So many reasons to consider the Bay Islands
Live music lilts through the gently shushing palms, as we sit, toes in the sand and feel the early evening sun begin to dip along the horizon. Warm we feel. The kids splash in the surf. The crystal clear waters of the Caribbean lap against the sugar fine sand, even as the sun falls ever quickly against the horizon. The water temps still linger near 80 degrees Fahrenheit. 27° Celsius. Lovely. Snorkel on children. Snorkel on. I will soak this in. Thank you.
Grab yourself a drink. Life is lovely at West Bay beach on the island of Roatán. This is Honduras. The Bay Islands. 8 islands and 53 small cays that lay off the coast of mainland Honduras in Central America. Islas de la Bahía. I have been here before. It is a place worthy of return.
Great Mayan Barrier Reef
The largest Honduran Bay Islands are called Roatán, Utila and Guanaja. They sit happily along the second largest barrier reef in the world. You may be familiar with the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. But we’re not going there. Not today anyway. Follow the Great Mayan Reef south stretching from Mexico’s Yucatan along the Mayan Riveria on into Belize and then continue off the shores of mainland Honduras. The Great Mayan Reef offers parallel beauty on this side of the planet. In the Caribbean. You’ve heard of that. I know it.
West Bay Beach | Roatán
Closer now the calls of local icon – the “Banana Donut” man. Sporting a full white beard and straw hat, we spot him along the surf’s edge, a large plastic container tucked under his arm. Inside, we soon discover are warm, fresh and sugary treats to tempt you. Banana donuts. For sale.
Milton is the real name of the Banana Donut man and he is the proprietary marketer for his wife – Elana’s – delicious warm baked wares. Of all the vendors that walked the beach, Milton’s melodic unmistakable sing-song “banana donut” call pulled people in droves. We answered the call. Many times. Something between banana bread and a cake donut – we were instantly taken and forever charmed. Yum.
But beyond banana donuts, Roatán offers much to charm the child in us all. This is the Caribbean at its finest. Wondering what one could do on this Bay Island? Here are the things that will tempt and treat you to enjoy.
TOP THINGS TO DO WITH YOUR FAMILY ON ROATÁN
UNDERWATER DELIGHTS | SNORKEL, SCUBA Or SWIM
Whether you’re an experienced scuba diver or a casual dipper, the water here is delicious. Straight from the beach, the reef is reachable for world-class snorkeling or just plain splashing while swimming. One could spend countless hours paddling in the soft waves seeking spottings of sea creatures in a full rainbow of colors. We found damselfish, grunts and angelfish too. Hamlets and morays and snappers and tangs, a veritable aquarium just beyond your mask. Don’t have your own equipment? No worries – many local options for rentals by the day or the week.
Think that the sun setting stops snorkelers from seeing? Take a night snorkel with a local, whose familiarity with the reef, keeps everyone safe. We saw octopus and lobster and sleepy fishes. But the coolest was definitely when we turned our flashlights off for a few moments and just enjoyed the sparkly blue bioluminescence from invertebrates in the water.
Want to dive a little deeper? Scuba perhaps. It’s a family affair in my house. Here in Roatán, my eldest son completed his PADI Junior Open Water Scuba Dive certification and was able to join his parents and grandmother to see sea turtles along the reef. There are dives here for all levels in Honduras.
INFINITY DIVERS AQUA CENTER
Located at Infinity Bay Resort
Infinity Bay Road, West Bay, Roatán
Underwater photo credit: Infinity Divers
GREEN TIP: Make sure you protect the reef when diving or snorkeling – check with Green Fins and their campaign Redefine The Dive. Watch this video to get an idea how we can lessen our impacts on the coral communities we visit.
ZIP THROUGH THE JUNGLE
Not so keen on wreck diving and moray eels, but still like to seek out a little adventure? I say zip through the jungle. South Shore Zip-Line Adventures will pick you up and show you the ropes. Literally. Fun for all ages. Even the grandparents joined in! Outfitted and rigged, we begin on the slow courses and gradually move to longer and steeper ziplines. Safe and super fun. The littlest zip liners can tandem with a pro. A brilliant few hours soaring through the jungle canopy with views out to the sea.
