Located near the largest barrier reef in the Caribbean Sea, Roatan is a popular cruise destination for good reason. And we have compiled a list of some of the best things to do while your ship is in port.
Not only is this beautiful island home to one of the best diving and snorkeling locations in the world, it also has a rich cultural heritage that you can explore on one of many tours offered.
Roatan, Honduras is 36 miles long and about 4 miles wide with most of the population on the western part. Some of the best beaches are also on this side of the island.
We have a list of 16 things to do in Roatan, but let’s start with some information about the cruise port itself.
Cruise Port Info
There are two different piers that cruise ships stop at when visiting Roatan. Carnival cruise ships will visit Mahogany Bay while other cruise lines will stop at Coxen Hole. The piers are a couple miles away from each other.
There are many buildings and businesses around the tourist centers that include restaurants, shops, and other small establishments where you can get whatever you need for the day.
The official language of the island is Spanish, but with many people speaking English in the tourist areas, you will not need much help finding your way around. There are buses and cars that are available for pick-ups and drop-offs if you choose to go on an excursion farther away from the port, and with many shops and restaurants accepting US dollars, you won’t have to convert your currency.
1. West Bay Beach
This private beach is a good choice for families because of the shallow water that allows you to go far out in the ocean without being in too deep. Parents can allow their children to splash around in the water as much as they want while they enjoy a drink of their choice and work on their tans.
The shallow water is great for picture taking and underwater exploration because you will have a perfect look at the sea life and coral in the water. If you bring along an underwater camera, the waters allow for crystal clear photos of the life that goes on under the waves.
2. Scuba Diving
You can take scuba diving lessons at Roatan Dive Center and get ready to go underwater for some sea diving. With beginning lessons that teach you the basics of how to put on and use your scuba gear, you will have all the skills you need to take to the water.
All scuba gear is included in the price of the lessons and you will have everything you need to begin your underwater adventure. While diving, you will get to see various sea life and creatures that live in the warm waters of Roatan and make memories that you can keep forever.
3. Horseback Riding
In Roatan, you can choose to go horseback riding on the beach and get lessons on how to ride properly before heading out on a ride of your own. These horses are used to people and are trained for beginners and children riders.
At the West Bay, you will have individual or group lessons from experienced riders and horse owners who will show you the ropes so you will feel comfortable around the horses. Then, when you have had enough practice, you will travel together along the water for a nice gallop on the beach.
This is a top choice for animal lovers and gives you the opportunity to pet and stay with the horses as you learn how to interact with them.
4. Local Eats
If an outdoor adventure is not apart of your vacation itinerary, then you can opt for some great local meals at the restaurants near the port. With a short walk to Eldon’s Supermarket, you will find the inside cafeteria that serves local dishes and island favorites. This choice is actually in the middle of Coxen Hole port, so you won’t be venturing far.
However, if you want to go a little further for your meal, then take a taxi from the port along the coast to other options that serve Honduran specialties and interesting fusion dishes with local fish and meats. You can also grab a cold beer, Salva Vida is the local favorite, and rest up for the walk back to the docks.
5. Camp Bay Beach
Want to sit on a beach, but not be surrounded by dozens of other travelers? Then the Camp Bay Beach is your golden destination. You can rent an ATV to ride through the area, but you will need a taxi ride to get to the beach itself. With a semi-secluded area of land, this 2-mile long area is a quiet place to have a picnic or lay on the warm sand, but you also have a good number of medium-sized waves that come to the shore for younger kids and adventurous adults to jump into.
The area is lined with palm trees that usually have a few coconuts growing at the top, which some locals will take down and drink the sweet milk from. This area is quieter than other beaches and also makes for a romantic getaway for couples that would like to avoid crowds of families with lots of kids running around.
6. Monkey and Sloth Hangout
This unique and unexpected excursion is one that you won’t soon forget. With the opportunity to hang out and get to know the sloths and monkeys in a controlled environment, you can pet and hold them while you visit the Monkey and Sloth Sanctuary of French Cay Roatan.
Here, you will see the different monkeys, sloths, and other tropical animals that live at the sanctuary and get to know a bit about each of their eating and sleeping habits. With these funny creatures offering a unique chance to see them in their natural habitat up close, you will be able to hold, hug, and snap a few photos with these delightful creatures to show off to your friends and family.
7. Dune Buggy Rides
Up for some adventure? Then a ride around the island of Roatan on a dune buggy might be just the thing. These all-terrain vehicles can be rented at vendors operating at the docks and rode all over the trails around the island. These buggies will take you off the main path and away from the other tourists for some fun that avoids the large crowds that will flock to the beaches and restaurants.
These buggies also offer the opportunity to turn this excursion into a double-adventure with a ride to one of the beautiful beaches or to the monkey and sloth sanctuary. You can have guides that take you around the island to make sure you get to your intended destination, or you can just ride around by yourself. Just make it back to the cruise ship before it takes off!
As one of the main excursions of Roatan island, ziplining is one of the best adventures you will have while docked here. You can ride on a high cable through a tropical forest for an unforgettable time. You will fly through the air and be able to see sights from a high vantage point for the best views around.
