Here is a video intended to promote out big fishing tournament in September but also has some good information and really nice shots of the island: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X3_QY87pZZo&feature=g-upl
Location: Roatan is a lush, mountainous largely undeveloped Western Caribbean island situated in the refreshing Trade Winds but tucked out of the hurricane belt between Belize and Honduras. It’s just 2 hours from Miami or Houston and has direct flights from a number of other cities as well. Situated on the second largest reef in the world, it offers spectacular diving and swimming-pool calm, 82F water. We get 320+ days of sunshine a year and even in the dry season the jungle is always lush and green.
Zones: Roatan is approximately 37 miles (62 km) long and 2.5 miles (4 km) wide on average. It runs east and west but the weather systems flow north and south allowing you to choose your own weather! The prevailing Trades come from the south making the south side of the island the windward side. Lots of people like the constant breezes and the views to the magnificent 8,000 foot mainland Honduras mountains just 35 miles (58 km) away. Many homes here don’t even bother with air conditioning. The north or lee side of the island has swimming pool calm waters, great beaches including West Bay Beach – listed as one of the ‘Top 10 Beaches in the Caribbean’ and the turquoise colors of the barrier reef just a few hundred yards (meters) off the beach.
For living, the island is really divided into 3 areas – west, mid island and east side. Each one is unique and special in its own way and each one provides a specific lifestyle opportunity.
The north or lee side of the island has swimming pool calm waters, great beaches including West Bay Beach – listed as one of the ‘Top 10 Beaches in the Caribbean’ and the turquoise colors of the barrier reef just a few hundred yards (meters) off the beach.
The west side of the island has the most resorts, tourism, restaurants, beaches and amenities. The majority of expats live on the west side. You will find plenty of friends and non-stop activities if that is what you want. The best beach on the island is located here as are most of the dive shops and water sports. Here you will find luxurious condos, lovely homes yet still many places to “get away from it all”. Sandy Bay is the location of Anthony’s Key Resort, one of the longest-established and most successful dive operations in the Caribbean. It also houses one of the islands hyperbaric chambers and an excellent medical clinic open to the public.
Mid island is the home of many of the original European settlers here.They still dominate the fishing fleet – the largest in the Caribbean. Until recently it was being left behind in development by the western area of the island. It is now being reborn. At the western end of this zone is the largest town and the center of commerce on the island on the island – Coxen Hole. It is inhabited solely by local islanders. There are supermarkets, banks and the municipal hall for Roatan Municipality. It is also the home for the Port of Roatan cruise ship dock owned by Royal Caribbean as well as Mahogany Bay – Carnival’s largest port in the Caribbean.
Parrot Tree Plantation, the oldest upper end residential development and resort on the island is located here and its charms are still developing. Pineapple Villas, a fairly new condo development, is located in French Harbour. It features a huge spa, Herby’s Sports Bar which would do any North American city proud, and the Pineapple Steak House serving aged, prime USDA cuts. Mmmm!
One of the biggest changes to the island is Pristine Bay Golf Resort. This 405 acre development is home to a new, world class, 18 hole championship golf course called the Black Pearl. With 15 of the holes looking over the turquoise waters of the Caribbean off Crawfish Rock it is incredibly lovely. It was designed by Pete and Perry Dye and is one of their challenging Signature Courses. It is also a very successful residential development with home sites, villas and condos spread through the golf course and overlooking the sea and the soon-to-be-built full service marina and nearly completed 5 Star hotel.
The east end of the island has loads of character and history. It has a 2,000 acre national park with pine trees and cactus and only one small locally owned resort. Roatan really was the home to the ‘pirates of the Caribbean. For over100 years there were estimated to have been up to 5,000 pirates living on the island, mostly on the east side. The fortress that the Spaniards stored all of the wealth they collected in Central America was located in Portabelo, Panama and the only time that stronghold was ever successfully sacked was from a group of pirates out of Roatan. Many say that there is still buried treasure to be found in the many caves and hillsides! Popular areas for foreigners to buy are the ‘over-the water’ homes in Jonesville or Oakridge or in the sheltered spectacular waterfront of Calabash Bight. Several other ‘gringo’ (not a bad word here) communities dot the area including the miles-long, pristine beach of Camp Bay.
If you really want to be a hermit, there are dozens and dozens of islands and small cayes (islets) scattered throughout the Bay Islands. They rarely come up for sale but occasionally there are whole islands or cayes or in some cases, lots for sale on them.
