Roatán, a small island off the coast of Honduras and the largest of its islands, is the first place I ever set foot in the Caribbean and I’ll never forget that breathtaking view of white sandy beaches and crystal clear water that greeted me when I arrived at my seaside hotel.
I’d have been happy enough to simply wander the island for the week I was there and take in more of the stunning scenery, but the most beautiful part of the island is actually the bit that you can’t see from the surface – the colourful and vibrant sea life below.
1) SCUBA Dive the Barrier Reef
Roatán is a popular diving destination and it’s no wonder when you consider that it’s right by the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System, the second largest barrier reef in the world.
This barrier reef is made up of more than 65 species of stony coral; many people mistake coral to be an underwater plant or even a stone, but it’s actually a tiny little animal with a hard shell, like a barnacle, that grows and lives in huge groups or colonies.
Over time the little critters die and new ones grow on top, gradually, over millions of years, building up the beautiful corals that you can see today. No one knows why they sometimes grow in funny patterns like my favourite, the brain coral, but it’s an amazing sight to see nonetheless.
The sad news is that many corals are extremely sensitive to temperature changes and global warming is threatening to kill them off, so if you want to see one of nature’s biggest marvels before it’s too late I’d suggest making Roatán your next holiday destination of choice.
There’s also plenty to do for non-divers as well. You can always snorkel above the reef and try to spot all of the 500 species of colourful fish that live there, or there’s always the option to swim with dolphins – which was just as amazing as everyone says it is.
2) Take a Glass-Bottom Boat Tour
After 5 days of diving we decided to take a break and see the sea-life in a much more relaxed fashion – in a glass-bottomed boat.
Book a tour at Foster’s West Bay Resort, by the famous West Bay beach. West Bay beach is arguably the most beautifully and classically ‘tropical’ beach on the island and they have one of the coolest glass-bottom boats I’ve seen.
You’ll sit in single file along this narrow boat with glass panels on both sides and, if you’re lucky enough to get the first seat, in front of you too. Then just sit back and relax as you get to see life as it happens under the sea, without getting wet or needing a SCUBA license.
3) Take in Some Underwater History
The Bay Islands Underwater Museum in Roatán is a unique experience; it does exactly what it says on the tin, giving you the chance to see ancient artefacts buried under water so you’ll need your snorkelling gear out for this one.
Tours are grouped on an ability-basis so there’s no need to worry if you’re not an apt swimmer or you’ve got children with you, plus the whole thing is no deeper than your average swimming pool back home.
Swim along behind your tour guide as he shows you ancient Mayan treasures, statues and even the shipwreck of a sunken galleon from centuries gone by. Exploring this hidden world is truly breathtaking and an underwater camera is highly advised.
If you love the sea as much as I do, I’d also recommend that you find a hotel like the one I stayed in, which was less of a hotel and more like a group of individual log cabins on stilts above the sea. It was great after an exhausting day of adventure to fall asleep in a hammock above the ocean, in true Caribbean style.
I’d love to hear from other people who have visited Roatán and find out what your favourite part of the island was, so leave me a comment below…
This article is provided by Hotelopia, the perfect place to book your next holiday in the sun.