From certain areas of the zipline, you will be able to see the Caribbean waters and untouched areas of the island. However, if you are going to go with a family, make sure that you find out about the age, height, and weight limits for this excursion. Younger children who are too small may have to opt-out and those who are over the weight limit may not be able to either.
With private waters that are made for guests and visitors staying at the resorts in the areas, you can find many excursions that you can’t get anywhere else on the island. The Little French Key is one of the private areas that you must access through the hotel. If you are coming from the cruise port, you will set up your excursion through the hotel and gain access to the area for the day.
Here, you can go kayaking in the still waters with rental equipment from vendors along the shore. You have single or multi-person options that will hold the whole family for your choice of adventure. Once you are done you can store the kayaks and spend the rest of the day at the private beach.
10. Fresh Fruit Carts
If you want the ability to check out the local produce, but don’t want the hassle of heading to a busy sit-down restaurant in town, then you can stay close to the ship and look out for the famous Roatan fruit carts. These small carts are run by locals who supply their own fruits and flavors from around the island.
You can have a fresh pineapple or mango for a refreshingly sweet treat without having to go much further than the port gates. Stop in at one of the shops at the docks for a bottle of tajin or other spice to add some extra flavor to your fruit.
11. Manwakie Eco Nature Park
Get your fill of family-friendly adventure with the help of the Manwakie Eco Nature Park. This park is in West End, near the West Bay Beach, and houses many different exotic animals. This park will not only give you the opportunity to check out all the amazing animals that are housed there but offers guides that will teach you about the history of Roatan Island.
Pictures are allowed in this park so you can bring a camera or phone with you to take some quick snaps of your favorite animals to capture the memories. After the tour of the park is done, you will be guided to the beach where you can spend the rest of the day lounging by the sea.
12. Roatan Island Tour
For those travelers who want to get to see all of the islands in a short time, you can book a trip for a full Roatan Island Tour. This guided tour will show you all the main sights on the island, give you some time on some of the most popular beaches, and take you to local bars and grills for a quick bite between adventures.
This tour starts early and ends right before you have to head back to the dock, but you will see a snapshot of all of Roatan in a day and get to experience multiple excursions together. You can customize the trip with a quick horseback ride or hike along the way and ask to go to specific restaurants on Roatan for an individualized tour that meets the whole group’s wants and needs.
Roatan is famous for it’s incredible offshore reefs, so don’t miss an opportunity to dive beneath the surface to check them out.
If you’d like to see what’s under the water’s surface but aren’t a fan of scuba diving, then snorkeling is a great choice. You can stay closer to the surface, but still get to see the tropical creatures that call the Caribbean Sea their home.
Rental equipment is available at the West End of the island where you can pay vendors cash to take out their equipment for a few hours of underwater exploration. People of all ages will enjoy this excursion, and after you’ve returned your snorkeling equipment, you will already be at the beach for a few hours of lounging before heading back to the cruise ship docks.
14. Garifuna Historical Tour
The Island of Roatan has a rich and diverse history that begins with the Garifuna people. This tour will give you information about the history of the Garifuna people, their customs and traditions, and teach you about the land they live on.
This tour offers stops at an animal sanctuary will you will learn about the native wildlife of the land, then it will take you to the Garifuna Cultural Center where you will get to see a presentation of the Garifuna people’s native dances.
This tour will give you more insight into the island and its history as well as teach you about another culture and its values and traditions. With a tour that includes a look into the lives of the native people, first-time visitors to the island will especially love this choice of excursion.
This tour offers dock pick-ups and drop-offs and shows you multiple areas of the island for an immersive experience.
15. Glass Bottom Boat Tours
This interesting and exciting tour option is a unique way to explore the underwater creatures and plant life of the island. These tours will take you out into the Caribbean Sea and along the coast of the island to see the creatures that live there, and the coral reefs along the bottom of the ocean.
These boats look very small from the shore but have a cabin that is underneath the water that comes with glass all around the boat so travelers can see straight out into the water at sea creatures swimming by. You may see many different types of fish, turtles, and sea cucumbers cross your path for a close-up view of their scaly bodies or bright fins.
The cabin of these boats is a bit small to enhance the viewing experience, so it is great for families that have small children so multiple people can fit together in the observatory at the same time. If you are not a fan of the tight space, then you can take a look from the top deck.
16. Combo Tours
Many tours on this island allow you to create a combo tour with multiple tours put together for a whole day of excursions. Each of the boat tours will offer the opportunity to stop at multiple beaches throughout the day or will wait for you on one excursion to take you to your next stop.
With options like a combo tour of the glass bottom boat and horseback riding, you will catch a ride on the boat and watch for sea creatures on the way to the beach, where you will have your horseback riding lessons. Then, you will take that same boat back to the original spot for a two-in-one treat.
These tours are customizable but must be set up ahead of time. So, if you know what you want to do, book in advance to get the most out of your trip.
Video of Things to do in Roatan
The Island of Roatan is a tropical paradise in the Honduras Bay Islands that offers many wildlife and water sport adventures to tourists and locals alike. If you are preparing for a historical tour of the island, or you want to take a ride on the zipline, you will plenty to do on this island for the whole time your cruise ship is docked here.