Roatan Diving - Bluewater Dive Travel

Roatan Diving

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(9 REVIEWS)
Scuba diving in Roatan with healthy coral reefs.
A nurse shark on a healthy coral reef in Honduras.
A shark swims above a reef in Honduras.
A fish swims next to a sea fan.

Scuba diving in Roatan

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Roatan Diving Highlights 

Experience Roatan diving - described as the last undiscovered dive destination in the Caribbean. With Roatan and nearby Utila and Guanaja situated on the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System, expect pristine beaches, clear warm waters, and rich and diverse marine life with plentiful dive options. Dive sites in Roatan, Utila, and Guanaja offer a wide variety including wrecks, caves, walls, shark dives, and dolphin dives. Conditions are easy with minimal currents and plenty of shore dives perfect for beginners and snorkelers. The Bay Islands are not only a fantastic dive destination but also offer many activities on land for non-divers or snorkelers and water sport enthusiasts. 

A scuba diver explores a reef in Honduras. A diver explores a dive site in Honduras.

 

 

intro to roatan, utila & guanaja, honduras

Roatan, Utila and Guanaja (also known as Bonacca) are the main islands of the island collective known as The Bay Islands of Honduras. They lie west to east approximately 30 miles (50 km) off the Caribbean coast of Honduras and are conveniently accessed from the US with direct flights to Roatan's Juan Manuel Galvez airport (RTB) in Coxen Hole. Due to its British history and influence, many islanders speak English or Creole English in addition to Spanish, making it an ideal spot for English speakers to travel with ease. 

 Scuba diving in Roatan with sharks and coral reefs. A seahorse clings to a reef in Honduras

ROATAN DIVE RESORTS & LIVEABOARDS 

A mecca for divers heading to the Caribbean, Roatan's dive scene is the most well-known and popular of the three islands. Roatan dive resorts are plentiful and suit a range of budgets and traveler preferences, from backpackers to those seeking a higher level of luxury. With its popularity and modern airport, Roatan attracts more tourists and families and will be more crowded than Utila and Guanaja, especially during peak holiday periods. 

Divers heading to Utila can expect a laid-back attitude and budget-style accommodation options, making this a popular destination for backpackers and independent travelers. It is the perfect place to escape the crowds and explore some of Honduras' best dive sites, including Black Coral Wall. 

Visitors to Guanaja will usually stay at one of the island's several luxury all-inclusive resorts. Getting to Guanaja is a bit more complicated than traveling to Roatan or Utila, but this tropical paradise is worth the journey. Guanaja is perfect for those looking to experience some of the Caribbean's most exceptional diving while enjoying a highre level of luxury and a quieter atmosphere.

Divers visiting the Bay Islands will often stay at land-based resorts, which offer day trips to the best dive sites on Roatan and Utila. Those wishing to maximize their time underwater and explore a greater area underwater can join a liveaboard trip with the Roatan Aggressor, which embarks off the port in Roatan and combines the best dive sites of Roatan, Utila, and Cayos Cochinos. Make the most of your trip by staying at a Roatan dive resort before or after the liveaboard.

intro to diving ROATAN, UTILA, & GUANAJA 

Diving in The Bay Islands offers a great variety of hard and soft corals combined with beautiful tropical fish, macro life, and turtles. Roatan’s shark dives are not to be missed on any stay. Nor is Utila’s most famous dive site, Black Coral Wall, with its spectacular shallows and dramatic drop. Between February and April and October to December, it is whale shark season on Utila - however, you still need some luck to encounter them. 


A shark swims along a reef in Honduras

Just to the west of Roatan, Utila is the smallest of the major Bay Islands and is less developed than Roatan. The scuba diving in Utila is fantastic, in particular the chance to dive with migrating whale sharks. The majority of the island's 100 dive sites are on the sheltered southern coast, with a range of walls, caves, and caverns, as well as the wreck of the Halliburton.

Furthest east, Guanaja is lush, green, and home to only three small settlements. Ringed by a fringing reef and encircled by dive sites, visitors will discover sheltered reefs and a myriad of reef fish, and intriguing critters.

