Outstanding scuba diving & snorkeling on the 2nd largest barrier reef in the world
Multiple dive operators ranging from small group service to large PADI IDC centers & everything in-between.
Wide range of land based activities available, including zip lines; horseback riding; dune buggy tours; several botanical gardens; butterfly garden & iguana farm; deep sea and saltwater flats fishing; several day spas ; Pete Dye designed championship caliber golf course; and of course miles of stunning beaches
The best way to explore the remote, unspoiled reefs of Roatan and the Bay Islands is on one of our Liveaboard Scuba Vacations aboard Zeppelin. Zeppelin is fully equipped with tanks, an onboard compressor, and weights for our guests’ use. We encourage everyone to bring their own dive equipment if they have it as we find most divers are more comfortable with gear that they know, however, we also have onboard a complete selection of all required equipment for all of our divers, so if you prefer you can just show up with a bathing suit!
The scuba diving around Roatan is justifiably world famous due to the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef that surrounds most of the Bay Islands, including Roatan. The warm ocean temperatures, over 80F on average, and great visibility, 80 feet on average, combined with the stunning coral reefs make for a wonderful diving experience. Along with the reefs you can dive wrecks such as the Odyssey, Aguila, Prince Albert and Mr. Bud or world famous trench labyrinths like Mary’s Place and Spooky Channel or vertical swim throughs up to 90 feet long such as Hole in the Wall or Chimneys. Cara a Cara, which means “face to face”, provides the opportunity to meet 10 foot Caribbean reef sharks literally face to face!
The reef system around Roatan is a protected area and anchoring on the reefs is prohibited. For this reason, the Roatan Marine Park has placed over 150 moorings all around the island to be used by dive boats. These dive sites combined with drift diving and the offshore banks and cays such as Cordelia Bank off Coxen Hole and Cayos Cochinos Park provide a variety of dive sites that take years to explore.
We cater to all levels of divers from experienced to beginners. For experienced divers we can tailor a dive vacation that will take you to the most interesting and unusual sites available on Roatan or in the cays. Imagine diving in a group with a maximum of four experienced divers who all know each other along with two PADI instructors leading the dives. No cutting your dive short because someone runs out of air early, no depth limitations above normal recreational limits because someone lacks experience, no restrictions on drift dives due to the group dynamics.
If your group has mixed levels, one of us will take the newer divers and one of us will take the experienced divers, so that everyone can have a great time diving within their comfort zone. We often find that after a few dives with that level of personal attention the novice divers develop the skills and confidence to join with the experienced divers on dives later in the week. You will also have underwater photos taken of your experiences to take home with you to show friends and family, compliments of your hosts.
We are always anchored close to the magnificent coral reefs, so close you can easily swim from Zeppelin, and explore the turtle grass or sandy ocean floor of the lagoon on the way to the reef. There you will be delighted by seeing a wonderful assortment of the local tropical fish, many of them in their juvenile stages. It is always fascinating to see how the juveniles change their shapes and colors as they grow to become adults on the reef.
The inner reefs provide a safe nursery for the young fish, turtles, rays and lobsters before they make their way to the deeper waters on the middle and outer reefs. Due to the clarity of the water over the inner reefs you can see an amazing variety of coral and reefs, even in over 20 feet of water. While we are anchored in French Cay Harbour at sunset you can view the lobsters taking their evening walk across the reef. Not to be missed!
The Mesoamerican Reef
The reef surrounding Roatan is part of the Mesoamerican Reef, which is the largest coral reef in the Western Hemisphere and the second largest coral reef in the world, second only to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. It stretches more than 450 miles from the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico past Belize and Guatemala to Honduras and is home to a huge variety of marine life. It is unique due to its length and composition of reef types, and is home to more than 60 species of coral, 350 mollusks and 500 fish species. Closely linked to coastal wetlands, lagoons, sea grass beds, and mangrove islands, the reef plays a significant role in the stabilization and protection of coastal landscapes and maintenance of coastal water quality, and it serves as breeding and feeding grounds for marine mammals, fish, reptiles, and invertebrates. In addition, the reef is a source of economic life for many of the people living along the Central American coast. The Mesoamerican Barrier Reef is divided into three zones: the Inner, Middle, and Outer Reefs.
