Islands Tips and Information
What to Bring:
- Valid Passport. For citizens of Canada, US, Mexico and most E.U. countries visas are not needed for stays up to 90 days (but your passport must be valid for a full 6 months past the date of travel).
- Diving certification card, diving or snorkeling gear (or you can rent on West Bay Beach).
- Bathing suits and cover ups.
- Lightweight clothing or cotton blends: t-shirts, shorts, blouses; comfortable walking shoes, sandals or flip-flops.
- Bring at least one long-sleeve top and slacks; ladies can enjoy summer dresses for dining out.
- A very light sweater or jacket; rain-gear if you're a pessimist.
- Sunglasses, hats with brims.
- Favorite personal items, toiletries, medications etc.: don't count on finding them here.
- Any favorite foods or spices you have: selections are often limited on the island.
- Sunscreen, repellent, antihistamines (though the bugs have largely been eliminated now) (Try a great island product called "Cactus Juice" which is both a sunscreen and repellent).
- Camera, video camera, lots of film, CDs or DVD's to watch in the evenings.
- Reading material, friends and a sense of adventure.
Traditionally English has been the dominant language on Roatan, spoken with a Carib accent. Lately there has been an influx of Spanish interest from the mainland, and you will now hear almost as much Spanish as English on the Island, especially in the West End. On the less-developed East End of the island, it's worth striking up a few conversations, just to hear the old accents and colloquial turns of phrase. With the increase in tourism on Roatan, you're likely to meet many bilingual Islanders.
Here in West Bay you can try Las Rocas Restaurant, serving Caribbean food with an Italian flair. Next-door to Los Rocas is Bite on the Beach. For lunches and snacks the Thirsty Turtle, a fun and friendly place, is just a stroll down the beach. Mangiamo is in located in West Bay Mall and offers all the treats from home. It has a deli in it as well with scrumptious deli meats and cheeses for lunch. Celeste's located at West Bay Lodge has great Baleadas and Taco's. Beachers' on the beach near Fosters is a great spot, traditional island vibes with good food and plenty of rum cocktails!
In West End Town you will find an even greater selection of restaurants. The Argentinian Grill, on the far side of Half Moon Bay, is the place to go for steaks, but you may want to book a table in advance on busy holidays and weekends. At Ooloonthoo Indian Restaurant, chef Paul is a wizard: imported spices and local produce, reservations only. Tong's is fresh and delicious Thai food, arguable one of the best restaurants on the island.
Tranquil Seas just further along in Sandy Bay serves up Tapas and live music on Tuesday nights from sunset onwards in a truly unique setting.
There is no shortage of taxi's to get you around the Island, just choose one you like the look of. Expect to pay about $15 to get into West End, and $25 into Coxen Hole or the Airport. But the best way to get about from West Bay Beach is by "water-taxi" to West End. They operate daily from around 7am - sunset. The trip takes about 10 minutes through the lagoon, and will cost about 50 Lps. ($3) per person. If you wish to take a water-taxi outside of these times, you should arrange a special pick-up with one of the captains, especially when visiting West End in the evenings for dinner. Captain Van's in West Bay and West End offers the best deals on scooter rentals. Their bikes are well maintained and safe. There are many options available for car and truck rental. In general we have found Avis to be very reliable (504 2445-0122). Other good deals include: Best Car Rental:(504 2445-2268), Budget:(504 2445 2290) & Econo:(504 2445 1934)
For live music, keep an ear open for a number of bands that play in the bars and at special events. Some are excellent, some just plain bad. But all are worth catching on their good nights. Many of the towns and smaller villages on the Island take pride in their history and traditions and have carnivals and special events through their streets. Ask in the our office for dates. For most, entertainment is meeting up with friends for a few drinks at sunset. Be sure to check out Loafer's bar on the beach in West End, aptly named "Sundowners".
There are three large supermarkets on the Island: Sun Supermarkets on the main street in Coxen Hole, Plaza Mar and Eldon's Supermarket behind the petrol station in Coxen Hole and Eldon's Supermarket in French Harbour. West End Town is just a short boat-taxi ride away and has two or three smaller grocery stores where you can buy all of your essentials. Daily in West End vegetable trucks park along the beach road, full of fresh fruit and vegetables. You can get ice and rum at Coconut Tree (at the entrance to West End); open 7am-9pm daily. There are now two duty-free stores in West End for wine and other spirits.
Most of the souvenir shops carry Guatemalan goods like hammocks, clothes and carvings. Be on the lookout for Lenca pottery, highly stylized brown and cream-coloured vases from the mainland of Honduras. Watch out for fakes, though, and feel free to try for discounts. Honduras has a wealth of hard-woods, and there are many chests, tables and small pieces of furniture that show a high degree of craftsmanship and attention to detail. Colourful local painters like Virginia Castillo display their art in 'Waves of Art' in West End Town (504 2445-4093).
***Please don't buy anything that has come from the sea, such as shells, seahorses or jewelry made from black coral. You will be sponsoring poachers in a National Marine Reserve, and it's likely these curios will be confiscated, either at Honduran customs or your own.***