The Island of Roatan
Roatan is the largest of the Bay Islands, which are a part of Honduras, lying just over 30 miles from the northern coast of the Honduran mainland. Roatan is known around the world for its scuba diving. The reef surrounding the island attracts beautiful tropical fish and snorkelers alike. Dive attractions include sea walls, shipwrecks, and night diving. Sea turtles, dolphins, and whales swim in the waters of Roatan.
Parrots, iguana, and monkeys live in the wild on this tropical island. An iguana farm east of French Harbor provides a refuge for thousands of iguanas and is open for tourists. Roatan has a mild climate year round with sea temperatures fine for swimming all year. The weather does not always permit swimming, however. Stormy weather brings rough and dangerous seas, but that is more like to occur during the rainy season.
Thousands of tourists travel to Roatan each year. Visitors from around the world enjoy Roatan's relaxed lifestyle, beautiful sea, mild climate, and friendly people. As more people become acquainted with Roatan each year, more decide to make the island their home. Roatan experienced a real estate boom and the associated housing growth, but the world economy slowing has affected Roatan. At the same time, more people are moving here from the mainland of Honduras to take advantage of the economy and better paying jobs.
Coxen Hole is the largest town on Roatan. It is home of government offices, the airport, and the cruise ship dock. It streets are narrow and crowded with people and honking cars. Street vendors offer peeled oranges, a variety of other fruits, newspapers, and souvenirs for tourists. In this photo, a customer is paying one Lempira (a little more than 5 US cents) for a peeled orange to a Coxen Hole street vendor. Coxen Hole is one of the less attractive communities of Roatan.
French Harbor is the second largest community on Roatan. It is a thriving business center, with one of the largest grocery stores, banks, real estate offices, shrimp boat docks, and shipping companies. French Harbor also features a nice shopping center. It features Wendy's restaurant, AppleBees, a grocery store, and many other businesses.
Punta Gorda has the largest settlement Garifuna people. The Garifuna have a fascinating culture, preserving their African roots. They beat African drums and still speak the Garifuna language, which is very unusual sounding.
West End is the tourist side of the island, with dive centers, hotels, restaurants, and tourist shops. West End has rental properties and condominiums available for travellers who choose to stay longer on Roatan.
You may spend either Honduran Lempiras or American dollars on Roatan. Some businesses give better exchange rates than others, so ask what exchange rate they give before you spend dollars here. Lempiras have been holding steady compared to the US dollar for years