The Inner Reef
The Inner Reef is typically 20 to 30 feet deep and is usually a network of patch reefs, spotted with elkhorn coral and formations of boulder brain and plate corals. It provides shelter and functions as a nursery for several marine species. Here you will find mostly rainbow-colored tropical fish such as parrotfish, butterfly fish, angelfish, balloon fish, sergeant majors, surgeonfish, damsel fish, blue angelfish, tangs, wrasse, jackknife and many others. Though less common, you might also spot sponges, sea urchin, star snakes, fan corals, starfish, crabs, lobsters, snails, turtles and manta rays. At this depth the water is remarkably transparent – ideal for underwater exploring. Dividing the Inner Reef from the Middle Reef there is often a stretch of white sand, where many beginning scuba divers are first introduced to the underwater world.
The Middle Reef
Varying in depth from 40 to 60 feet, the Middle Reef is best known for its coral cave and canyon formations. Hosting a broad spectrum of marine life, throughout the Middle Reef you will find all types of tropical coral formations, sponges, schooling fish, barracuda, sting rays, snappers, grunts, parrotfish, sea turtles and occasionally sharks and spotted eagle rays or mantas. Visibility ranges from 60 to 80 feet and there is often a small amount of current.
The Outer Reef
Beginning at 60 feet in depth and descending through canyons to 125 feet, the Outer Reef is adorned with magnificent canyons and coral caves in addition to black coral, which begins growing at around 90 feet in depth. In the Outer Reef you may spot hawksbill, green and threatened loggerhead turtles as well as bull, nurse, Caribbean reef and hammerhead sharks. Visibility at this depth averages approximately 70 to 90 feet, with little or no current.
The Mangrove Nursery
Completing the reef ecosystem are the essential contributions of the lagoon and mangroves that provide both a nursery and food source for virtually all reef species at some stage of their life. Nowhere in the lagoon does the depth exceed 15 feet, however far from being the stinky muddy place that many people mistakenly believe, it is a pristine area teeming with life. Fiddler crabs, fish eagles, tree climbing anteaters, pink ibis and white egrets, silver tarpon and small sharks and barracuda all mingle in the tranquil area among the mangroves. Guided boat trips through this area are a highly rewarding way to spend time watching wildlife as you pass through.
There are many exciting and fascinating activities available on Roatan including:
Touring by Car
Roatan is about 30 miles long and 2 miles wide with a high mountainous ridge running down the center of the island. Heading east from French Harbor the main paved road is in good condition as you wind your way up into the mountains. There are a number of lookouts over the lush green valleys and beyond to the stunning coral reefs just out from the shoreline.
The water colors of turquoise blues, emerald greens and white from the rolling waves make for the most spectacular photos and instantly you feel like you are seeing a Caribbean postcard live. If the sensory overload to the eyes isn’t enough, breathing in the air mixed with the sweetness of local plants and trees along with wisps of ocean breeze makes the whole experience most intoxicating. Heading west on the island takes you past the colossal cruise ship terminals, through small villages, and along windy roads with gorgeous overhanging trees making it feel like you are on a ride through a lush green tunnel.
Zip Line Tours
Need an adrenaline rush on your island vacation? Try zipping above the treetops, overlooking Roatan beaches and coastline while your feet nearly touch the lush tropical jungle below.
There are several canopy tour companies to choose from, some with as many as 20 platforms and 13 suspension cables. If zipping at heights of 262 m (860 ft) and traversing more than 3 km (1.9 mi) of cable sounds like fun, Roatan zip lining is a must.
Whether you are a beginner or skilled rider, Roatan horseback riding adventures offer a superlative experience in stunning surroundings. Start your guided ride on a deserted beach, along scenic roads and through tropical foliage.