Why are so many people vacationing, investing and retiring here when less than 10 years ago you couldn’t even get here? Roatan is the “Next Big Thing” in Caribbean real estate. Imagine Costa Rica or Belize 25 years ago. We are less than 2 hours from the US and are out of the hurricane belt. We are also one of the loveliest places on earth with an average temperature of 85 degrees, jungle covered mountains looking down on white sand beaches and turquoise waters. Property is half the cost of the developed islands and going up fast as we are rapidly being discovered. We are one of the safest places in the world and are very friendly and open to foreign investment and ownership. No problem to buy as a foreigner and both Stewart Title and First American Title insure properties here. Buying is easy although the warning is to only work with an experienced, realtor who is part of the MLS and the Roatan Real Estate Association and has been licensed in North America. Most “realtors” here have never had 5 minutes of training or education in real estate. Pristine Bay Resort has just finished building a Pete Dye Signature championship golf course mid island that promises to be one of the best golf courses in the Caribbean. In addition they are also building the first 5 star hotel on the island and we have more world class resorts coming in. More cruise ship visitors and more amenities are showing up every day. Carnival has constructed a new cruise ship dock in Mahogany Bay in addition to Royal Caribbean’s docks in Coxen Hole. Of course we have also just been declared a Tax Free and Duty Free Zone! For the person looking to get in on activities and the growth, the western side of the island is perfect. If your dream is more remote and pristine, we have a lot of that as well. I spent several years investigating places to live and invest all over the world. Roatan won. Why? I created a very stringent list of criteria that had to be met. Probably the same list you would make up if you were serious and had the 30 years of real estate experience I had. Roatan scored on every point. Go ahead, have a look.
Cool Things To Do. Even as an emerging growth resort destination, Roatan has lots to do.
West Bay: This beach is the big draw. Rated as one of the Top 10 Beaches in the Caribbean it boasts white powder sand that extends out into the 82F (27C) calm, crystal clear waters. You never stub a toe and there are no waves, currents or undertows. It is the world’s biggest swimming pool!
Arguably the best snorkeling in the world is right here. The water is 84F, no current, the visibility is normally over 100 feet and 99% of all sea life found in the Caribbean is right there on the second largest reef in the world. There are abundant and colorful corals and sponges. It is common for people to see thousands of fish of every description including puffer fish, triggerfish, grouper, snapper, soldier fish, sergeant majors, etc and sometimes moray eels, spotted eagle rays and many times, turtles.
Grab a drink at Bananarama – the local ex-pat’s favorite West Bay Beach hang out spot. Best dive shop on the island too! (http://www.bananaramadive.com/ Stay at the award-winning West Bay Lodge or at least feast on one of Celeste’s famous gourmet baleadas at Celeste’s Island Cuisine. (http://www.westbaylodge.com/).
Spas: What is a vacation about more than relaxing and rejuvenating yourself. The epitome of this experience is a massage and spa treatment from Sergia’s Spa. Treat yourself! Her hands are magical and I hear only rave reviews from absolutely everyone. Having enjoyed her treatments for nearly 2 years I can attest to her expertise. This is not a baby oil and sand once over on the beach from one of the local ladies. See the attachments to learn more about this gifted lady and you can book your treatments online through me.
Boy are we lucky on this island! We have a number of excellent restaurants you will enjoy. In West End try the best pizzas on the island plus other great fare at the Blue Channel.
If passing through Coxen Hole make a point of stopping by Mi Gusta! located across the street and just west of the Port of Roatan cruise ship terminal. Traditional Honduran food as well as international fare that is a real treat. Enjoy a great meal and a spectacular view for bargain prices.
What is being billed as the Caribbean golf course that needs to be on everyone’s ‘bucket list’ has recently opened in French Harbour. The Black Pearl at Pristine Bay is a Pete Dye Signature, championship course with 14 of the challenging holes looking over the turquoise Caribbean.
If you really want to step away from the crowd check out Upachaya (http://www.upachaya.com/). This quiet retreat specializes in Holistic healing, yoga and many other wonderful experiences. My wife and I had the very pleasant experience of a kayaking expedition guided by the lodge. Absolutely wonderful! You paddle in a secluded bay through mangrove channels and inside the reef around little keys. There are several outstanding and private snorkeling locations with more diversity and things to see than you will likely find anywhere in the world. If you want something a little out of the ordinary, this is a highly recommended choice.
Canadians, eh! Hockey comes to Roatan.
Or if you want nothing more than to just chill out…Okay! Really, seeing is believing so you just need to experience it for yourself to see how wonderful it is.