Roatan is the largest and most internationally recognized island within the Bay Islands. With an extension of close to 64 kilometers (40 miles) in length, it is surrounded by over 97 kilometers (60 miles) of living reef, giving rise to some of the most spectacular underwater seascapes this part of the Caribbean has to offer. Add the healthiest coral reefs in the region plus an abundance of tropical marine life and Roatan earns that well deserved reputation as a divers’ and snorkelers’ paradise, with dozens of world-class dive sites to choose from, most of which are in very close proximity to the island and readily accessible through numerous tour operators.
Today, tourism has overtaken commercial fishing as Roatan's top industry, growing exponentially amidst cruise ship visitors, diving enthusiasts, and an expat community attracted to a large second home market. The west side of Roatan, stands out as the main tourism hub of the island where the majority of tourism related activities take place, most notably in West Bay, where you can find high end hotels and restaurants sitting pretty a top a powdery white-sand beach, and West End village, a seaside town which main strip comes alive with an assortment of bars and restaurants offering a wide selection of international and ethnic cuisine, in addition to local street food.
The east side of Roatan is still new to tourism, which means that there are plenty of hidden gems waiting to be discovered so we invite you to head east, take in the natural scenery at the mangroves in Jonesville Point, avoid the crowds in the secluded beach of Camp Bay, and explore the towns of Punta Gorda, Jonesville, and Oakridge, remote destinations which offer truly authentic and memorable island experiences many of which can only be found in this part of the island.
Unlike other Caribbean islands, Utila is easier on the budget, celebrated for being one of the most inexpensive places in the world to get a scuba diving certification, and for being one of those few destinations where you can experience the swim of a lifetime with the largest fish in the sea – the enormous but gentle whale shark.
It is however, its charm that attracts so many to this exotic location, making Utila an obligatory stop on the traditional Central America backpacker route. The atmosphere on the island is best described as both laid-back and upbeat. During the day, there is a peaceful and relaxed ambiance where people sun bathe and chill to reggae music, while at night, the mood changes and the island goes into an all out festive trance.
From a physical perspective, Utila is the smallest of the three main islands, only 11 km (7 miles) in length and 4 km (2.5 miles) wide. Most of the island remains unspoiled with the majority of the population living in and around the east harbor, a horseshoe-shaped bay with a narrow road lined with shops, buildings, and residences with rustic construction perched on stilts, an image reminiscent of a Caribbean island from the 1970s.
The Utila Cays or (cayitos in Spanish) is a small cluster of scenic islands barely rising above sea level located off the southwestern tip of Utila. Suc-Suc Cays (Pigeon Cay and Jewel Cay) are home to a community of local fishermen most of them descendants of the original settlers that arrived in Utila from the Cayman Islands during the 1800s. Further west is Water Cay, the quintessential Caribbean island covered in white sand, decorated by lofty palm trees, and bright turquoise waters. This idyllic location is deserted, making it the ideal place to spend a relaxing day on the beach or snorkeling above the fringing reefs. You can make your experience in the Utila Cays all that more memorable, by renting a private island for a night or two, it just so happens that Little Cay and Sandy Cay, two of the smaller islands in the area come with a fully furnished beach house and are available for rent. Do not miss out on the opportunity to experience this part of paradise in its entire splendor, up close, and on a budget.