloped so you can get away from the 'RatRace'..."
I think it's great - that Roatan is 'Developing', 'People' are 'Discovering" it - and Visiting and Moving here.
I think it's great - that new businesses are opening all the time.
I think it's great - that the Cruise Lines are investing 10's of millions of US dollars on the Island.
I think it's great - that a Professionally Designed and Developed 18 hole Golf Course, the Black Pearl, just opened.
I think it's great - that we have one of the few High Speed Ferrys in the World, to and from the Mainland - the Galaxy Wave.
I think it's great - that the 'InfraStructure' is being improved and added to. While it is surely great to relax and enjoy a more 'Laid Back' life on Roatan, I do enjoy Television once in a while; Talking to my Family by Telephone; Electricity you can count on; Hospitals; InterNet; Cars; Paved Roads; Nice Restaurants; etc.; and just People in General.
All of this 'Development' means more Doctors, Dentists, Grocery Shopping, Restaurants, Service-Oriented Shops, Activities, Decent Prices, etc. And, of Major Importance, it also means that the 'Locals' can achieve a better life for themselves and their families. And the 'Standard of Living' for all on the Island rises.
And I guarantee that if 'Seclusion' is really what you are looking for, most of Roatan can still offer that, with the Bonus of Outstanding Views, for quite some time in the distant future.
This is a 'Roatan Rabbit'. I am not sure what the scientific name is. They are bigger than a typical rabbit. Their hind legs are longer than their front ones, so they walk around with their 'butts in the air', which is sure 'interesting'. I would imagine a lot of ladies would think "it just looks like a giant rat, without the long tail". Ha!
'Monkey La La's' are another interesting animal on Roatan. They actually get upright on their hind legs and run down the road. They have been known to run across water for short distances. Quite a 'fun' and 'unique' lizard. I would imagine a lot of ladies are not real happy with this animal either. "There's something wrong about a '4-legged snake' running at you, on its hind legs". Of course, they are always 'running away', but some ladies just do not care which way they are running. Imagine that! I understand the Local Bars make a great drink by that same name.
The following is a great video showing Roatan Island from the air. The video was produced by Bay Island Airways. If you would like to experience Roatan Island 'from above', then call them at 9858-8819 or 9858-8824.
Aerial over Roatan
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