SOUTH SHORE ZIP-LINE ADVENTURES
COST: $40 for adults and $35 for children 10 and under when booked online.
TIME: 60-90 minutes
NOTE: Available for anyone over 5 years old and under 300lbs.
FRESH FISH FOR DINNER
As you can imagine, the seafood here is superb. Care to snare your own catch for supper? Hire a local guide for some offshore fishing. Up at the crack of dawn, we were out on the water before the divers and quickly head out beyond the reef. Our Honduran guides know the waters and practice sustainable fishing, careful not to damage fragile ecosystems with over-fishing.
They set up the huge and heavy saltwater poles and we take turns. Only a few lines can trawl at a time through the waters. We have a hit! Henrik, our guide grabs the pole and hands it to my mother. She is the fisherwoman in my family and my son has caught the bug. And catching something is always fun. How about tuna for dinner? Sounds good to me! Back at shore, the guides clean the fish on the dock and recommend a restaurant down the beach that can cook it up for us.
HERMIT CRAB RACES FOR CHARITY
There is always something going on at the hotels and resorts on the beach. Check out the Thirsty Turtle at Bananarama Beach resort – tons of activities geared at families with children. We loved sipping fresh coconut juice and playing with the giant Jenga when we needed a break from the sun. And once a week, the restaurant hosts hermit crab races for charity. For a small contribution, you can sponsor a crab. Pick yours from the collection – all numbered and waiting. Rings are drawn on the sand and a volunteer carefully dumps the racers. Whichever number makes it to the outside ring first wins! Usually, its a coupon to try the restaurant, but whether you use it or not, the scene alone is hilarious. Children are encouraged to gather the crustaceans to be set off again. Each race lasts only a few minutes but is all good fun for a good cause.
THIRSTY TURTLE BEACH BAR & RESTAURANT
West Bay Beach, Roatán Honduras
TAKE A WATER TAXI TO WEST END
Take an afternoon and explore off the resort path that is mostly West Bay. Take a water taxi to the town of West End for a little more local flavor. Local produce and products and restaurants here. A colorful day out with a tour on the water.
SOAK UP THE SUNSETS
Seriously serene. Soak it up. The sunsets here live up to the hype.
SIZE: 83 km²
Up until the 1990’s, Roatán was a sleepy island known only to divers and fisherman. Much has changed in the past few decades and tourism has taken over the island with both positive and negative effects. A huge cruise terminal now sits at the Port of Roatán in Coxen Hole near the airport. Catered facilities at the cruise ship terminal mean visitors don’t see much of the island. Or that passengers are bussed en masse to beaches like West Bay for snorkel excursions. Best to avoid the beach on these days. Or save your snorkel for another time when the waters are not so crowded.
DIRECT INTERNATIONAL FLIGHTS TO ROATÁN HONDURAS FROM:
Canada: Montreal, Toronto
USA: Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, Miami
Belize: Belize City
El Salvador: San Salvador
WHERE TO STAY:
Infinity Bay Spa & Beach Resort
Infinity Bay Road, West Bay |Roatán, Honduras
Units with kitchens and double rooms available. Porches with views over pool and to ocean. Daily breakfast buffet included.
Anthony’s Key Resort
Sandy Bay | Roatán, Honduras
Individual bungalows available for rent around a lagoon. Diving and snorkeling facilities on site.
Not a big resort person? Prefer something a little more private and self-catering? Try Airbnb. Locations around the island, look for beachfront between West End town and West Bay beach.
Where to eat
Celeste’s Island Cuisine
West Bay Rd, West Bay | Roatán Honduras
Not on the beach, but casual fun atmosphere with great seafood.
Foster’s West Bay Resort
West Bay Rd, West Bay | Roatán Honduras
They grilled our caught fish and served it with local side dishes right on the beach.
