Welcome to Roatan cruise port, Honduras! (Post updated: October 2023)
Nestled 60 km/30 miles off the north coast of Honduras, Roatan (Isla Roatan) is the largest of the Bay Islands, an archipelago that consists of three islands including Guanaja and Utila. The island is part of the world’s second-largest barrier reef system (after the Australian Great Barrier Reef) and is famous for its incredible diving and snorkeling options. In addition, Roatan features breathtaking sandy beaches, a rich cultural heritage and plenty of options for animal and nature lovers. In this article, read about:
- Roatan cruise port (Roatan cruise terminal info, getting around, helpful tips)
- Top 7 things to do in Roatan port and best Roatan shore excursions
Roatan Cruise Port
The island of Roatan has two cruise ports – Mahogany Bay and Coxen Hole, each used by different cruise companies. Both are located on the southwestern coast of the island, approximately 8 km/5 miles (a 15-minute drive) from one another.
Mahogany Bay cruise terminal is the largest and newest of the two cruise ports. Opened in 2009, the terminal is managed by the Carnival Corporation and exclusively used by Carnival Cruise Line and Princess Cruises cruise ships. The terminal covers an area of 20 acres and has two berths that can accommodate up to 2 cruise vessels at a time. Some of the main features and attractions of Mahogany Bay cruise port include:
- Tourist information office
- Taxi stand, rent-a-car & tour booths
- Bus & shore excursions hub
- Roatan Heritage Exhibits
- Magical Flying Beach Chair to Mahogany Beach (a new chair lift system that takes cruise ship guests from the welcome center to Mahogany Beach).
- Walkway to Mahogany Beach, which is located a 10-minute walk from the terminal
- Craft Market
- Retail and duty-free shops (Santos Jewelers, Silver Sun Roatan, Del Sol, Diamonds International Watch & Design, Tanzanite International, Pirana Joe, Dufry, Flip Flops & What Nots, Tribal Fusion, Sea Goddess, Merendon Jewelers, and others)
- Restaurants & cafes (Espresso Americano Coffee Shop, Fat Tuesday’s Monkey Hill, Crazy Ice Gelateria)
Coxen Hole cruise terminal (aka the Port of Roatan) is the smaller of the two terminals and was named after the pirate John Coxen. This terminal serves Royal Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line and Virgin Voyages cruise ships. It is located in Coxen Hole, the capital of Roatan and the Bay Islands. The terminal covers an area of approx. 6.5 acres and can accommodate up to three cruise ships at a time (1 ship can dock, while two more ships can anchor). Coxen Hole cruise terminal is also referred to as “el pueblo” (the town) by the locals, as it’s located at the town center. Some of the main features include:
- Tourist information office
- Taxi stand
- Car rental & tour booths
- ATM and post office
- Internet access
- A small shopping mall, duty-free shops, liquor store, artisan gifts and authentic souvenirs
- Restaurants & bars
- Cultural exhibitions (Garifuna Punta dancing)
- Live Cigar Rolling
- Jungle Top Zipline – the longest zipline in Roatan is adjacent to the terminal
Watch my YouTube video on Coxen Hole cruise port!
- Both cruise port areas are flat and suitable for people with walking difficulties/wheelchair users.
- Taxis have officially approved rates for various destinations across the island and they vary based on the number of passengers. Make sure you confirm the price with the taxi driver in advance.
- The currency in Roatan is the Honduran Lempira (HNL). 1 USD equals 24.71 HNL. Credit cards and US dollars are widely accepted.
- Roatan island is narrow, approximately 77 km/48 miles long and less than 8 km/5 miles across at its widest point. The western part of the island is more populated, while the eastern is more remote and isolated.
- The official language is Spanish, however, English is widely spoken in touristy areas.
- Locals and local vendors may be pushy when trying to sell their services. Keep an eye on your belongings at all times.
- Besides cruise port areas, popular shopping locations include Megaplaza Mall Roatan, West Bay Mall, and Macaw Container Market.
- Roatan sits outside of the hurricane belt and the weather is warm and pleasant all year round. The rainy season lasts between October and January, with heavy rainfalls in November and December. The dry season starts in February and lasts until August. To get helpful packing tips for your cruise to Roatan, check out my article What to Pack for a Cruise – Top 60 Cruise Essentials
- Juan Manuel Gálvez International Airport is the only airport in Roatan. It is located 5.5 km/3.4 miles (a 10-minute drive) from Mahogany Bay cruise terminal, and only 2 km/1.2 miles (a 5-minute drive) from Coxen Hole cruise terminal.
- Explore Roatan tours and activities
- Search the best Caribbean cruise deals
Top 7 Things to Do in Roatan Cruise Port
Part of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef – the world’s second-largest barrier reef system, Roatan is a paradise destination for snorkeling, scuba diving, and all water-related activities. The island boasts spectacular beaches mostly scattered along the island’s west coast in the West Bay and West End areas. From animal encounters to off-road island exploration and sightseeing, Roatan offers many choices for everyone’s taste!
1. Roatan Marine Park
Roatan Marine Park is part of the Bay Islands Marine National Park and stretches along the island’s northwestern coast between West Bay Beach and Sandy Bay. It is a protected area dedicated primarily to the conservation of the ecosystem and for recreation purposes. Snorkelers and scuba divers can admire the fascinating underwater world teeming with multicolored corals, sponges, schools of fish, barracuda, whale sharks, mantas, dolphins and turtles. The beautiful colors and shapes of the coral reefs will be the best possible postcard you can get from this place!