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when to go 

There is no 'best' time to dive Roatan, Utila, and Guanaja; they are fantastic year-round dive destinations. You can expect calm conditions, and the predictably clear Caribbean waters offer excellent visibility. Peak holiday periods draw larger crowds, so for quieter dive sites and fewer tourists on the islands, avoid visiting during school holidays. If you are looking for whale sharks, your chances will be better from February to April and October to December.

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Roatan Diving Information 

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DIVE RESORT AREAS IN ROATAN, UTILA AND GUANAJA

ROATAN 

Located on the northern coast of the western tip, West Bay Beach is Roatan's most famous area. It is also one of the island's most famous diving and snorkeling spots. Protected from wind and weather, the West Bay Beach coral reef is a terrific year-round dive destination. West Bay Beach is known for its lively area, with many resorts, restaurants, and shops to choose from. 

Do not get confused by Roatan's second most famous area, West End. Just a little further up the coast, this vibrant neighborhood is a phenomenal spot to be. With shops, dive outfitters, bars and restaurants, and smaller hotels, it is the perfect place to dive, dine and drink. Even if you are staying in West Bay Beach, it is worth visiting West End because it's only a 30-minute walk or a 5-minute taxi ride away. 

UTILA

Just a one-hour ferry ride or 15-minute flight away, the small island of Utila has a lot to offer. All resorts, restaurants, and dive shops are located on the main strip of the south shore. The southeast side of the south shore (the point) is only a 30-minute walk from the southwest side. Being well-known for its high concentration of dive schools along a short strip, you are where the diving is no matter where you stay. If you are looking for big resorts with big pools, Utila might not be the right choice for you. Typically, resorts in Utila consist of a dive shop with an extra building for accommodation. You can literally get up and jump on the boat in the morning or get off from the night dive just a step away from the dive bar. 

GUANAJA

Guanaja is definitely not as easy to reach as Roatan, but it is well known for its natural beauty. This small jewel in the Caribbean is less than 16 miles (25 km) long and has an amazing coral reef around it. Not only do divers get a lot of value out of their vacation time, but it is also outstanding for non-divers. With numerous hiking trails, it is easy to explore by foot. The main settlement is located on a key, with only a boat to travel to from the airport. With only one road connecting the area of Mangrove Bight (north) and Savanah Bight (south), it is a dive destination well off the beaten track. 

Let Bluewater Travel help you find the perfect Roatan, Utila, or Guanaja diving resort!

MARINE LIFE & PHOTOGRAPHY SUBJECTS

Roatan, Utila, and Gunaja boast a wide variety of Caribbean reef life along healthy reefs covered in encrusting, elkhorn, and pillar corals, impressive sea fans, sponges, and unique patches of black coral. Expect to spot trumpetfish, groupers, parrotfish, and triggerfish going about their business while grunts, tang, and wrasse add splashes of color in the foreground.

A vibrant coral reef in Honduras. A seahorse in Honduras.

Small schools of chromis mingle just above the coral heads, and spotted drum, octopus, and moray eels loiter in crevices and overhangs. Divers can also expect to see squid, porcupine fish, pufferfish, eagles rays, and turtles on a good number of dives. Rarer spots include barracuda and nurse sharks.

Scuba diving in Honduras with macro life. A parrotfish poses for an underwater photographer in Roatan.

There is also some interesting macro to be found, in particular around Guanaja. Lettuce slugs, arrow crabs, lobsters, flamingo tongue cowries, numerous crustaceans, and the occasional seahorse are waiting to be discovered. 

Whale Sharks, Reef Sharks & Dolphins

Whale sharks are occasionally seen around Utila, and if one is spotted, word quickly spreads through the Utila resorts. These huge filter feeders gather along the banks to the north of the island, and are most often spotted between March and May, and again between August and October.

A nurse shark seen while scuba diving in Roatan.

Many resorts in Roatan run shark dives on a weekly basis. As many as 15 Caribbean reef sharks are attracted to feed on buckets of fish, giving visitors the opportunity to photograph and interact with the sharks face to face.

Some resorts in Roatan also offer dolphin dives with semi-wild dolphins. The dolphins play and interact with divers on the ocean floor.   