The Bite on the Beach
End of West Bay Beach | Roatán Honduras
Follow the boardwalk at the end of the beach to this West Bay landmark. Sit upstairs with views over the water. Nightly visits by resident moray eels is a treat for the kids.
Looking for more Caribbean Island inspiration, check out this post from Travel Loving Family on the Top Five Family-Friendly Caribbean Islands.
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47 thoughts on “Take your Kids to the Caribbean | Roatán, Honduras”
I so want to go there! It looks amazing and yet I have never heard of it before. What a wonderful place, so much charm and character plus sunshine and beaches – a true paradise found. Plus banana doughnuts – whats not to like?! Thanks so much for sharing and for hosting #farawayfiles
(I couldn’t pin your pin?)
Seriously those banana donuts! Roatán is delightful. For a little less touristic charm – also look at nearby Guanaja and Utila. Thanks for linking up with #FarawayFiles – cheers from Copenhagen, not the Caribbean this time!
Wow, looks so beautiful there and lots to do too. Love that blue sea! #FarawayFiles
The water there is amazing. And the sand is so fine. It is truly lovely. Thanks for reading and engaging with #FarawayFiles, cheers Erin
This looks beautiful – and there is so much to do, I am always worried with a ‘beach’ holiday that I’d be bored #farawayfiles
We’re definitely water people – so we spent the bulk of our days snorkeling, diving or fishing – but sometimes the being bored on the beach with a good book was nice too! Cheers, Erin
I want a banana donut now:) beautiful place! #farawayfiles
Haha! You would love them! Cheers, Erin
Banana doughnuts sounds like a great reason to visit the Bay islands. And, the bioluminescence among other rare island delights!
Milton has definitely made a name for himself selling his wife’s delicious donuts! Cheers Ahila!
Looks like a great fam holiday. I have wanted to go here for awhile – thanks for sharing #farawayfiles
I can highly recommend any of the Bay Islands – Hondureños are super friendly and it is such a beautiful area! Cheers, Erin
This looks like the perfect summer holiday destination for families! Amazing snorkelling, diving, hermit crab races, fishing, jumping into the water and so much more! I am saving this post for future travel ideas! #FarawayFiles
Hondureños are super friendly – we have always enjoyed our time here!
Erin I love this! I have never heard of these islands before now but they look like they have the type of resort I might actually like with the snorkeling etc. Not being a resort person! I stayed in one similar in Fiji and they even had crab races. We won with our thoroughbred “McCrabby Diva” Good times. PS Gimme Banana donut! #farawayfiles
My “uncle” LOVES Roatan and goes every few years and comes back with amazing pictures like yours. It’s definitely at the top of my tropical holiday list! I’m dying to go and would love to learn to scuba dive! We’ve talked about learning forever! Maybe we should start! #FarawayFiles
Take me here now – this looks heavenly! Your kids have the coolest grandparents ever. 🙂
What a wonderful place for a family holiday! I’ve pinned this for later too – so many great tips and I’d love to go here. The night snorkeling sounds like a great experience and I’d definitely want to diving! My PADI instructor (from when I was younger, also was my neighbor) retired in neighboring Belize, no wonder. Thanks for sharing and for hosting #FarawayFiles
Yes Belize has the lion’s share of the Great Mayan Reef on their border – we have been to Ambergris Caye and Blackbird Caye there before we had kids – also equally beautiful! Glad to have you joining #FarawayFiles this week – cheers from much chillier Copenhagen! Erin
I’ve never considered Honduras as a Caribbean destination but I have heard of the reef and would love to go there. The colours could only be the Caribbean, the blues are like no where else in the world, just soooo beautiful. I’d love to take your advice and go here with the family but I just don’t see it happening soon…sniff! Thanks for hosting #farawayfiles
Anywhere on the Mayan reef is mesmerizing and will be guaranteed great fish life = which is always what we sought out! Some day maybe Phoebe! Some day! Cheers, Erin
I don’t have any kids, so maybe I’ll have to settle for taking my husband. 😉 You know, to try out a banana donut. Plus all the other fun stuff – great post!
