Isla Roatan is a major cruise port in Southern Caribbean, located approx 65 km (40 ml) off the northern coast of mainland Honduras (North America). Roatan Island is the most popular among all Bay Islands. It has length 33 ml (53 km), width 4 ml (7 km), total land area approx 83 km2 (32 ml2) and population around 45,000. Island's largest town is Coxen Hole (population around 5,000).
Isla Roatan has two cruise ports (each used by different cruise companies) - Mahogany Bay (next photo)
and Coxen Hole (next photo).
The island is located close to Caribbean's largest barrier reef (also ranked world's 2nd largest) - Mesoamerican Barrier Reef. Roatan is Honduras' main cruise ship, scuba diving and eco-tourism travel destination. Island's economy is heavily based on tourism, followed by commercial fshing.
Isla Roatan is served by Juan Manuel Galvez Airport (international and domestic flights) and by the Galaxy Wave ferry (460-passenger fast catamaran offering twice a day service to La Ceiba). Roatan Airport connects to mainland Honduras (La Ceiba, San Pedro Sula), Costa Rica (San Jose), Panama City, Belize City, Grand Cayman, Canada (Quebec City, Montreal, Toronto), USA (Miami, Houston, Atlanta), Guatemala (San Salvador, Guatemala City). Charter flights link to St Lucia, Italy (Milan), Cuba (Havana).
The island is popular for its beaches (West End, Camp Bay), crystal water, all-year sunny weather, clear blue skies. Discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1502, Roatan was famous for housing over 5,000 buccaneers (pirates), the most popular of whom were Captain John Coxen and Sir Henry Morgan.
Roatan Marine Park is a community-based, non-profit organization, established in 2005 by local businesses and dive operators to protect the surrounding coral reefs. Roatan Institute for Marine Sciences (RIMS) was founded in 1989 to preserve island's natural resources through research and education. RIMS is in Sandy Bay and features over 30 ml (50 km) of barrier reefs, mangroves and seagrass beds. All reef systems throughout Bay Islands are protected by the government and helped by charitable donations.
Little French Key
Little French Key is a privately-owned island, located in French Harbor (on Roatan's southern shore). This island resort is also the most booked tour in Roatan, and offered as both daily cruise excursion and overnight (Bed and Breakfast) deals. Island's amenities include horseback riding, snorkeling, zip-lining, jet skiing, paddle-boarding, sea kayaking, massages, dining.
The island is best known for its private sanctuary "Animal Rescue Center" and its great collection of exotic animals, most of which were previously abused in zoos and circuses.
The island has several white-sand beaches, bars (including a swim-up bar), 3 restaurants (of which 2 on the water and 1 on the beach), 2 Jump platforms. Transportation to and from Little French Key is via tour boats. Travel time is 10 min (departures from Mahogany Bay) and 35 min (from Coxen Hole).
- Package prices range from $59 (Discovery) to $88 (Full Island), $98 (Full Island Mayatlantis), $108 (Full Island Plus), up to $198 (VIP Package). Combo packages are also offered - Zipline plus Full Island ($148) and One Tank Scuba Dive plus Full Island ($168).
- Cheapest tour deals cost $25 pp (each) - guided snorkelling, seakayak for the day, horseback swimming.
Unfortunately, on August 26, 2018, the resort was completely destroyed by fire, causing over USD 3 million in damages. According to the owner Moshe Lahijani, the fire was most likely arson. All animals (excepting 2 parrots and 1 rabbit) were rescued and housed in temporary shelters.
Roatan Island cruise terminal
Roatan as cruise port has 2 passenger terminals – Mahogany Bay and Coxen Hole, the bigger and newest of which is Mahogany Bay.
Mahogany Bay cruise terminal
Mahogany Bay is a Carnival Corporation-managed (exclusive) cruise terminal that serves ships from the fleets of Carnival Cruise Line and Princess Cruises. Mahogany Bay terminal is located east of Roatan Airport, in a area fka Dixon Bay. This is Roatan's new cruise ship terminal (inaugurated in 2009) that spreads over 20 acres (0,03 ml2 / 0,08 km2) of land. Project's cost (including the terminal building) was USD 62 million. Mahogany Bay cruise terminal can accommodate 2 large vessels (post-Panamax sized) simultaneously. Passengers’ area has capacity for 8,000 people.
Special attraction at Mahogany Bay terminal is the chair lift system. It transports passengers from the terminal building directly to the Mahogany Beach. The lift's all-day pass costs USD 12.
Just off the cruise ship pier, there is a shopping mall with ATM, rent-a-car offices, kiosks providing information for Roatan Island tours (shore excursions), restaurants, souvenirs, jewelry shops and live musical performances.
Coxen Hole cruise terminal
It serves NCL Norwegian Cruise Lines and Royal Caribbean. Coxen Hole is the capital of Bay Islands and their largest city. The port is named after Captain John Coxon / Coxen - a famous late-17th century buccaneer (British pirate). This is the first (smaller) Roatan cruise port. As passenger facilities, it offers ATM, Internet, restaurants, small shopping mall. The cruise port is located west from the airport. The town offers hand-made local souvenirs and authentic cuisine.
Roatan Island tours, shore excursions, hotels
City Tours and Shore Excursions
- Roatan Marine Park: located between Sandy Bay and West Bay. The area is popular with amazing beaches and opportunities for water sports.
- Beaches: the most popular are Half Moon Bay, West Bay and West End.
- Coxen Hole: the capital offers duty free shops for tourists.
- Gumbalimba Park: animal preserve with creatures like iguanas, parrots, turkeys and monkeys.
- Carambola Botanical Gardens and Trails: located on Roatan’s north side, spreads over 40-acre area.
- Roatan Dolphin Encounters: you have the opportunity to see, swim, dive or snorkel with dolphins. Located at Anthony’s Key Resort in the Roatan Institute of Marine Science.
- Cruise Industry
Silversea introduced accessibility-enhanced shore trips via its partnership with Accessible Travel Solutions, devoted to expanding opportunities for...December 13, 2018
The growing Hurricane Michael forced cruise ships carrying over 12,000 passengers to alter their courses on Monday, October 8. The 2,980...October 9, 2018
Popular cruise destination located off the coast of Roatan, Little French Key, has been destroyed by a fire that ripped through the resort on August...August 28, 2018
An Israeli couple who were on a honeymoon cruise aboard Royal Caribbean ship were involved in zip-line accident leaving one of them dead in Honduras...July 10, 2018
MSC Cruises ship MSC Armonia crashed into the dock in Roatan, Honduras on Tuesday, April 10. According to videos posted on Youtube, the vessel is...April 11, 2018
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