Roatán is the largest of the islands and has been developed quite extensively. But its idyllic charm is still apparent and quiet beaches are often just a short walk away. There is a paved road running from West End through to French Harbour, almost to Oak Ridge, continuing unpaved to Punta Gorda and Wilkes Point, as well as other unmade roads.

Tourist offices provides local information about the island.

Coxen Hole

The capital and administrative centre of the department, Coxen Hole, or Roatán City, is on the southwest shore. Planes land and boats dock here and you can get transport to other parts of the island. It is a scruffy little town with not much of tourist interest but some souvenir shops are opening. Besides being the seat
of the local government, it has immigration, customs and the law courts. There is a post office, supermarket, handicraft shops, photo shops, banks, travel agents, a bookshop and various other stores. Buses leave from outside the supermarket. All public transport starts or ends here. If taxis are shared, they are
and charge the same as buses.

Sandy Bay

A short journey from Coxen Hole, en route to West End, is Sandy Bay, one of the quieter towns on the island. The
Carambola Botanical Gardens
, created in 1985, contain many flowering plants, ferns and varieties of trees which can be explored on a network of trails - it is well worth a visit. The
Roatán Museum
, has displays covering the history of the island, with plenty of information about the pirates who called Roatán home, and a collection of artefacts.

West End

Five minutes by road beyond Sandy Bay, the popular community of West End, at the western tip of the island, is the most popular place to stay. It's a narrow beach on a palm- fringed bay with a distinctly laid-back atmosphere. The
Sandy Bay/West End Marine Park
protects marine life in the area and large numbers of fish have flourished
along the coast creating spectacular snorkelling.
There are numerous good foreign and local restaurants with lots of pizza/pasta places, as well as hotels,
and rooms to rent for all budgets. It is a stiff walk from Coxen Hole over the hills (three hours) to West End, or take the bus on the paved road.

West Bay

A beautiful clean beach with excellent snorkelling on the reef, particularly at the west end, where the reef is only 10-20 m offshore and the water is shallow right up to where the wall drops off 50-75 m out and scuba-diving begins. Paradise comes at a price and the sandflies here are a nightmare, but there are a couple of jetties where you can escape them. Take your own food and drinks, and insect repellent. Developers have discovered the delights of West Bay and the atmosphere is changing fast. Apartments, hotels, bars and restaurants are springing up.

East of Coxen Hole

French Harbour
, on the south coast, with its shrimping and lobster fleet, is the main fishing port of Roatán. There is no beach and there are two seafood-packing plants. The road passes Coleman's (Midway) Bakery, where you can buy freshly baked products. The bay is protected by the reef and small cayes, which provide safe anchorage. Roatan Dive and Yacht Club and Romeos Marina (at Brick Bay) offer services for visiting yachts. Several charter yachts are based here. There are a few cheap, clean places to stay, as well as expensive hotels and dive resorts. Eldon's Supermarket is open daily and has a range of imported US food.
Gios Restaurant
Casa Romeos
serve top-quality seafood.

Across the island

The main road goes across the mountain ridge along the island with side roads to Jonesville, Punta Gorda and Oak Ridge. You can take a bus on this route to see the island's hilly interior, with beautiful views from coast to coast. Alternatively, hire a small 4WD, which is almost as cheap if shared between four people and allows you to explore the dirt roads and empty bays along the island's northern tip.
is known for its mangrove canal, which is best reached by hiring a taxi boat in Oak Ridge.
Oak Ridge
, situated on a caye, is built around a deep inlet on the south coast. It is a charming little fishing port, with rows of dwellings on stilts built on the water's edge.

This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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