Scuba diving in Roatan, Honduras is the number one reason for visiting! Learn all about our experience and get travel tips for your trip.
I look up and our dive master is pointing to something in between us. I follow the direction and see nothing. He keeps making the ok sign, meaning “good” in dive sign language, to other divers, and I’m still baffled. What are they seeing and more importantly, am I going to miss it?!! Finally, I see a glimmer and the school of squid becomes clearer. Ah! How cool is that?! More than 10 squid a little bigger than my hand are gliding through the water past us. (Can you spot them in the photo above?)
I savor moments like that when I scuba dive. It’s infinitely cool (and sometimes scary) to be underwater and feel the immense smallness in the mysterious ocean. But it’s cooler when you get to experience a whole new world and new creatures that you’ve only seen in TV specials and photographs.
After our scuba diving liveaboard in Thailand, we wanted to get back in the water as soon as possible, so we started looking at places in the Caribbean since it was closest. We had heard a lot of talk about Roatan and it seemed like the perfect place to get away for a few days. Take a look at our experience!
Roatan is an island located north of mainland Honduras and part of the Caribbean Bay Islands. It’s known for its dive sites and marine life. West End is the busiest and most touristy part of the island and also where the cruise ships dock. Secluded resorts in a wide range of luxury are scattered around the island. Many of the resorts are focused around diving, and you’ll likely find all-inclusive packages that include diving, three meals a day, your hotel stay, and airport shuttle. They may even include dive gear. Think of these resorts as a liveaboard without the boat!
CoCo View Resort
We wanted to go somewhere with a seamless diving experience. CoCo View Resort was perfect for that! The resort is a 20-minute ride from the airport and then a two-minute boat ride to the island. Reservations are usually a week-long from Saturday to Saturday, but we did a Thursday to Monday. (Boo, limited vacation time!)
Their cabanas weren’t fancy (not a luxury resort) but since we would be doing lots of diving, a comfortable bed and hot shower were all we needed. We had an oceanfront room that suited us fine and was a short 30-second walk to the dining room and dive center. Yes, everything is very close together! Each room has a five-gallon container of drinking water to keep you hydrated and to use for brushing your teeth.
They have a plentiful gift shop on site and opportunities to go on excursions throughout the week. Some of the excursions include a canopy tour, horseback riding, or dinner in town. They also have complimentary kayaks available for you to use. Word to the not-so-wise, don’t kayak far when it’s windy. I learned this the hard way but I’m glad I got a good arm workout in on vacation! HA!
CoCo View has a nurse on-site! She is happy to help with any issues and can make arrangements to go to a hospital if you need it. I was having some ear issues after our first dives and she helped me fix it quickly. It’s always good to take care of issues before they get worse!
The guests at CoCo View are mostly American and Canadian and mostly in their late 40s and on. There were a few families with junior high and high school kids. Many of the guests were returning guests, even some returning groups, and some had visited five to 10 times! We talked to someone that was a returning guest and his response was “it’s just so easy!” The flight is short, the dive sites are close by and there are tons of them, there’s always something to see, and the dive crew makes the experience easier. After our experience, I can see why people return to CoCo View and Roatan!
Diving with Dockside Dive Center
While CoCo View took care of our room and meals, Dockside Dive Center is the dive shop on site to organize the dives and where we rented gear. (We reserved our gear with them before we arrived.) Boats went out twice a day – usually around 8am and 2pm – to give us four chances to dive.
In the gear area, you have your own shelf to put your gear. If you’re planning on diving the next boat dive, simply put your number on the nail of your shelf and you’ll magically find your BC hooked to a full tank and on the boat! All you have to do is grab your wetsuit, fins, and mask and get on the boat. Of course, they ask you to double-check that your BC and tanks have been loaded, just in case.
For each boat trip, the first dive was a site selected by the dive master and the second dive is a drop-off dive at CoCo View, which means we jumped in a short distance from CoCo View and got out at CoCo View’s shore. You may be able to give site preferences to the dive master but they usually pick them out depending on the week’s schedule and weather conditions. Our dive masters were great! They were friendly and helpful, always pointing out cool creatures hiding in the coral or rocks.
At CoCo View, you have unlimited diving since there are dive sites off the shore. You can also do night dives off the shore.
Roatan Dive Sites
From my research, the best dive sites in Roatan are Mary’s Place and Calvin’s Crack, but there are over 150 dive sites in Roatan! For our dives, we went to Mary’s Place, Julio’s Reef, Castle Canyon, and Two Tall Two Small. The farthest spot (Mary’s Place) was about 20 minutes away while the rest were under 10 minutes.
In CoCo View’s Front Yard are three dive sites. These dives lead you back to the shore of CoCo View. CoCo View Wall, Newman’s wall, and the Wreck of Prince Albert had plentiful marine life, and we always saw something cool in this area.
There is so much to see while diving in Roatan! We saw a school of squid, green eels, big lobsters, seahorse, coral, parrot fish, pipe fish, lion fish, and lots more pretty fish varieties. Honestly, most of the things I see are amazing to me. Maybe it’s because I’m a fairly new diver or that every colorful fish looks like a work of art that you don’t see often.
Food at CoCo View Resort
The resort served breakfast, lunch, and dinner buffets every day and they were included in our package. Sorry, you won’t be eating the local favorite (iguana), but you’ll find familiar American dishes. Breakfast always had an egg action station where I enjoyed a customized omelette every morning. We had a variety of dishes for lunch and dinner, and some included fried chicken, stew beef, and lobster. There is always a salad bar for lunch and dinner. They also have a bar available.
The TL: DR Version About CoCo View Resort
- Diving resort and you can do four boat dives (two with a dive guide) and unlimited shore dives per day! All gear available to rent.
- Meals three times a day included.
- Rooms are comfortable and many have an ocean view. Rooms are a close walking distance to the dining room and dive center.
General Roatan Travel Tips
- The airport is Juan Manuel Galvez International Airport or RTB. It’s located in Coxen Hole. The flight from Houston, Texas to Roatan was about three hours.
- The weather is consistently wonderful in Roatan. Our driver joked that in the winter, they get to 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Brrrrr! 😉
- Currency: We used dollars at the resort. You may need to use the Honduran Lempira elsewhere. The exchange rate is roughly 20 Lempira to one U.S. dollar.
- Language: While the official language is Spanish, everyone we encountered spoke English, so we had no problem with communication.
- The most popular destinations in Roatan are West Bay, West End, and Coxen Hole.
- Safety: We stayed at a fairly secluded resort, so we weren’t worried about safety. They had a guard on site. I would be more aware and cautious if I were staying in West End.
- Bring bug spray! And if you get bug bites by those awful gnats, you’ll be itching for a while.
- You cannot drink the tap water.
- Airport Shuttle: I would arrange your ride to and back from the airport before you get there, though many resorts have their own shuttles.
- The local beer is Cerveceria Hondureña, which makes Salva Vida (lager), Port Royal (pilsner), and Barena (light pilsner).
Where should I scuba dive next? Tell me in the comments below!
P.S. Check out this post about scuba diving in Thailand!