West End is where the posh hotels is located... it has a truly amazing long and wide white beach - a dreamy place BUT full of people: people enjoying the sea and sand AND approximately the same number of people selling jewellery, drinks, excursions etc. We stopped for photos and for a drink but such a paradise was a bit too crowded for our taste.
We visited the Butterfly Gardens because our 3 year old son wanted to see toucans, and we were told that the gardens were the right place to go. They were right, and he had a great time there. The toucans were beautiful and seemed attracted by my pink camera, which they tried to bite. The gardens, generally speaking, are very low key and look like they are family run - so we didn't mind paying the 8 dollars per person to go inside. They are not large and - to be fair - there were few butterflies, but we got to see several other animals, including parrots, deers and monkeys - as well as local flowers, fruits and trees.
West End is a lovely little town with a beach shaped as a perfect crescent... it's a public beach and, despite of it, it is very quiet - maybe because the large resorts are located somewhere else. It is not the most beautiful beach on the island but for us it was the most plesant. Apart from us, there was another family with small kids and a couple. Across the road there are stalls and little restaurants, so that you don't need to go very far to get a drink or snack and at the same time you don't get to sit down with large crowds. In other words, a little corner of paradise. The water is very calm, clean, with some cute white fishes and very shallow, so we all had a great time there. On the same beach there's a tiny pier where you can take boats to coral reefs and other sights, if interested.
Sandy Bay is a very quiet beach in the south of Roatan, off the main road and three kilomentres from West bay. Basically, unless you are staying in a B&B or rent a flat there, someone will have to take you there. Sandy Bay is part of the Roatan Marine Park preserve, which means great snorkeling.
No one as there when we went, we stopped for photos and a little walk, saw a little wooden pier who had been destroyed and never repaired, took in the tropical surroundings and then continued to West Bay.
We really enjoyed the kayak/snorkel trips that we've taken in a couple of other Caribbean ports so we decided to book with Upachaya for their paddle/snorkel excursion. They pick you up at the cruise port and drive you to the Upachaya Resort 6 miles from Mahogany Bay, 3 miles from Coxen Hole. We had 12 people on our trip, some of them from our cruise ship, a couple from a cruise ship at Coxen Hole and a couple that were staying on the island. As we were leaving, another group was arriving.
The 1st part of the trip is kayaking through a mangrove, then out to the sea where you paddle out to a reef for snorkeling. The kayaks are 2 person ocean kayaks, we spent about an hour kayaking but it wasn't strenous as we had different levels of experience on our tour, we weren't challenged at all.
The kayaks were anchored in about 4 feet of water but you need to be able to pull yourself back into the kayak (to the man I mooned, hopefully my lily white butt didn't blind you!). The reef here was gorgeous but I really wished that our guide had stressed the importance of staying away from the coral, I witnessed one of our group wipe a section of it out and my husband watched another destroy a different section. They were both inexperienced snorkelers, it was clear that they were having a difficult go of it.
After snorkeling we kayaked back to the resort, the Canadians led everyone but us in the wrong direction but we kayaked back through the mangroves and beat them all back. Lunch was provided afterwards, because it's an ecoresort almost everything served was healthy and it was all vegetarian.
The kayak/snorkel trip was $60US, we had to put down a $25 deposit per person on PayPal and we paid the remainder in cash.
While I thought this was a nice trip, I don't know that I picked the best thing to do on Roatan. I'm not sure if I feel that way because I've already done a couple of similar trips, the one on Antigua I really enjoyed, and it was a "been there done that" thing or if the trip itself was lackluster. Our kayak/snorkel guide was very young and didn't do a great job of keeping us all together. While I applaud hiring locals to lead the tours, I didn't think this young man was particularly suited for the work.
In my mind I had envisioned the Flying Magical Beach Chair as something needed to get passengers from the cruise port to the beach so I figured it must be a really long walk and that the incline was really steep, otherwise why would they install what was essentially a ski lift?
After seeing the actual Flying Magical Beach Chair, I'm a little perplexed at why they built it, the walk from the entrance to the chairlift and where it ended up was about 5 minutes on foot and while there was a slight incline, it certainly wasn't like the mountain I had imagined.
The website says it's $12 for an all day pass, I guess you could use it multiple times if you were to go back to the ship for lunch and then back to the beach
The Mahogany Bay Beach is great for snorkelling, swimming and just sun-tanning. The Mahogany Beach has all the facilities that you needed: bathrooms, lounging chairs on the beach, umbrella chairs, etc.
This is a safe place for children because there are guards around and there are warnings on the beach.
My daughter Sierra stayed here and played on the sand and the water while my husband went snorkelling.
Mahogay Bay is where the Carnival Cruise Ships dock and port of entry to the Isla Roatan, Honduras. It is well-developed and have a very beautiful beach. It is great for snorkelling, swimming and a safe place for children to play.
There is also a mall with many stores selling arts and crafts and other gift items. There are also restaurants in the mall.
This is an over-rated small zoo that the owner of the place called it: "The Mayan Canopy Jungle". Just by its name, it sounds very interesting and it engage you to go visit it. It is a great marketing ploy.
