Roatán, Honduras

Living on Roatán

Iyna Bort Caruso

Roatán, an island roughly 35 miles off the northern coast of Honduras, is a place of siestas and sport, as relaxed as one desires or as thrill-packed as one can handle.

Ziplining, jungle-hiking, golf, boating and world-class scuba easily fill the hours.

Dive sites are known internationally, leading adventure-seekers to discover shipwrecks, sea walls and the undersea wonders of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, the world’s second largest.

Roatán is the largest of the Bay Islands, a group of 8 islands and 60-plus cays. This off-the-radar spot with a rising profile boasts year-round comfortable temperatures, white sandy beaches and waters that are every shade of blue.

Paya Indian, African, British and Spanish cultures are part of the island’s history. In recent years, North American expat communities have sprung up and become particularly active. As a result, English is widely spoken.

A low cost of living has earned Roatán spots on a number of best-places-to-retire lists. An international airport offers direct flights to many U.S. cities on major carriers. Towns are small, development is contained and commercialism is largely non-existent. It’s a setting with wilderness and wildlife at its core.

Condominiums, villas, gated beachfront communities and land for custom building attract international transplants.

The biggest town is Coxen Hole, the cruise ship port and airport location. The island grows quieter and more isolated the further east one goes. Some east end areas feel wholly undiscovered and are only accessible by boat, thereby drawing more privacy-seekers. On the west side of the island, West End Village is a mix of quirky-chic about 20 minutes from the airport. This mile-long strip of shops, small hotels, restaurants and bars is the tourism hub and as close as a mini metropolis as it gets on Roatán.

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