A Guide to Scuba Diving in the Caribbean – Roatán, Honduras

 

For those of us who are not familiar with Roatán – it is an island in the Caribbean Bay Islands and is part of the country of Honduras. Roatán is mainly known for its dive sites and specifically catering to divers. It also happens to be a cruise ship-docking site, which services a variety of brands such as Norwegian and Royal Caribbean. Our vacation was diving focused so the rest of this article will be related to diving.

Getting There

There are many options to get to Roatán – Juan Manuel Galvez International Airport (RTB). Flying from the US you can choose either an American carrier or a variety of other carriers from other countries, which service RTB. Since we were flying from LAX we opted to use American Airlines and connect through Dallas Forth Worth (DFW).

Below is our flight schedule:

Flights for this region can be as cheap as 25,000 AA miles round trip. However for our specific dates the round trip cost ended up being around 40,000 AA miles round trip – so it wasn’t the best redemption but still a very good value with round trip ticket dollar costs hovering around $700 for economy tickets.

Approaching Roatan

Accommodations in Roatán

There are a ton of resorts on the island itself and many of them cater to divers. I would highly suggest staying at one of the smaller resorts as they really pander to your individual needs and customize packages to your liking. We ended up staying at Seagrape Plantation Resort  and opted for their 7 Nights Accommodation / 14 Dives package and chose the Ocean View Bungalow.

Seagrape also provides pick up and airport drop off service so it is really convenient and they take care of everything.

Seagrape is a short airport transfer from the airport
Police riding in the back of the pickup is one the first thing we see

I would highly suggest opting for the Ocean View Bungalow as it is quite an awesome upgrade over the hotel experience. The bungalows all have A/C as well which is a nice added bonus during the hot and humid Caribbean heat. The bungalows have a single shared wall with another bungalow next to you but you have your own porch and balcony with a hammock.   It’s an excellent place to relax after a long day of diving or resting in between dives.

Interior shot of one of our bungalows with a double and single bed
Sunset from the pool
Sunset from the porch while hanging out on the hammock

Here were our details for our costs and their reservation policies:

Bungalow (Double – Per Person) $856.80
Rates includes:
*19% Honduran sales tax
*7 nights accommodation ocean view bungalow
*14 dives each
*No additional charge for dive equipment
*2 meals per day (Breakfast & Lunch)
*Airport pickup and drop off

Reservation Policy: We require a 50% deposit due 30 days prior to your arrival. Balance is due upon check-in. Deposits are non-refundable, Deposits are valid for 1 year from the date of booking and may be applied to a future reservation within this time period. Deposits may be made by credit card, mail, or funds transfers(wired).

For those of you who are looking to get certified, the rates were not that much more to get certified at Seagrape. The open water diver course and an additional 5 dives after the course costed $904.05 per person.

Their included breakfast and lunches were simply amazing. Everyday was different and the menu was always varied and never the same. I can’t say enough about the local cooking they provide and simply say that a homecooked meal away from home is hard to get!

Our group enjoying breakfast in the morning before diving
Typical Lunch – An Amazing Chicken Sandwich with Fries

As a testament to their level of customer service – later on in the trip Jade got an ear infection and the owners drove us to the hospital in Coxen Hole. They spoke to them in Spanish and translated for us and helped us throughout the whole ordeal. They come highly recommended!

Seagrape Diveshop

The diveshop is located just a short walk from your hotel room or bungalow – the walk only takes less than 5 minutes and is quite pleasant. The sign up for diving is fairly straight forward – they have a white board which you sign up for different time slots (8:30 , 10:30, 14:30). Depending on how many people they have signed up for a particular dive they will operate more boats if needed. The boat will return to shore after each dive to get new tanks so if you need to grab something in between dives you can leave it in the office where it’s relatively safe.

Dive Board – showing sign ups for dives during the day

They do offer free rental gear as well. I personally did not rent any gear since I had my own gear but their rental gear seems to be nice and well kept. Most people who were diving here opted to use the free rental gear so that’s a huge plus if you don’t have your own gear.

Seagrape’s pier and the dive boats docked
Getting up on the dive boat

Diving in Roatán

Most of the dive sites that they operate are within a 20 min boat ride from the resort so they are fairly close together.  The dives here were pretty awesome and for the amount of diving we were doing we really enjoyed the temps being in the mid to low 80s.

Below are all of our dives listed in chronological order including the dive time and site

  Date Day Time Dive Site
1 5/14/2017 Sunday 8:30 AM Seaquest
2 5/14/2017 Sunday 10:30 AM Overheat
3 5/14/2017 Sunday 2:30 PM The Wife
4 5/15/2017 Monday 8:30 AM Hole in the Wall
5 5/15/2017 Monday 10:30 AM Melissa’s Reef
6 5/15/2017 Monday 2:30 PM Bikini Bottom
7 5/16/2017 Tuesday 8:30 AM Spooky Channel
8 5/16/2017 Tuesday 10:30 AM Lighthouse Reef
9 5/16/2017 Tuesday 2:30 PM Blue Channel
10 5/17/2017 Wednesday 8:30 AM Texas
11 5/17/2017 Wednesday 10:30 AM Temptation
12 5/17/2017 Wednesday 6:00 PM Gibson Bight (Night Dive)
13 5/18/2017 Thursday 8:30 AM Mary’s Place
14 5/18/2017 Thursday 10:30 AM Prince Albert Wreck
15 5/18/2017 Thursday 2:30 PM Canyon Reef

If you’d like further details about dive profiles and depths please feel free to shoot us an email.

