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Last Updated on July 24, 2023 by Madison Krigbaum
As a solo female traveler who moved to Roatan, Honduras in January of 2021, the number one question I get about Honduras 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 100% 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 Central America and the world, you will feel perfectly safe in Roatan, Honduras.
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Is Roatan Safe for Tourists? What About Solo Female Travelers?
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. However, due to their concerns, I decided to stay in a very removed and affluent area of the island instead. Although I enjoyed The Meridian’s luxurious accommodation and amenities, it was very difficult to get into town for things like grocery shopping and bar hopping.
After my first month living in Roatan, I traded my bougie West Bay condo for a minimalist apartment in Half Moon Bay, West End. I never looked back. Although I was always sure to lock my doors and windows at night (as I would anywhere else), I never once felt unsafe in my neighborhood.
Roatan Honduras Safety Factors to Consider
Crystal clear waters, amazing scuba diving and insanely affordable living (by Caribbean standards) ensures that this beautiful island is well-populated year round. Cruise ships dock in Coxen Hole almost daily, bringing with them thousands of cruise passengers from the United States and beyond. Roatan has a thriving expat community; locals from both the Bay Islands and the Honduran mainland; and tourists from every corner of the globe.
As in any tourist destination, it’s important to have a basic understanding of the surrounding areas and the local crime rate. The tourist parts of Roatan Island are mostly concentrated in West Bay, West End and Sandy Bay. Since tourism is so common in those areas, you’ll find that everyone speaks English and there is a heavy police presence.
On the other hand, Coxen Hole, French Harbor, Flower’s Bay, etc. are the less touristy parts of the island. In these neighborhoods, English is not a guarantee and there tends to be slightly higher crime rate. These are not tourist areas, so be prepared to get more looks in these spots than on the West side of the island.
When it comes to transportation concerns, the biggest issue on Roatan is drunk driving. A huge contributor to drunk driving during my time living in Roatan was the COVID-19 island-wide curfew. Since taxis didn’t run past 9:00 or 10:00PM, there were many drunk drivers and motorcyclists on the road at night. Thankfully, the curfew was lifted in late 2021 and it’s now much easier to get a late night taxi.
When it comes to taxi safety, my main concern is being overcharged. Some drivers will do their best to overcharge tourists, and they almost always get away with it. It’s best to know the privado and colectivo Roatan taxi fares before getting in the car.
💡 Pro Tip:
One of my best travel tips for Roatan is to find a taxi driver you like, get his/her WhatsApp number and become a repeat customer. Although I never had any issues taking random cabs during my time in Roatan, it’s always safer to travel with a driver you know and trust. They’ll also appreciate the repeat business and make your needs a priority during your stay!
Petty crimes, like theft, are inevitable in areas where you have wealth next to extreme poverty. During the year I lived in West End, I 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. When taking out lempiras from ATMs, be discreet with both your pin number and the cash you receive.
Being overly flashy with your valuables makes you an easy target for theft. Thankfully, 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 touristy 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. The Roatan crime rate is also very different than the crime rate on the mainland. That being said, I spent over two weeks exploring the most beautiful parts of the mainland – Pico Bonito, Tela, Lago de Yojoa and Copan Ruinas. Both the mainland and the islands (including Utila) are perfectly safe if you have your wits about you.
Not only is it safer than people think, but mainland Honduras is incredibly affordable and relatively untouched as a tourist destination. Our hotels never cost more than $20-30 USD per night and tours were both abundant and budget-friendly. Over two weeks, we only ran into a handful of other English-speaking tourists. After visiting so many places negatively affected by overtourism – like Koh Phi Phi and the Amalfi Coast – Honduras was a breath of fresh air.
Safety Tips for Visiting or Moving to Roatan
If you’re asking yourself how safe is Roatan Honduras? there are certain steps you can follow to keep yourself safer and more secure during your trip. Follow the safety tips below to feel safe in Roatan and anywhere else you may choose to visit!
Join the Roatan Crime Watch Facebook Group
If you want to stay up-to-date on any recent crime on Roatan, 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 for crime. 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 Honduras solo 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 safety 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.
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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 Walk Alone At Night
It’s always a good rule to never walk alone late at night…especially while intoxicated. Use the buddy system at bars! Or have a taxi driver’s phone number on hand and set up a time to be picked up before you start drinking. In the end, Roatan safety comes down to planning ahead and making smart decisions in the moment.
Don’t Attempt to Hike in Isolated Areas
There are very few hikes to choose from in Roatan since many of the hiking trails 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.
💡 Pro Tip:
If you want to enjoy a beautiful beach walk, I would suggest walking the stretch between Turtle Beach and West Bay. The area of the beach where muggings commonly occur is from West End to Turtle Beach – but the other half of the walk is lovely! Besides one sketchy bridge that’s definitely not up-to-code.
Is Roatan Safe 2023 FAQS:
The truth about Roatan is that it’s very safe for American tourists to visit. Each year, the island becomes more and more popular as a tourist destination and, as a result, crime in Roatan Honduras has decreased steadily since the mid-1900s. The answer to the question, is Roatan safe for families and American tourists? is yes, very.
Yes, Roatan is a safe destination for expats and a save place to live. I lived in Roatan for over a year as an expat in West End. Before I moved there, I was asking everyone and their mother, is it safe to travel to Roatan? The answers I got were conflicting…thankfully I went anyway.
After only a couple days living on Roatan, safety in Roatan was no longer one of my concerns. I made friends with other tourists, expats and locals almost immediately and I never felt unsafe on the island.
Yes, Roatan is very safe for cruise passengers. Roatan’s economy relies on tourism – plain and simple. If the major cruise lines started feeling that Roatan was unsafe, cruise ships would stop coming to the island and jobs in tourism would start disappearing.
Like everywhere else, Roatan has its share of crime. However, Roatan Honduras crime almost always stays far away from both regular tourists and cruise ship passengers.
To stay safe in Roatan, avoid illegal activities like drug use and prostitution. Avoid being overly flashy with valuables like electronics, cash and jewelry and don’t carry a lot of extra cash on your person. Keep an eye on your belongings at all time and avoid leaving your drink unattended at Roatan’s beach bars or while relaxing on the beach.
Safety in Roatan Honduras is like anywhere else – if you make smart decisions and don’t put yourself at risk, you’ll be fine.
The safest part of Roatan is in the tourist areas – West End, West Bay and Sandy Bay.
Yes! Roatan is definitely worth visiting. The island is beautiful – covered in lush, green vegetation and you’re never more than 10 minutes away from a beautiful beach. Roatan also has some of the best snorkeling and scuba diving on the Mesoamerican Reef and, if you’re asking is Roatan expensive? – it’s much more affordable than almost every other island in the Caribbean.
So…is Roatan dangerous for tourists? The final answer is a resounding NO.
I hope this post successfully answered your question, is Roatan Honduras 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.