Actually this place is a small zoo with monkeys individually caged. The owners named each monkey. There are also other animals that you can see like ant-eaters, rabbits and two deers grazing at the back of what looked like the yard of the house of the owner of this zoo.
There are several macaw birds in one big cage.
The cruise line charges $45.00 to come here and that includes the transportation and entrance fee.
If you come here, the entrance fee is $5.00.
When we came here, the place was not busy. We were the only visitors here. A guide came with us and got took some peanuts with him. He let us go inside the cage of the monkeys and let us pet them. One of the monkeys tried to open my backpack until the guide shooed him. These monkeys are mischievous. But, we had a great picture of one of the monkeys sittling on my daughter's shoulder.
We gave a five dollar tip to the guide because he was very pleasant. It was unnecessary but we did it anyway because he made us special.
Zip-lining with The Pirates of the Caribbean.. I wouldn't suggest missing this for the world.. A most amazingly, unforgettable experience, and for ALL ages... Exhilarating, adrenaline pumping excursion.. The most memorable of ALL excursions!!!
And, let's not forget Fantasy Island, and the Blue Lagoon... So beautiful... So serene... Such tranquility and beauty, wrapped up in one...
The main reason I chose Roatan to obtain my PADI Open Water Certification was that it's probably the cheapest place in the world to do it. My course cost $250 for a four-day class with four open water dives and at least as many confined water dives, plus a marine park bracelet (the cost of the bracelet goes towards conserving the coral reef). I had my own book that I'd taken from a hostel book exchange, but it would have been an extra $30 if I'd needed to buy the manual as well.
I chose Coconut Tree Divers on the recommendation of numerous online message boards. My class began with me and a group of four friends from England, and on our second day we were joined by two other friends: one who had done her coursework in Canada and just needed to complete her open water dives, the other who needed to complete the entire course and had caught up to us by doing oodles of classwork in one day. That brought our group up to seven, which seems a bit big but was actually manageable. Our instructor was named Marco and he was great. I was horrible but he took some of his own time to help me with the skills that I thought I would never master. For our open water dives we went to three sites: Lighthouse (twice), The Bight and Grape Escape. For me, the highlight was seeing a turtle, as I'd snorkelled both Hawaii and the Red Sea without ever seeing one (I was beginning to suspect they existed solely in the realm of unicorns).
Coconut Tree has two-tank dives every morning for people with Advanced Open Water certification, then runs two one-tank dives every afternoon for plain old Open Water divers like me. At the time I visited, one-tank dives cost $30 individually, or $25 as part of a package (of five or ten, I forget). Coconut Tree has a big, lovely boat that has a shady, covered area- a big plus when you're as burnt as I was!
As a hesitant, nervous diver I would not hesitate to recommend Coconut Tree to anyone thinking about obtaining their certification. You'll be in good hands.
No doubt the most memorable thing we did on Roatan Island was to take an eco-tour through the Mangrove Tunnels of Jonesville, aboard an authentic Caribbean dory.
The captain and pilot of our very picturesque boat was a young man named Emreal, native of the area. He did an excellent job of guiding Karen and me, his only two passengers. We saw other less colorful dories also touring the mangrove tunnels. These boats, chartered by the curise line, were packed with people and took a shorter route than we did. We were very glad that we decided to take our own tour using the recommendation of Enry, our island guide and driver.
Not only did we see the mangrove tunnels, but also Little Venice, commercial fishing boats at French Harbour, and much more.
There is a place called "Roatan Institute for Marine Sciences" (RIMS) located on the island that teaches the children and adults all about how the reef lives and survives.
There is also a museum here that will teach you about the Roatan Bay islands and it’s history.
It is free to enter and is a good way to spend some time out of the sun and in the air-conditioning and learn a little as well.
I recently returned from Roatan Honduras where I zip-lined with a company named Murphy's Roatan Tours. They are truly a top-notch company that adheres to safety rules, employs locals, are prompt and fun fun fun!! We were picked up and driven to the canopy we zip-lined, given a thorough safety briefing, harnessed and double-checked then off we went. We zip-lined 12 lines through the beautiful trees and ocean view. After our adventure was complete we were given the option to purchase a CD of photos of ourselves zip-lining, t-shirts, souvenoirs and a beer ☺ I have traveled the world and done many adventurous things but this was probably my finest memory. f.y.i. If you book and pay for your adventure via paypal prior to travel you won't have to pay the 16% Roatan taxes. It was quite inexpensive considering we were shuttled about the island for almost an entire day which included beach time, shopping, etc. I can't wait to book another tour through Murphy. Thanks guys!
Zethro took our group of 4 to a butterfly garden (where they also have parrots and mackaws you can hold), a tropical jungle botanical garden (Carambola), an iguana preserve, and a couple local photo spots. We ate lunch at Barefeet restaurant on the beach and had conch soup (yum). You won't get a private tour like this from the cruise ship! Just our 4 people, all day, wherever we asked him to take us, for a great price.