Roatan diving Conditions

  • Water Temperatures: Warm throughout the year, around 81-88°F (27-31°C).
  • Diving Difficulty: Suitable for all levels.
  • Visibility: Averages at 66ft (20m).
  • Depth Range: 33 - 131 ft (10 - 40m).

 

BEST Dive Sites in Roatan, utila, and guanaja

  • Coco View Wall, Roatan 
  • Just a short swim from Coco View Resort, this dramatic, coral-encrusted site features exciting overhangs and crevices full of crustaceans and other critters. At 82ft (25m) in the sand, garden eels and sand divers play hide-and-seek.
  • Mary's Place, Roatan 
  • One of the most popular sites on the island, Mary's Place, can get busy at peak times. This beautiful site features mazes and canyons covered in huge gorgonians, sea rods, and sea plumes, the perfect environment for abundant macro life.
  • Dolphin's Den, Roatan 
  • On the north side of Roatan, this site boasts a similar topography to Mary's Place but is far less crowded. A honeycomb of tunnels and swim-throughs is full of shrimps and other crustaceans, and the skull of a dolphin sits deep within one cave.
  • Fish Den, Roatan 
  • On the west side of the island, an 8-mile (13-km) protected marine park is home to an abundance of reef life. The shallow Fish Den site is perfect for photographers and teems with schools of jacks and grunts, angelfish, and feeding turtles.
  • El Aguila, Roatan 
  • At 108ft (33m), the wreck of El Aguila, or The Eagle, is relatively deep for recreational divers. However, she rests against a wall that allows divers to shallow up and enjoy a longer dive after the first few minutes at depth. This is one of the few sites featuring larger fish life, including black and goliath groupers, barracuda, and big moray eels.
  • Jack Neil Point, Utila 
  • On the sheltered southern coast of Utila, this long, shallow dive features hard and soft corals in a unique tongue and groove formation. A good number of Caribbean reef fish inhabit the reef, and green and hawksbill turtles often make an appearance.
  • CJ's Drop-Off, Utila 
  • The north coast of the island is exposed to the open ocean, and sites such as CJ's Drop-Off boast dramatic drifts along sheer walls. Unique rock formations, deep caverns, and huge sponges and corals make for exciting diving. 
  • Black Rock Canyon, Guanaja 
  • An intriguing trail of caverns, canyons, and tunnels created by ancient volcanic activity, this site is alive with silverside sardines, glassy sweepers, and barracuda. During exploration, it's not unusual to come across a sleeping nurse shark or moray eel.
  • Jim's Silverlode, Guanaja 
  • At 70ft (21m), a long tunnel follows the wall down into an amphitheater-like bowl full of grouper and moray eels. Schools of yellowtails and silverside sardines flit in and out of the shadows, creating a dramatic dive. 

A scuba diver explores a shipwreck in Honduras.

best time to dive ROATAN, UTILA & GUANAJA

All three islands can be dived year-round. If there is swell or wind on one side of the island, the opposite side coast is usually calm. The rainy season is from mid-October to late February, and during this time, November, December, and January get the most rain. However, these are also the coolest months, and May through to September can be quite hot.

Scuba diving in Roatan on a coral reef.

How much does it cost to dive in Roatan?

Roatan is a popular scuba diving destination and offers resorts and liveaboard options to suit all budgets. Juan Manuel Gálvez Roatán International Airport (RTB) is easily accessible from many major US cities and attracts a large number of tourists every year because of this. 

For a customized quote, please get in touch and let us know the details of your trip. Through our network of partners, we can put together custom packages and offer a low-price guarantee. You’ll never pay more when booking through Bluewater Travel, but you will get a dedicated travel expert with local knowledge to help with advice and booking the trip of a lifetime. 

A fish next to a sea fan in Honduras.

Roatan dive packages

There are some amazing dive packages available in Roatan, so you can enjoy an adventure vacation knowing that everything is taken care of. We can provide you with full-board options, including daily dives in a number of great resorts. We also run frequent specials, so don’t forget to check them out on our specials page or ask one of our travel experts about our latest offers. 

How Deep are the Dives in Roatan?

One of the great things about Roatan diving is the fact you are surrounded by coral reefs. This means there is a wide range of depths at different dive sites, sometimes even on the same dive site. Dives can range in depth from just a few feet to well over 150 feet and beyond. 

