Where is Roatán?
Roatán is part of the Bay Islands (Islas de la Bahia), located in the Western Caribbean approximately 35 miles off of the north coast of mainland Honduras. It is the largest and most developed of the Bay Islands, and is roughly 30 miles long and roughly 3 miles wide at its widest point, with a population of around 100,000. The island was first populated by the Paya Indians who lived on Roatán long before the time Christopher Columbus arrived. After Columbus, the island was home to many other famous names in history, including Blackbeard, John Coxen, and Henry Morgan.
The island is accessible by direct international flights from San Salvador, Belize, Houston, Atlanta, Ft. Lauderdale, Miami, Toronto, and Quebec, as well as domestic flights from La Ceiba, San Pedro Sula, and Tegucigalpa. You can also get to Roatán by ferry from La Ceiba via the Galaxy Wave.
When should we visit?
There really is no bad time to visit the island of Roatán, though our “rainy” season is generally from November to March. During that time, Roatán does experience occasional heavy tropical showers–and sometimes they are not occasional. December through March is traditionally the busiest time of year on the island, where we experience a large influx of long-term visitors and cruise ship guests. If you are thinking of visiting during the months of April to June, the weather is hot and humid which makes it easy to relax on the beach and enjoy the crystal-clear azure waters. The island is also a bit quieter during these months, so it is easy for you to get around and avoid crowds. July to August is the summer vacation time in Honduras and so inevitably we experience some crowds during this time as well. Sleepy September is a very slow time on the island during which many locals take a vacation.
Temperatures on Roatan generally range between 77F and 88F (we had 90 days straight in 2019 of 86F highs–unofficially, at least, according to The Beach House weather station). The waters surrounding Roatán generally range between 78F and 84F.
Is Roatán safe?
Many assume that Roatán experiences the same issues as mainland Honduras. The reality is that West End and Roatán, for the most part, are safe. The Beach House is located just at the entrance of West End, which means that there are always people around, which limits the opportunity for petty crime. We always encourage our guests to use common sense and be aware of their surroundings, especially after dark. At our hotel, we also have a guard that patrols the grounds between dusk and dawn for added security. Avoid drugs and prostitutes (none of which are permitted at The Beach House) and don’t sleep with an islander’s spouse and you should be fine.
What can we do on the island?
The island boasts tons of different activities for all personality types. If you prefer to relax and enjoy the water, The Beach House has a private dock that you can enjoy without interruption. For the scuba divers and snorkelers, the West End is home to many premier dive shops (most of which will allow snorkelers to hitch a ride), and the reefs are spectacular. At The Beach House, we can also help you secure various activities during your stay, including horseback riding, island tours, sloth sanctuary tours, fishing trips, dolphin encounters, and sunset catamaran trips, just to name a few. See our experiences page for more ideas. If you have any questions, please feel free to send us an email or WhatsApp and we will be happy to help you plan your activities.
How do we get to The Beach House from the airport or ferry terminal?
We offer an airport pick up service for our guests (fees apply). Our driver will meet you outside of customs with a sign that says “The Beach House.” If you are traveling with a larger group please feel free to send us a note and we can make sure to accommodate your needs.
What do we need to get through Immigration?
Your airline will provide you with an immigration form to complete prior to landing. When you arrive at immigration, the officer will request that form and ask you a few questions (how long you plan to stay, where you are staying, the purpose of your visit–standard questions), and you will be photographed and electronically fingerprinted. Honduras has instituted a “pre-check” system for immigration which helps speed up the process of entering the country. If you would like to take advantage of that system, please create an account here and fill in the requested information (using the Google Chrome browser with auto-translation enabled can help if you do not know Spanish). When you are finished, print out the form and bring it with you to give the officer at immigration. If you choose this route, you do not need to complete the form that the airline provides.
Regardless of whether you choose to use the online system or the paper forms, do not forget that you will be staying at The Beach House (or wherever else you may be staying)! This is one item of information that you MUST provide to immigration in order to enter Honduras.
How much money should we exchange?
