Essentially a long, forested ridge rising from the Caribbean, Roatan retains much of the original landscape that the Buccaneers knew in the 17th and 18th Century. There are several towns around the island, each offering their own unique character to visitors. Following is a list of some recommended destinations and their culinary offerings:
To the East of the Villas
Oak Ridge – Travelling east on the main road from the Villas, scenic Oak Ridge is on the southern shore. It boasts a strong Afro-Antillean heritage. Most homes are right on the water, and locals operate water taxis, offering highly recommended tours through the mangroves. B.J.’s is a very rustic local bar that’s great for light lunch and a beer. Take the right fork at the entrance to Oak Ridge and follow it down and around. B.J.’s is in front of Bodden’s Supermarket on the water.
Punta Gorda: There are two roads down into Punta Gorda – just to the East of the Villas. The first Garifuna settlement, established in 1797. This event is celebrated annually on November 12th with a celebratory carnival that should be high on your list should you be visiting during that time. Socrifice Restaurant is on the waterfront in Punta Gorda. Very local food like deep fried lobster. A good lunch suggestion.
• Continue East past Oak Ridge to the sign to East End Beaches and follow the dirt road to The Crow’s Nest, at Marble Hills Farms. They have a lovely sunset view and are open for dinner >and drinks Wednesday – Saturday.Tropical Island Divers, located at Marble Hill Farms, offers a full range of dive courses from a “Discover Scuba” afternoon through to Divemaster training.
• Paya Bay, clothing optional: Look for the sign to Paya Bay about 10 minutes after Marble Hills Farms- Paya Bay resort sits on a bluff in the center of two beautiful white sand beaches. Their restaurant is on a deck overlooking the beaches and the sea. Take your swim suits and take a dip on one of the scenic, uncrowded beaches. Paya Bay also has clothing optional areas.
• Camp Bay – Check out the Camp Bay Beach Adventure Lodge restaurant and their variety of island tours and activities. Beautiful public beach.
To the West of the Villas
French Harbour – Located 20 minutes west of the Villas. A bustling community, with many banks. A well-stocked market, a clinic, pharmacy. Just East of town is Arch’s Iguana Farm, where a local has set up his own iguana reserve. Stop by around noon to view mealtime for the inhabitants. There are also several restaurants located in French Harbour.
• About 10 minutes from the Villas as you head west towards French Harbour is Cal’s Cantina, great place for lunch or dinner. open Tues thru Friday only.
• Just before you reach town on the right hand side is Pineapple Villas. Herby’’s Sports Bar is open for Lunch & Dinner. The Pineapple Grill is open for Breakfast and Dinner. American and Tipico breakfast, omlettes, etc. Dinner, steak, seafood, full bar. Outside or inside dining.
• Supermarket: In French Harbor, turn left at the juntion and go about 100 yards, Eldon’s supermarket is on the right.
• Banks: On the right hand side of the road just past French Harbour is the Mall. It has four banks with ATMs and Big House Burger, typical food, very good.
• Just west of the French Harbour junction on the main road on the left hand side are the Chinese Kitchen.
Coxen Hole and West End
Coxen Hole – Largest city on Roatan and the capital of the Bay Islands. Coxen Hole is the gateway to Roatan, as the airport is located here. Lots of hustle and bustle here, not a tourist town but lots of shops. Public parking lot is right in the center.
Sandy Bay – Visit the famous Anthonys Key Resort. It is here that the institute of marine science is located. Dolphin encounter shows are scheduled regularly, two shows per day excluding Wednesdays, and three shows per day on weekends. For a fee you may swim with the dolphins. Reservations are required. Dining in Sandy Bay includes:
• The Beach Grill at Blue Bahia is open to the public for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and specializes in seafood and smoked meats..
West End/West Bay – West End and West Bay offer breathtaking beaches in a tropical setting. Great scuba diving, sea kayaking, horseback riding and glass-bottom boating are all available. No banks are located in West End. Take a boat taxi to West Bay and find one of the most beautiful stretches of beach anywhere. Snorkeling here is superb. There are many small restaurants from which to choose: keep in mind that restaurants open and close all the time here.
• Sundowners at the water’s edge is always fun and serves a great hamburger; it is a popular sunset meeting spot for islanders and tourists. Sip on a Monkey La-La around the beach bonfire – true island experience.
• Calelu Grocery. (next to Tiki Cup). Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner. Inexpensive local fare.
• Roatan Oasis, dinner only, call for reservations. Very good, variety.
• Monkey Island Beach Cafe. The name says it all.
• Buena Vista. Home cooked meals, Cubano sandwiches, pot pie.
• Creole Rotisserie Chicken. Best on the island, bar none.
• Bananorama in West Bay has a lively bar scene and a typical beach bar menu at the Thirsty Turtle. The Vintage Pearl, also located at Bananorama, is a more upscale restaurant with a great wine cellar and cusine featuring local seafood and great steaks.
• Fosters – party every Friday with live music.
• Half Moon Bay – great coconut shrimp! Open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Nice view of West End from their waterside deck. International and continental cuisine.
• The Argentinian – located at the Posada Arco Iris hotel. Offers grilled specialties including charcoal-grilled tenderloin, beef and shrimp brochettes, and a variety of seafood dishes. Their homemade chimichurri sauce is delicious!
• Tong’s Thai Island Cuisine offers cuisine from Thailand that is described as “simply amazing”. Try the Pad Thai with shrimp…
• Oolanthoo, just outside West End, serves up Indian dishes and even offers Indian cooking classes!
The following are links to addtional information about the island of Roatan.
• www.roatanonline.com – lots of good, useful information about Roatan and all of Honduras, including maps, real estate information, things to do, etc.
• www.roatanet.com – another excellent site full of Roatan and Honduras information; activities, news, events, weather, classifieds, etc.