The majority of snorkeling and water-related activities are centered around the West End and West Bay areas, both located a 20-25-minute drive from the Coxen Hole cruise terminal and a 30-35-minute drive from the Mahogany Bay cruise terminal. The most popular water activities include snorkeling, scuba diving, kayaking, sailing, and jet skiing. For those of you who want to stay dry – glass-bottom boat tours are an excellent choice!
2. Monkey and Sloth Sanctuary
Daniel Johnson’s Monkey and Sloth Hangout is a family-run sanctuary where you can hug, pet and take pictures with adorable monkeys, sloths, and macaws in their natural habitat. The sanctuary is located in the small community of French Cay, on the island’s southern coast, a 25-minute drive from Coxen Hole cruise port and a 15-minute drive from Mahogany Bay cruise terminal.
3. Roatan Beaches and Resorts
The most beautiful beaches in Roatan lie along the island’s west coast, in the areas known as the West End and West Bay. Coral reefs surround the beaches so you can easily snorkel from their powdery sandy shores. Below is the selection of the most popular beaches in Roatan:
- West Bay Beach – This beach stretches along the coast of West Bay, the westernmost area of the island known for great beach resorts, eateries, shops and bars. The waters are shallow, warm and crystal clear, with excellent snorkeling opportunities offshore. West Bay Beach is located a 35-minute drive from Mahogany Bay cruise terminal and a 25-minute drive from Coxen Hole port. Check out West Bay Beach tours and activities
- Tabyana Beach – It lies on the southern end of West Bay Beach and is best known for spectacular coral reef snorkeling and sweeping sea views.
- Little French Key – This privately owned island resort is located in French Harbor, on Roatan’s southern coast. Besides swimming in a protected cove, here you can go horseback riding, snorkeling, scuba diving, zip-lining, jet-skiing, rope-swinging, paddle-boarding, and kayaking. Dining, shopping and spa options are available, as well as a mini-zoo where you can interact with macaws, monkeys and other native animals. Little French Key is one of the top-rated shore excursions and the transportation to and from Little French Key is via tour boats. The ride takes about 15 min from Mahogany Bay and 35 min from Coxen Hole.
- Camp Bay Beach – This quiet beach in a remote setting is the largest natural beach on all the Bay Islands and is located on Roatan’s northern shore. The palm tree-lined beach features crystal clear turquoise water, and Camp Bay Beach Adventure Lodge, a small beachfront resort and restaurant where you can rest and get something to eat. Camp Bay Beach is located a 50-minute drive from Mahogany Bay cruise port and a 1-hour drive from Coxen Hole cruise terminal.
- Sandy Bay Beach – Sandy Bay is a residential area on Roatan’s northwestern shore featuring hotel resorts, restaurants and a beautiful beach that is part of the Roatan Marine Park preserve. The beach offers amazing snorkeling just a 200-meter swim from shore. The area is known for Anthony’s Key Resort, where you can swim with dolphins. Sandy Bay is located a 25-minute drive from Mahogany Bay cruise terminal, and a 15-minute drive from Coxen Hole cruise terminal.
- Mahogany Beach – A small sandy beach is nestled only a 10-minute walk from Mahogany Bay cruise terminal and you can access it via walkway or Magical Flying Beach Chair from Mahogany Bay cruise terminal. Beach chairs/umbrellas/cabana rentals are available, as well as numerous shopping and dining options.
4. Gumbalimba Park
Gumbalimba Park is a privately owned, eco-adventure and history park located in the West Bay area, a 20-minute drive from Coxen Hole cruise terminal and a 35-minute drive from Mahogany Bay cruise terminal. This 20-acre beachfront paradise features a museum, a pool, an animal interaction center, several botanical gardens, and a waterfront filled with water and submarine activities. Get close up with white-faced monkeys, macaws and iguanas and spend some quality family time in this wonderful nature park!
Gumbalimba Park is open every day from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. There is a basic admission ticket, but you can also upgrade if you want to join activities such as ziplining, kayaking, bird-watching, or snuba diving. Get more information at https://gumbalimbapark.com/
5. Arch’s Iguana and Marine Park
This beautiful family-owned iguana farm sits on the outskirts of the French Harbour, a 15-minute drive from the Mahogany Bay cruise terminal and a 25-minute drive from the Coxen Hole cruise pier. What is so special about the reserve is that the iguanas are not held captive, but they roam freely within the property hoping to get a piece of a leaf from you.
You will be able to see all sizes of iguanas, from little babies to big ones. Keep in mind that there are stairs going down to enter this area but on the side, there is a downhill for those not able to use the stairs. There is also a beautiful porch looking at the ocean where you can get some souvenirs and refreshments such as smoothies.
6. Island Sightseeing
Sightseeing tours are a great way to soak up some local history and culture, learn about impressive flora and fauna, and explore the island’s major attractions. These tours will allow you to explore locations such as Chocolate and Rum Factories, scenic villages, breathtaking beaches, and eco-parks. You can opt for off-road ATV or Dune Buggy rides, horseback riding, or simple minibus transfers to all these magnificent places.
7. Canopy Zipline Tour
Ziplining is one of the most popular activities in Roatan allowing you to soar through the lush jungle and get some spectacular views of the island and the Caribbean Sea. There are a few tour operators offering zipline tours in different locations, including Jungle Top Adventure Zipline (located right by Coxen Hole cruise terminal) and Bodden Tours. Zipline shore excursions are usually offered by the cruise ship, but you can also book them independently online or with local vendors on-site. In addition, you can opt for a combo tour that includes some other activities such as kayaking, animal encounters, horseback riding, or water activities.
Whether you choose to spend your day shopping in the port area, sunbathe on a beach, or get up close to local wildlife, make sure you plan your day ahead to maximize your stay in this amazing port of call!
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