In January of 2021, after almost a year of not traveling due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I decided to pack up and spend a month working remotely from Roatán, Honduras in the Bay Islands. A month turned into two months, two months turned into nine weeks and nine weeks turned into 83 days. I left right before my tourist visa and my bank account ran out! Although I’ve been lucky enough to visit almost 30 countries around the world, there are few places I’ve fallen in love with the way I fell in love with Roatán. Along with the pristine beaches, gorgeous views, delicious food and affordable lifestyle, I met lifelong friends during my three months in Roatán and was able to see more than my fair share of the island. Keep reading for a list of the best things to do in Roatán, Honduras!
where to stay in roatán, honduras
GRAND ROATÁN CARIBBEAN RESORT – WEST BAY
If you’re looking to stay in the lap of luxury, look no further than Grand Roatán Resort. With pristine beaches, delicious cuisine, a beachfront pool and ensuite outdoor showers (woot woot), Grand Roatán is the full, Caribbean package. After it’s grand opening in 2015, the owners of Grand Roatán have worked hard to uphold strong community standards and establish Honduras as a must-visit tourist destination.
Although the resort faced hardships during six months of COVID-19 lockdowns, they emerged through the other side with 100% of their workforce still employed. The majority of their employees are locals from Roatán and they frequently give back to the community by working to improve schools on the island, supporting the St. Helene Women’s Initiative by selling bags made of recycled plastic, placing an emphasis on conservation and sustainability and initiating an emergency food campaign during the pandemic where they delivered 800+ food baskets around the island.
Grand Roatán is the perfect place for some rest and relaxation with a long stretch of white sand beach and some of the best snorkeling on the entire island. To even further your relaxation, the resort has announced the opening of their new “Destination Spa”. A four story building set to be completed in the second half of 2021, the Destination Spa will include a spa, gym and both indoor and outdoor pools.
While relaxing on Grand Roatán’s gorgeous beaches, there’s no better place to grab a bite to eat than the Iron Shore Grill, the resort’s on-site restaurant. On this beautiful day in February, I packed up my beach towel and headed to the Iron Shore Grill to feast on some of the best ceviche I’ve ever tasted. The Iron Shore Special included shrimp, fish, pineapple, onion, sweet peppers and lime and was served with crispy, fried plantains.
Since I’ve been working full-time from Roatán, the strong wifi at the Iron Shore Grill was a godsend. I spent many hours munching on ceviche and typing up a storm on my laptop with this incredible ocean view. Grand Roatán is the perfect spot for your next “Worktation!”
THE MERIDIAN AT LIGHTHOUSE POINT – WEST BAY
Another beautiful spot in West Bay, The Meridian was where I spent my first, glorious month living in Roatán. With an enormous pool, gorgeous stretch of private beach, an on-site restaurant and beautiful, air conditioned accommodations, the only downside of The Meridian is that it’s a bit off the beaten path. However, if your primary goal in Roatán is some much needed R & R, then The Meridian is definitely the place for you.
Megan and her family could not have been more accommodating during my time on Lighthouse Point. They were always available to answer any questions and even offered to drive me into town themselves during a couple of rainy days on the island. I loved living at The Meridian and would do it again in a heartbeat!
BRISAS DEL MAR – WEST END
If you’re planning on going out frequently during your time in Roatán, then I would definitely suggest staying in West End over West Bay. With the pandemic curfew (currently 10PM), it can be very difficult to get home to West Bay after a night out in West End. The curfew makes it illegal for cab drivers to be on the streets after 10PM, which means you’ll need to leave exactly at bar close to make it home for the night.
Brisas del Mar is the perfect location for anyone looking to be walking distance from all the restaurants and bars. They have their own private pool, bar, restaurant and beautiful stretch of beach. As a bonus, you’re only steps away from a water taxi to head into West Bay.
protect your trip to roatán, honduras
If you’re planning a visit to Roatán, it’s important to protect yourself and your wallet with trip insurance. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, 2021 is an incredibly uncertain year to travel and it’s always better to be safe than sorry. When it comes to trip insurance, I swear by World Nomads. On my trip to Thailand in 2019, I had an unfortunate ankle-spraining incident that turned into a hospital visit with X-Rays, crutches and physical therapy. When I submitted my claim to World Nomads, I was reimbursed within weeks, no questions asked.
World Nomads has changed their policy in the light of the pandemic and have guaranteed reimbursement for any travelers that find their trips cancelled or delayed due to contracting the Coronavirus. Enter your dates and information below to receive a quote for World Nomads travel insurance!
