Roatan is a paradise for visitors who love the outdoors, water sports and relaxation. It can truly offer those who come an opportunity to disconnect and commune with nature like few other destinations can.
Most people are aware that Roatan is a Class A destination for diving. It is surrounded by the Mesoamerica reef which is the second largest coral reef system in the world. This offers unparalleled opportunities for diving, snorkeling, and exploring the hundreds of dive sites that surround the island.
A relatively unknow opportunity on the island is to visit the Roatan Institute of Deep Sea Exploration (www.stanleysubmarines.com). The institute offers 2 person submarine rides (along with the pilot of course) to explore the sea to a depth of 3,000 feet. Nowhere else in the Caribbean can those with an adventurous spirit explore the sea to such incredible depths.
Besides diving, the island provides for some of the best deep sea fishing, flats fishing and fly fishing. Numerous tournaments are held in the waters around Roatan each year.
Day trips to some of the nearby islands, only accessible by boat, offer visitors an opportunity to see some of the most beautiful undeveloped spots in the Bay Islands. Trips to Pigeon Cay, Santa Elena, and Jade Beach on the private island of Barbaretta usually include encounters with wild dolphins, free ranging spider monkeys, and even an occasional crocodile.
But for those less adventurous who would prefer to stay closer to shore you can enjoy sea kayaking, stand-up paddle boards and snorkeling right off the beach. The east end of the island also offers a world class kiteboarding destination and kite school (www.kitesurfroatan.com) at the Camp Bay Lodge (www.campbaylodge.com).
If you prefer to spend a day on land there are many land based activities to enjoy including hiking to the top of Picachu, the highest point on the island, visiting Carambola Botanical Gardens (www.carambolagardens.com) or a beer tasting or chocolate tasting trip to the Roatan Island Brewery (www.roatanislandbrewing.com) or the Roatan Chocolate Factory.
A must not miss experience is a visit to Punta Gorda. Punta Gorda is the original Garifuna settlement from back in the 1797 when the Garifuna people were expelled from the island of St. Vincent in the eastern Caribbean and stranded on Roatan. It is a vibrant community that maintains all its original traditions, and offers opportunities to eat at local Garifuna restaurants, visit the Garifuna museum, and visit shops offering original handmade crafts. Every Sunday evening there is a street festival in Punta Gorda where visitors and locals from across the island come together to celebrate the Garifuna culture.
Most people, after visiting the island, fall in love with the people of Roatan. Many want to find an opportunity to give back to the island. For those who want to leave a mark, there are opportunities to support local church projects, contribute to the island schools or support the island’s efforts to preserve the prize of the island, the Mesoamerica reef, by supporting the Roatan Marine Park.
At the end of the day, regardless what you decided to enjoy, it might be time to treat yourself to a yoga class or a wonderful relaxing massage.
My personal favorite for ending the day is to settle in at a local restaurant or palapa, like La Sirena de Camp Bay, or the restaurant at The Camp Bay Lodge on the east end, and enjoy a rum punch, some authentic island cuisine and discuss the day with the locals and visitors who mingle like family.