Some resorts allow you to shore dive, which will be shallower than boat dives at sites such as Big Bight, which can, in places, be easily deeper than 150 feet. So, all in all, there are a variety of dive sites with different depths to cater to all experience and certification levels.

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Travel Information 


How to Get to roatan, Utila & guanaja

Roatan - Fly directly from the US to Juan Manuel Gálvez Roatán International Airport (RTB) from various cities, including Houston, Miami, New York, and Atlanta.

Utila - Fly to Utila Airport (UII) from Roatan or from Ramon Villeda Morales International Airport (SAP) in San Pedro Sula, Honduras. There are also ferry services from Roatan to Utila. 

Guanaja - Fly to Roatan and then take the Saturday flight to Guanaja Airport (GJA). Alternatively, from Roatan or San Pedro Sula, fly to La Ceiba and then on to Guanaja. This is longer but offers more flexibility. There are also several boat charters available from Roatan to Guanaja.

Check our guide for other great destinations near the US

How to Dive Roatan, Utila & Guanaja

A good number of resorts on all three islands include an on-site dive center and will offer shore and boat diving to guests and day visitors alike. There are also many stand-alone professional dive shops and operators.

The Roatan Aggressor runs 7 and 10-day trips around the Bay Islands, and this is a great way to discover all the best diving this area has to offer.

Where to Stay in Roatan for Diving

As one of the most popular destinations for scuba diving in the Caribbean, Roatan boasts tons of excellent options to choose from when it comes to accommodation. We recommend staying at a specialist dive resort with the facilities needed to give you the best diving experience possible. We’re partners with some great dive resorts in Roatan, ranging from more budget-friendly options to mid-range and luxury resorts. Get in touch with our team of expert travel advisors, and we’ll help you find the best resorts in Roatan to suit your needs. 

Alternatively, if you want to be as close to the diving action as possible at all times, we can arrange a liveaboard trip for your Roatan diving adventure. We regularly book guests onto the Roatan Aggressor, which is part of a family of very popular boats. Click here to see the Roatan Aggressor’s availability.

A close up of a fish seen while scuba diving in Roatan.

other things to do in ROATAN, UTILA HONDURAS

The Bay Islands are a great family destination, but also offer a variety of wildlife experiences. On Roatan, there is a nature refuge where you can see white-faced capuchins, howler monkeys, caimans, and various birds. Roatan also has a butterfly garden, an iguana farm, and botanical gardens. Visitors can explore the rainforest canopy with exciting jungle excursions or swim, snorkel, or dive with dolphins.

Utila offers a host of watersports, including stand-up paddleboarding, kayaking, and fishing. Visitors can also do some white-knuckle activities such as caving and horseback riding. Most visitors relax on tropical beaches and swim in turquoise waters.

On Guanaja, visitors can enjoy snorkeling and fishing around the coast or venture into the jungle interior on a hike to the island's only waterfall.

 

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DIVE RESORTS IN ROATAN

Bluewater Travel can help you book a dive resort and liveaboard in Roatan, Utila, or Guanaja and over 40 other destinations in the world at the same price or even lower than booking any other way. We are experts on boats, cabins, diving, and logistics in Roatan, Utila, and Guanaja. Email us today or leave us a message through the chat box to start planning your dream dive vacation in the Bay Islands of Honduras! 

Read all about Bluewater Trip Leader Ramona Robbins’ (Reynolds)  amazing 2022 trip to Roatan here

 

ROATAN LIVEABOARD AVAILABILITY

The Aggressor fleet of boats is well-known among divers for their excellent liveaboard trips, and the Roatan Aggressor is no different. Below, you’ll see its availability and the option to request a booking.  

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Other Useful Information 

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Practical Information

  • Currency: Honduran Lempira (HNL)
  • Electricity: Generally is 120V
  • Time Zone: Central Standard Time (GMT-6)
  • Language: The official language in Honduras is Spanish, but English is the primary language of local islanders.

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GOT QUESTIONS? READY TO BOOK?

Call us today at +1-310-915-6677 or email us info@bluewaterdivetravel.com

And let us book your dream vacation!

