Roatan looks a lot like the other Caribbean islands. After all, it’s got the trademark white-sand beaches, the coconut palms and the rainforest. The real action, though is under the waves, and that’s what sets it apart from the rest. The reef that rings the island hides shipwrecks, coral gardens and all manner of sea creatures – everything from turtles to dolphins swim in the depths.
• You can get to know the island’s native butterfly population at the Roatan Butterfly Farm. There are hundreds of the winged creatures here, along with a rainbow-coloured mix of tropical birds.
• Bailey’s Key is a private lagoon that a family of Bottlenose dolphins call home. Here, you can swim with the animals, learn about their habits, and even get a special dolphin kiss.
• If you’ve got some energy to burn, try ziplining. You’ll get a bird’s-eye view of the jungle canopy, not to mention an adrenaline rush.
SHORE EXCURSIONS► View all EXCURSIONS
Roatan West Island Tour►
This half-day tour starts with a scenic drive to the west of the island. Here, your first green-fingered stop of the day is the Carambola Botanical Gardens. This 40-acre site is a real Eden-like paradise, complete with rare orchids, exotic spices and fruit trees. There’s even a chocolate tree – Willy Wonka eat your heart out. Next up is the Roatan Butterfly Farm. This tropical garden is home to native butterflies and birds, including macaws, parrots and toucans. Once you’ve had your fill of bird-spotting, you’ll head on to the rustic village of West End – a living snapshot of the Caribbean as it used to be. Here, you’ll have some free time to stop for refreshments, meet the locals and explore the snow-white sands. Lastly, you’ll head up to the highest point on the island – a lookout that offers up the best panoramas around. On the way back to port you’ll have a chance to buy locally-made cigars and handicrafts. Seashells, cut stone and beaded jewellery top the take-home list.
West Island Tour & Semi-Submarine►
First on the agenda is the Roatan Butterfly Farm, home to a technicolor mix of native butterflies and tropical birds. Once you’ve gotten to grips with Roatan’s feathered friends, it’s time to delve into the deep blue and see what’s going on under the water. And that’s where the next part of the tour comes in. You’ll head back to the coast, climb aboard the Roatan Reef Explorer – a miniature submarine – and travel six feet below the water to explore a coral reef. Back on dry land, you’ll call in at the quaint village of West End. Once you’ve had a good look round, it’s on to the highest point of the island for some of the best views around. Rounding things off, you’ll get a chance to buy locally-made cigars and handicrafts on the way back to port.
West Bay Kayak & Snorkel Adventure►
This one’s for the water babies among you. After a coach drive to the rural village of West End, you’ll be kitted out with snorkelling gear, ready for a swim in the clear waters of Half Moon Bay. This place has the second largest barrier reef in the world, which is teeming with underwater lodgers – your guide will be on hand to make sure you see the best bits. Once you’ve finished exploring, it’s back to dry land for a lazy lunch on the beach. Then it’s on to the second part of the day – kayaking. You’ll head down to West Bay for a short safety briefing before donning your wetsuit and taking to the water. Around 45 minutes later, you’ll moor at a sleepy beach where your time’s your own to take a swim or go on a nature hike and visit a banana plantation. Finally, it’s back to West End village for a spot of souvenir shopping before returning to the ship.