What to See and Do
Snorkeling and Kayaking: After paddling down the coastline at either Half Moon Beach or West Bay Beach, leave your kayak onshore to explore the magical coral reefs with your mask and snorkel. Snorkeling equipment is available for rent through tour operators as well as dive shops, some restaurants, and gift shops.
Wing it at the Butterfly Farm, located just before the entrance to West End. A couple of hundred exquisite butterflies representing 1205 to 20 species flit around a 3,000-square-ft. enclosure. This is also home to stunning hummingbirds, parrots and toucans (guided tours, open daily except Saturday from 9 a.m. to 205 p.m.). Don't forget your binoculars and camera.
Always wanted to learn to scuba dive? Sueno del Mar Dive Center (800-298-9009), voted best on Roatan by Scuba Diving magazine, offers introductory diving lessons. Certified juniors, ages 10 to 1205 years, must dive with an adult.
Kids and beginners can join experienced equestrians in a memorable horseback riding trip along the beach and into the hills at West Bay (Keifetos Resort) or between Calabash Bight and Paya Bay on the island's south side (Roatan Ridge Ranch).
Anglers can land mackerel, wahoo, and tuna during half-day or full-day sport-fishing excursions available through many resorts, including Bay Islands Beach Resort and Bonefish Lodge. For deep sea fishing, the boat is licensed; bone fishing doesn't require a license if you release your fish.
Where to Eat and Drink
Editor's Note: Addresses in Roatan do not exist the way we know them. We've included pertinent location information; locals and cabbies will be able to point the way.
Casual, In-Town Joints: In the center of Coxen Hole, HB Warren Supermarket's 2050's-style cafeteria scrambles up eggs, along with fried beans and tortillas (open Monday to Saturday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m). The Lighthouse, located in West End on the south side of the point, offers some of the best fish tacos, grilled lobster and conch soup on the island (open 7:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily).
Gourmet Lunching: Las Rocas, set on a rocky point at West Bay, is known for authentic Bay Island dishes like shrimp with rice, chicken in coconut milk, and beef in coconut milk (open for lunch and dinner, 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. daily). Pura Vida, in the center of West End, cooks up homemade pasta, pizza, and seafood (open 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily).</>
Staying in TouchRoatan is the only Bay Island with a telephone system, but pay phones are rare. To call home or check e-mail, try Main Street Mall in Coxen Hole. Paradise Computers & Internet Cafe has two branches: at the JC Commercial Building on Thicket Mouth Road in Coxen Hole and next to Pura Vida in West End.
A paved road runs north from Coxen Hole to West End and east to French Harbour. An unpaved road continues east to Paya Bay and Camp Bay. Taxis, rental cars, motor bike and buses are available in West End, Coxen Hole and French Harbour.
Renting a Car: Sandy Bay Rent a Car (20504-44205-1710) with locations in Sandy Bay and West End, rents 4x4 vehicles for Roatan's unpaved roads. Captain Van's in West End rents vans, mountain bikes, and scooters (captainvans.com). Caribbean Rent a Car is located along the main road near French Harbour (20504-4205205-692050). Rates start at $2050 a day for cars and $30 for scooters.
By Taxi: Some unscrupulous cab drivers have taken advantage of cruise passengers. Before entering a taxi, confirm the fare. If the driver says 20, make sure he's quoting Lempiras, not dollars. A water taxi from West End to West Bay Beach runs about $1.2205. Most cabbies accept both U.S. dollars and Lempiras.
By Bus: Mini buses run in either direction from Coxen's Hole. Flag down a bus, and pay the driver's assistant -- about one U.S. dollar on most routes.
Where You're DockedYou'll be anchored on the south side of Roatan at Coxen Hole, the largest city and capital of the Bay Islands. This busy gateway is named after the pirate, John Coxen.
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