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A Family Guide Roatan’s Best Kept Secrets

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The island of Roatan in Honduras is a Caribbean paradise that is perfect for a family getaway!  With crystal clear, calm beaches safe for swimming, the pristine Mesoamerican Barrier Reef offshore for snorkelling and diving, and plenty of jungle adventures, your kids will love Roatan. 

Roatan is the perfect balance of developed and easy, but not overrun or touristy. Compared with other popular islands in the Caribbean, Roatan would be considered ‘rustic’ by some. It’s not a typical luxury resort destination, which kids generally don’t care about! 

carribean with kids

Most of the island has a laidback barefoot vibe with rainbow clapboard houses, friendly locals and dusty roads. It’s not pretentious or exclusive and kids are welcomed with open arms. 

Tourism is developed enough that it’s not challenging to navigate, while still keeping it’s island charm. There are resorts if you want them, a fantastic network of dive shops, tour operators and drivers, an international airport, and great restaurants and self-catering options. 

A visit to Roatan and stress-free, which is what you want when you’re travelling with kids in tow. 

This kid-friendly guide to Roatan will share the best family-friendly places to stay on the island, the top things to do with kids and general travel tips like transport information and best restaurants. 

What age kids are best suited to Roatan?

If you’re hoping for an active and adventurous family holiday, Roatan is probably better for slightly older kids who are comfortable and confident in the water. Swimming, snorkelling and even scuba diving are the main drawcards on the island. 

If you’re travelling with toddlers, Roatan is still a fantastic destination, although a flop-and-drop relaxing resort holiday is probably best suited for families with young kids. Your little one will have fun splashing in the calm, warm waters and a resort will provide the convenience and amenities you need on-site.   

Is Roatan Honduras safe for Families? 

Honduras doesn’t have a great reputation when it comes to safety, so it’s only fair you have concerns for your family. Thankfully, Roatan and the whole Bay Islands archipelago exist almost separately from the mainland. Their geographic location and established tourist industry mean the islands don’t suffer the same security problems as the mainland. 

Roatan is a very safe destination and receives hundreds of thousands of international visitors each year. Many families visit, and travellers of all ages arrive on cruise ships and at the island’s international airport. 

How to get to Roatan Honduras

The easiest way to get to Roatan with kids in tow is to fly directly to the island. There is an international airport, RTB Juan Manuel Gálvez International Airport, which receives direct flights from a handful of cities in the USA and Canada. If you can’t get a direct flight, you can transit via San Pedro Sula. 

If you’re already travelling around the mainland of Honduras, or you’d prefer the overland journey, you can catch the ferry from La Ceiba to Roatan. The journey takes between 1 – 2 hours depending on sea conditions, and it’s known to be a bumpy ride. If anyone in the family gets seasick, it might be wise to avoid this trip! 

Do note that it is at least a four-hour drive from San Pedro Sula to La Ceiba, which is where you’ll most likely be coming from if you’re flying in, or transiting from other popular destinations in Honduras, such as Copan Ruinas. 

How to get around in Roatan

Roatan is a surprisingly large island. Although most of the attractions and tourist infrastructure are centred around the west side, in West Bay and West End. You can rent a car at the airport or ferry terminal, and if you’re eager to explore the further reaches of the island, this might be a good idea. 

If you’ve got a beach and ocean-focused holiday, you don’t really need a car. Whether you choose to stay in West Bay or West End, you can easily get around on foot, with water taxis or regular taxis. 

If you want to venture further away from your hotel for a day, there are plenty of great private drivers available too, so you won’t need a car for your entire stay. 

Kid-friendly accommodation in Roatan

We recommend basing yourself on the west side of the island. This is where most of the action is, but it avoids the sterile and touristy cruise ship area on the south side. 

You’ve got two main options when it comes to choosing where to stay in Roatan: West End or West Bay. It totally depends on what kind of holiday you’re after, and what age your kids are.

West End is a nice mix of expats, locals and tourists. A thriving little village, it attracts more independent travellers who aren’t looking for a luxury resort. If you want to experience a more authentic taste of life on Roatan and don’t need everything in-house, this is a good choice for you. Accommodations tend to be more rustic, but most are self-contained and affordable. There are great local restaurants throughout town and some calm and gorgeous beaches for the kids. A better option for older kids and experienced travellers. 

