Planning a Trip
By Plane -- While most tourists come from La Ceiba via ferry or flight, an increasing number of international travelers are flying directly into Roatán's Juan Manuel Gálvez International Airport, sometimes called simply Roatán International Airport (RTB; tel. 504/445-1088). It's 3km (1 3/4 miles) from Coxen Hole on the highway to French Harbour. Continental, Delta, American Airlines, and Taca fly here directly between points in the U.S. such as Houston, Newark, Atlanta, Miami.
If you are flying to/from La Ceiba, you are limited to domestic airlines. Atlantic Airlines (tel. 504/445-1179; www.atlanticairlinesint.com), Isleña (tel. 504/445-1918; www.flyislena.com) and Aerolineas Sosa (tel. 504/445-1154) all offer daily flights. Bay Island Airways (tel. 504/946-5665 in the U.S., or 933-6077; www.bayislandairways.com) offers interisland transport via small seaplanes from the West End.
Most tourists will take a taxi from the airport, which should run under L40 ($20/£10) to anywhere on the island. If you walk out of the airport to the highway, you can also catch one of the frequent buses that run during the day. They run L20 to L40 ($1-$2/50p-£1) per person.
By Ferry -- Roatán's super ferry, the Galaxy Wave (tel. 504/445-1798 or 443-4630; Safeways_Galaxy@yahoo.com), zooms passengers from the ferry terminal at Dixon's Cove in Roatán to La Ceiba at 7am and 2pm, and returns at 9:30am and 4:30pm. The price is L420 ($22/£11) each way, and the ferry has room for 360 people and offers air-conditioned rooms, a sun deck, and a small snack shop. It looks like a monster compared to Utila's small ferry and is much more stable; however, folks with weak stomachs might end up feeling sick by the time they step off the ship, particularly during the choppier afternoon trips. From the ferry terminal, you can catch a taxi, rent a car, or catch a bus simply by walking out to the main road.
By Cruise Ship -- At last check, Norwegian, Premier, and Sun Cruises make port calls at Coxen Hole on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursdays, while Radisson, Wind Star, Commodore, and Regal also make port calls on a less frequent basis.
Roatán sits 56km (35 miles) from La Ceiba on the North Coast of Honduras, and smack-dab in between Utila and Guanaja. The 64km-long (40-mile) and no more than 4km-wide (2 1/2-mile) island has a mountainous center that is covered in lush, green jungle. One main highway zigzags from one end of the island to the other, hitting every major settlement along the way. Coxen Hole, in the center of the island, is home to the majority of the population and is the transportation hub of Roatán.
By Bus -- During daylight hours, buses and minibuses ply back and forth from one end of the island to the other on Roatán's one main road for a fare of L20 to L40 ($1-$2/50p-£1) per person depending on how far you travel. Most buses will only travel east or west from Coxen Hole to one end of the island.
By Car -- With a decent highway that runs much of the length of the island, driving in Roatán is a pleasant way to explore the island and reach some of the more remote sites. Several rental-car agencies have stands at the airport, including Caribbean Rent a Car (tel. 504/455-6950; www.caribbeanroatan.com) and Avis (tel. 504/445-1568; www.avis.com.hn). Prices range from about L855 to L152 ($45-$80/£23-£40) per day.
By Taxi -- Taxi stands are located in every major tourist center and waiting taxis sit outside most of the island's largest resorts. Prices are relatively high compared with the mainland. A ride from the airport or Coxen Hole to the West End will run about L200 ($10/£5) per person. After 6pm, when the buses stop running, fares go up. Colectivo taxis, which pick up other passengers, are a cheaper option.
By Water Taxi -- Water taxi service runs daily from 9am to 9pm and is a convenient way to get between West End and West Bay. Just flag down a passing boat at any dock and one should stop. The fare is L30 ($1.50/75p) during the day and L38 ($2/£1) in the evening.
By Scooter -- You can rent motorized scooters at stands across the island. Captain Van's Rentals (tel. 504/403-8751; www.captainvans.com) on the West End, and West Bay is the most popular and accessible operator for visitors. The cost is about L741 ($39/£20) per day.
The Roatán Marine Park Office (Half Moon Bay, West End; tel. 504/445-4206; www.roatanmarinepark.com) has dive maps, some equipment, and information on saving the reef and natural sites in the Bay Islands. You can also buy a L190 ($10/£5) Roatán dive tag/bracelet here.
Almost every hotel on the island has a dive center or can give you special rates with one. Dive packages and certification courses attract a majority of travelers to Roatán, where rates are some of the lowest in the world, at less than $40 (£20) per dive.
Most of the large hotels, such as the Mayan Princess, have ATMs, and there are a few stand-alones scattered about in the West End and elsewhere. All other banks can be found in Coxen Hole or French Harbour. You can exchange traveler's checks at BANFAA, located in the airport.
You can find cybercafes and calling centers scattered about the major tourist centers, but these computers tend to be slow. Most hotels now have Wi-Fi or a computer with Internet access for guests to use.
The majority of hospitals can be found in Coxen Hole, although many travelers prefer the small Anthony's Key Medical Clinic (tel. 504/445-1003) in Sandy Bay.
Garífuna Day on April 12 marks the date of the arrival of the Garífuna on Roatán in 1797, and celebrations are held all along the north coast of the country and the Bay Islands. Hundreds of thousands of people revel in the streets, march in parades, and party on the beaches for much of the night, so get ready to party if you're in town on this date.