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Travel Guide to Bay Islands: Roatan & Utila, Honduras

Map of the Area

Bay Islands Roatan and Utila Honduras - Travel Guide - Tropical Discovery
  • Roatán 83 km2 (32 sq mi)
  • Average high 28°C (83°F) low 23°C (73°F)
  • UTC (GMT) -6 hrs
  • The Lempira (HNL) L23.4 = $1 USD.
  • Spanish
  • Roatán 44,657 (2015)
  • 16°23′N 86°24′W

Bay Islands: Roatan & Utila, Honduras

Diving, Beaches, Garifuna, Relaxation...

The most beautiful tropical islands ever seen lay hidden by the Caribbean Sea on Honduras' shore. On the Bay Islands (Roatan, Utila and Guanaja) you’ll find the perfect combination of natural surroundings, Caribbean feel and inner peace. Everywhere you look you’ll find breathtaking views and impressive natural beauty. The islands’ reputation has grown among lovers of scuba diving all over the world, thanks to its unique coral reefs and crystal-clear waters. Many diving schools in the three islands offer the necessary gear to learn and practice the sport. Besides the beach and diving, the islands offer a large number of attractions for wild and sea life observation, such as the Iguanas Refuge in Utila or the Gumbalimba and Coral Cay Park in Roatan. Other recreational activities include horseback riding on the beach, sport fishing, kayak tours and trips on glass-bottom boats.

Bay Islands Roatan and Utila Honduras - Travel Guide - Tropical Discovery

Roatan Island

Roatán is the largest and most developed Bay Island. It has the second largest coral reef system in the world. Besides white sand and turquoise waters, it has mountains that offer spectacular views and a fresh climate.

Utila Island

Utila is the smallest island and also the closest to the mainland. Its environment is, in general, more casual. According to the legends, Robinson Crusoe lived in the island for more than 27 years as a castaway after his ship wrecked. The island is flat and only has one mountain (Pumpkin Hill). Please click on the link below to see what this island in particular has to offer you.

Bay Islands Roatan and Utila Honduras - Travel Guide - Tropical Discovery

Roatan, Honduras

Coxen Hole, French Harbor, Punta Gorda, Sandy Bay & West End

Of the three Bay Islands, the largest, and most developed for tourism is Roatan. Roatan is a long island, measuring almost 40 miles in length and with a total landmass of 49 Square miles. The island has a mountainous backbone and is totally surrounded by coral reefs, offering superb diving as well as excellent fishing.

Roatan has a paved road that connects the most important communities of the Island. Starting from the Western End of the Island, at the community of West End, the roads leads through the communities of Sandy Bay, Coxen Hole, Brick Bay, Mount Pleasant, French Harbour and Oakridge - Punta Gorda. From here, the road becomes a dirt road and continues east for a distance, to the area of Paya Bay, Camp Bay, Port Royal, and other communities.

For the purpose of our description of Roatan, we have broken up the island into five different areas, which are the following: Coxen Hole, French Harbor, Oakridge/Punta Gorda, Sandy Bay and West End/West Bay.

The economy of the island is based primarily on agricultural production. Its main crops are plantains and cattle, along with rice, beans and fruits.

 

Utila, Honduras

Useful information and places of interest

The smallest of the three major Bay Islands, Utila lies closest to the Honduran Mainland and is by far the flattest of the islands.

Utila is located approximately 18 miles from the coast and can be easily reached from La Ceiba either by sea or air. The Galaxy II Ferry operates daily, leaving from La Ceiba's municipal dock located east of La Ceiba. The trip takes one hour on this fast motor vessel. Arrival in Utila is at the municipal dock, conveniently located in the central area of east harbor. Air service is available daily via Sosa Airlines, Isleña Airlines and Atlantic Airlines.

Sunday schedules are limited, so it is best to plan on arriving and departing during the week. There are some charter air services available from both La Ceiba and Roatan that can help you get in or out of Utila.

The main town in Utila is known as East Harbour or simply Utila, and is located on the eastern side of the Island, between the Upper Lagoon and the Lower Lagoon. The Upper Lagoons entrance is between the old airstrip and town, precisely where the only bridge in the road between the airport and town is located.

On the other side of the Lagoon you will find one of the most exclusive resorts in Utila: The Laguna Beach Resort. It is located on a narrow strip of land, with the Caribbean Sea on one side and the Lower Lagoon on the other. Shore diving from the resort is outstanding, as the reef is only a few feet from the beach. You require a motor launch to reach this resort.

The new Airport, is located on the northern side of the island, about 4 kilometers from town, and is a little too far to walk, however there is good taxi service available that will cost you about 1 ½ dollars per person to your resort in town. It is basically impossible to get lost in Utila. There is one main road following the coastline along the harbor.

