Roatan is a beautiful island off the coast of Honduras and a popular cruise port. Find out what you need to do and see there with our extensive guide!
We visited Roatan Honduras was the second stop on our recent Caribbean cruise and we had a wonderful time. We spent the morning shopping and enjoying cocktails in the Mahogany Bay port and the rest of the day at the Big French Key all inclusive retreat.
This article is published in partnership with Princess Cruises. All content and opinions belong to Mama Loves Food.
Cruise to Roatan
Roatan, the largest of the Bay Islands of Honduras, is noted for its pristine coral reefs, beautiful beaches, lush tropical foliage, and friendly people is a popular cruise stop in the Caribbean.
Christopher Columbus discovered the islands in 1502 while on his fourth voyage, and over the years it has been controlled by both the British and Spanish, as well as pirates and traders.
What to do in Roatan Honduras
- Iguana Farm – One of the most famous attractions in Roatan, the family owned iguana farm located near French Cay, is home to over 2,700 iguanas that roam freely about the property. Bring your camera!
- Anthony’s Key Resort – Experience the thrill of a dolphin encounter at this recreational and educational marine facility where you’ll have the unique opportunity to interact with playful dolphins in their natural habitat.
- Garifuna Culture – Descendants of the Black Carib Indians, the tribe settled in Roatan in 1797 and have maintained their lifestyle, culture and language to this day. Watch an ancestral dance performance with native costumes.
- Carambola Botanical Gardens – Roatan’s natural beauty is showcased throughout the 40-acre reserve that offers many different jungle trails and gentle pathways immersing you in the spectacular flora and fauna indigenous to the area.
- Gumbalimba Park – Located in West End, this expansive park offers the opportunity to enjoy playful monkeys, exotic birds, colorful gardens, pirate caves, and a relaxing beach…all in one day!
- Seaside Village – Small in size but big in personality, the tropical atmosphere and charming streets of Roatan’s seaside villages are alive with cafes, local vendors and colorful shops chock-full of unique gift items and souvenirs.
- Snorkeling & Diving – Explore an underwater museum of sunken treasures, shipwrecks, and Mayan artifacts, or enjoy the rare thrill of scuba diving in the open sea alongside some friendly bottlenose dolphins!
- Beaches – Paradise personified, Roatan has some excellent beach options. The aquamarine waters are wonderfully warm and teem with colorful fish. Snorkeling is accessible right from the beach in most locations.
What We Did in Roatan
After a super active bicycle excursion on Grand Cayman Island, we decided to take it easy in Roatan and visit an all inclusive retreat for a day of relaxation.
In the morning we grabbed breakfast on the ship in the Horizon Court Buffet and then we zipped off quickly with our Ocean Medallions to do some shopping in port. The port area is full of cute shops and a fun bar where we got a few tropical drinks.
A little later, a shuttle picked us up and brought us to a ferry. After a short (and gorgeous) ride we were at Big French Key. The resort visit included lunch and a few drinks. I’m not kidding you when I say it was the best fish I’ve ever had. I don’t know what they did to it, but we all came back raving about that fish!
There were also optional excursions like snorkeling and kayaking. We chose to just lay on beach chairs, and hammocks, and loungers, and float in the water. Because, ahhhhhhh.
We were a little worried when it took three shuttles to bring everyone over that the resort would feel crowded, but that wasn’t the case at all. There were plenty of areas to spread out and have privacy if you wanted it. More than enough chairs and we pretty much avoided anyone but each other the entire day.
Make sure you book excursions through Princess Cruises to make sure you always get back to the boat on time. The ship will not wait for privately booked tours that arrive late!
Where to Eat in Roatan Honduras
We ate breakfast on the ship and (the best damn) lunch at Big French Key, but if you’re out and about on the island, here are some highly rated places to try!
- Gingers Caribbean Grill
- Roatan Oasis
- Cafe Escondido
- Argentinian Grill West
- Cal’s Cantina
- Creoles Rotisserie
- Celeste’s Island
- Sundowners Beach
Shopping in Roatan
We did our shopping in the cruise port area where there are several shops catering to tourists. But if you want to venture a little further, there is no shortage of shopping options on Roatan Island. Whether you are looking for unique souvenirs and gifts for family and friends or you wish to visit a commercial shopping center to purchase clothing, Roatan has got you covered.
From the markets in Coxen Hole and cute souvenir shops along West Bay Beach to the Mega Plaza Mall in French Harbor, you will find a wide range of shopping options on the island. The great thing about Roatan is that you can find both local and imported products. They sell local crafts and fresh homemade foods, but also import everything that is needed for vacationers who are visiting.
What to Pack for Roatan
Roatan stays very warm all year, so you’ll want to pack light clothes, layers (that sun can be brutal, you’ll probably need to cover your shoulders at some point) and definitely swim suits. Sun dresses if you’re going to dress up at all and cute sandals are a must.
Rainy season in Roatan is between October and January each year. The heaviest rainfalls occur during November and December, so a rainproof windbreaker or poncho is a good idea if you’re visiting during those months. And, naturally, I’m a huge fan of cute swimsuit cover-ups!
