Most cruisers don’t set out to see Honduras but find Roatan a pleasant surprise once they get there. The largest of the Honduras Bay Islands, a group of islets about 30 miles away from the mainland, Roatan has recently transformed itself from a small village to a recreational center rich with fishing, diving, and water sports. Today, there’s a steady supply of tour operators at the port ready to take you into the cerulean waters, which — thanks to being the world's second largest barrier reef system — are home to unforgettably bright rainbow-colored fish and coral.
Breakfast: Rudy’s Restaurant – At Georphi’s Tropical Hideaway hotel on the West End, Rudy’s is well known in the diving circuit for its banana pancakes and tropical smoothies. It’s good fortifying food before a day at the beach, which is right across the street.
Barefeet Bar - Photo by Bare Feet Bar
Lunch: Ronny’s Barefeet Beachfront Bar – The Caribbean fare at this joint — including spicy island-style fried chicken and grilled honey-basted lobster — is heaven on a plate. Ronny’s leads several tours as well, from ziplining to snorkeling, making it a good day trip. Best of all, it offers convenience and an island vibe: They come pick you up at the cruise port, have a “no shirt, no shoes, no problem” policy, and let you eat with your feet in the sand.
Dinner: Temporary Cal’s Cantina – Though it looks like a hole in a wall that might be here today, gone tomorrow, the view of the bay from this off-the-tourist-track location is one of the best on the island. The specials change daily based on available ingredients, but the menu includes local favorites like grouper fish tacos and jerk chicken wings. The restaurant may not be temporary, but it’s only open Tuesday through Friday.
The Crows Nest at Marbe Hill Farms - Photo by Marble Hill Farms
Dessert: Marble Hill Farms – How about PB&J for dessert?This farm on the rarely visited East End makes all-natural jams and jellies on-site. Sample the island flavors, including hibiscus, Island plum, and mango pineapple, and then order a sweet treat from the farm’s Crow’s Nest restaurant to go.
Tip: One of the best ways to sample Roatan's seafood is in one of the popular local soups: If a restaurant has sopa marinera on the menu, try it — it’s loaded with crab, shrimp, mussels, and fish. Or go for sopa de caracol, a conch-laden soup that’s so adored, a Latin pop song was written about it.
For Everyone: Blue Harbor Tropical Arboretum – Roatan’s “Tropical Eden” offers tours of its fruit orchard (star fruit, mangoes, pink grapefruit) and extensive conservatory, which features a hydroponic lettuce and herb farm — a Caribbean first. It has a lot of wildlife because of the large pond on the premises, so it’s a great place for bird watchers.
For Families: Detour Roatan – Glass-bottom boat tours are a good option for families who want to see marine life close-up, without snorkeling or diving. The 45-minute tour costs $45 per person and includes round-trip transfers from the ship.
The Black Pearl Golf Course at Pristine Bay Resort - Photo by Pristine Bay Resort
For Couples: Black Pearl golf course – Not interested in diving? Pristine Bay’s par-72, ocean-view golf course — Roatan's first and only course — is open to the public. Play nine holes, 18 holes, or book a package, which is $225 per person for 18 holes on the Pete Dye-designed course, a dozen balls, plus lunch.
For the Adventurous: Jungletop Zipline – Get a glimpse of white-faced capuchin monkeys while ziplining through the trees. Touted as one of the longest zip line courses on the island, this outfitter will have you briefed and suited up for fun in no time.