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Reviews (9)

  • Top Reviewer
Los Angeles, CA
United States
5
5
4
4

Roatan was a great place for diving, good local cuisine, fabulous dive sites and other activities on the island.

The dive sites are plentiful and rich in coral and fish life. Many dive sites are wall dives that you could easily consider "bottomless" or so deep that you'll never see or get to the bottom. The waters are warm and generally clear. I brought a 2.5mm shorty wetsuit that I started to use towards the end of my 7-day trip on some of the later dives of the day.

A few of my favorite dive sites were the Prince Albert wreck and Connie's Dream. The wreck has lots of life, is easy to locate (a shore dive from CoCo View Resort), and is penetrable. Connie's Dream is a drift dive with gorgeous structure and life. This dive site is also easily accessible from many resorts.

The Cara a Cara shark dive was also very cool. We took a boat to a mooring line about 5 minutes off the coast and suited up. Taking the line down, as there was a very strong current, we finally got to about 70' and tucked in behind a coral cluster. Large and plentiful sharks were there to swim around us and wait for the food bucket. After 10 minutes of showing off, the food bucket was finally opened and the feeding frenzy ensued. Very cool dive.

There was no depth limit except the recreational dive limit of your scuba diving rating. If you want to further your dive education and gain more ratings, you can do this at any of the dive shops on the island.

Other things to do on the island are zip lining, the famous Dolphin Dive at Anthony's Key Resort or head to West End for shopping or the beach. I did the Dolphin Dive and enjoyed it but won't likely do it again. Anthony's will pick you up from whichever resort you're staying at for your dive with them.

I would recommend this island for couples, families, and people looking for an island with things to do other than dive. Note that the cruise ships do come here for the day. You'll find town, especially West End, to be much busier. Avoid these areas on these days if you want lower prices and less people.

Visited on 07/2007 - Submitted on 01/15/2014
  • Top Reviewer
Fountain Valley, CA
United States
5
5
4
4

I’ve traveled to Roatan many times and stayed on different parts of the island. West End is my favorite area and we’ve stayed at a hotel there and a couple of times in a private villa right on Half Moon Bay. We have also stayed in a villa near Gibson Bight, which is not too far from West End. There are many dive shops, bars, and restaurants in West End and this seems to be the place where most of the action takes place, other than at the resorts. I’ve also stayed several times at an all-inclusive resort on the north side.

Diving is done all around the island, but overall, I prefer diving on the west end. Some of my favorite sites here are: West End Wall, Hole In The Wall, Canyon Reef, and Spooky Channel. On the south side of the island, near French Harbor, you can dive one of Roatan's signature dive sights, Mary's Place. Valley of the Kings is another excellent dive in this area. On the north side, some of my favorites are Turquoise Bay Channel, Turquoise Bay Wall, Dolphin’s Den, and Rockstar. Every time I’ve been to Roatan the visibility has been exceptional. Typical sea life seen here: schools of tropical fish, groupers, turtles, lobsters, dolphins, sharks, eagle rays and octopuses. Occasionally, whale sharks can be seen here, but are most often seen off the sister island of Utila. This is also an excellent place to experience bioluminescence on night dives. We have seen the String of Pearls many times.

On a non-diving day, a great excursion is to hire a boat in Oak Ridge and explore the large patches of mangroves. We also visited a legendary restaurant/bar in this area, called Hole In The Wall. We enjoyed a couple of hours eating and drinking here.

Bottom line: Roatan is one of the most economical places in the Caribbean. Everything, including accommodations, food, and diving, is really cheap. The diving is world-class, the people are extremely friendly, and the vibe is really laid back. Two small downsides are that it can get crowded if a cruise ship is in port at West Bay, and the insects can be unbearable at times. Bring plenty of insect repellent and sunscreen.

Visited on 04/2017 - Submitted on 03/14/2020
4
4
4
3

Roatan is a perfect dive destination for divers of all levels of experience.

There are many small local shops around the island that offer affordable dive packages and classes. This is great for the individual traveler and travelers on a budget because it allows you to tailor your dive trip. There are many options within walking distance from each other. This allows you to cut out any unnecessary amenities and focus on getting the most out of your diving.

