Is there anything other than diving on the island? Of course there is. With the influx of tourists from the cruise ships, entrepreneurs on the island are getting creative in order to capture those tourist dollars. You will now find snorkeling tours, Kayak lessons and rentals as well as boat rentals on the beach. A little of something for everyone. If you want to take some time off or on your last day before flying out there are many options besides wondering the beaches.
Watch the sunset from Sundowners Bar and meet some folks that make West End what it is.
Take the bus into Coxen Hole for 28 Lempira per person. It takes about 20 minutes. Lots of gift shops to browse through.
Take a walk through the Carambola Gardens. Located in Sandy Bay
Tour the Archie’s Iguana Farm Located on French Key
How about swinging through the jungle canopy of West Bay Mountainside.
Horse back riding
Go deep sea fishing
Rent kayaks and go snorkeling
Rent a bike, scooter or car to tour the island
Take an organized tour of the east end of the island.
Visit the Roatan Institute for Marine Sciences and the Roatan Museum. Located at Anthony’s Key Resort in Sandy Bay.
Walk the beach from West End to West Bay and back, or walk one way and take a water taxi back
Night snorkeling! Check out the amazing night life in Half Moon Bay
And don't forget to try Roatan diving, Instruction is available.
Don’t forget to plan some time for the beach, and an afternoon of reading in a hammock
The Short History of West End, Roatan & Honduras
Bordering on Guatemala to the north, El Salvador to the east, and Nicaragua to the south, Honduras still manages to stretch from the Caribbean Sea to the Pacific Ocean. Honduras was a typical banana republic and by 1918, United Fruit Company owned 75% of the nations agricultural land. UFC controlled Honduras for the next four decades, creating tens of thousands of jobs, building schools, hospitals and infrastructure. However, there was little room for democracy. By the 1940’s, disease was ravishing the banana crops and exports were dropping. The days of the banana bosses ended. Hondurans enjoyed democratic government for over 65 years until Hugo Chaves's influence forced the ousting of president Mel Zaleya in 2008.
The Bay Islands make up the lower end of the Campechee Reef that stretches all the way down from Cozumel, Mexico. The Isla Bahia’s major islands include Utila, Roatan and Guanaja, with the Cayos Cochinos between the mainland and Roatan, each with its own slightly different Caribbean flavor. The Bay Islands colorful history has left them ethnically and linguistically distinct from the mainland. Originally claimed by Spain in 1502, Puritans from Maryland were the first to colonize the Islands in 1638. Britain and Spain continued to fight over the islands right through the 18th century. In 1852, the British tried to annex the islands to Belize but due to protests by the Americans, the island chain was turned over to Honduras.
Roatan is the largest and most populous (approaching 90 thousand) of the Bay Islands as well as the most developed. Roatan has an International Airport and a thriving fishing fleet in French Harbor. Coxen Hole is the largest town on the island and the capital of the Bay Islands as well as our commercial center. Coxen Hole is also where the cruise ships dock, bringing millions of day visitors to the island every year. Oak Ridge is a town literally on the water, with most homes built on stilts and where everything moves by boat. Be sure to check out the Iguana farm near French Harbor where about 500 green iguanas roam freely protected from poaching.
West End is still the laid back capitol of the islands, few activities involve wearing shoes, and even shirts are usually optional. West End was a happy little fishing village a mere 18 to 20 years back with nary a tourist in site. I don’t remember any cement buildings when I arrived 15 years back and there were less than a dozen trucks then. Whether what has happened to West End is good or bad will be left for future generations to debate. In the past very few years electricity has arrived. Telephones and cable TV were next and the construction has been non stop. West End today is a mixed bag of foreign and local owned business vying to serve your needs. A veritable Club Med full of activities, without the barb wire to keep customers from wandering off.
Myths of Investing and Living on Roatan
I have always viewed investing to be a close cousin to gambling. The same rule applies, don’t bet more than you can afford to lose! Real-estate people are quick to tell you of how fast property values are going up and how wonderful it is to live in paradise. You can never loose money on real-estate! Yeah right!
1) Property valuesdouble every year! If that were true, the lodge would be worth more than fifty million dollars today. Property value on Roatan goes up and down with the seasons just like everywhere else. Values may appear low by some standards, but there are few services and little developed infrastructure.
2) You can live here fornext to nothing! You can live very cheaply here if you work at it and are willing do without a lot of the things you’re used to. Everything from groceries to internet and electricity will cost exponentially more than you are used to. Importing involves shipping costs, duty, customs and a whole lot of waiting around. Low taxes are a nice draw but with extremely limited government services you will likely need a private security service. You will have to travel for medical and dental needs and you will need to radically alter your lifestyle.
3) You can never loseinvesting in real estate! Some of the worse case stories we are hearing these days involve property access. Very few secondary roads are owned by the government, they are property in private hands and access can be cut off or restricted in a heart beat. Where does your property value go if you can only reach it by helicopter? The next favorite trick is to sue a property owner when they are off the island. If the bogus case makes it into court before you even hear about it, and are not available to defend the case, you lose by default! Buying and living on Roatan, like anywhere else, involves doing a lot of homework.
4) It is such a simplestress free lifestyle! Nothing happens fast. It takes huge amounts of patience to stand in line at the bank for a few hours every month to pay bills. There is little in the way of Fire, Police or Medical services available on Roatan. You are on your own here! No 911, no 24 hour plumbers, no Mr. Goodwrench. That is one of the challenges I like, but it’s not for everyone. The government has no resources to enforce laws or regulations, some people view that as a freedom, others have run screaming after a few months. It is definitely a hostile business environment.
5) Anyone can move here! The tourist visa you were issued when you arrived is good for thirty days. It can be renewed twice on the mainland (not possible on the island) but after that you will have to leave Honduras, and its bordering countries, then reenter and start over. Alternatively with a substantial investment or proof of retirement income, you can apply for residency. Work permits are only offered to those possessing extraordinary job skills.
Some Final Words
"As tourists we hope that the quaint anachronism we have discovered will always remain “Unspoiled” as fixed as a museum piece for our inspection. It is perilous, however, to assume that its inhabitants long for the same. Indeed, a kind of imperial arrogance underlies the assumption that the people of a developing world should be happier without the TV’s and motorbikes we find so indispensable.If money does not buy happiness, neither does poverty. "