Yes – Roatán is fun for everyone! Cheers, Erin
OMG! This looks amazing! The hermit crabs, used to have one as a kid, the donuts and donut man, the sunset pics, the underwater pics everything! I just love this post! #farawayfiles
A fabulous place to practice snorkeling Hilary! So easy right from shore on your own time and comfort levels. Usually you can see things at depths that you can stand right up if nervous or need to adjust equipment. Highly recommend! Cheers, Erin
Wow this looks like an absolutely fantastic place to have both a relaxing and/or an active holiday! I think even I would get into that water!! And I want a banana donut!!!!!! #farawayfiles
Yes – the water here is calm and warm and clear and lovely. And can be as active or not as you want to be. Just floating right off shore above the sandy bottom, before it gets to any reef is super safe and usually enjoyable for those less comfortable with underwater exploration! (And those banana donuts are really that good.) 😉
Such a great comprehensive post! I am really itching to go the islands right now..haven’t been to the caribbean in years. A friend of mine moved back to Honduras a few years ago and has always said the absolute best things about it. Looks like the perfect place to unwind and enjoy the sun. #farawayfiles
Oooh – where in Honduras does she live? I used to work for Chiquita Banana and we had ports in Honduras and I worked with Hondurans. I have only spent time out on the Bay Islands, but have touched down in Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula. It really is a very lovely stretch of the Caribbean!
Do hermit crabs scuttle quickly? I’d have loved to’ve seen that! And those sunsets….Wowee, take me there right now. #FarawayFiles
Some do and some don’t! Usually they want to get somewhere safe away from the action. The ones that win aren’t always the biggest or the smallest – that is part of the fun – try to figure out who has the best legs! Seriously the sunsets. So nice.
Would a banana donut count as one of my five a day? #Farawayfiles
Haha! Depends on who you ask? But being as it is the Caribbean – there is lots of fresh delicious fruit to help the tally! 😉
Wow, what an amazing post! The islands look idyllic. No way am I envious!
I have been to Honduras but not to the Bay Islands. I even have friends who own houses in Roatan, so, it would not be difficult for us to find accommodation there. I have heard the islands are beautiful. I thought the banana donut song was some kind of reggae music or something like that (sorry). I really miss Central America. I haven’t been in years. #FarawayFiles
Oooh please pass along the banana donut! Loved traveling back to Caribbean via your post, so much beauty there and I loved all the fun activities you got to do! In the recent years diving has turned into my favorite things to do on resorts like this.
You’ve certainly convinced me!!! Beautifully written post. I could practically picture myself there!
This looks amazing! Such a beautiful place and the perfect family vacation. Thanks for sharing! #farawayfiles
Absolutely gorgeous. Why had I never heard of hermit crab racing before??? Snorkelling and ziplining would certainly keep my eldest kids and I amused. Also, I love bananas; I love donuts; but I’m unsure that a banana donut is a good thing. Sounds like Milton is the man to convince me 😉
I’m not a particularly sporty person, but you got me at the Hermit Crab Races!! And of course the sunsets. #FarawayFiles
The beach, water and the coconut trees of Roatan look so inviting! Although I’m from the tropics, this beach scene and hot weather should be something I’m used to, right? But not really, most of the time, I’m stuck in an air-conditioning office haha..so when I’m at the beach, it lifts up my spirits! The banana donut sounds and looks delicious! 🙂 #farawayfiles
Some great tips here for staying in Roatan! It looks absolutely beautiful and those sunsets are glorious! I’d love to island hop central america one day, and Roatan is now definitely on that list 🙂
Looks beautiful-and like a great spot for a family vacation. Anywhere with snorkeling is a win in my book! #farawayfiles
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Beautiful place! It really is paradise!
Have you been? It is really lovely isn’t it!
Looks like paradise to me! You did so many fun things, makes me want to travel soon!!