Roatan is a beautiful Caribbean Island off the coast of Honduras. It is known around the world for it’s scuba diving over the Mesoamerican Reef. Travelers flock to this Island of the Bay for the fantastic diving experience. However, there is so much more to Roatan than just what’s under the water.
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 scuba-divers, so that activity was out of the question. But that didn’t mean that we sat around bored for a week. Quite the opposite, there are so many other things to do in Roatan. So much in fact, that we ended our vacation already planning a second trip!
10 Things To Do in Roatan That Don’t Involve
1. Visit Gumbalimba Park
Located in West Bay, Gumbalimba Park is an animal and nature preserve. We loved walking through the park and seeing the wildlife, especially the monkeys!You are able to feed and pet the animals and as a result, they are very friendly and curious. Taking pictures with the birds and monkeys was definitely one of the highlights of our trip.
There are several zip-lining options on the island. We decided to kill two birds with one stone and went zip-lining while we were at Gumbalimba Park. Their 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 about the canopy plants, animals, and the equipment used on the course. I never felt unsafe on the lines or platforms (except for when the iguanas got a little too close). This was my first zip-lining experience and I loved it!
Now, I know I said I wasn’t a scuba diver, but that didn’t mean I didn’t want to see what all the fuss was all about. We went on a snorkeling excursion when visiting Little French Key. Our guide took us by boat out over the reef. It was truly one of the most beautiful experiences of my entire life. We saw exotic fish and 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 water-proof camera to capture the splendor of the reef. It was truly magnificent.
4. Horseback Riding on the Beach
My husband was not nearly as excited as I was to go horseback riding on the beach. I didn’t let that ruin my good time though. On our day trip to Little French Key we made sure we got the package that included horseback riding. The guides stayed with us the whole time, even when they had to swim. The horses were gentle, well-trained, and properly cared for. It was a fun and peaceful ride. One that I would be happy to repeat on my next visit.
5. Watch the Crab Races and Fire Dancers
Behind one of the island’s most popular resorts, the Bananarama in West Bay, they hold a weekly beach bash. As part of the festivities, they have crab races and fire dancers. If you’re like me, you had no idea how to race a crab. What happens is they draw a big circle and drop a bunch of numbered hermit crabs in the middle. The first crab to cross the finish line (the outer edge of the circle) wins. Before the race, we paid $5 to place a few bets. To our surprise, we won!
After the crab race, the fire dancers appeared. While I don’t have much to compare them to, as they’re the only fire dancers I’ve ever seen, they were spectacular! They performed their dances with flaming ropes, hoops, and torches. At the end of the show they created a burning message in the sand. It was show I’ll never forget and the best part was…..it was free!
6. Day Drinking on the Beach
What’s a vacation if you don’t do at least a little bit of day drinking? Roatan is not short on beautiful beaches. More than once we found ourselves in West Bay at the beach behind the Bananarama, simply because of the Thirsty Turtle. This bar and restaurant served the best pina coladas I’ve ever had. There was nothing more relaxing than laying beside my husband with a good book and a good drink.
You can’t possibly go to an island without getting your feet wet! We loved swimming in the crystal clear waters of the Caribbean. It was the best way to cool off and escape from the island heat and humidity. The bright yellow little fishies would surround you and all was right in the world if only for a moment. If you’re terrified of the ocean, many of the resorts and hotels have swimming pools. Our hotel had an infinity pool with a great view of the ocean…a pretty fair compromise, I’d say.
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, you could find a hammock. So, grab a book and some bug spray and settle in for a long summer nap. You won’t regret it!
I’m serious! There was so, so, SO much good food to eat. Make sure you try the shish-ka-bobs, smoothies, banana pancakes, baleadas, and the ceviche. We were told by a local that Roatan grows pretty much every fruit imaginable, except for apples. We ate some kind of fresh fruit or a smoothie every day. Throw that diet out the window for this visit….besides, do island calories even count?
10. Take ALL 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. You’re Instagram feed will inspire envy and wanderlust. Take.ALL.the.pictures!
Don’t overlook Roatan just because all you can find on the internet are the rave diving reviews. I’m sure the diving is spectacular, yet there is so much more to this destination. There are so many things to do in Roatan besides scuba dive. It may be an island, but it’s one that will please the land-lovers too!