For more information on traveling safely during the pandemic, head to my recent post How to Travel Safely Amidst Coronavirus Travel Restrictions.
what to do on roatán, honduras
LEARN TO SCUBA DIVE
The number one thing to do in Roatán is…drumroll please…scuba diving!! The Bay Islands offers some of the best scuba diving in the world. There’s no excuse to not get certified while you’re in Roatán! There are dive shops located on every corner, so it’s helpful to do your research before you arrive.
We decided to do our Open Water Certification with Sun Divers in West End and loved it! Our teacher, Serena, was incredibly patient and knowledgable about all things scuba diving. The Open Water course itself costs $355 (in cash, there’s a surcharge to use a credit card) and includes the initial Discovery Dive for free.
In addition to Sun Divers, we went on a few exciting dives with Nature Divers (also located in West End). Edgar is a great guide and offers more flexible hours and better prices than many of the shops in this area!
TOUR THE ROATÁN CHOCOLATE FACTORY
You may already know that Central America is the birthplace of chocolate. Roatán is doing its best to educate tourists on the history of this delicious treat through the Roatán Chocolate Factory! They offer free chocolate tours daily and you’ll learn tons about the history of chocolate, how chocolate is made, the cacao plant and where it grows as well as get the opportunity to taste tons of different chocolate made on-site! My favorites were the white chocolate, milk chocolate with chili and the milk chocolate with sea salt.
The Roatán Chocolate Factory also includes a full-service restaurant that serves delicious and reasonably priced Indian food and sandwiches.
VISIT THE ROATÁN BREWING COMPANY
I grew up in Wisconsin, so I LOVE a good craft brewery. Roatán Brewing Company is the only brewery on the island and is definitely worth a visit. It’s a bit of a hike from West End, but you can easily grab a taxi from the main roundabout.
They offer tons of delicious beer on tap as well as lots of yummy options for food. My favorite beers are the Juicy IPA and the Citrus IPA (and their Cubano sandwich was insanely delicious)!
GO NIGHT SNORKELING
It’s a completely different world underwater when the sun goes down. Don’t miss out on viewing all the amazing nocturnal creatures in the Caribbean! Make sure to head out for a night snorkel during your time in Roatán, Honduras. If you don’t have your own snorkel equipment or just prefer going out at night with a guide, you can book an awesome excursion through the Seabreeze Inn / Cannibal Cafe in West End. An hour-long night snorkel excursion with all equipment, lights and a guide should only set you back about $30/person and is worth every penny!
KAYAK IN WEST BAY
If you plan on renting kayaks in West Bay, I would suggest renting through Argentinian Grill‘s West Bay location. You’ll end up saving a lot more per hour than booking through one of the larger resorts on the stretch. You can also rent kayaks through Cannibal Cafe in West End, however the waters in West Bay tend to be a bit calmer and better for kayaking.
SPEND A WEEKEND IN CAMP BAY
Although there’s plenty of awesome things to do on the West side, don’t miss out on a visit to the peaceful East side. If you have a weekend to spare, make sure to book a stay at Camp Bay Lodge, about a two hour drive from West Bay.
Camp Bay is beautiful and much quieter and more relaxing than the West side. It’s also the perfect place to learn to kitesurf! Camp Bay Lodge offers kitesurfing lessons as well as other fun excursions such as scuba diving, paddle boarding and massages.
Camp Bay Lodge offers some of the most delicious food I tasted during my entire three months on Roatán. Pictured below is their seafood soup FILLED with conch, shrimp and lobster. At only $15/bowl, I wished I could have eaten it for every meal in Roatán.
LEARN TO SPEAR LIONFISH
Lionfish are an invasive species in the Caribbean and have wrecked havoc on the reefs for years. In order to combat the problem, Honduras has legalized spearfishing exclusively for lionfish. In order to legally spear lionfish in Roatán, you’ll need to obtain a Bay Islands Lionfish Spearing License. The course to obtain this license costs $70 and includes a spear. You can sign up here through the Roatán Marine Park!
VISIT THE WEST END CRAFT MARKET
I always love visiting a local craft market! Not only is it fun browsing the creations of local artists, but it feels great to support Roatán’s local economy. You can find Roatán’s craft market in West End every Saturday (weather permitting) in front of The Buccaneer Restaurant & Bar. My favorite stands include Wild Roatán’s handmade natural products and Miel Crochet’s handmade tops and bikinis. Make sure to bring cash for all your purchases!
