Roatan, Honduras

Roatan is the largest of the Honduras' Bay Islands and is located between the islands of Utila and Guanaja.  The island is 37 miles long and less than 5 miles across at its widest point.  The most populous town of the island is Coxen Hole located in the southwest.  French Harbour, West End and Oak Ridge are other important towns.

When you walk down the pier from your ship, the first thing you see is the Security stand.  They don't check passports etc. but are available if needed.  Their uniforms were so white they were blinding.

There were numerous shore excursions available but we opted to have a lazy day in the sun at Mahogany Bay which is a 10 acre private island that features a spectacular 825 foot-long beach with white sand.

To get to Mahogany Bay you can either walk a long path that winds down to the water or you can board the "Magical Flying Beach Chair" and enjoy a scenic trip over the treetops.  It only takes six minutes to glide across nearly 1200 feet of cables suspended 67 feet above a lush canopy of trees.  You are given a colored wrist band so that you can travel back and forth as many times as you choose during the day while paying just one fare.

The beach awaits and once you've settled into a lounge chair there are waiters from nearby bars and restaurants that circulate in the area ready to take your order if you desire a snack or a beverage.  There is also a hut in the center of the beach that offers cold coconut water.

There are fun statues of sea creatures spotted throughout the area.  There are also amenities for those who want to participate in water sports.  For others, there are small shops with souvenirs and jewelry etc. to browse when taking a break from the beach.

Roatan Shore Excursions:

  • Cultural Show/Scenic Drive/Shopping:  An off the beaten path guided tour to the undeveloped area of Roatan's East End.  As you gaze out the windows of the bus at turquoise waters and coral reefs, a guide will elaborate on a history of the area.  Then board an island-style boat at Dixon Cove for a cruise past the island's cays, red mangroves and the visible shipwrecks of the "Tulung" and the "Alexandria".  Then participate in a cultural presentation.  Travel to Uybu and meet members of the Garifuna tribe, descendants of the Black Carib Indians who settle there in 1797.  Enjoy a performance of music and dance that tays true to the Farifuna heritage.
  •  Botanical Gardens/Cultural Show/Seaside Village:  Board a bus at the pier for a scenic drive to the Carambola Botanical Gardens which feature 40 acres of ferns, spices, orchids, and flowering plants.  A naturalist guides your exploration of the grounds.  At the next stop, the Roatan butterfly and tropical bird garden, take a magical walk through an enclosed area that contains a wide variety of local butterflies.  A second pavilion is home to tropical trees, plants and exotic birds.  A quick transfer to Seaside Village is an opportunity to savor a delicious cup of Honduran coffee and watch the Carifuna Dancers as they perform their cultural dance called Punta.  Finally, visit a cameo workshop and marvel at these shell-carved masterpieces.
  • Island sightseeing/Iguana Farm/Beach Resort:  Celebrate the diverse scenery and quaint villages of Roatan on a guided drive throughout the island beginning with a drive to Panorama Hill for a view of the ship at port, followed by Dixon's Cove (a famous pirate hideout).  Pass a series of small communities including the colorful lilttle towns of Brick Bay, Mount Pleasnat and the fishing village of French Harbor.  A visit to Sherman Arch's Iguana Refuge and Fish Nursery in French Cay is included.  This family-owned preserve is a safe haven for over 2700 different iguanas.  Continue to the estate homes at the top of First Bight community and Parrot Tree Plantation, the island's most exclusive community.  Enjoy a refreshing glass of punch at a local seaside venue before you woalk over a charming bridge for beach lagoon views.
  • Semi-sub/Seaside Village/Cultural Show/Cameos:   Tour includes a semi-submarine ride in a unique glass-bottom boat ride while a guide provides commentary about the colorful marine life you see, a visit to a Seaside Village where the Garifuna Dancers perform their heritage dance called the Punta and a trip to a cameo workshop where master craftwmen carve coral and conch shells.
  • Gumbalimba Preservation Nature Park/Scenic Drive:  A scenic drive to Gumbalimba and upon arrival meet a guide and take an informal tour.  Walk down a natural trail and climb a towering suspension bridge over a pond.  Wander through a bird sacntuary where free-flying parrots and macaws come down from the trees to say hello.  Visit the Monkey Refuge for a unique experience with these playful primates.  Experience the real pirates of the Caribbean in the re-creation of Coxen's Cave, home to buccaneer Captain John Coxen and his stolen treasure.  End with a relaxing stroll through the Botanical Gardens.  Browse through the hacienda and see arts, crafts and souvenirs.
  •  Gumbalinda Preservation Nature Park/Tabyana Beach:  Same as above plus re-board transportation for a scenic drive to pristine Tabyana Beach.  The water is perfect for swimming and the beach offers a long stretch of sugar-sand perfect for beach-combing.  The beach area has a number of amenities and an island-style buffet lunch is served.
  • Eco-hiking Tour/Pirates Bay Village:  A challenging hike to the summmit of Mount Mariah rewards you with breathtaking views of the entire island.  Board a bus for a short drive to the trailhead.  A photo opportunity occurs at Oak Wall Hill where you can see views of the ship at the pier.  Continue hiking up the trail while the guide fells of the flora and fauna.  Hike ends at the summit of Mount Mariah, at Bella Vista Restaurant where you have a refreshing beverage and snack.  Take a short drive to Pirate's Bay village before returning to the ship. 

