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Last Updated on November 12, 2023 by Madison Krigbaum
Picture yourself soaking up the sun on a white-sand beach. Vibrant coral reefs, home to hundreds of species of Caribbean marine life, are only steps away. You’re surrounded by lush tropical scenery, your tan is coming along nicely and you’re sipping on a freshly made piña colada. If you’re screaming “hell yes – sign me up!” by now, the first step towards this idyllic experience is learning how to get to Roatan.
Roatan, in the Honduran Bay Islands, is an enchanting and lesser-known island paradise situated 40 miles off the coast of Honduras. With its captivating beauty, affordable living and abundance of fantastic scuba diving sites, it’s no wonder that Roatan has become a sought-after destination for travelers from all over the globe.
Before you can immerse yourself in this tropical haven and start sippin’ on that piña colada, you’ll first need to know how to get to Roatan. In this blog post, we’ll delve into various transportation options for reaching this island paradise, whether you’re starting off on mainland Honduras, the United States, Europe or anywhere in between.
So grab a cup of coffee (or a beer – I don’t judge) and keep reading to answer the question “how do you get to Roatan?”
Why Should I Visit Roatan?
Let me first answer that question with another question.
Do you like drinking tropical cocktails while enjoying a breathtaking sunset over the ocean? Does scuba diving some of the best sites on the Mesoamerican Reef sound like your idea of heaven? Can you see yourself dancing to Reggaeton into the wee hours of the morning under a blanket of Caribbean stars?
Oops 🙊 I guess that was more than one question.
Either way – my point is clear. Why would you NOT visit Roatan? No matter if you’re seeking adventure, culture or relaxation, a vacation to Roatan promises a captivating experience filled with unforgettable moments.
See? Look how pretty it is! 👇🏼
Visas, Vaccinations & Passport Requirements for Honduras
Unfortunately, answering the question how to get to Roatan includes some boring information about visas, vaccinations and passport requirements. All travelers entering Honduras are required to fill out a Honduras immigration precheck form prior to arrival. As of May 2023, there are two requirements for entry:
- One precheck form per person, either digital or printed.
- Proof of vaccination at least 14 days prior or a negative PCR test taken less than 72 hours in advance.
The easiest way to fill out the required forms is through the Prechequeo Migratorio app, otherwise you can create an account on the National Institute of Migration of Honduras website. If you’re having trouble filling out the forms, consult this helpful PDF guide to precheck.
💉 COVID-19 in Roatan:
You don’t currently need a negative COVID test to visit Roatan, unless you are unvaccinated. Either present your vaccine card at immigration, or a negative PCR test taken no earlier than 72 hours before.
Where to Fly to Get to Roatan Honduras
You’ll find that flying is the most convenient and popular way to get to Roatan Honduras. The Juan Manuel Gálvez International Airport (RTB) in Coxen Hole is currently the only airport serving the island, and it welcomes both domestic and international flights.
To ensure a smooth and hassle-free journey into Roatan, I recommend that you research and book your flights well in advance. When booking flights to any destination, make sure to pay attention to the following factors:
- Make sure there is no “change of airport” or, if there is, that you have suitable time to change airports before your connecting flight.
- Pay attention to layover time and make sure you have enough time to make your connection – especially if you’re connecting through a major international airport. On the flip side, make sure you don’t have any crazy-long layovers (unless you’re utilizing that budget-friendly tactic on purpose).
- If budget is an issue, consider visiting Roatan during the off-season (October-January) for better flight deals.
How to Get to Roatan from Other Parts of Honduras
How to Get to ROatan from San Pedro Sula
If you’re not sure how to get to Roatan from San Pedro Sula, you’re in the right place. Getting to Roatan from San Pedro, is relatively straightforward, with two primary options available: by air and by ferry.
- Flying: The most convenient and fastest way to reach Roatan from San Pedro Sula is by air. CM Airlines offers daily flights between Ramón Villeda Morales International Airport (SAP) in San Pedro Sula and Juan Manuel Gálvez International Airport (RTB) in Roatan. Flights typically only take around 40 minutes. I would definitely recommend booking in advance to grab the best prices!