  • Mr. Tucan Hotel: a modern, centrally located option overlooking Half Moon Bay Beach, they have apartment rooms big enough for the kids to share. Daily breakfast is included at their on-site cafe. 
  • Seabreeze Inn: a budget-friendly option in the heart of West End, Seabreeze Inn is nothing fancy but it does have spacious and well-equipped cabins with kitchen facilities so you can self-cater. You’re a short walk to Half Moon Bay Beach and all the best local restaurants. 
  • The Beach House: if you want the independent atmosphere of West End but the luxury of West Bay, The Beach House is perfect for you! This gorgeous boutique hotel is on the shores of Half Moon Bay Beach, with spectacular sunset views. Standard rooms can house up to 4, so you don’t need multiple rooms. There isn’t a pool, but the kids should be happy jumping off the long jetty into the clear, calm Caribbean waters. 

West Bay is the touristy, resort area of Roatan. Set along the shores of the best beach on the island, this is where you will find the luxury and all-inclusive resorts. Restaurants and other amenities are a little pricier here, but to be steps away from West Bay Beach is a great choice, especially if you’re looking for a flop-and-drop holiday with everything at your fingertips. A better option for younger families who want the convenience and ease of a resort. 

  • Infinity Bay Spa & Beach Resort: if you’re looking for a traditional resort getaway with a luxurious, tropical feel, Infinity Bay is for you. Situated on the sand at the far end of West Bay Beach (right near the reef), this resort ticks so many boxes for a family holiday. With all-inclusive options, a huge pool, a swim-up bar, beachfront lounges, a dive shop, and on-site restaurants. 
  • Mayan Princess Beach & Dive Resort: this resort is kid-heaven right on the beach, with a huge pool and dedicated kids club to keep the little ones occupied. They have all-inclusive options if you want it, multiple restaurants and a dive shop on-site. Rooms are villa-style with kitchen facilities, with two-bedroom options to house the whole family. 
  • West Bay Lodge & Spa: if you’re set on the West Bay location but aren’t fussed with a fancy (and pricey!) resort, West Bay Lodge is a short walk from the beach, offering a quiet oasis away from the rowdy resorts. Rooms are fully equipped with kitchens and enough beds for everyone. The grounds are leafy tropical gardens, with some friendly resident dogs, cats, turtles and rabbits the kids are sure to love. 

Things to do in Roatan with kids

There are so many great things to do in Roatan, and most are suitable for kids, especially older kids and teens who love the water. 

Go Snorkelingin the Carribean Sea

Roatan sits on the edge of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, the second-largest barrier reef in the world. Extending along the coast of Mexico, Belize, Guatemala and Honduras, the reef is full of colourful corals and diverse marine life. 

Snorkelling is the most kid-friendly way to experience it! 

If your kids are just getting confident underwater with a snorkel, start with snorkelling from the beach. The southern end of West Bay Beach is the best place as the reef is just a short swim offshore, and the waters are relatively calm. 

The next level of snorkelling is taking a boat tour and visiting a few sites offshore. The reef gets better and better the further you go, and your captain will take you to the best local spots to look for turtles, spotted eagle rays and a variety of fish. 

If your kids are not confident underwater, there are a number of glass-bottom boats around West Bay Beach that can take you for a cruise. This allows them to get a glimpse of the reef and underwater world without having to use a snorkel or get wet. 

Enjoy the beaches in Roatan

Roatan’s beaches are paradise! Soft, powdery white sand, palm trees swaying along the shoreline and the clearest, bluest water you’ve ever seen! They belong on a postcard, and they’re perfect for kids with calm, safe swimming conditions. 

West Bay Beach is Roatan’s most famous beach, and for good reason. It’s a long, wide stretch of sand and the water is just perfect. There are a lot of resorts, restaurants and beach clubs along the beach so it can feel busy at times, but there is still plenty of space to set up your towel for the day if you don’t have a resort lounge reserved. 

If you’re not staying at West Bay, you can take a water taxi from West End and get dropped right on the beach. 

Half Moon Bay Beach in West End is another must-visit playa. It doesn’t have quite as blue water as West Bay, but this calm, crescent-shaped bay is much quieter and fringed with palm trees. 

Older kids who are confident swimmers can walk around to the northern end of the bay, and swim out to the iSoar Fun Boat. This old sailboat has been permanently anchored and converted into a floating playground! With diving decks and rope swings, adventurous kids will spend hours playing here. 

The sunset is spectacular from both of these beaches, so be sure to plan your evenings accordingly! 

Fly over the canopy on a zipline course

If you can drag yourself away from the gorgeous coast, there are plenty of jungle adventures waiting. None is more thrilling than ziplining! South Shore Adventures is a zipline park a short drive from West End or West Bay. 

tropical zipline with kids

Offering a range of different zipline and canopy courses, they can cater for kids aged 5 years and up. Little ones will fly in tandem with an experienced guide, so the whole family can enjoy the experience! Their standard zipline canopy tour includes 11 lines, some over 100 feet tall in the dense tropical rainforest. 