From some areas of Mahogany Bay you can see the ship alongside the pier.  Our ship wasn't the only one in port that day so the area was bustling with activity but still very relaxing because not everyone opted to visit this particular area.  There were so many choices that people were evenly dispersed over the island of Roatan.

  • Dolphin Encounter/Museum:  Anthony's Key Resort and the Roatan Institute for Marine Sciences offer recreational and educational dolphin programs where you will transfer to a small boat for a ride a cross the lagoon to Bailey's Key, a dolphin facility located on a separate siland.  After an orientation, wade into the water until are waist deep and a trained naturalist will be by your side and will introduce you to one of the resident dolphins.  Touch and interact with with your playful new friend and even give it a salty kiss.  You will then have time for independent exploration of the Roatan Museum and can shop for mementos and souvenirs.
  • Tabyana Beach Break/Lunch:  After a brief orientation of the area you will receive your lounge chair or sand mat.  Spend the day as you wish.  The area has a number of amenities including restroom facilities and fresh water showers.  There is a small sundress shop with souvenirs.  A buffet style lunch with barbeque chicken, hamburgers and hot dogs is served with island-style fixings and tropical fruit.  Iced tea and lemonade are available throughout the day.  Convenient shuttles allow you to return to the ship when you want.
  • Deluxe Catamaran Coastal Sail/Snorkel/Lunch:  Take a short transfer to the dock and board "Graziafelice", a 70-foot yacht-style catamaran that has three areas furnished with sofas, a wet bar and airy sundecks.  Enjoy the Caribbean breeze as you sail along Roatan's reef and coastline for approx. an hour and twenty minutes.  Arrive at the living reef snorkel site where you will marvel at the amazing underwater scenery with coral formations and tropica fish.  Snorkel for an hour.  Relax on board with complimentary beverages and a buffet lunch of rotisserie chicken, pasta salad, island-style rice, coleslaw and fresh fruit salad.  Then sail back to the dock.
  • Shipwreck Snorkel/Beach & Nature Walk:  Be welcomed at Fantasy Island Beach Resort, located on a private island off Roatan.  Surrounded by a reef that has been the demise of many a ship, experience the opportunity to snorkel above one of the wrecks, teeming with tropical fish and corals.  Board your transportation and drive across a bridge to a private 21 acre island off the south side of Roatan.  Fruit punch is offered upon arrival and your guide will lead an introductory safety briefing.  Your adventure begins from a unique snorkel gazebo placed in the water within swimming distance from a mysterious shipwreck site.  The crystalline water offers wonderful visibility.  Return to the beach and take some time to explore the property at your leisure. A specially priced lunch is offered.  
  • Underwater Museum/Snorkeling:  A scenic drive gegins your exciting day at Roatan's only underwater museum.  A knowledgeable guide will impart the fascinating history of the island as you enjoy the picturesque route.  Upon arrival at the museum you will receive a safety briefing and your equipment.  A boat will take you on a short journey to the starting point of your underwater tour.  All the original and replicated pieces of history that are contained in the Underwater Museum are surrounded by a beautiful coral garden on the barrier reef.  The museum showcases artifacts from Roatan's history, including Mayan artifacts, remains of a sunken Spanish galleon, and a treasure chest...all amidst rainbow-colored marine life.  At the completion of your snorkeling adventure, you will have free time for photos and beach before returning to the pier.
  • Clear Bottom Kayak/Snorkel/Beach:  Explore the underwater sensation of Roatan with two different views.  First, glide through the waters off Gumbalimba Park Beach in a clear-bottom two-person kayak.  Then explore the reef up close with a guided snorkeling adventure tour where colorful tropical fish come out to say hello.  Located in West Bay, Gumbalima Park Beach offers a plethora of water activities.  Upon arrival, meet your guide and get a brief orientation and safety lesson.  Proceed on a guided, clear-bottom kayak tour of the reef.  Then its time to go in the water yourself as you are taken to a snorkeling site along a colorful reef.  Excellent visibility enhances the experience.  After snorkeling, relax on the beach before returning to the ship.
  • Certified Scuba Diving (Two Sites):  Enjoy a two-tank dive on part of the second largest barrier reef system in the world.  The renowned Anthony's Key Resort is a premier dive facility and is your home base where two spectacular dives will be completed.  Anthony's Key Resort is a PADI Gold Palm 5-Star Instructor Development Center.  It is an exceptional facility that has been a leader in the diving inudustry for more than 40 years.  Visibility ranges from 50 to 100 feet and the marine life and corals are spectacular.  Squadrons of eagle rays, schools of brightly colored topical fish, the occasional meandering shark and eel gardens are just a few of the creatures that delight divers.  At the completion of your first dive, a suitable surface interval will be obvserved.  You will then cruise to a new area to begin your second dive.

