Nestled along the Mesoamerican Reef lies a tropical treasure just waiting to be explored. The island of Roatán, off the coast of Honduras, is surrounded by the second-largest coral reef in the world. Its turquoise waters are home to hundreds of species, including eagle rays, whale sharks, and green turtles, with topography ranging from winding mangroves to vibrant forests. Whether you’re looking to soak in saltwater and sunsets or seeking thrilling outdoor adventure, Roatán is a destination with fun in abundance for all ages.
For families travelling with little ones, there’s plenty of fun to be had discovering the island’s flora and fauna. Gumbalimba Park is home to over 200 native species of tropical flowers and trees. Trek through the park’s vibrant canopies via trails or suspension bridge, whilst keeping your eyes peeled for macaws and capuchin monkeys. Learn about the island’s reptilian species at Arch’s Iguana & Marine Reserve, where thousands of green and black spiny-tailed iguanas, which look absolutely prehistoric, roam the island sanctuary. And for a fun family day celebrating one of the region’s most renowned culinary treats, head to The Roatán Chocolate Factory, which offers chocolate making classes for all ages. Participants will learn about the history of cacao and its significance to the region before creating their own chocolate bars from scratch.
With stunning biodiversity and tropical temps year-round, Roatán is a nature lover’s dream. The Carambola Botanical Gardens are a wonderful locale for hiking, wildlife photography and bird-watching. Take an ecotour and learn about Roatán’s native fruit trees, orchids and spices; or climb the Carambola Mountain for a sweeping view of the island’s reef. A visit to St. Helene Island provides a glimpse into a mesmerising and critically important ecosystem: mangroves. Their intricate roots and canopies serve as nurseries for marine life, in addition to capturing carbon and helping to prevent land erosion. Journey through the mangrove tunnels connecting Roatán to St. Helene, then explore the various cave systems found on this neighbouring island. And for nature lovers and history buffs, the Bay Island Underwater Museum is a fascinating exploration of both Roatán’s underwater world and its history. Snorkelling tours lead the way over the reef, along with sunken replicas of Mayan artefacts and shipwrecks.
A full immersion into the culture and history of a destination stands at the core of authentic travel. The Roatán Museum, located in Sandy Bay, offers travellers a glimpse into the history of the Bay Islands, of ancient civilisations and tales of sunken treasures. It houses one of the most esteemed collections of pre-Columbian artefacts in Central America. In the nearby private island of Maya Key, visitors can wander through replicas of Mayan structures: the Copan’s Popol Na, which was the hub of political discussion in the ancient world, and a Copan Ball Court, where humanity’s first sport would have been played.
In Punta Gorda, guests have the opportunity to dive into the flavours and creative works of Roatán’s Garifuna community. The Flamingo Cultural Center aims to celebrate and preserve the Garifuna’s cultural identity through art and dance workshops and community education. Their Garifuna Cuisine Eatery showcases ancient Garifuna recipes, modernised for contemporary diners. The centre also offers snorkelling and boat tours, introducing guests to the history of Garifuna culture.
For more eats, head to Luna Maya at the Mayan Princess Beach & Dive Resort. The menu showcases surf and turf infused with Caribbean and international flavours. Try the Mayan Seafood Soup, a celebration of island fare with lobster, mussels, king crab and coconut milk, served with plantains.
Adventures & Conservation
In addition to stunning sunsets and coastline, Roatán serves up plenty of adventure. South Shore Zip-Line Adventures’ Canopy Tour is a true bird’s-eye view of the island’s botanical beauty — and one of Roatán’s most popular excursions. The two-mile tour consists of multiple platforms and zip lines, allowing guests to soar through Roatán’s tropical forest, climbing to an elevation of over 100 feet. Of course, some of the greatest adventures in Roatán can be found in its waters. Beyond world-famous scuba diving, the Roatán Institute of Deepsea Exploration invites visitors on the journey of a lifetime aboard their submarine, Idabel. The three-person vessel transports adventurers to Roatán’s mysterious depths, with expeditions to 2,000 feet below the surface.
Local nonprofits and community-based organisations stand at the forefront of Roatán’s conservation, such as the Roatán Marine Park (RMP), which was established in 2005 by local businesses hoping to turn the tide on reef degradation in the Sandy Bay-West End Marine Reserve. The RMP seeks to educate and empower both locals and tourists alike through various initiatives, including reef patrols, beach cleanups, recycling programmes and mangrove replanting.
Ready to dive in? Cayman Airways offers a Roatán getaway along with The Clarion Suites, including airfare, a luxury condo suite, on-island transportation and more. Visit caymanairways.com and plan your Roatán holiday today!
Cayman Airways offers flights to Roatán every Monday and Friday from Grand Cayman. To book your visit, contact us at 1-800-422-9626 (toll-free in the U.S.), 345-949-2311, or go to caymanairways.com.
By Jessie Gilmartin