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Roatan: an ancient pirate lair today a tourist destination

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The island of Roatan is the largest of the islands in the Islas de la Bahía archipelago. Located about 50 km north of the Caribbean coast of Honduras, Roatan is located between the islands of Útila and Guanaja. The shape of the island is narrow and elongated, in fact it measures over 75 km in length and at most has a width of 8 km.

At one time the islands were a pirate lair. In fact, between the 16th and 17th centuries, English, French and Dutch pirates established settlements on the islands of the archipelago of the Islas de la Bahía. From the 18th century until 1861 Roatan and the other Islas de la Bahía were in fact an English colony. Overall, the population of Roatan is made up of black people, and of mixed English and mestizo descent, with a small number of people of indigenous origin. The official language is Spanish, but most of the population is multilingual and also speaks a variety of Caribbean English.


Coxen Hole is the largest inhabited center of the island, the town takes its name from the pirate John Coxen / Coxon. A port where cruise ships dock, Coxen Hole is popularly known as “El pueblo”. The city was founded in 1835, when many families from the Cayman islands moved to Roatan. The influence of Afro-Antillean culture is palpable in this town. French Harbor is the main fishing port on the island. Its picturesque harbor with anchored fishing boats is worth a visit. The fishing village of Oak Ridge is overly considered a sort of Venice in the Caribbean. Formed by colorful houses on stilts it is surrounded by sea and mangroves. In this area it is possible to explore the so-called “salty woods”, a coastal area characterized by mangroves.

An international airport the Aeropuerto Internacional Juan Manuel Gálvez serves Roatan. The airport is located along the sea a few kilometers east of Coxen Hole. Roatan airport has air links to various locations in Honduras and to some cities in the United States and Canada. The island also has a ferry service that connects the island of Roatán (from Brick Bay 15 minutes from Coxen Hole) with La Ceiba. The time taken for the crossing varies between 1 hour to 1 hour and a half.


Roatan is famous among tourists for the sun, tropical vegetation and the Caribbean sea. Roatan is one of the most visited tourist sites in Honduras, tourism is the driving force of the island. In particular, the island has become a popular destination for cruise ships that sail the Caribbean Sea. The stretch of coast between West End and West Bay located at the western end of the island is the most touristic area of Roatan. Here you will find the best white sandy beaches with clear water, ideal for swimming and snorkeling.

Antony’s Key Resort is home to the Instituto de Ciencias Marinas de Roatan, a scientific institute dedicated to the study of coral reefs and underwater life in the coastal area of Honduras. The institute also has a small marine museum and the “Dolphin Discovery Camp” where dolphin behavior is studied. Nearby, in Sandy Bay, there are also the Carambola Botanical Gardens where it is possible to admire, by taking short walks, all the varieties of plants present on the island. Those who love animals can take a trip to the Mayan Jungle Canopy, here you can see capuchin monkeys, parrots, fawns and other animals. In French Cay is the Arch’s Iguana Farm, a park dedicated to iguanas.



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