WHY VACATION IN ROATAN'S WEST END?
On the northwest coast near our dive center in Roatan you will find the a wealth of amenities for tourists. Although Spanish is the national language English is also spoken throughout the island. West End village is the life and soul of the party by night. There are plenty of restaurants, cafes and lively bars to keep you entertained during your dive vacation.The official currency on the island is the Honduran Lempira, however US dollars are widely accepted. In Roatan's biggest towns, Coxen Hole and French Harbour, you will find banks and larger supermarkets.
The village street through West End is lined with souvenir shops and there are several small grocery stores should need any essential items. It is here that you will find the widest range of accommodation in Roatan with options to suit all budgets. Roatan's best dive sites can be found just off shore and there are some great spots for snorkeling by Half moon Bay beach. West Bay has one of the most beautiful beaches in the world with soft white sand and crystal clear waters. Going to the beach is just one of the many fun things to do in Roatan during your visit. We encourage you to explore during your vacation and discover the beauty of this small Caribbean island....
HISTORY OF ROATAN AND THE BAY ISLANDS
The Bay Islands have a very colourful history. Originally populated by the Paya Indians when mainland Honduras was under the control of the Mayan’s, it was discovered by the outside world by Christopher Columbus in 1502. The islands remained under Spanish influence for many years until England established a colony on the island in 1638. Thus began a struggle for possession of the islands which lasted into the 19th century.
During the 18th and 19th centuries, a wide variety of people migrated to the islands, including some famous pirates. Indeed, the pirate Henry Morgan used Roatan as his base for many years and the remains of his fort can be seen at Old Port Royal. Rumour has it there are still several hoards of pirate gold hidden on the island! In 1798 the Garifuna (black Caribs from St. Vincent) were marooned on Roatan. Many eventually migrated to the mainland, however some stayed and settled the village of Punta Gorda. The village is still inhabited by the Garifuna and many of its inhabitants speak an African dialect.
ABOUT ROATAN'S TROPICAL CLIMATE
Daytime temperatures are usually around the mid-80’s F (27-30 °C) and nightime temperatures are in the upper 60’s F (19-22 °C). Tradewinds provide some respite from the heat and humidity, especially on the south side of the island, or up on the ridge. There are two main seasons – wet and dry! The rainy season generally runs from November to January, but even then there is seldom a day when the sun doesn’t show itself. During the rest of the year it is typically sunny and hot, with a few showers to cool you off, however briefly.
Sunscreen is essential and if you are susceptible to insect bites then insect repellent is advisable. The sun can get quite hot so it’s a good idea to have a t-shirt for covering up and a hat. We enjoy clear, warm waters and during the majority of the year, most people are comfortable diving Roatan in a skin or a rash guard. Even in the cooler season the water temperature rarely drops below 79F, however some divers then prefer to use an exposure suit. Reef Gliders has a full range of 3mm wetsuits available for use free of charge during your dive vacation in Roatan.
ADVICE FOR YOUR VACATION ON ROATAN
There are several small stores in West End and larger supermarkets in Coxen Hole and French Harbor for stocking up on groceries. Pack light, and bring casual clothing, there are several places to have laundry done in the village should you need to. It’s a good idea to bring spare batteries for electronics and accessories for cameras as it is much cheaper than buying them on the island. Crime on the island is relatively uncommon, but you need to be aware that Honduras is a poor country and as a tourist you are potentially a target for opportunist thefts. Use common sense, don’t display expensive jewelry or carry your cash or phones in full view and you should be fine.
There are several ATM’s in West End which dispense Honduran Lempiras. If you need to exchange money, there are a few banks in the main town of Coxen Hole but queues can be long. We recommend bringing the majority of your money in the form of US dollars (make sure that the bills are not torn or ripped as they will not be accepted by businesses) and to lock anything that you don’t need for the day in your hotel safe as credit cards are not accepted by many businesses here. Flights to Roatan are available with several major airline carriers with direct service from the USA, and Canada. Local airlines fly from mainland Honduras and Latin America and you may also get a ferry to Roatan island from La Ceiba or Utila.