Diving and snorkeling around Roatan island in Honduras was the best we experienced in Central America. This favorite stop for cruise ships and resorts in Honduras surprised us with nice diving, excellent snorkeling and a fantastic island vibe that was not too crazy touristy. We picked Roatan over Utila and Cayos Cochinos for diving in Honduras.
There are many cool things to do in Honduras beyond the islands and we enjoyed exploring Copan ruins, Gracias and more on the tourist trail in Central America.
We had three main options for diving in Honduras; Utila, Roatan and Cayos Cochinos.
- Utila is famous for very cheap dive courses, free accommodation with your dive center and being a crazy party island.
- Roatan is known for beautiful Caribbean beaches and is a very popular cruise ship destination.
- Cayos Cochinos is a small little island with little infrastructure, healthy reefs since it is visited by few divers and is mostly done as a day trip from either of the Bay Islands or the main land.
We spoke to many travelers, did some research and decided on Roatan; Utila seemed to have the cheapest diving packages but sounded like a big party spot lacking nice beaches and good snorkeling spots that are accessible from the shore.
Cayos Cochinos sounded like a great Robinson Crusoe adventure, but logistics, transport, accommodation, cooking and prices were too much and complicated if you were planning to stay for a couple of days.
Located 30 miles off the northern coast of Honduras the island Roatan is home to some of the best diving in the Caribbean. An extraordinary variety of marine life can be found on both shallow reefs and sheer walls. I found the macro diving less impressive than in South East Asia, but there are still some interesting critters to discover. Roatan is well suited for both experienced and novice divers. Interesting diving with beautiful coral reefs, fantastic wall dives, fascinating ship wrecks, big fish and even some crazy shark dives from the island.
There are more than 100 dive sites around Roatan island, we only dived a handful that our dive center recommended. Diving in the clean, warm water with big fish in the beautiful underwater environment was awesome.
SMB+REEL | RASH VEST | HOODED RASH VEST | ORCA TORCH | BUFF | KEY CHAIN O-RING KIT | ANTI-FOG | SILICONE SACHETS | SURF HAT | MICROFIBER LENS CLEAN KIT | POLARIZED FISHING SUNGLASSES | WATERPROOF DIVE LOGBOOK
Roatan Dive Sites
Roatan has some great wreck dives, scuttled for diving these wrecks are great dive sites in places with good visibility, marine life and a good depth.
The diving on the wreck of El Aguila was fantastic. This wreck lies at about 35m and was scuttled to form an artificial reef for diving. Big holes were cut in the wreck making it safe and easy for penetration. The turquoise Caribbean was crystal clear with the wreck visible from the surface while we were floating in the 27C water. There was a lot of life around the wreck and the close by reef. I enjoyed looking at many big groupers and snappers swimming in this area. These massive fish swam up to greet us while we were descending towards the wreck.
The Odyssey is another great wreck dive, this big freighter was sunk in November 2002 in 33m of water (110ft). A couple of big groupers and snappers live at the wreck. The ship is mostly intact,. The superstructure can be penetrated by wreck qualified divers. There are some nice swim throughs at the stairwells and a table and stools that presents cool photo opportunities.
On the Southside, the Prince Albert covered in soft coral and the Mr. Bud are both excellent for macro life lovers, these two wrecks lie in shallower depths, allowing for longer exploration.
The Western point of the island offers some excellent diving with converging currents bringing pelagic species, the area offers some good wall diving. The Point–along, Black Rock, West End Wall, and Pablo’s Place are the 4 sites to dive on the western point.
The site called Texas offered some good diving, The topography of the dive site is flat underwater plains with plenty of large barrel sponges around. We saw plenty of fish such as groupers, wrasse, angels, hogfish and large barracuda swimming on the healthy reef.
IWest End Wall one of the best dive sites on Roatan. A drift dive over the edge of the reef. Keep an eye out for seahorses clinging to bases of searods. Swim over huge barrel sponges often seeing turtles, eagle rays, tarpon, jacks and barracuda!
Deep Seequest is nice site not too deep, a sandy bottom and a good chance to spot rays and turtles.
Mary’s Place – this incredible site was created by prehistoric volcanic activity forming a large fissure in the reef, the steep walls created an jaw dropping labyrinth formed by coral and sponges filling the 100ft canyon. Probably the most popular site around Roatan, swimming in the narrow canyons of this site is spectacular, with huge sea fans and barrel sponges. This site is popular and can get crowdy.