Both U.S. Dollars and the Honduran Lempira (a.k.a. “lemps”) are accepted everywhere on the island. Please note that U.S. bills will not be accepted if they are damaged or defaced in any way (no rips, tears, or writing). We encourage you to bring U.S. dollars in small denominations ($20s and less) as many local establishments will not have change for bigger bills. There really is no reason to exchange your money (unless you are Canadian, in which case you should bring U.S. dollars). Although many businesses on Roatán are cash-only, The Beach House also accepts all major credit cards.
What is there to eat on the island?
The Beach House has a variety of options at our restaurant, which is located on the second floor of the hotel. Our breakfast runs from 7:00 a.m. until 10:30 a.m. daily, and includes a variety of local and international items including omelets, eggs benedict, banana pancakes and the biggest baleada you’ll see in West End! Lunch and dinner are available from noon to 9:00 p.m. daily and features one of the best tuna burgers on the island. If you need to venture out of the hotel for additional options, we are lucky enough to have a variety of cuisine here on Roatán. In West End, you will be able to find some great options including the local cuisine of baleadas, pastelitos, and almuerzos. But if ever you tire of those and long for Italian, Indian, Thai food, sushi, or tapas, those can easily be found within walking distance!
How do we get around the island?
There are several different ways to travel around Roatán, all of which vary in price and accessibility. If you are brave enough to rent a scooter, the cost is pretty reasonable and can help you get from A to Z. If a long drive is part of your itinerary, we would recommend a car over a scooter since driving can be a little crazy and the roads aren’t always paved or well-maintained.
You will also be able to take private taxis or “collectivo” taxis and buses, which are public transports that pick people up and drop people off as they progress along their route. They range in price but be prepared to haggle a bit. The price should be negotiated before you get into the vehicle. If a driver tries to charge you an unreasonable amount, walk away. There will be other drivers who will offer a fair price.
You may have heard about the water taxis on Roatán, but the only place that you will be able to catch a boat taxi is when you are traveling between West End and West Bay. If you are heading to West Bay for dinner, our recommendation is to take a water taxi there before the sun sets (experience one of the beautiful Roatán sunsets!) and grab a taxi to return (we do not recommend taking a water taxi after dark).
What sort of healthcare is available?
There are a number of options available for health issues. The local pharmacies are well stocked with western medicine, all of which are available without a prescription. There is a 24-hour emergency medical clinic just outside of West End (less than a five-minute walk from The Beach House). For major medical issues, there is a modern hospital in French Harbour. Scuba divers take solace in the knowledge that there is a decompression chamber on the island. Medivac services are also available.
We are renting a car, where can we park?
In West End, parking is extremely limited. While we have no parking at the hotel, there is a parking just across the street from The Beach House available for $10 per night. We encourage you to park in a secure lot rather than on the street as police are happy to boot any cars parked in the wrong spot. We do have decent SUVs available at $50 per 24 hour period if you decide you just want a car for a day or two.
What is the tipping policy on Roatán?
Whenever you travel somewhere, it is always wise to learn the city’s tipping policy. The policies in Roatan are somewhat similar to those in the U.S. (maybe due to all the ex-pats!) but below is a guide to give you a breakdown of how and who to tip while on vacation here.
RESTAURANTS: Some restaurants will have gratuity included on their tabs while others do not, so make sure to check your receipt prior to settling. In general, tips are 10% – 20% of the pre-tax meal (even if you’re taking food to-go without table service, drop a dollar or two in the tip jar).
SCUBA DIVING: For diving and other tourism activities, tipping is not required, but encouraged. There’s no set standard for tips in diving, but the generally accepted practice is $5 per person per tank. We also recommend making sure you tip your captains and boat crew!
ISLAND TOURS/EXCURSIONS: If you’re on a guided tour of the island and you feel the guide went above and beyond, then tipping $5 or $10 would be great! Please note if the driver and guide are different people, you should make sure to take care of both.
TAXIS AND WATER TAXIS: For taxis and water taxis, the price you agree on is the final price, so you do not need to tip them.
If at any time you feel pressured to tip by staff, please speak to the manager! Tips are based on your experience and are at your discretion.