Bay Islands (Roatan) Directory
Bay Islands (Roatan) Overview
Roatan, Guanaja and Utila - 50km (31mi) off the north coast of Honduras - are a continuation of the Belizean reefs and offer great snorkeling and diving. The islands' economy is based mostly on fishing, but tourism is becoming increasingly important. Utila retains low-key tourist facilities, while Roatán is gradually joining Guanaja as a more upmarket retreat. Most travelers head to West End on Roatán, but Utila is the cheapest of the three islands to visit. Whichever island you visit, make sure you bring plenty of insect repellent, because the sand flies are voracious, especially during the rainy season.
The islands have an interesting history, including evidence of Maya occupation. Columbus landed on Guanaja in 1502, but the Spanish later enslaved the islanders and sent them to work on plantations in Cuba and in the gold and silver mines of Mexico. By 1528, the islands were completely depopulated. English, French and Dutch pirates then occupied the islands, followed by the Garífuna, who were shipped here by the British after an uprising on St Vincent. The islands, in many ways, still look more toward England and the US than to the Honduran mainland, and a richly Caribbean version of English is the main language.
Honduras, the original banana republic, has a rugged, off-the-beaten-path appeal characterized by its unique blend of nature, archaeology, reefs and beaches. Like its Central American neighbors, the country is an engaging land of tropical richness with vast protected areas preserving its abundant flora and fauna, offering boundless fascination to eco-tourists and adventurers.
Roatan is a true tropical island with steeply sloping jungle covered hills, long stretches of sandy beaches and beautiful fringing coral reefs. The island is 35 miles ( 58Kms ) long and an average of three miles wide, it lies 40 miles ( 66Kms ) off the north coast of Honduras. Studded with deep water inlets called 'Bights' it has been a safe haven for sailors for centuries. Home originally to the Paya indians, the island has passed from country to country during the conquest of the Americas in the 16th century and fought over by the British and Spanish crowns for possession of the hard woods both on the island and mainland. Eventually forsaken for more lucrative islands Roatan was taken over by the infamous pirates of the Caribbean, This island became the mighty stronghold of Henry Morgan who ravaged and plundered the Spanish Main.
Delight in one of the most extensive reef systems in the world, that offers spectacular diving and snorkeling. Surrounded by warm Caribbean waters, these hilly islands are as picturesque as unspoiled. There are numerous different coral types, sponges, fishes and marine life as well as warm, clear blue water and excellent visibility.
Like emerald islands adrift in an tropical sea, The Bay Islands of Honduras are remnants of the peaks of a submerged mountain range. On Roatan, you're sure to find an adventure. Scuba dive on the world's second largest reef, check out the salt water fishing action, explore the ancient Payan ruins, discover the area on horsback, snorkel, go sea kayaking, water skiing, go hiking and explore island, go bird watching or simply relax in a hammock. Cloaked with rainforest and encircled by a coral ring, these cayes are far removed from modern day life:
|Bay Islands Facts|
How Do I Get Around?
The island is easy to navigate by car. One paved main road runs east-west from Oak Ridge to West Bay Beach with dirt or gravel side roads. Driving is on the right side of the road. There are several car rental companies on the island.
Drivers are required to show a valid drivers license and a major credit card or a cash deposit. Of course, there are taxis and buses. You should always ... more
Honduras is on Central Standard Time and does not observe Daylight Savings Time.
Modern telecommunications systems on Roatan allow reliable telephone, fax, and online accees - there is a high speed internet cafe located at the REMAX location on the corner of French Harbour. There you'll find 4 fast computers available for email and web surfing while you're here.. In addition 24-hour electricity, paved roads, and good medical facilities exist.
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