TAKE THE FERRY TO LA CEIBA AND STAY AT THE ECO LODGE
If you find yourself in need of a short break from island life, why not hop on the Galaxy Wave Ferry from Roatán to La Ceiba and enjoy some beautiful jungle views at the Omega Tours Eco Lodge? The Eco Lodge is a 5-star resort located in between two of Honduras’ most beautiful national parks: Pico Bonito and Nombre de Dios. Omega Tours was founded and the Eco Lodge was built entirely by a German couple who still operates the property today. At their restaurant, La Jungla, you can find delicious Honduran staples as well as hearty and authentic German cuisine!
The Eco Lodge is known for their white water rafting and variety of nature activities. I cannot recommend the white water rafting enough. You’ll see amazing views of Pico Bonito as well as get to do some adrenaline-inducing cliff jumps! They also offer on-site massages for only $40.
SPEND A WEEKEND ON UTILA
Located only a quick ferry ride away, there’s no excuse not to check out the neighboring of Utila during your time in the Bay Islands. If you find time to check out this little island, I would recommend staying at Hotel Trudy. Whether you’re a solo traveler looking for budget accommodation (hostel rooms for $6/night) or in search of private, air conditioned accommodation ($50/night), Hotel Trudy has something for everyone.
Hotel Trudy has a corresponding, on-site dive center called Underwater Vision. If you decide to dive during your stay, you’ll receive a small discount on your nightly accommodation! You can check out the different dive packages here.
Currently, Hotel Trudy has no online booking options. You can send them a message via the Underwater Vision Facebook page to secure a room or diving package. For more a full itinerary for Utila, visit my blog post “Your Ultimate Trip Itinerary to Utila, Honduras.”
GET YOUR BRUNCH ON WITH BOTTOMLESS MIMOSAS AT SAN SIMON
They had me at bottomless mimosas. Before you head to Infinity Bay for an afternoon filled with sun and live music, stop by The Beach Club San Simon for a boozy brunch! $30 buys you all-you-can-drink mimosas and Bloody Marys, an appetizer and a brunch entree. It’s the perfect brunch/pregame! Be sure to make a reservation in advance, the restaurant can fill up very quickly.
ENJOY LIVE MUSIC ON SUNDAY AT INFINITY BAY
There’s no better way to enjoy a beautiful Sunday afternoon in Roatán, Honduras than relaxing at Infinity Bay and listening to everyone’s favorite band dance artist…MUDDY! Since Infinity Bay is an upscale resort in West Bay, the drinks can get a little pricey. To maintain your budget, do what we did and drink Salva Vidas (50 HNL or $2) to your heart’s content!
DANCE THE NIGHT AWAY AT FRANK’S
One of my favorite experiences in Roatán was the island nightlife! Since most bars and clubs (literally all but ONE) are outdoors, the risk of contracting COVID-19 is much lower than it would be in a traditional nightclub setting. And let me tell you…Honduran locals know how to dance. West End is the place to go to experience Roatán’s nightlife scene, and Frank’s (or as local’s call it, “The Pub”) is the place to go if you’re looking for a dance floor.
SAMPLE LOCAL CUISINE
I knew little to none about Honduran food before moving to Roatán. Three months of island cuisine later…my first stop back in Wisconsin was the Latin American grocery store for Honduran sour cream and red refried beans.
The first dish on your Honduran food bucket list should definitely be baleadas! This tasty street food consists of a freshly homemade flour tortilla, refried beans, cheese or mantequilla (Honduran sour cream) and your choice of toppings. I prefer mine with scrambled eggs, avocado, hot sauce and a cold Salva Vida on the side.
Another must-try island dish is, of course, ceviche! I tried many different types of ceviche in Roatán, but my favorite was lionfish ceviche, a must-try if you’re lucky enough to find it! Keep in mind when ordering seafood that just because it’s for sale does not mean it’s a sustainable choice. If you’re questioning which types of seafood you should be avoiding, check out the Bay Islands Responsible Seafood Guide.
After three months in Roatán, I’ve made the decision to pack up and move back for the remainder of 2021! Stay tuned for more Honduras travel guides and must-see spot in the Bay Islands.
If you enjoyed this post of the best things to do in Roatán, Honduras, you may also enjoy my related posts…
Thinking of planning an epic trip to Roatán, Honduras or anywhere else in the world? Don’t forget to download my free PDF guide, “How to Plan Epic Trips” and be sure to follow along with my adventures on Instagram @madisonsfootsteps.