- Ferry: If you prefer traveling by sea, you can take a ferry to Roatan from La Ceiba, which is located about 120 miles from San Pedro Sula. To get to La Ceiba, you can either rent a car, take a direct shuttle service, or travel by public bus from the Metropolitan Grand Central bus terminal in San Pedro. The bus station is inside a shopping mall and is perfectly safe, however, the territory is ripe for pickpockets so keep an eye on your belongings. The drive takes approximately 3-4 hours (but usually longer on the bus). Once in La Ceiba, you can board the Galaxy Wave Ferry, which offers two daily trips to Roatan with a journey time of approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes. Availability and pricing varies by season and weather conditions, so it’s smart to book in advance.
I’ll be honest with you, if you’re starting from San Pedro Sula, taking the ferry is a pain in the ass. Unless the flights are ridiculously expensive – which, in all likelihood, would only happen during Semana Santa – I would recommend flying.
The ferry is a very bad choice for those prone to seasickness. Even people that don’t usually get seasick tend to get nauseous on the ferry ride from La Ceiba to Roatan. If you decide to go for it anyway, be sure to pack some Dramamine.
How to Get to Roatan from Tegucigulpa
Reaching Roatan from Tegucigalpa, the capital city of Honduras, is relatively simple. Unless you want an unbelievably difficult travel day – flying is your only real option.
Domestic airlines such as CM Airlines and SOSA operate regular flights between Toncontín International Airport (TGU) in Tegucigalpa and Roatan (RTB). The flight duration is approximately one hour, making it the quickest travel option between these two destinations.
While there isn’t a direct ferry route from Tegucigalpa to Roatan, you could still travel by road to La Ceiba and take the Galaxy Wave Ferry. However, this option is considerably more time-consuming and less convenient than flying. Not to mention it’s probably the more expensive option in the end (or at least comparable).
How to Get to Roatan from La Ceiba
If you’re wondering how to get to Roatan, La Ceiba is the easiest gateway to the island from mainland Honduras.
The most convenient option of getting to Roatan from La Ceiba is by the frequently aforementioned Galaxy Wave Ferry (unless seasickness is an issue).
Flying is another option – CM Airlines offers daily flights between Golosón International Airport (LCE) in La Ceiba and Roatan (RTB). Since these flights only take about 20 minutes, they’re also an excellent transit option.
🌿 You may also enjoy…
…a visit to Pico Bonito National Park! Located about a 45 minute drive from the Galaxy Wave Ferry Port in La Ceiba, Pico Bonito protects 940-square miles of rainforest in the Atlantida region of Honduras. Visiting Pico Bonito, and staying at the Omega Tours Eco Lodge (pictured below), is a unforgettable experience that belongs on any Honduras itinerary. White water raft down the Cangrejal River, embark on a horseback riding expedition or simply enjoy hiking the jungle trails with waterfall views and fresh fruit growing around every corner.
How to Get to Roatan from Utila
The Utila Dream Ferry is the fastest and most convenient option for getting from Utila to Roatan. The ferry operates daily trips and closes the 30 mile gap between Utila and Roatan in around one hour. It varies by season, but you can expect ferry tickets to cost around 800 HNL or 30 USD. (When figuring out how to get from Roatan to Utila, it’s the same directions in reverse!)
Although the ferry ride between Roatan and Utila is usually smoother than the ride between Roatan and La Ceiba, it’s smart to pack an anti-nausea medication anyway if you’re prone to seasickness. No one wants to throw up their Salva Vidas on the Utila Dream Ferry.
You can technically also fly to Roatan from Utila’s airport (UII), but the only flights in operation are private or semi-private. This blog isn’t written for people that bougie, but if I’m wrong – call me out in the comments 😜
🏝️ YOU MAY ALSO ENJOY…
…a trip to Utila! Utila is Roatan’s backpacker-friendly neighbor. Where Roatan offers lots of all-inclusive resorts, relaxation experiences and (let’s be honest) the highest prices in Honduras – Utila offers affordable dive courses, cheap everything and one of the biggest party scenes in the country.
