Diving is king here on this tropical island, in the Caribbean, just off the coast of Honduras. But if you are not a diver, there are still lots of things to do. Whether you are here for a long snowbird stay or just for a brief visit from a cruise ship, take a look at our Twelve Things To Do On Roatan for Non-Divers.
This is my honest opinion on the things we did during our five weeks in Roatan, Honduras.
Take an Island Tour
One of our most favorite things was a full island, full day tour of Roatan. If you only have one day this might not be for you, but those staying longer definitely should do this. We booked with Omar Tourist Transportation and our driver Dario was amazing. We discussed the things we were interested in seeing and he made sure we saw those and much more. He also took us to the most amazing place for lunch, an out-of-the-way, over-the-water spot with delicious food called La Sirena. We would never have known about that without Dario. One of our favorites of our twelve things to do on Roatan for non-divers.
Daniel Johnson’s Sloth Hangout
I really wanted to hold a sloth. I know this is against some people’s beliefs, but for me, it was on my bucket list. So on our full day island tour we stopped at Daniel Johnson’s Monkey and Sloth Hangout in French Caye. There are other things to do at Daniel Johnson’s but I was only there for the sloths, so we were in and out quickly. There are many tours to Daniel Johnson’s or you can arrive on your own and entrance fee is $12.
West End Snorkel Tour
We booked a snorkel day right in West End where we were staying with Roatan Tour Guide Association. Dani runs Roatan Tour Guide Association and he was great. He took seriously my concerns about my motion sickness (something I have dealt with my entire life) and created a tour just for me. The coral reef that surrounds Roatan is part of the second biggest in the world (the MesoAmerican Reef) and it really was a wonderful thing to see…and all the fish too. Definitely work with Dani.
West Bay Beaches
We took one day to visit West Bay. It’s very different than West End where we were staying. West Bay is home to many resorts along a long sandy white beach. It’s very pretty but also crowded so if you want a beach spot arrive early. Personally I am glad we stayed in West End and not West Bay.
Water Taxi Between West End and West Bay
Whether you are staying in West Bay or West End, you should take the water taxi just for fun. It’s five dollars one way and a great way to get out on the water and see the island. It’s also a great service to get between the two small towns; West End which has more restaurants and shops and West Bay which has more resorts and a bigger beach.
Gumbalimba Adventure Park
Okay I didn’t love this place, but it had a few fun moments. Lots of cruise groups come here but it was pretty quiet the day we visited. You start with a guided tour learning about flora. Next some rather outdated dioramas of the history of the island. Then you get to see animals which I really enjoyed. Giant iguanas, beautiful scarlet macaws (the national bird of Honduras) and white faced monkeys. If you want to hold the monkey or birds the guides will help make this happen. These animals are wild, but know to come to the guides and they will get a treat.
We also spent a little time on the beach here…chairs were not in great condition, nor was the restrooms. We ordered a hamburger and it was awful. Entrance fee of $35 seemed really expensive for this rundown Gumbalimba Adventure Park.
Carambola Botanical Gardens
We took the local “bus” three miles from West End to Carambola Botanical Gardens. Their website is not very well maintained, but the gardens were fun to see, if you like natural sites like this. I do and so we went. You can also hike up to the top of the mountain on a poorly maintained trail for a beautiful view.
Take a Cooking Class
We found a lovely local lady who came to our condo and we cooked Honduran food together. We booked this class through Viator Cook With a Local. First we went to the market to get all our ingredients which was fun. Then we spent two hours prepping, cooking and eating a delicious meal. It was a wonderful day. Definitely request Karla if you do this class. She was wonderful.
Make and Eat Chocolate
There are two chocolate making facilities in the West End and we visited both Mayan and Roatan. Roatan Chocolate Factory was very close to where we were staying and we stopped there several times to get some things from their bakery. Then on my birthday I decided to spend a couple of hours in a chocolate making class. This is something I have never done before and I really enjoyed it – especially since the earlier class that day was big for the cruise crowd but in my class I was the only one. And of course I got to eat what I made. $40 if you book direct, it’s a lot more expensive if you go with a tour group. I really enjoyed this activity, and my guide Jackson was amazing.
Overnight Visit to Utila
We took the ferry to the small island of Utila for two nights, just to see what that was all about. It is very tiny and very focused on diving BUT we had an awesome morning of snorkeling so I am so glad we went. I saw lots of things I’ve never encountered snorkeling before including a gorgeous Eagle Ray, a Reef Shark and a Puffer Fish. There a many, many places to stay…but don’t expect luxury. Our simple and a bit run down hotel Coral View Beach Resort was clean, and the bar and food was excellent. We snorkeled right off their dock.
A bit out of the way but definitely worth it is the Roatan Island Brewing Company. Only open 11am-5pm Wed – Sunday, they serve an excellent selection of their own microbrew (changes regularly), superb food too, all under a beautiful palm canopy. A must visit.
Try Some Local Foods
We always love to eat – and on the island of Roatan we had some wonderful local foods. You definitely need to try Conch while visiting. Available in different preparations, we enjoyed Conch fritters and especially Conch Ceviche.
As you might suspect, being an island, seafood is abundant. The shrimp here was the best I have had anywhere in the world! We also tried Lionfish for the first time. You will find lots of Grouper, Red Snapper, Wahoo (Ono) and sometimes tuna available.
Two local specialties we fell in love with. Baleadas are a Honduran specialty. Like a very big taco, but the tortilla is much thicker and soft. A baleada always has beans and queso. Then you add your protein. Super cheap and super delicious. We tried pollo, pastor, and egg and avocado.
The next local specialty I LOVED was the pupusa. Native to both Honduras and El Salvador, we first had these on our visit to El Salvador a few years ago. The ones we had here in Roatan were fresh made to order. They are like a corn cake filled with lots of yummy goodness. Just amazing.
As I mentioned above, you must eat the locally made chocolate from wild cacao trees while you are here. So good.
Twelve Things To Do On Roatan for Non-Divers
Though not as upscale as Maui or some other tropical destinations, Roatan has many activities to enjoy even if you don’t dive. So hopefully this post Twelve Things to do on Roatan for Non-Divers helps you see why you should visit this hidden gem in the Caribbean.
Next week we will have another post about West End, Roatan.
See last week’s post Fearless Travel – Conquering Your Fear
See this week’s top performing post here Maui on a Budget.
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