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Roatan Tourism: Best of Roatan
Roatan is one of the Caribbean’s best-kept secrets, with all the same perks of the other islands: white, sandy beaches, beautiful blue waters, miles of lush jungle—but with experiences you can’t get anywhere else. Scuba or snorkel to the second biggest barrier reef in the world at Cayos Cochinos, cuddle with sloths at the Sloth Sanctuary, swim with sharks at Cara a Cara, and hang with monkeys at the Carambola Botanical Gardens. When it’s time to kick back, you’ll find all the quintessential luxury resorts in West Bay and backpacker-fueled bars in the West End, but the street parties in centuries-old Punta Gorda are where it’s at, with traditional music, dancing, and some of the best Caribbean food on the island. You can find all our top recs below.
What to do
Places to see, ways to wander, and signature experiences that define Roatan.See all
Where to stay
Top spots to rest up—charming to classic to modernSee all
Where to eat
The tried-and-trues, plus local faves and hidden gemsSee all
Dig Into Roatan
Stories, tips, and guides
Roatan in one day: a cruise guide
Home to the world’s second largest barrier reef, Roatan is a playground for scuba divers, beach lovers, and—of course—cruise ships, which call on this stunning little 40-mile-long island. But when you’re only visiting for the day, you need to be as strategic as possible. Your first big decision is: Stay on land or head out on the water? (A diving trip will take up a good chunk of the day.) Then follow these picks to make sure you hit the highlights.
Samantha Priestley, Yorkshire, UK
- Bean Crazy Café & Breasfast285I love to start the day at this busy West End cafe, not just for the views of the palms and the sea, but also for the amazing coffee, served hot or iced. Sure you could order a bowl of fruit or a plate of waffles, but we say—get the party started early with a slice of rum cake. (Just go easy: They’re not stingy on the rum.)
- Gumbalimba Park1,456It’s an 11-minute cab ride from Bean Crazy to Gumbalimba Park, but I recommend getting there via water taxi (so much cheaper and way more fun). Part wildlife park, part adventure playground, Gumbalimba is best known for its zip line, which will have you whizzing through the jungle by parrots and dancing monkeys.
- Roatan Rum Company442You could walk from Gumbalimba Park to the Roatan Rum Company—it’ll take about 40 minutes—but I recommend hopping in a taxi. If you didn’t get enough rum cake at breakfast, you can taste it here and sample the house-distilled rums infused with coconut, chocolate, mango, and more. My partner is a rum connoisseur and says that the blends are excellent—especially for the low prices.
- Macaw Container Market3Another 20 minutes up the coast is the Macaw Container Market, where shipping containers have been converted into a colorful collection of stalls. Local makers and creators sell their creations. If you’re a beer lover, you can grab an artisanal brew at the Roatan Brewery. For anyone else, a tasting at the chocolate factory is a no-brainer.
- Thirsty Turtle Bar and Grill1,355Most of Roatan’s action takes place in the West End around West Bay, and it’s no wonder: The beach is picture-perfect, all white sand and calm, crystal-clear water. The Thirsty Turtle—set right on the beach—gets busy in the evening when everyone gathers to watch the sunset. During the day, it’s a quiet lunch find. Tripadvisor reviewers love the shrimp tacos with chimichurri sauce.
- Gio's Restaurant577My other lunch pick is Gio’s in French Harbour, one of the island’s oldest neighborhoods. This is where French buccaneers landed in 1510, giving the area its name (it still has an authentic vibe). The owner Gio and his son (also named Gio) run the show. Grab a table on the outdoor patio, where you can see tarpon or spotted eagle rays swimming around, and order the King crab and the coconut shrimp.
- Carambola Botanical Gardens & Trails334A fun afternoon detour—Carambola Botanical Gardens in Sandy Bay, where you can hike along paths through the jungle. I recommend booking the Bill Brady tour, which includes a look at the 40-acre grounds with the owner himself. Brady will tell you all about this special place that he built and will even prepare a plate of fresh fruit for you to try.
- Radical Adventures354Roatan’s incredible barrier reef has to be seen to be believed, so in my opinion, getting on (or under) the water is a must-do. An easy way to see it is with a sailing and snorkeling trip on the 48-foot Spirit of Free Radical catamaran. Tripadvisor reviewers rave about the homemade food (including just-caught shrimp), the endless pina coladas, and the sea life (flounder, sea urchins, nurse sharks, and more).
- Roatan Divers1,396If you’re a diver, you’ll love this highly rated company, which works around the cruise ship schedules so that you can fit in one to two dives. If you’re not certified, there’s even a four-hour PADI Discover Scuba Dive that will give you an intro to Roatan’s spectacular underwater world.
Explore Roatan by interest
Snorkeling adventures and boat tours
Do a deep dive
Top-rated dive spots for top-notch views
Furry (and scaly) friends
Sloth sanctuaries, iguana-spotting, and more
Drinks with a view
Cocktails in one hand, camera in the other
Beyond the beach
Head inland for the island’s best activities
Restaurants and experiences worth the splurge
Roatan on a dime
Budget-friendly bites, and plenty of free fun
All about beaches
The best resorts and hidden gems on the island
Frequently Asked Questions about Roatan
- We recommend checking out these popular tours when looking for something to do in Roatan:
- If you're a more budget-conscious traveler, then you may want to consider traveling to Roatan between June and August, when hotel prices are generally the lowest. Peak hotel prices generally start between March and May.