Below are some of the things you can expect to see on your dives:

There are also a lot of swim throughs and crevasses which you can go through. If you haven’t been through some of these before it is highly recommended that you try and go through these!

Spooky Channel – A cool crevasse!

Roatán – Food

Seagrape is located in what is known as the West End and you are very close to a variety of shops and restaurants. Since Seagrape catered to us for breakfast and lunch we did have to find somewhere to go for dinner. They do not provide dinner and so we had to head out to town to take a look at the local offerings. We noticed that a lot of places have people outside heckling tourists and asking them to come in to try their food. The food here in general is pretty cheap when compared to American prices as long as you know where to go. Some of the restaurants that cater specifically to Americans and/or tourists are much more expensive and can really run up your food budget. Also please note that not all places accept credit cards but most places will accept American dollars. I have never seen the Honduran Lempira or how it looks so you can get the idea of how you will fare as an American with USD.

Map of Seagrape and Roatán
$5 lunch at Calelu’s in the West End

There are plenty of street food vendors. We were not the least bit wary of these and found these to be quite good. There was a man and his son who happily served us food on the beach and brought us large plates of meats. He served various plates of pork, beef, and or chicken for $6 each.

Street Side Charcoal Grill

Another place that we found that was quite tasty was Anthony’s Chicken – it was a little more established but not quite up to the standards of a what would be considered a typical restaurant in the US. The menu was written on poster board with Sharpie – but don’t let that stop you at all!

Anthony out front cooking the meat and the menu
A typical $5 plate at Anthony’s Chicken in the West End

Creole’s Rotisserie Chicken is also another really good place in the West End that offers a ton of food for $20 – you get a whole chicken + 4 fixings. We ordered two of them for $40 total and you can see how much good we got for $40! Needless to say we were completely stuffed afterwards.

A large sampling of what is to be had at Creole’s Rotisserie Chicken

Coconut Tree Diver’s Restaurant was by far one of the more expensive restaurants that we went to due to it’s proximity to a resort. Their plates ranged between $15 – $25 for dinner and we found the food to taste quite great but priced for tourists as you didn’t get quite as much food as some other places, i.e. less value.

Lobster and shrimp plate at Coconut Tree Restaurant

One of the nights we decided to venture out of the West End and head into Coxen Hole to see what the non touristy side of the island had to offer. Boy were we surprised at how much cheaper everything was! The taxi ride can vary depending on how well you can haggle with a driver. We managed to get a one way ride for about $12 and the van fit all 6 of us.  That’s where we found the Bay Side restaurant and we feasted on a sampling of shrimp, fish, beef, ribs, pork, and chicken. The huge sampling of food you see below only costed about $25 per person and we were completely stuffed!

In front of the amazing sea and land food – Bay Side Restaurant

Need to make sure we get a picture of the food

Another place where we got food was a local spot called Garifuna Living Food in Punta Gorda. Cleve from Cleve’s Tours took us here. It was a real eye opening experience in terms of getting to know what the locals eat. All of the food they served here was caught locally by fishermen and tasted absolutely amazing!

A restaurant on stilts
Yummy seafood in Punta Gorda

The street food here is also simply amazing as well – don’t miss the freshly squeezed orange juice in a bag or the pastelitos! You should be able to find these in Coxen Hole on the street – Cleve brought us to this specific location.

Freshly squeezed is the best kind of juice

Cleve’s Tours and Adventures

For our last day on Roatán we needed to take a non-diving day to allow our bodies enough time to dissipate any residual nitrogen so we could fly safely. Cleve transported us from the airport which is how we found him. His tour costs $45 per person but it is well worth it. You can find his Facebook page here. It’s filled with all 5 star reviews!

Cleve is one of the most enthusiastic and passionate locals you will ever meet. He is also an extremely kind soul and it shows throughout his entire tour.  Do not miss his tour!

On Cleve’s tour we visited locations such as: Punta Gorda, Little Venice, Jonesville, French Harbour, Coxen Hole, and West End. The tour is also completely customizable and Cleve will take you wherever you want to go and see. We wanted to go zip-lining and see the sloths so he took us to both of those!

For zip lining we went to Jungle Top Adventure Ziplining. It was on our way around the island and we stopped here for about two hours to complete our adventure here. It was $40 per person for the zip line tour. They also have a monkeys and birds on the premises so make sure not to miss those!

Getting ready for some zipling fun
Monkey business

And if monkeys are not your thing but sloths are, then be sure to visit Daniel Johnson’s Monkey and Sloth Hang Out. Their workers will readily pluck the sloths from their trees and place them around your neck for your new Facebook profile picture.

Watchu looking at?

We liked Punta Gorda and Little Venice the most as they seemed to show the local culture and heritage. Make sure to visit these places as these are definitely not touristy and the people who you see are locals.

Sunset in Punta Gorda
Twilight in Little Venice

Video Compilation of our Trip

Trip Budget

Since we choose a resort that was semi-inclusive you can see that most of our costs are bundled into the cost of the resort.

Description Cost
Flights (American Airlines) $11.20 9/11 security fee + 62.66 Carrier Surcharges + 40,000 AA Miles
Seagrape Resort $856.80
Dive Tips ($5 per dive) $75
Dinner Budget for Whole Trip $150
Cleve’s Tour + Tip $45 + $10
Zip Lining $40
Total Approximate Cost Per Person $1250.66



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