As a solo female traveler who moved to Roatan, Honduras earlier this year, the number one question I get about my new home is, “Is Roatan safe?” My answer is the same each time. Yes, if you travel smart and use common sense.
The sad truth is nowhere is safe, especially for women traveling alone. Bad things can happen to you in every corner of the world and Roatan is no different.
As an example, let’s look at my hometown. Would I walk long distances in Roatan at 3:00AM by myself? Nope. Would I walk long distances in Madison, WI at 3:00AM by myself. Of course not. If you take the same necessary safety precautions that you would everywhere else in the world, you will feel perfectly safe in Roatan, Honduras.
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Is Roatan Safe?
When I first moved to Roatan in January, I was very concerned about the safety of the Bay Islands. The reactions of my friends and family were split 50/50. Half were expressing their jealousy that I would be living the island life and half were offering to buy me pepper spray.
After the research I had done prior to my move, I was thoroughly convinced I would feel most at home in West End. Due to their concerns, I decided to stay in a very removed and affluent area of the island instead. Although I enjoyed the luxurious accommodation, it was very difficult to get into town for things like grocery shopping and bar hopping.
After my first month in Roatan, I traded my bougie West Bay condo for a minimalist apartment in West End. I never looked back. Although I’m always sure to lock my doors and windows at night, I’ve never once felt unsafe in my neighborhood.
Safety Factors to Consider in Roatan
When it comes to transportation concerns, the biggest issue on Roatan is drunk driving. As of September 2021, the 10:00PM curfew is still in place and taxis do not run legally past this time. This conundrum has resulted in an increased amount of drunk drivers and motorcyclists on the road at night.
If you can avoid it, I would advise against driving in Roatan after 10:00PM. In addition to the inevitable drunk drivers, local law enforcement is known to give out hefty fines to those breaking curfew.
When it comes to taxi safety, my main concern is being overcharged. Some drivers will do their best to overcharge tourists, and they can almost always get away with it. To make sure you’re charged the correct fare, head to my post “General Tips for Visiting Roatan, Honduras.”
Petty crimes, like theft, are inevitable in areas where you have wealth next to extreme poverty. In my seven months living in West End, I’ve only heard of one or two burglaries in the area. Be sure to lock your doors and keep an eye on your possessions when you’re out exploring the island.
Being overly flashy with your valuables makes you an easy target for theft. The island’s lack of guns and ammunition forces petty criminals to rely on distracted tourists to commit crimes. Leave your iPhone on the beach while you snorkel, and it probably won’t be there when you return.
Since the island is so heavily reliant on tourism, those who rob and take advantage of tourists are not looked upon kindly by the locals. You can usually count on people to look out for you in the expat areas of the island like West Bay and West End!
Drugs and Prostitution
The two activities that are almost guaranteed to get you into trouble on Roatan are drugs and prostitution. Both are illegal on the island and, if you participate, you could be opening yourself up to dangerous situations. Steer clear of both as to not invite any trouble.
But Isn’t Honduras the Murder Capital of the World?
There is a huge difference between mainland Honduras and the Bay Islands. Although the overall safety rating is lumped together, Roatan is very different when it comes to culture and safety. That being said, I’ve been to the mainland and am in the midst of planning a cross-country road trip at the end of October. Both the mainland and the islands are perfectly safe if you have your wits about you.
Safety Tips for Visiting or Moving to Roatan
If you’re asking yourself “is Roatan safe,” there are certain steps you can follow to keep yourself safer and more secure. Follow the safety tips below to feel safe in Roatan and anywhere else you may choose to visit!
Protect Yourself and Your Trip
Before booking any of your travel plans, I always suggest protecting yourself with trip insurance. This step is more important now than ever with travel restrictions constantly varying and people still contracting the COVID-19 virus. I’ve had great experience booking trip insurance through World Nomads. Enter your travel information below to get a quick and easy quote!
In addition to trip cancellations, World Nomads will cover the cost of replacing your possessions in the case that they are stolen or lost (up to a price).
Join the Roatan Crime Watch Facebook Group
If you want to stay up-to-date on any recent incidents on the island, I would suggest joining a helpful Facebook group called Roatan Crime Watch. Any crime on the island is reported there fairly quickly and it’s reassuring how little new incidents pop up on the page.
You can also find up-to-date safety information on the Roatan Tourism Bureau website.
Avoid Being Flashy with Your Valuables
This is a good rule-of-thumb to live by no matter where you are. Being flashy with your valuables makes you more of a target to criminals. Plain and simple.
I always abide by the rule, “if I don’t need it I don’t take it.” That includes electronics, extra cash, jewelry, anything of value or anything that could be perceived as having value.
Don’t Get Overly Intoxicated
Sadly, this rule is particularly important for solo female travelers. Like flashing around valuables, being noticeably intoxicated in a foreign country makes you a clear target to both theft and predators looking to take advantage.
If you plan to go out drinking while solo traveling, abide by these three rules.
- Know your limits. Don’t pass the point of no return where you need to rely on strangers for help.
- Always keep an eye on your drink and don’t accept a drink unless you’ve seen the bartender pour it.
- Have a plan to get home safely.
You can find more safety tips for solo female travelers in my blog post “Solo Female Travel Safety Tips.”
Being obviously clueless or lost in a foreign country often makes you a target for those looking to steal or take advantage. Simply acting confident, even if you have no idea where you are, can significantly reduce your chances of getting singled out for crime. Basically – fake it till you make it.
Don’t Attempt to Hike in Isolated Areas Alone
There are few hikes to choose from in Roatan since many of them are located on private property. If you attempt to do any hiking while on Roatan, I would highly suggest bringing a hiking buddy. Although it’s a beautiful stretch, muggings have been known to occur on the beach walk between West End and West Bay. A solo hiker is a target while groups of hikers will deter criminals.
I hope this post successfully answered the question “is Roatan safe.” If you have any more questions about the safety of the Bay Islands or Honduras as a whole, don’t hesitate to reach out to me via Instagram! I’d be happy to answer any questions you have and put your mind at ease. You may also enjoy my related posts below.