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The Bay Islands are located approximately 60 kilometres off the northern coast of Honduras. Accessed by air from San Pedro Sula or La Ceiba, the archipelago consists of three beautiful islands: Guanaja, Roatán and Utila.

All are surrounded by warm, clear tropical waters with extensive coral reefs: paradise for scuba-divers. The sea is literally teeming with tropical fish. Roatán is the most developed and largest of the islands with a rich history of British and Spanish colonisation mixed with pirate settlements and the beginning of the Garifuna culture in this area.

It was home to the Paya Indians in 1502 when Christopher Columbus arrived to the nearby island of Guanaja and discovered the region. Since no European countries claimed ownership initially of the island, French, English and Dutch pirates all took advantage of the location and used the island as a base from where to attack Spanish ships. Spain took control of the island in 1650, the English in 1742. In 1797 the English brought 5,000 Caribbean natives to the island — a mix of Africans and Arawak Indians from the St Vincent Islands — and this gave birth to the original Garifuna people which are a strong part of the cultural heritage of Roatán.

Pelican, Roatan IslandIn 1821 the Central America Federation claimed the Bay Islands and independence was declared. The island is 40 miles long, has a beautiful mountainous backbone and a shoreline dotted with beautiful beaches and small Garifuna and mixed communities. The whole island is surrounded by coral reefs making it one of the world's prime diving, snorkelling and fishing destinations.

Accommodation is not luxurious and we do not offer the more resort-style or Americanised condo type properties — instead we work with a select number of lovely smaller hotels and lodges that tend to be in the more remote, quieter locations that require a taxi to get around if you are looking to explore. Cars can also be hired locally. Most people are here to dive or snorkel the spectacular reefs but there are also a few white-sand beaches that provide a great opportunity to relax and catch some sun if you are lucky and can avoid the agonising sand-flies!

The clear, calm waters of the Bay Islands and the proximity of its coral reef to the shore make this the perfect place for learner divers and there are a number of excellent dive operators that offer five day PADI courses if you are interested in taking up this sport.

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Audley Travel specialist Chris

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Suggested itinerary featuring Roatán Island

This sample itinerary will give you an idea of what is possible when you travel in Roatán Island, and showcases routes we know work particularly well. Treat this as inspiration, because your trip will be created uniquely by one of our specialists.

Map of Roatán Island

Places & hotels on the map

    Places near Roatán Island

    Accommodation choices for Roatán Island

    We've selected a range of accommodation options for when you visit Roatán Island. Our choices usually come recommended for their character, facilities and service or location. Our specialists always aim to suggest properties that match your preferences.