Getting to Roatan from Central America
For travelers visiting Roatan from another country in Central America, regional airlines like CM Airlines and TAG offer flights from cities like Guatemala City, San Salvador and Belize City. Keep in mind that, in all likelihood, there will be some inconvenient layovers.
How to Get to Roatan From Guatemala
Reaching Roatan from Guatemala requires some planning and preparation due to the frustrating lack of direct transportation options.
The most common way to get to Roatan from Guatemala is by flying to San Pedro Sula and then taking a domestic flight or ferry to the island (as discussed earlier in this post). Regional airlines, like Avianca and CM, operate daily flights from Guatemala City La Aurora International Airport (GUA) to San Pedro Sula (SAP).
You can also book a flight from Guatemala City to Roatan, but you’ll have a layover in San Pedro anyway and probably end up spending twice as much.
You can also travel by bus from Guatemala City to La Ceiba in Honduras, a journey that takes around 12 hours, and then hop on the Galaxy Wave Ferry. But let’s be honest, that sounds like a hellish travel day.
How to Get to Roatan From Belize
When traveling from Belize to Roatan, flying is by far the easiest option.
Tropic Air, TAG and CM airlines all operate flights between Belize City’s Philip S. W. Goldson International Airport (BZE) and Roatan (RTB). Flight duration is approximately 1 hour (for direct flights), with multiple flight options available every day.
Although it is possible to get from Belize to Roatan by ferry, there are no direct options. You’ll need to take two ferries – with a couple taxis and buses mixed in between.
My advice? Shell out the extra $100, take the direct flight and save yourself 24 hours of travel time.
How to Get to Roatan Honduras from the United States
If you’re wondering how to get to Roatan from the United States, the answer is by plane. Sorry – no ferries available for this trek. You can either fly directly into Roatan or purchase a round-trip flight into San Pedro Sula + another round-trip flight to Roatan from SAP.
We’ll explore both options below.
By Flying into Roatan
Flying to Roatan from the U.S. is the easiest option by a landslide. Not only will you not have to perfectly time out the schedules of two completely separate flights (on different airlines), but you save yourself 12-24 hours of travel time and don’t have to worry (as much) about someone misplacing your luggage.
American Airlines operates direct flights from Dallas and Miami to Roatan, while United Airlines offers direct flights from Houston. Alternatively, Delta Airlines’ direct Roatan flights will take you through Atlanta. Various other airlines offer connecting flights from major U.S. cities like New York, Los Angeles and Chicago through their hub airports. Flight duration typically ranges between 2-5 hours for direct flights.
Sun Country now offers direct flights to Roatan through Minneapolis that only take 4 hours! Not only is this route insanely convenient for anyone visiting Roatan from the midwest, it also tends to be cheaper than AA, UA or Delta flight options. Keep in mind – the Sun Country flight has only operated during the Roatan high season in recent years.
🧳 Pro Tip:
I always travel with an Apple AirTag securely tucked away in any luggage I plan to check. That way, even if the airline loses it – I’ll have an idea of where it is and when I can expect it back.
Through Mainland Honduras
This is the trickier, but oftentimes cheaper, route into Roatan from the U.S.
Major airlines like American, United and Delta offer both direct and indirect flights from major U.S. hub airports into San Pedro Sula. You can even find cheap options into SAP on Spirit Airlines…if you want to go the affordable…but very uncomfortable route (I hate it every time – yet I keep doing it).
Once in San Pedro Sula, you can easily grab a domestic flight to Roatan Honduras or hop on a bus to La Ceiba and take the Galaxy Wave Ferry into Coxen Hole. The only issue with this route to Roatan – besides the inconvenience – is that you have to book two completely separate flights. If your U.S. flight is delayed (knock on wood) and you miss your Roatan connection, neither airline will reimburse you.
How to Get to Roatan from Canada
Like the U.S., the best way to get to Roatan from Canada is by booking a flight on one of the many airlines that fly to Roatan. If flights are too expensive or inconvenient, Roatan travelers arriving from Canada can also take the indirect route through San Pedro Sula.
