Roatan is an island, but it has a very unique coastline that isn’t completely filled with white sandy beaches. Of course, there are plenty of those! But Roatan’s shoreline is also filled with iron shore and mangroves.
Iron shore is fossilized coral reef – it’s where the water used to cover, but now that part of the reef is left exposed and has dried out. Mangroves are trees growing in the water that filter the water and also provide protected areas for young marine life to grow and thrive. Both of these natural formations are fascinating to explore, so be sure to take advantage while you’re on the island and learn more about each of them.
But if you’re coming to Roatan with the intention of lying on the beach and taking in the warm tropical sun, you’re still in luck. There are plenty of the stereotypically perfect white sandy beaches stretching around Roatan to keep everyone happy. Some beaches are natural; some are manmade but still gorgeous. Here is a quick rundown on the larger beach areas you’ll find around Roatan.
West Bay Beach: World-famous West Bay Beach is the longest stretch of easily accessible beach on the island and offers everything from exceptional snorkeling to several great restaurants and lots of hotels and resorts. While it is an incredibly popular spot, it doesn’t feel overcrowded or chaotic. You can still easily find a spot, lay down a blanket, and enjoy the sounds of the ocean.
Marbella Beach: This stunning stretch of sand is on Roatan’s north shore near Palmetto Plantation. Marbella is pristine, and its location off the main road and away from all touristy areas means it is normally completely empty of people. If you’re looking for a private beach for a day-trip, head there and enjoy nature.
Half Moon Bay: Located in West End, Half Moon Bay is a hub of activity, with SCUBA dive boats coming in and out all day, fishing charters and private charters leaving from the multitude of docks, and locals and tourists alike frolicking in the sea. Paddleboarders, snorkelers, and beginner divers all share the shallows. This won’t be a private escape of a beach, but you can enjoy easy access to all kinds of activities, bars, and restaurants while you also enjoy the ocean.
Camp Bay Beach: Located on the East End, basically at the end of the road, Camp Bay Beach shows off Roatan’s north side with gorgeous views and cool breezes. Because it’s on the East End, it’s far from the major tourist hubs and usually quiet, except on Mondays when local expats gather to celebrate the fact that they’re not stuck in a cubicle somewhere in the middle of winter. Feel free to join them for their weekly “Mondays Don’t Suck” celebrations!
Mahogany Bay Beach: Built at the Mahogany Bay cruise port, this beach is manmade but offers a great option if you’re coming into port on a Carnival, Costa, or Princess Cruise. There are a few restaurants and activities at the beach, though no reef to actually snorkel and enjoy the fish life.
There are plenty of other stretches of sand around Roatan, including many small ones right at hotels and resorts throughout the island. If you absolutely want your front doorstep on the beach, make sure you check with the hotel or property manager first, since many rentals are on the hillsides overlooking the sea, or on iron shore and mangrove areas. Wherever you end up, you won’t be far from beach access.