Mandy’s Eel Garden is a fairly shallow site with some amazing marine life located near West End Beach. The site is known for the patches of garden eels located at the sandy patch near the base of the wall, be careful when approaching them, they sink back into their holes when disturbed! Plenty can be seen between the coral patches here; turtles, caribbean squid, octopi, scorpion fish, parrot fish, lobsters, nudibranchs, keep a lookout for seahorses and pipefish; barracuda, eagle rays, sting rays are also found in the area.
Hole in the Wall is an amazing site not to miss when diving at Roatan. The site is named because of a sand chute tunnel through a reef wall that begins at 12m (40 feet) and comes out through the other side of the chute, divers will emerge at 30m (100 feet). Some amazing species can be seen in the caverns including Spotted Drum Fish, File Fish, and the occasional nurse shark.
Snorkeling at West Bay – The snorkeling from Roatan was some of the best we did in the Caribbean. Our favorite snorkeling spot is West Bay on the West End. Enter the water from the beach in front of Grand Roatan, following the channel out from Infinity Bay there is plenty of reef to both the left and the right. Following the inner wall to the left we saw plenty of fish, even big groupers, turtles and a stingray or two, but swimming to the right there was a lot more fish making for great snorkeling. Swimming from the beach you will first hit an inner-reef, then a patch of sandy bottom, then the outer reef which drops off steeply. Try to swim to the outer reef, you will need better snorkeling skills to get close to the reef. After the outer reef it gets deep, we were freediving deeper than 30m (110ft) here.
- Book a Snorkeling Session including gear, guide, briefing, dock or hotel pick up and drop off.
There was a huge variety of fish including some massive snappers, eagle rays and small hawksbill turtles.
Snorkeling at Coco View Resort – Some excellent snorkeling from this dive resort. Enter the water from the beach entrance next to the dining hall, the CoCo View Coral Wall is marked with a red buoy. There is nice coral and huge schools of fish on the wall. Channel Reef at this dive spot also has some nice marine life. There is a wreck here, the wreck of the Prince Albert visible snorkeling from the surface, but to reach the wreck with a snorkel you need good freediving skills. Only guests can enter the water from the resort.
It was great to have some beautiful beaches and we ran about 8kms from Moonlight Bay to West End and back every night.
We always have a mask in our backpacks and love the Mares Star liquid skin. Doesn’t take much space and important to have one that fits without leaking when going for a dive or snorkel. The liquid skin material is super soft and fits very comfortable for both of us. Our favorite mask for Scuba and snorkeling
This awesome, soft silicone snorkel folds away in your backpack, if we have a mask and snorkel the dive center we dive with often borrows us fins, so snorkeling costs us zero. Aegend soft fold away snorkel
Roatan Honduras Resorts
Being a popular cruise ship destination we expected the beach to be packed at times, this was never the case. We really enjoyed the amazing Caribbean vibe for the whole 10 days we spent here. There is a massive variety of accommodation to suit every budget backpacker to all inclusive resort accommodation.
Roatan All Inclusive
Mayan Princess Beach & Dive Resort highly rated all inclusive 5 star dive resort, bit out of our price range.
Hotel Henry Morgan All Inclusive 4 star hotel, excellent location, budget friendly for all inclusive 4 star.
Grand Roatán Caribbean Resort a spectacular 5 star resort, highest ratings on the island.
Bananarama Dive & Beach Resort very popular dive resort, awesome for dive holiday with cool bar and great pizza.
Thinking of things that can go wrong too much can put a damper on your trip, but there are obvious risks. Many dive locations are remote with minimal medical facilities. Accidents do happen, be prepared. Evacuation and decompression can be very expensive. World Nomads travel insurance covers travelers from most countries around the world and a policy can even be bought online while you are traveling. They specialize in insurance for adventure activities like diving. Make sure you take out the appropriate cover. Get a online quote here in seconds. Have your trip, your health and your gear covered, read the small print. World Nomads Diving Insurance
Roatan Budget Accommodation
A good spot for backpackers accommodation. We initially stayed in a dormitory in Chillies Hostel in Moonlight Bay. This is the backpacker’s area where all the dive centers are located. Our dives were with Native Sons dive center on the same premises as Chillies Hostel. Nice vibe, easy to meet other backpackers, dive school on site. We only stayed in Chillies for two nights, it is on the beach and diving was cheap, but the dormitory is small and the beds uncomfortable.
We moved to a double room in Georphi’s Hostel just down the road, we had a great little cabin across the road from the beach, kind of in a tree, with many hummingbirds and other creatures moving around in the garden. Awesome island vibe, like staying in a jungle across the road from a nice beach. Run by friendly owners. Only negative was the club next door sometimes played loud music.
For bit higher budget Hotel Los Corales is brilliant, friendly staff, excellent location, very close to the beach, a shuttle to West Bay couple of times a day and a bit more luxury like aircon and flatscreen tv in your room.