This road is a pedestrian road, although you do have to watch out for the four or five cars on the island, as well as for the occasional motorcyclist and the many bicycles. Bicycles are the main means of transportation and there are several outfits that rent these if you wish an alternative to walking. Although Utila is world famous for its diving, which is not only excellent, but also very affordable, this does not mean that Utila is necessarily a "cheap" resort. Accommodations and food are much less expensive than at the other islands, but Utila also has some world-class diving resorts, such as the Laguna Beach Resort. Utila's electric current is supplied by a generator on the island, and under normal circumstances, there is only electricity from 5:00 a.m. till midnight. Most of the better hotels in the island have their own generators, which means that you will not be left without electric power as the rest of town is.

There is talk about a new modern and ecofriendly power company to invest in Utila, however for the time being service is still be provided by the national power company and it is not very reliable on the island.

A new addition to Utila is the Spanish Language School for tourists. The Central American School for language is now operating successfully on the island, offering quality courses which will help you spruce up your Spanish and communicate better on the Honduran Mainland as well as at the different Central American countries that you plan to visit during your trip.

There are two banks in Utila, Banco BGA, which is located across the street from the Municipal dock, and Banco Atlantida, located half a block away from BGA.. The bank hours are 9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 8:00 - 11:30 a.m. on Saturdays. Both, Bancahsa and Banco Atlantida will exchange your dollars, travelers checks and offers cash withdrawals on your Visa Card.

The only mountain on the island is Pumpkin Hill, from where you can get a view of the whole island, as well as of Roatan, further east. There is a trail that leads you to Pumpkin Hill, which is located three miles from town. If you decide to follow the trail, remember to be back before nightfall, or else take a good flashlight with you. There are caves around Pumpkin Hill, where according to legend pirates hid their treasures. The new Utila airport is now operating almost next to Pumkin Hill. A new road has been made to access the area, and the 5,000 ft runway will open the island up to larger aircraft, making it prime for development as a tourist destination as well as for real estate needs. Although Utila does not have many beaches, there are several small cayes within reach by boat that boast a good beach and a lot of privacy.

The largest of these cayes are actually populated, such as Pigeons and Suc Suc cayes. Eating on the cayes is limited, however there are a few restaurants: Susan's restaurant is probably your best bet. She is open for lunch and dinner and offers inexpensive meals well as soft drinks and beer. Another alternative is Maggies Restaurant. The cayes offer a totally different view of Utila and if your stay on Utila leaves time, a visit is definitely recommended.

Without question, the biggest attraction that Utila offers to its many tourists is its fantastic reefs combined with some of the least expensive dive courses in the World

Source: Content with permission from the Honduran Institute of Tourism - www.letsgohonduras.com

Bay Islands Roatan and Utila Honduras - Travel Guide - Tropical Discovery

Tours in Roatan, Honduras

Watersports, Nature, Adventure  

The Bay Islands of Honduras offer a very different world from that of mainland Honduras. The Islands history, which includes many disputes between the Spaniards and the British during colonial times, with the British actually controlling the islands most of time, have given the islands a unique heritage. Roatan is the largest island, measuring almost 40 miles in length and with a total landmass of 49 Square miles. The island has a mountainous backbone and is totally surrounded by coral reefs, offering superb diving as well as excellent fishing. Please have a look below for tours Tropical Discovery can offer you on Roatan:

 

Watersports & Nature

  • After a short motor-coach along the hillsides you will reach our nice meeting point. After having tried the equipments and left your personal belongings, you will be ready to get wet and start this kayak excursion to be remembered, in a beautiful bay surrounded by a picturesque landscape, accompanied by our professional instructors (while you're gliding through our clear and smooth waters, look down, you won't believe what you will see, maybe a Green Moray Eel or an endangered Sea Turtle!), after kayaking and a short introductory briefing be ready to start a guided snorkeling swim, to admire our wonderful coral reef. Duration: 4-4.5 hrs * Includes: Private transport, bilingual guide, Honduran coffee, natural fruit juices, snorkeling equipment and life-vests.
  • A half hour bus transfer takes you to the catamaran dock where you will be given a brief orientation about your safety before setting sail. Your sailing and snorkeling adventure begins aboard a luxury yacht called "Graziafelice" that is a 70 ft catamaran 33 ft wide. The one of a kind catamaran has sailed around the world several times. Lavished in the finest mahogany and maple, plenty of space inside, three different areas furnished with comfortable sofas, a wet bar, two large trampolines suspended between the hulls, and spacious sun decks, is what dreams are made of. While sailing for approx. an hour, relax in the shaded cockpit or take a seat at the bar while enjoying the view admiring part of the coast of our beautiful island. The catamaran will reach an area where the coral reef caused many naval disasters during the last centuries and you can still see the remaining of some ship-wrecks semi-submerged in the sea in a very beautiful bay surrounded by mangroves. When your captain drops anchor, it's time to enjoy some of the best snorkeling on the world! Your party will be divided into groups according to your snorkeling and swimming abilities, each group assigned to by our snorkeling guides. Our guides will provide complimentary snorkeling equipments (fins, snorkel, mask and snorkel flotation vest). A demonstration of proper fit and use is given along with a safety briefing about snorkeling and of course being respectful of our living reefs. If you are a snorkeling beginner don't worry because you will receive extra attention and our guides will assist you closely during the one-hour visit to one of the best living coral reef in Central America and its wonders. Spectacular coral formations and colorful tropical fish will serve you as your underwater scenery as you snorkel right from the catamaran. Once you are back on board, your captain will set sail for the pier as you soak up the sun and enjoy complimentary refreshments and a light lunch. Please inquire for details and pricing Duration: 4.5 hrs * Includes: Private transport, bilingual guide, snorkeling equipment, refreshments and a light lunch.
  • A coral reef that caused many naval disasters during the last centuries is the only location in Honduras for a spectacular boat dive with the sharks. It will be possible to observe closely sharks like Black Tip, Bulk Shark and Silver Shark from 7 to 10 ft. long! This particular dive site is in open waters and you will descend following a fixed path (a rope), as far as reaching a natural sand platform at about 60 feet, where you will stand with your back against a coral formation, and from there you will admire this amazing passage of sharks and tropical fish being fed by your dive instructors. Duration: 3 hrs Please inquire for details and pricing *Includes: Private transport, expert bilingual guide, diving equipment (air-tank, belt and weights) *Please note: It is necessary to present a diving certification and you must have been on a dive within the last 6 months to take part in this tour. Other diving equipment than the once mentioned above available for rent, please inform us at least 48 hours in advance if you would like to rent other equipment, with detail of equipment and sizes.

