When I met Mekela on our Egypt trip, I had no idea that 6 months later she would have me journeying to Roatan, Honduras, to get my PADI Open Water Certification with her!
I had always dreamed of scuba diving, or more like, being under the sea. I blame Ariel, but being underwater has always appealed to me. As someone who lives in the water in summertime and adores marine life, it just makes sense. However, I have had asthma since childhood and didn’t think I could dive. Turns out I can, and once I learned this I immediately knew that I wanted to get certified with Mekela.
For someone who lives in Vancouver, I’m lucky to have great cold water diving at my front door, but I also didn’t want to learn to dive in cold, darker water. I wanted sunshine and clear water. I wanted a nice hot vacation and a friend to teach me, making me feel more comfortable. I wanted to see some cool marine life! The Bay Islands were exactly where I needed to get Open Water Certified.
I definitely made the right choice, as my 6 days in Roatan were fantastic!
Table of Contents
6 Days In Roatan
This was the perfect trip that was half PADI training, half friends trip. Visiting Mekela with another friend made the trip so much fun, and having a friend as an instructor was really helpful. I felt much more comfortable in the water with someone I knew.
I arrived Sunday afternoon. That first day was spent checking into the hotel, eating at Ginger’s Caribbean Grill, and wandering the West End.
Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday was spent getting Open Water Certified in the Bay and doing dives. Thursday was a chill day in West End. Then Friday we rented a car and explored the island, with a stop at Daniel Johnson’s Monkey and Sloth Hangout, with lunch at Kristi’s Overlook, and one last evening at the Blue Marlin.
Saturday I hoped the first of three flights home.
Where is Roatan?
Located in Central America, about 35 miles from the mainland of Honduras, Roatan is the largest of the Bay Islands. There are three main Bay Islands, Roatan, Utila, and Guanaja. There are several smaller islands and cays that form a small archipelago alongside the second largest reef in the world.
Roatan is interesting because it’s approximately 40 miles long by 3 miles wide, and as you take off or land, you can see the different shades of blue from the reef beside the land.
There are a little over 110,000 people living in Roatan, locals and expats alike. I met a significant number of people who visited Roatan once, then immediately made the move there. There are plenty of Americans and Canadians in Roatan, who all adore this Central American country.
I love how this island in the Caribbean is surrounded by turquoise waters, and has a dense central jungle. The green against blue really pops!
Best time to visit
I went to Roatan end of February to early March, this is the change from rainy season into dry season and I think this was the best time I could have gone, as it was hot but we weren’t melting, the water temperature was perfect, and we had lots of marine life to see. There was no rain during our visit either!
March to August is dry season when you’ll have the best weather, but prices will be higher
October through to January is wet season, and while Roatan does get random bouts of rain, it’s never a true storm that you need to worry about. The worst time to visit is October and November due to this being the time of the worst weather, and a very low chance of hurricanes. Interesting Fact: Roatan usually gets hurricanes every 26 years, since it is too far West to be affected by the normal hurricane season.
How long to spend in Roatan
This is purely based off of why you are there. Are you there to work? Then stay as long as you’re able and have reliable internet. Are you there to dive? I would say one week is perfect to check out several dive spots, but who would be upset by an extra week? Are you going to do tours of the entire island? Maybe 10 days, so you can alternate between tours and relaxing.
I spent one week in Roatan, but could easily have stayed much, much longer. In fact, I’m already hoping to make a trip back next year to explore some more dive sites.
Being home to the second largest reef in the world, the diving is very diverse here. Many visitors to the island go specifically to dive there, with many returning year after year to dive new and spots alike.
Diving in Roatan you can expect shipwrecks, eel gardens, sea turtles, coral gardens, octopus, reef sharks, spotted eagle rays, and SO much more.
With a dive shop every 10 feet, there’s no better opportunity to get certified!
Where to Eat
I have an entire post dedicated to the food of Roatan, but here is a quick run down!
Roatan Oasis. This is the nicest restaurant I ate at and I truly think the nicest restaurant on the island. The food and craft cocktails are so delicious, fresh, and unique, it’ll be a meal you won’t forget. I loved how around the terrace were the herbs they use for their food and craft cocktails.
Pura Vida. This was my favorite meal of the trip by far. Not only was it scrumptiously delicious, the colours were beautiful, and the sunset view was great.
Sandy Buns. The perfect breakfast or lunch place, the cinnamon buns here are unparallel, and baked fresh each morning.
What to wear
I am also currently writing a whole packing guide on what to wear in Roatan, but the basics for warmer temperatures. Shorts, sandals, tank tops, T-shirts, skirts, dresses.
I mostly stuck to dresses as those are my preference, but most people seemed to be in shorts. You also need to keep in mind there are gravel roads and lots of sand, so if you wear slides like I did, you may be kicking dirt up your butt.
Can you drink the water?
No, do not drink the water. You need to purchase bottled water, but thankfully lots of bars or restaurants will let you fill up your reusable water bottle.
For those renting an apartment while on the island, most of them get big blue jugs of water delivered for safe drinking.
Where to stay in Roatan
You will be spoiled for choice when choosing accommodation in Roatan, as there are hostels, budget hotels, nice hotels, and apartments for rent.
I stayed at Splash Inn and loved it. The breakfasts every morning were delicious and so fresh! I would start the day with what I thought were tortillas (turns out they were cheese quesadillas, silly me) that I would open and stuff with egg, sauteed onions and peppers, red beans and potatoes. On the side I would have coffee or orange juice, with the freshest watermelon and pineapple. It was absolutely delicious and the perfect start to a water filled day.
The rooms were simple, but nice and comfortable. I need to add that the WIFI was the worst I experienced on the island, and the shower temperature was hard to get right but please do remember, this is a third world country.
Our room even had A/C, which was perfect on one particularly hot afternoon where we just relaxed in the room for a few hours to escape the heat.
Splash Inn also has an onsite dive shop, which is perfect for those not wanting to go far for another dive shop. Although there is a dive shop every few shops in the West End, so you couldn’t possibly go far in search of a dive.
Currency in Roatan
The currency in Roatan is in Honduras Lempira (HNL). Currently (2023) the conversion rate is 1 HNL to 0.041 USD, and 1 HNL to 0.0565 CAD.
While many places do accept credit cards, it’s smart to always have cash on you, as majority of places are cash only. If you don’t have HNL, USD are widely accepted as well, and many places will have USD on their menus.
There are several ATM’s around the island but they often run out of cash or are unreliable, so I would try to use the ATM’s at the airport first. At least one of the four should be working! Otherwise in West End, the ATM beside ROA Market seems pretty reliable.
Tips are expected in Roatan, just like in Canada and the USA. You should be tipping your drivers, dive instructors, servers, tour guides, massage therapists, everyone. It’s important to them. However, some restaurants do include a tip in the final check, so just double check your bill.
Roatan is a tropical paradise in the Caribbean and I feel so lucky to have experienced the laid back, yet magical vibe here, and I can assure you that I will be back!