If you’re coming to visit the beautiful Caribbean island of Roatan, you may be wondering what type of animal life you might see on the island. Of course we all know about the marine life: colorful fish, inquisitive lobsters, and mesmerizing eagle rays. But what about the creatures on land?
Depending upon where you stay while on vacation, you might not actually see too much wildlife outside your bedroom window. Some areas of the island are more developed than others, but there are specific places you can go to see not only some endemic wildlife, but also some that are part of conservation and animal protection efforts. Here are our Top 5 Places for Animal Lovers on Roatan.
Gumbalimba Park: Located in West Bay, Gumbalimba Park offers a fun combination of activities for people of all ages. An exciting zipline canopy tour starts at the top of the hill and finishes right on the white sandy beach, where you can relax in a lounge chair. In addition to the zipline canopy tour and beachfront location, Gumbalimba also have a bird sanctuary, a monkey refuge, and many resident iguanas on the property! The iguanas are not caged – and you’ll likely see some while ziplining as they relax on tree branches. The monkeys will play with you and run around the area – but they will especially love you if you feed them!
Little French Key: Little French Key is a private island past French Harbour that was built specifically for tourists. A beautiful beach area, bar and restaurant, plus some rescued circus animals including a lion and jaguar make this location a fun spot for the whole family. Photo opportunities abound between the beauty of this Caribbean island location plus their unique animal rescues.
Arch’s Iguana Farm: Sherman Arch is a Roatan native and a lifelong conservation activist. He began saving and protecting the island’s iguana population when overhunting became a major issue. Today, you can visit Arch’s Iguana Farm in French Cay to support his work and to see the fruits of his labor. As soon as you arrive at the parking area, you’ll see green and black spiny iguanas hanging out in the lot and in the trees nearby. Mr. Arch has thousands of iguanas on the property; he is single-handedly saving and conserving the island’s native iguana population. You can pet and hold these Jurassic-looking lizards, and feed them banana leaves provided by the family. This is a must-do while on Roatan as it is always a crowd-pleaser and at the same time benefits the island’s wildlife population.
Anthony’s Key Resort: The oldest resort on the island of Roatan, Anthony’s Key Resort (commonly called AKR) houses the Roatan Institute for Marine Sciences (RIMS) and is the premier conservation area for dolphins. While some animal enclosures around the world leave much to be desired, AKR has taken every step to ensure the dolphins have the most natural home, while simultaneously offering protection and security. The dolphins are free to jump over the enclosure wall and swim in the open ocean. But they also always come back. If you’re a SCUBA diver, you can do a dive with these dolphins as well!
Blue Harbor Tropical Arboretum: For natural sightseeing and the opportunity to catch glimpses of Roatan’s wildlife, head to the arboretum and take a walk along their hiking paths. Stunning ocean vistas will greet you from the hilltops while sightings of brilliantly-colored birds in the treetops will entertain and intrigue. Listen for the rustling of leaves to spot an agouti – also called an island rabbit or watusa. They look like large guinea pigs but they run like rabbits. You might even see a white-tailed deer moseying through the jungle in search of a midday snack!
Wherever you go to see wildlife on Roatan, be sure to keep an eye out in your everyday wandering for gorgeous tropical birds and curious little critters. Roatan truly is a wild paradise!