By Flying into Roatan
Flying into Roatan from a major Canadian city, like Toronto (YTZ) or Montreal (YUL), is the easiest route from Canada to Roatan. United and American offer the most frequent and convenient fights to Roatan from Canada, but be sure to browse your options using the buttons below. Roatan is an up-and-coming destination, so new routes are being added all the time!
Through Mainland Honduras
Flights from Canada to San Pedro Sula are often much cheaper and faster (with less layovers) than flights from Canada to Roatan. However, with the added difficulty of getting to Roatan from the mainland, it still might not be your best choice. You can find flights to SAP from major Canadian airports like Toronto, Montreal, Calgary and Vancouver. From there, you’ll need to make your way to Roatan by domestic flight or bus + ferry.
If you’re wondering how to get from San Pedro Sula to Roatan – see the above information.
Getting to Roatan from Europe
Flying to Roatan Honduras from Europe requires at least one stopover in either North or South America. Travelers can choose from several airlines, including American Airlines, Iberia, Aeroméxico, Avianca and AirEuropa.
Most flights from Europe have a layover in Madrid Adolfo Suárez Madrid–Barajas Airport (MAD), and a second layover in San Pedro Sula. After that, you’ll be connected on a domestic flight to Roatan. If budget is an issue, you might be better off searching flights to Roatan Honduras or San Pedro from Madrid, and traveling to Madrid independently before your travel date.
Cruise Ships Coming into Roatan
Arriving in Roatan by cruise ship is a popular choice among travelers, since the island is a favorite stop among popular Caribbean cruise lines like Norwegian, Royal Caribbean and Virgin Voyages.
The island has two main cruise ports, Port of Roatan and Mahogany Bay Cruise Center, both of which are located on the southwestern coast of the island.
Once you’ve arrived, a wide range of activities and excursions await you, such as snorkeling, scuba diving, zip-lining, chocolate tasting and plain old relaxing on the beach! Roatan is the ultimate Caribbean cruise destination, and by making plans beforehand, travelers can easily make the most of their one day in Roatan as a cruise passenger.
🚩 Pro Tip:
The best way to experience Roatan as a cruise ship passenger is by connecting with a local guide before your arrival. You can get to know your guide ahead of time, lay out your Roatan bucket list and get plenty of suggestions for things to do on Roatan in one day. If you’re heading to Roatan soon on the cruise ships – contact my favorite local guide, Adonay! Send him a message on Whatsapp at +504 3164-5127 prior to your arrival on the island.
If you started out wondering how to get to Roatan, hopefully this blog post has solved all your confusion. In 2023, reaching Roatan has never been easier. There are multiple transportation options available to Roatan from every corner of the world. Whether you prefer flying, taking a ferry or arriving by cruise ship – there’s a perfect option to fit your preferences and budget.
Enjoy it – a trip to Roatan Honduras is the trip of a lifetime.
How to Get to Roatan FAQs:
A: The airport code for Juan Manuel Gálvez International Airport in Roatan is RTB.
A: Airlines that fly to Roatan Honduras include United Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Airlines, CM Airlines, Tropic Air, TagAirlines and Aerolineas Sosa.
A: Yes you can use Google Flights to find flights to Roatan.
A: Yes! Roatan is very safe to visit if you use common sense and don’t participate in any illegal activities. I lived on the island for a full year and felt very safe in Roatan as a solo female traveler.
A: The best time to go to Roatan is January-August. This is when the island experiences the best weather. However, this is also Roatan’s on-season, so expect prices to be higher and places to book out further in advance. For the best prices and to avoid the crowds, visit Roatan from September-December.
A: The Galaxy Wave Ferry ride from La Ceiba takes about 1 hour and 15 minutes to reach Roatan.
A: The cheapest time of year to fly to Roatan is in the low-season: September-December.
A: I’ll be honest, the island can be a bit tricky to navigate if you don’t drive. The easiest way to get around is by rental car or motorbike. However, if you’re vacation drinking – that’s clearly not the best move. Roatan has no Uber or rideshare services, so if you don’t want to rent a vehicle, the best way to get around Roatan is by taxis or water taxis.