This ship at the pier.

The start of the shopping area.

  • Certified Scuba Diving with Dolphins:  Scuba dive and interact with dolphins in their beautiful natural environment.  Travel to Anthony's Key Resort where curious dolphins frolic and interact with you.  A five minute boat ride will take you to a spectacular reef wall where you'll descend to a white sand bottom at a depth of 60 feet.  During an unstructured dive, you'll interact and swim with two or three curious and friendly dolphins.  You'll sense the complexities of the dolphins' relationships and during your dive you'll have ample opportunities to observe, communicate and photograph these marvelous creatures.  If time permits, you may enjoy independent exploration of the Roatan Institute Marine Museum on the property.
  • Maya Key Private Island/Animal Sanctuary/Lunch: Maya Key is an 11.5 acre private island.  Your adventure begins with a scenic boat ride to this tropical paradise conveniently located just three minutes across the bay from the pier.  This pristine island features two secluded beaches, excellent snorkeling from a scenic pier, a 70,000-gallon swimming pool, a 5,000 square-foot lounge deck, lush garden paths and an animal rescue center, an artisan plaza and Roatan's cultural attraction, the Bay Island's Interpretation Center and Ethnic Honduran Art Exhibit Center.  A guide is on hand to escort you through all the cultural attractions.  Water lovers can snorkel the barrier reef from a scenic pier or take a dip in the sparkling pool.  A buffet-style lunch and shopping for Honduran handicrafts at the Artisan Plaza complete this busy, sun-drenched day.
  • Aerial Chairlift/Mahogany Bay Beach/Cabana:  Escape to paradise in your private bungalow just steps away from Mahogany Bay Beach, a 10-acre private island featuring an 825 foot-long beach.  It's the perfect setting for families or those who crave a secluded experience while in Roatan.  Getting there is half the fun when you take the "Magical Flying Beach Chair" over the treetops and across the water to a beach bungalow waiting just for you.  Your private air-conditioned cabana awaits you steps from the sugar-sand beach.  Step inside your colorful, cozy bungalow complete with a charminly furnished interior, double-size hammock, shared use of community beach amenities, a refreshing outdoor shower, and beach lounges.  Complimentary floats are included so you can spend your hours drifting in the warm Caribbean waters.  A friendly and attentive food and beverage staff is availabe.  The bungalows delight every occupant that crosses the threshold and epitomize island hospitatliy.  
  • Aerial Chairlift/Mahogany Bay Beach Break:  Board the new "Magical Flying Beach Chair" at Mahogany Bay Cruise Center and experience the most scenic trip to the beach you could ever imagine.  Modeled after a tradtional ski lift and incorporating the latest technological advancemnts, thie "Magical Flying Beach Chair" takes you on a thrilling, fun-filled six-minute ride across nearly 1200 feet of cables suspended 67 feet above a lush canopy of trees.  Your destination is magnificent Mahogany Beach, a 10 acre private island featuring a spectacular 825-foot-long beach with white sand, numerous amenities and inviting waters.  Catch up on your reading, float on a raft, play beach volleyball or partake in one of the myriad of watersports opportunities.  Check out the new Mahoganhy Bay Cruise Center when you disembark the ride.

When we were leaving Mahogany Bay there was a friendly young man waving goodbye to everyone...a nice touch.

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     By Carolynne Woods, © Copyright 2010-2020. International Travel   All rights reserved images and text