Roatan is a small island 40 miles off the north coast of the Central American country, Honduras. At less than 50 miles long and 5 miles wide, one might be forgiven for having never heard about this tiny patch of land before. However, it’s received its nickname of the Jewel of the Caribbean for good reason. The island is home to lush jungles, clear blue waters, white sand beaches and friendly locals with a diverse and vibrant culture. But what makes Roatan extra special is its proximity to the second largest barrier reef system in the world. The Mesoamerican Barrier Reef features a rich abundance of marine life that acts as a great answer to the question of “Why go scuba diving in Roatan?” If you think you’ve done some great diving before, here are five reasons to book your next diving trip in Roatan.
Proximity to The Reef
As opposed to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef where you’ll have to travel for up to an hour and a half by boat before you reach a suitable diving spot, the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef is literally right off the coast of Roatan. There are spots on the island where the reef is less than a 200-yard swim away. And because of the proximity of the reef, a mere 10-minute boat ride can give you easy access to up to 30 different dive sites. It’s quite easy to visit a handful of different dive sites in a single day while spending your resting time on the beach. Roatan is truly a diving spot where you’ll spend more time in the water than you will in the boat.
A Healthy Reef
Roatan consistently ranks as one of the top spots for coral health and abundant fish populations. The Healthy Reefs 2015 Report Card for the Mesoamerican Reef measured four indicators including coral cover, fleshy microalgal cover, herbivorous fish and commercial fish. It found Honduras had the highest score of the four countries studied while Roatan had the healthiest fish and coral populations. A big part of this reason was the establishment of the Roatan Marine Park in 2005. The non-profit community organization was started by concerned dive operators to protect the reefs from overfishing and other damage. It has since expanded its functions to include education, recycling programs, clean up campaigns and reef patrols. What has resulted is a healthy reef with a robust marine population.
The waters off Roatan are known for clear, calm conditions which are ideal for divers. For most of the year, the surface waters are flat and smooth. Visibility underwater averages around 100 feet, which is a very good score. Underwater currents are typically quite mild which makes for easier excursions and little need to spend your underwater time fighting your way back into place. Additionally, because the land area is so small, if the water becomes rough on one side of the island, it’s very easy to take your diving gear to the opposite side in hopes of better conditions. Quite often this will lead to a successful day that might be a washout in some other diving locations. Many of the local diving operators are partnered which gives them the flexibility to ferry divers from one side of the island to the other if the weather conditions aren’t cooperating.
A Large Number of Dive Sites
You can choose from over 50 dive sites in Roatan’s West End alone. It’s estimated that there are over 175 dive sites surrounding this tiny island. Of those, there are 72 advanced sites, 12 expert sites and 10 technical sites, the rest being accessible by beginners. This large number, as well as their close proximity to each other, gives divers an incredible amount of choice that’s hard to find anywhere else in the world. If you’re going to Roatan for a few weeks’ vacation, you’ll never need to dive the same site twice. The variety of underwater features make Roatan a diver’s paradise. You can check out endless coral gardens, sand chutes, caves, wrecks, mini-walls, large walls, deep canyons and more.
Roatan is known to be one of the more affordable places in the world to dive. For this reason, it attracts a lot of beginners looking to get certified, but also large numbers of advanced divers hoping to spend a lot of time underwater without spending a lot of money. In fact, in certain boutique resorts such as Blue Bahia, not only are the accommodations absolutely affordable, they also provide a discount for divers using the on-site diving shop when booking excursions. Roatan provides a truly incredible diving destination that’s easy on the pocketbook.
If you are now convinced to pack your suitcases and fins, contact us to ask about our great Dive & Stay packages!