When traveling to someplace new, one of the first things that comes to mind is wondering how safe it will be. This is a normal reaction as humans have a natural instinct to fear the unknown. However, a large part of being safe in a new place is educating yourself about any risks beforehand. In this article, we answer the question, “Is Roatan safe for tourists?” and provide a list of tips to ensure you have a safe and wonderful vacation on our beautiful island paradise!
Honduras has had some relatively recent political unrest. In 2009 there was a constitutional crisis which led to the army arresting the president and sending him into exile. The coup d’etat resulted in a number of demonstrations both for and against the coup. There were a few documented attacks against journalists, political activists and human rights workers. However, the unrest took place on the mainland and not on the Bay Islands, of which Roatan is one. If you take a quick glance at a map, it is easy to understand how Roatan is far removed from these issues.
Near the end of 2017 there was more political unrest that occurred during elections with contested results. This led to widespread protests, some of which turned violent. Once again, this type of activity took place on the mainland while Roatan and the rest of the Bay Islands were completely untouched and continued on with the standard laid back island vibe that we are accustomed to.
To avoid getting caught up in any kind of political unrest anywhere in the world, even your native country, it’s wise to stay away from any type of demonstrations and remain cautious around large gatherings.
As with almost any place, there will be areas that are more unsafe than others. Honduras has carried a reputation for having a high murder rate, however that is typically linked to gangs and related to drug activities in several of the larger cities on the mainland.
Tourists are generally safe all throughout the country, although they should exercise caution in the larger cities – as one would in any large city in the world. Roatan, on the other hand, relies heavily on tourism and for that reason is incredibly safe. Police presence is highly visible in tourist areas such as West Bay, West End and Sandy Bay.
If Roatan is known for any crime at all, it’s typically linked to petty thefts and burglaries. Areas off the tourist grid such as Coxen Hole which are populated almost entirely by locals and may make a tourist stand out. These areas are generally safe to visit, however, it is recommended to avoid such areas at night, especially if alone.
In general, to avoid crime on Roatan try not to walk alone in isolated areas late at night, avoid flashing signs of wealth such as fancy jewelry or wads of cash, don’t leave your belongings on the beach unattended and do not overindulge in alcohol which can leave you vulnerable. These tips are basic common sense safety guidelines which one should follow wherever they may be.
Safety From The Sun
One of the most common afflictions affecting tourists is overexposure to the sun. This typically happens to people who have just arrived and are excited by the beaches and warm weather. It’s imperative to use sunscreen and gradually allow yourself to acclimatize to the heat and sun. Wear a wide brimmed hat and avoid the midday sun if possible. If swimming or snorkeling it’s wise to wear a rashguard or long sleeved shirt to prevent sunburns on your back and arms.
Mosquitos and sand flies do exist in Roatan and can be more common after dusk. Carrying and frequently re-applying insect repellent is wise – no one wants to be itchy and uncomfortable on vacation. Other tips include wearing neutral colored, long sleeved clothing that does not attract mosquitoes as much as vibrantly colored clothes. Repellent should be applied after sunscreen and reapplied as directed.
When snorkeling or diving you should remain vigilant around the coral reefs. Waves can easily push you onto sharp corals which can result in painful scrapes. Also keep your eye out for jellyfish. Make sure you do not swim in boat lanes and stay in swimming areas where marked. It is also a good idea to use a flag marker to indicate to boats that you are swimming in the area.
Safety In Roatan
When asked, “Is Roatan safe?” one can honestly answer that it’s no more unsafe than any mid to large US or Canadian city. By using common sense safety precautions one can enjoy a vacation in Roatan without any problems – something that’s done by thousands of people every year. We look forward to welcoming you to the island!