Roatan is an up-and-coming tourism destination – there’s no denying it. Each year, more cruise ships are docking at both of the island’s cruise ports. Each year, more direct international flights are added, bringing visitors from around the world to stay in paradise.
Because of the increased interest in this small slice of perfection in the Caribbean, you may encounter larger crowds at certain times of the year. The island’s busiest time for tourism starts around the winter holidays and stretches through to Easter week (called Semana Santa locally) and the spring break holidays for students in North America.
If you’re visiting Roatan during these busier times, it doesn’t mean that you’ll feel like a sardine on the beach. However, especially on a busy cruise ship day, you may want to head away from the more popular areas of the island in search of something a bit quieter. That’s where we can help. Here are the best ways to escape the crowds in Roatan.
The East End of Roatan is much less developed and more rural than the western side. The East End truly offers old-school Caribbean charm, with homes built on stilts over the water, homes accessed by boat only, and rolling hills dotted with ocean view villas.
While there are fewer organized tourist activities on the East End, there is still plenty to keep you entertained. Head East to take a mangrove tour, to snorkel at the famous Cow and Calf, or to enjoy fantastic seafood at the easternmost restaurant, La Sirena at Camp Bay.
The Black Pearl golf course at Pristine Bay was designed by legendary Pete Dye and is now one of the region’s premier championship courses. Whether you’re a complete novice or practically professional, the course will challenge you as much as it amazes you. Vistas filled with vibrant greens and blues welcome you at every turn; the natural topography of the island was utilized perfectly in designing the Black Pearl.
Despite its astounding nature and views, the Black Pearl is not overrun with tourists and you can still enjoy a relaxing round of golf while basking in the sunshine.
Boat to Other Islands
Roatan is the largest of the Bay Islands, which is a series of larger islands plus many small cays. Those other islands and cays make for fantastic day trips from Roatan, with a multitude of tour companies offering regular trips to Pigeon Cay, Cayos Cochinos, Barbareta, and more. Snorkeling, diving, fishing, or simply sightseeing are typical options available for these bout tours.
Ask your hotel or vacation rental property manager for a recommended tour operator who works in your area.
SCUBA diving is the number one reason people visit Roatan – and it has been so for decades. The reason is simple: the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef surrounds Roatan, providing an unbelievable playground for divers to explore. Marine life is abundant, the coral is amazingly healthy, and the diversity of dive sites all just a few hundred feet from shore grants divers of all abilities the opportunity to enjoy blowing bubbles.
You know what else is amazing about diving? The silence. You’ll hear bubbles, and perhaps the crunching of fish eating coral, and maybe even the occasional squeak of a dolphin. But that’s it. The crowds can be noisy on land but they are quickly silenced under the surface. When the crowds get to be too much, get yourself underwater and revel in the quiet beauty all around you.