Some rides take you to hilltops where stunning panoramas of Roatan’s reefs and coastline come into view. Cool off at the end of the ride and wade your horse through the turquoise waters along one of dozens of secluded beaches.
Mangrove tours can take you near to the last point of the island on the east side, usually leaving the town of Oak Ridge by motor boat, the main mode of transportation in Roatan for years before there were cars.
The tour will take you through some of the local towns such as Jonesville, Lucy Point and Pandy Town. While on your journey you will go through a tunnel of mangroves which allow boats to travel safely inside the barrier reef while connecting the communities.
Tropical Butterfly Farm
You will see and learn about some of Honduras’ most colorful butterflies including varieties such as common owl, zebra, helicopter, firecracker, Julia’s, sunset longwing, monarch, and queen. Join a guided tour (about an hour) or explore the park on your own. There are 15 to 20 butterfly species in a 3000 square foot enclosure. There may be as many as 200 butterflies to capture your attention. A display depicts development from the pupa sacks to a full stage butterfly.
On approximately 12 acres, over 4,000 iguanas roam freely in a protected haven where some grow to four feet long! Get up close and personal with a numerous species included Green Iguanas and Hammo Negro Iguanas as well as Monkey Lalas, Jesus and Blue Head lizards. Visitors can pet and feed the friendly reptiles and feeding time (early afternoon) is one of the best times to handle the iguanas. Each year, iguanas are released into the wild, helping to maintain the native reptile’s population on the island. Other creatures living onsite include monkeys, rescued sea turtles, and tarpon fish.
Carambola Botanical Gardens & Trails
The 100% natural 40 acres of the Carambola Botanical Gardens and its many jungle trails offer a perfect place for hiking, wildlife and scenic photography, eco tours, bird watching, nature studies, and of course, relaxation. So, “take a walk on the wild side” and watch the playful monkeys scurry along jungle trails as you enjoy flowering plants, orchids, medicinal plants, exotic spices, fruit and nut trees, including the very popular “Chocolate Tree” and the world famous Honduran mahogany tree.
Gumbalimba Park is located in West Bay and offers water activities, beach and other attractions in over 20 lovely acres. The park features an animal preserve with jump-on-your-shoulders monkeys, free-flying exotic birds and other native animals. It also has botanical gardens with over 200 colorful plant and tree species, numerous waterfalls and fountains, and a picturesque hanging bridge over the fishing pond, next to the freshwater pool and kiddie pool. There is a convenient water activities cabana on the beach.
Trivia: Gumbalimba Park is named after one of the native tree species in Honduras, the Gumbalimba Tree. This tree has a bright red, peeling, smooth bark and dark green leaves. Look for cut limbs from this tree used as fence posts on Roatan. Many of them will be growing, as the Gumbalimba tree can resprout from a broken branch!
There are several day spas on Roatan and here, relaxation and indulgence are the key elements. You may come alone or with someone special to share a day lounging by the pool and enjoy hours of relaxation and wonderful service. Many of Roatan’s spas are set in picturesque tropical gardens, small intimate sanctuaries, amidst brilliantly colored tropical flowers and trickling streams.
The Black Pearl Golf
The newest addition to Roatan’s list of land activities, the Pete Dye designed Black Pearl Golf Course offers stunning tropical scenery combined with a challenging course, making it known in the golf world as one of the best new golf courses in the Caribbean.
There are numerous deep sea fishing charters available, catching marlin, barracuda, wahoo and dorado to name a few. There is also a renowned fly fishing lodge where you can fish the salt flats for bonefish, permit and tarpon.
Roatan and the neighboring islands provide excellent opportunities for hiking a wide variety of terrain. You can choose from mountain ridges and hilltops, beachside strolls or scrambles and jungle trails, with a complete selection ranging from a walk in the park to a full cardio workout.
Information is compliments of Tourism Roatan. We can arrange tours for you to any of the above attractions and activities.