Try scuba diving offshore in Roatan

If you’ve got a water lover in the family, scuba diving should be on your list. Kids can get certified to dive at age 10, though many of the local operators will take kids 1-on-1 in an introductory scuba class called a bubble maker class at age 8.

Roatan is a fantastic place for divers of any age, but particularly for kids as there are many dive sites close to shore that are shallow and suitable for beginner divers. Kids are not technically allowed to dive as deep as adults, so this is a great option.

Most dive shops will offer an introductory dive experience where kids learn a few of the basics, before doing a trial dive in shallow waters off the beach. If they like it, they can proceed to boat dives or enrol in an Open Water course. 

If you’re staying in West Bay, a lot of the resorts, such as Infinity Bay and Maya Princess, have on-site dive shops that are great for families. If you’re in West End, there are countless dive shops. Native Sons and Coconut Tree Divers are particularly great for kids. 

Visit the Roatan Chocolate Factory 

What kid doesn’t like chocolate?! Honduras is a large producer of chocolate, and Roatan has its very own chocolate factory.  Located on the main street of West End, the Roatan Chocolate Factory produces organic chocolate made with Honduran-grown cacao, supporting indigenous farmers.

They offer a chocolate-making class, where you can make your own chocolate bar from scratch. It’s a great hands-on experience for the kids, with plenty of tasting opportunities along the way. 

Activities in Roatan to AVOID with kids

Sadly there are a lot of activities NOT to do in Roatan, that involve unethical animal encounters. Kids will definitely be interested in swimming with dolphins, cuddling a sloth or taking a photo with a monkey, but these animals are kept in captivity, with forced human interactions, which is cruel and inhumane. Please do not support the following attractions: 

  • Anthony’s Key dolphin encounters
  • Daniel Johnson’s Sloth and Monkey Hangout
  • AJ’s Monkeys and Sloths
  • Gumbalimba Park
  • Little French Key or Maya Key
  • Arch’s Iguana Park

Best restaurants in Roatan

There is a great range of restaurants around Roatan for all tastes and budgets. 

If you’ve got fussy eaters, there are plenty of international options. If your kids are open-minded, they can sample the local speciality baleadas, a large flour tortilla folded with refried beans, cheese and your choice of fillings. 

West End restaurants:

  • Calelu’s: the best baleadas on the island! Cheap, filling and tasty if your kids are open to trying something different, Calelu’s baleadas are fantastic. Have them for breakfast with eggs and avocado, or lunch or dinner with a range of meat and veggie options. 
  • Happy Harry’s HideAway: a fun restaurant floating over the water on a long, wooden dock. The kids can jump in the water while they wait for their food and enjoy the overwater swings and big inflatables. The food is basic, but the location makes up for it. It’s a meal and activity in one, and they’ve got a kid-friendly menu. 
  • Creole’s Rotisserie Chicken: a Caribbean speciality, Creole’s serves fresh and flavoursome rotisserie chicken. You can choose your sides, from a range of salads, rice, and beans and even a ¼ serving can be shared they’re so big! 
  • Sandy Buns Bakery: if the family needs a comfort meal that tastes like home, Sandy Buns serves up Texan-style food, with brisket, burgers, wings, biscuits and gravy. They also make delicious cinnamon buns. 

West Bay restaurants:

  • Thirsty Turtle at Banarama: a casual option on the beach that is fairly priced. It’s got a great sunset vantage point. Their speciality is pizzas which is sure to please most kids. They make delicious cocktails for mom and dad! 
  • Totally Taco: a more local vibe behind the beach with a range of tasty tacos. They’ve got seafood, meat and vegetarian options. 
  • La Placita: meaning ‘little plaza’ in Spanish, this open-air collection of street food and quick bites is a great spot for a local meal. 
  • Beachers Bar & Grill: a classic option right on the beach, with a good mix of seafood, local options and basic international choices for fussy eaters like onion rings, fries and chicken fingers. 

Should you visit Roatan Honduras with kids???

Roatan is an amazing Caribbean island for a family getaway! 

Kids of all ages will love the beaches, and older water lovers will be amazed at the rich underwater world. It helps that this gorgeous tropical island will be enjoyable and relaxing for parents too, offering a safe, stress-free and adventurous holiday for everyone. 

About Jessica Averett

Hi, I’m Jessica, a mom of 5 kids and married to my favorite adventure partner. I love to bike, ski, camp and hike. We've visited over 40 countries with our kids, but are equally happy on the road as we are exploring our home state of Utah.

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