Make sure to check out our comprehensive (and printable!) cruise packing list!
Fun Facts about Roatan Honduras
- The official language of Honduras is Spanish, but the most common language spoken on Roatan is actually Caribbean English.
- It is prohibited to build a building higher than 3 stories. There are no high rise buildings on Roatan and this allows more folks to have beautiful ocean views.
- Roatan is home to the second largest coral reef in the world, the Mesoamerican Reef, giving the perfect opportunity for snorkelers and divers to explore an underwater garden. This reef stretches 700 miles all the way from the Yucatan Peninsula to the Bay Islands.
Things We Loved About Roatan
The warm aqua colored water, and the full day of relaxation were wonderful in Roatan. Also, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that fish lunch again! It’s rare that I’ll voluntarily swim in ocean water, but it was just so blue and clear, even I couldn’t pass up a dunk.
We ported in Mahogany Bay and I loved that the ship came right up to port as opposed to requiring a ferry in – this made popping on and off the ship with our Ocean Medallions a total breeze and allowed us extra time for shopping and enjoying the island.
Weather in Roatan
Roatan weather is great if you like warm tropical weather. There isn’t a “bad time of year”. The average high is 89.6°F in June thru September and the annual lows are in late January with average temperatures reaching 77°F (25°C).
Roatan can be typically be enjoyed even in the rainy season. Rainy season is between October and January each year. February is known for consecutive rainy days. By contrast, the month of September reports similar rainfall, but the rain comes by way of scattered showers. February is quiet until the rain comes and then it stays for a few days at a time.
When is the Best Time to Visit Roatan Honduras?
The most popular time to visit Roatan is mid-December through Easter. The weather is considered “best” in March and April when you are least likely to see rain and temperatures have not seen their peak.
Traffic into the Isla Roatan is not as heavy, but does remain constant during the summer months.
Do Hurricanes Hit Roatan?
Roatan is situated outside of the Hurricane Zone! The island of Roatan is too far west to be affected by most annual hurricanes. Hurricanes only come across Roatan on average once every 26 years.
So it is typically considered safe to travel to Roatan even during hurricane season.
What you should know before visiting
- The currency in Roatan is the Honduran Lempira, but they also typically accept US dollars. Make sure to bring cash with you, as it is sometimes difficult to find a working or reliable ATM.
- Mosquitos and Sand Fleas are common so be sure to pack or purchase some insect repellent.
- The small island houses over 400 registered taxis. The taxi drivers tend to congregate towards the west end of the island that is more densely populated and developed
Where is Roatan Honduras?
Roatán is an island in the Caribbean, about 65 kilometres off the northern coast of Honduras. It is located between the islands of Útila and Guanaja, and is the largest of the Bay Islands of Honduras.
What Time is it in Roatan?
Roatan Honduras and Mahogany Bay operate on CST (Central standard time). This is the same as Dallas and Chicago.
CST (Central standard time) is one hour behind EST (Eastern Standard time), three hours ahead of Alaska Standard Time (AKST), two hours ahead of PTD time zone (Pacific time zone), and one hour ahead of MST (Mountain Standard Time).
It is important to note that Roatan does NOT observe daylight savings time (DST) and remains on Central Standard Time (CST) all year. The last DST change in Roatán was on August 6, 2006.
Events in Roatan Honduras
- The Music Festival for the Angels is celebrated in March, and usually near Lawson’s Rock. The music festival is an annual fundraiser which benefits Clinica Esperanza and the SOL Foundation.
- Garifuna Festival. The Garifuna people celebrate their heritage on April 12th. Most of the festivities take place in Punta Gorda, which is one of Roatan’s oldest settlements. Festivities are usually scheduled for the Sunday nearest April 12th.
- Free Diving. Usually held in late summer, the international freediving community gathers around West Bay, Roatan for this world-renowned event. Athletes from all over the globe visit Roatan to compete across the various freediving disciplines.
- Fishing Tournament. The annual fishing tournament takes place in mid-September. The event usually coincides with Honduras’ independence day. Hondurans celebrate their independence on September 15th. The island of Roatan is usually the busiest during this week.
- Semana Santa (Holy Week or Easter Week) also referred to as “Spring Break” in the US, takes place in March or April each year. In Honduras, as in most of Latin America, the Easter Week is a federal holiday. Semana Santa usually runs from a Thursday to a Sunday.
Where We Cruised Before and After Grand Cayman
More places we’ve cruised
Caribbean, Central, and South America
Alaska and Canada
Recipes Inspired by the Caribbean and Roatan
- Classic Margarita Recipe
- Pineapple Margarita
- Mango Margarita
- Grapefruit Margarita
- Mango Pineapple Salsa
- Pickled Green Tomatoes
- Whole Fruit Popsicles
More Recipes Inspired by Our Travels
Must-read cruising tips
Why You Should Cruise to the Island of Roatan
Roatan is beautiful! It boasts wonderful shopping and pristine coral reefs, beautiful beaches, lush tropical foliage, and friendly people. The weather is good year round and hurricanes are not considered a threat. Definitely add this gorgeous island to your must-see list.