 

Culture & Adventure

  • Your tour today starts off with a half-hour drive to Carambola Botanical Gardens. This is the best developed inland reserve on the Bay Islands. The walkways and paths are well-prepared, with boardwalks being used in some places. Your naturalist guide will provide you with a myriad of details during an easy 50 minutes walk through the jungle garden path, as you stroll through forests of ferns, spices, orchids and flowering plants. A light snack (fruits and water) will be offered in a rest area. The next stop is a visit of the Roatan Butterfly and Birds Garden, located at 150 mts. off main road out to the village of West End. Here you can appreciate a live exhibition of some of Honduras most colorful butterflies. Some species reproduce right at our facility where you can learn and see the different stages of the butterfly life cycle. Entering the second part of the pavilion you'll meet our colorful toucans flying free surrounded by a beautiful array of exotic plants. You can take pictures with parrots and toucans right in your arms! Your next visit is to West End Village and our beautiful meeting point built over the water. In West End Village there are several shops along the beach with time for shopping. Complimentary Honduran coffee, lemonade or iced tea, are offered. Last but not least, visit the only Cameo Factory in the Americas! Enjoy watching master craftsman create both classical and modern cameo masterpieces, and benefit from paying factory direct prices, which is unheard of in the world of cameos and shell carving art. Please inquire for details and pricing Duration: 4.5 hrs * Includes: Transport, bilingual guide, entrance fees and snacks
  • Take advantage of the opportunity to experience the thrill of underwater discovery in the West Bay Marine Park, as well as a chance to explore and shop in the quaint West End Village. An half-an-hour scenic drive will take you to beautiful West Bay Beach where you will board the "Coral Reef Explorer", a semi-submarine that does not submerge; instead you will descend a few steps into the underwater observatory boat from which you can view the treasures of the deep. While you are seated in air-conditioned comfort, a fish identification guide will explain the underwater environment, as you observe beautiful coral formations, living reef, and colorful tropical fish. You will see our amazing coral reef without even getting wet! Following the boat ride, you will have approx 1 hour at your leisure for a swim or a walk on the beach. Afterwards you will be taken to the center of West End Village and our beautiful meeting point built on the water, where complimentary Honduran coffee, lemonade or iced tea are offered. There are several shops along the beach with time for shop or relax on the nearby white sandy beach. The next stop is a visit of the Butterfly and Birds Garden, located at 150 m. off main road out to the village of West End. Here you can appreciate a live exhibition of some of Honduras most colorful butterflies. Some species reproduce right at our facility where you can learn and see the different stages of the butterfly life cycle. Entering the second part of the pavilion you'll meet our colorful toucans flying free surrounded by a beautiful array of exotic plants. You can take pictures with parrots and toucans right in your arms! Please inquire for details and pricing Duration: 4.5-5 hrs *Includes: Private transport, semi-sub-marine boat ride, expert bilingual guide, snacks and entrance fees

* Please note: Information on this page is believed to be correct but not guaranteed

* Inquire for recent prices and schedule

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Mayan Princess Beach Resort Bay Islands: Roatan & Utila Honduras

Mayan Princess Beach Resort on the island of Roatan is a paradise for divers, snorkelers and beach lovers. Located on West Bay Beach, the prettiest beach in the Caribbean, we offer a spectacular setting for your vacation getaway.

avg/night$228.00 SELECT

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