Map & Background
Once a haven for pirates and buccaneers, Roatan is now a hotspot of coral diversity and adventure diving in the Caribbean. Located 40 miles off the northern coast of Honduras, Roatan is the largest of the Bay Islands, which include Utila, Guanaja, Cayos Cochinos, Morat, Barbareta, and St. Helen. Roatan hosts some of the most spectacular diving in the western Caribbean due to its coral and sponge diversity. In recent years, the island has gained worldwide popularity among travelers who seek sun and beaches, as well as diving adventures. Unfortunately, massive immigration from the mainland, coupled with unplanned development, uncontrolled sewage outputs, and an increase in cruise ship tourism is placing increased pressure on Roatan’s coral reef resources (jump to map).
- 73 species of coral
- 41 species of sponge
- 185 species of fish
- Extensive mangrove forests and associated sea grass beds.
- Large marine vertebrates: Sea turtles, pilot whales, manta rays, whale sharks (occasionally), and orca.
- The island of Roatan has barrier reefs on its north side and fringing reefs on its southwest and northwest sides.
- Staghorn and Elkhorn corals, decimated throughout the Caribbean during the 1980s, can still be found in relatively high abundance in Roatan.
- Roatan is the most important cruise destination in Honduras, having experienced a four-fold increase in cruise ship arrivals since 1999.