Most dive sites are 10-15 minute boat ride from shore and easily accessible. The viz is outstanding and usually tops 100ft with max depths on dives at mainly 60-90ft. The reefs are very healthy and have been maintained extremely well since 2005 when the northwest part of the island became a nationally recognized marine reserve. On an average dive you will see black tip reef sharks, barracuda, sea turtles, squid and many tropical fish and soft corals. The water is very warm all year round with no thermocline. There is no need for a wetsuit and a rash guard seems to be plenty for most divers.

Roatan is also a great destination for a family vacation. The island offers many all inclusive resorts and activities both in and out of the water. You must check out the white sand beaches on the West End. It's a great place to have a relaxing beach day swimming and snorkeling.

"Cara a Cara" shark dive is a must while staying in Roatan. When I first experienced the dive they allowed me to bring a camera as long as I didn't shoot video(they try and sell you their video at the end of the trip). They usually have 8-10 people total on the boat and 10-15 sharks in the water. The dive master wrangles the sharks into a specific area where you get a great view of the feeding. After the feeding the sharks stick around and you get to swim around the reef with them. It's also a good idea to check the sandy bottom for shark teeth that you can bring back as a souvenir.

Roatan is affordable and you actually get a lot for the money you spend. The food is good, drinks are cheap and the diving does not disappoint. This is an excellent destination for a dive trip!

Visited on 05/2012 - Submitted on 01/27/2014
4
5
3
3

UTILA REVIEW

I first learned how to dive on Utila back in August 2011. First off, let me say this is a *very* fun island. It is mostly geared towards a younger backpacker crowd, unlike it's slightly more grownup counterpart Roatan. Lots of dive shops for any pace and budget, some nice cheap little restaurants, and many great bars (don't miss Treetanic!) If you are looking to have fun and meet some new people, this is a great place to do it. I spent two weeks here by myself and had a total blast.

As for the diving, it is also quite nice. The conditions in August were terrific- some of the best I have seen anywhere. Very warm water (no need for wetsuit, even to 140 feet), and visibility was outstanding (100+ feet!) Coral cover and reef fish abundance and diversity were alright, although certainly not spectacular compared to other places throughout the world. There was a noticeable lack of large fish, and I did not see much interesting macro life (although I must admit, my eyes were not very trained at that point!) However, I did see many spotted eagle rays and even three whale sharks during my two weeks there, which was a real treat. The wall dives on the north side of the island are also quite nice, and I hear a good spot for tec diving.

Coral and marine life were ok, although this is also a fantastic spot to see whale sharks when they are in "season'.

All-in-all, I'd say this is a great spot to learn how to dive, although the marine life will probably not be as good as many other places the experienced diver has been. Regardless, this is a great little island for chilling out and having some fun!

Visited on 08/2011 - Submitted on 02/17/2014
  • Reviewer
Costa Mesa, CA
United States
4
3
4
3

I went right to Roatan after Thanksgiving which is their rainy season. It rained 50 inches the week I was there. I had a place over the water which would have been lovely in the dry season but it was the rainy season. During the transfer of my luggage from the truck to my cabana, the rain had soaked my bags. Walking from my room to the dining room, the crabs would dart about almost like lizards running around in the desert. Geckos hang all over the place, even in the rooms. It's a good thing, because they eat mosquitos. Bring repellant, the no see' ums will get you.

Of course the diving was stellar but since it was storming, we were shuttled to the other side of the island for calmer conditions. The first day we were there, the swells were 15 ft. It made for very tricky diver pickups. Mary's Place was memorable due to the shark carcass that drew in all the fish. I think we dove it at least 3 times because it was protected. The Aquila was a fun wreck dive. The sponges and corals were beautiful. Caribbean fish like sergeant majors, parrot fish, grunts, hogfish and wrasses are everywhere. Big groupers were curious. Roatan is good for the beginning diver making the transition to more advanced dives as some of the wrecks are near the recreational limits. I wore a 3 mm wetsuit and the water temperature was just fine for me in December.

Dolphin encounter was epic. Food was so-so. We didn't venture into town due to the downpour.

Advice: Pick a nice weather time for your trip! Dec and Jan can be rainy.

Visited on 12/2002 - Submitted on 02/19/2014

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