Travelers flock to the Island of Roatan for the fantastic Mesoamerican Reef diving experience. However, there is so much more to this island than what lies beneath its sparkling blue waters.
While my husband was stationed at Soto Cano Air Base (on the mainland of Honduras), we took a week-long vacation on the island. (Going to visit him was on my Deployment Bucket List!) Neither of us are divers, but that didn’t mean that we just lazed on the beach for a whole week.
There are so many other things to do in Roatan besides scuba diving. So much to do in fact, that I made another list of 7 Things I Wish I Had Done in Roatan!
Here’s what we did on our first visit to this beautiful island!
10 Things to do in Roatan
1. Visit Gumbalimba Park
The animal and nature preserve, Gumbalimba Park, nestled in the lush jungle was one of our favorite experiences in Roatan. We loved walking through the park and seeing the wildlife, especially the monkeys!
Visitors can feed and pet the animals. As a result, they are very friendly and very curious, reaching in pockets, looking through your hair, and nibbling on buttons. These feathered and furry friends have yet to meet a stranger.
Taking pictures with the monkeys and macaws was one of the highlights of our trip.
The Real Roatan. Inside the Caribbean’s Laughing Island.: Two comedy writers retire to the Honduran island of Roatan. Here is the good, the bad, the beaches, the bugs and the funny.Belize & Roatan Travel Guide: Attractions, Eating, Drinking, Shopping & Places To Stay
While there are several zip-lining options on the island, we did it at Gumbalimba Park.
Their zip-line course consists of 17 different zip lines that zoom through the jungle canopy at speeds up to 35 miles per hour!
The guides were friendly, fun, and knowledgeable. Although I am terrified of heights, I never felt unsafe on the lines or platforms (except for when the iguanas got a little too close).
This was my first-ever zip-lining experience and while I was absolutely terrified of the heights, I kinda loved the experience!
I know I said that we weren’t scuba divers, but that didn’t mean that we didn’t want to see what all the fuss was all about.
During our visit to Little French Key, we went on a snorkeling excursion. Our guide took us out by boat before we dove in over the reef.
It was truly one of the most beautiful views I have ever seen. We saw schools of exotic fish and legions of colorful coral all from the safety of the surface (or close to the surface) of the water.
My only regret was that I did not have a waterproof camera. The splendor of the Mesoamerican Reef was truly magnificent!
4. Horseback Riding on the Beach
On our day trip to Little French Key, we made sure to get the package that included horseback riding.
We started with a slow walk down a sandy beach before heading into the water to get a better view of the King Triton statue. We stopped often to take pictures and the guides were more than happy to help and even posed the horses for us.
The handlers stayed with us the whole time (even when they had to swim). The horses were gentle, well-trained, and properly cared for.
This fun and peaceful ride was one of my favorite parts of the whole trip.
5. Watch the Crab Races & Fire Dancers
Behind the Bananarama in West Bay, there is a weekly beach bash. Part of the festivities include crab races and fire dancers.
If you have no idea how to race a crab, here’s what happens: bets are placed on numbers before the event, then a big circle is drawn in the sand and a bunch of numbered hermit crabs are dropped in the middle. The first crab to cross the finish line (the outer edge of the circle) wins.
To our surprise, our crab won the race! We were awarded the prize of a free dessert at a nearby restaurant.
After the crab race and when the sun sank below the horizon, the fire dancers appeared. And they were spectacular!
Their performances, set to local and American music hits, were choreographed dances complete with flaming ropes, hoops, and torches. At the end of the show, they created a burning message in the sand. It was an experience I’ll never forget and the best part…..it was free!
6. Day Drinking on the Beach
What’s an island vacation without a little bit of day drinking?
Roatan is not short on beautiful beaches or booze!
More than once we found ourselves in West Bay on the beach behind the Bananarama, where you can find the Thirsty Turtle. This bar and restaurant served the best pina coladas I’ve ever had.
There was nothing more relaxing than laying in the sun beside my husband with a good book and a cold drink.
You can’t possibly spend time on an island without going for a swim!
We loved swimming in Roatan’s crystal Caribbean waters. It was the best way to escape the tropical heat and humidity. Bright yellow fishies surrounded us as we waded in and all was right in the world, if only for a moment.
For those opposed to salt water, many resorts and hotels have swimming pools. Our hotel had an infinity pool with a spectacular view of the ocean…a pretty fair compromise, I’d say.
WANDF Drawstring Backpack Sports Gym Bag with Shoes Compartment, Water-Resistant String Backpack Cinch for Women Men (Large,Mint green)Sun Bum Original SPF 50 Sunscreen Spray |Vegan and Hawaii 104 Reef Act Compliant (Octinoxate & Oxybenzone Free) Broad Spectrum Moisturizing UVA/UVB Sunscreen with Vitamin E | 6 oz
8. Hammock Napping
Never in my life have I seen as many hammocks as I did on the island of Roatan.
There was one on our tiny balcony at the hotel, they were strung up at Little French Key, near the beaches of many of the resorts, pretty much anywhere there were trees, there were hammocks.
So, grab a book and some bug spray and settle in for a long summer nap. You won’t regret it!
9. Eat ALL the Food!
Honduras is Latin American foodie heaven and Roatan is no exception!
There was so, so, SO much good food to be found on the island. From upscale restaurants to street vendors, Roatan’s food scene is as interesting as it is delicious. Make sure you try the smoothies, banana pancakes, baleadas, and conch ceviche.
A local guide told us that Roatan grows pretty much every fruit imaginable, except for apples. We ate fresh fruit and drank a smoothie every day.
Forget about your diet! Do island calories even count?
10. Take ALL of the Pictures
This island is a photographer’s paradise.
I mean, it’s everybody’s paradise, but it’s an especially photogenic one.
You’ll want pictures of all your fun adventures, the wildlife, the beautiful flowers, the sunsets, the gorgeous Caribbean waters – I don’t think there’s much that I didn’t snap a picture of. Your Instagram feed will inspire envy and wanderlust among all of your friends and family.
Bring your camera and take. ALL. of. the. pictures!
ANRABESS Women Swimsuit Crochet Swim Cover Up Summer Bathing Suit Swimwear Knit Pullover Beach Dress 958baise-MChalier Foldable Beach Hats for Women, Embroidered Floppy Hats for Women Beach, Vocation, Cruise, Honeymoon, Travel, A Hello Sunshine
Don’t overlook Roatan because all you can find on the internet are rave diving reviews. I’m sure the diving is spectacular, but there is so much more to this destination.
There are so many things to do in Roatan besides scuba diving. It’s an island that will please land lovers too!