Roatan Island Tourist Tips
On this page you will find information on currency, getting married on Roatan, immigration, visa requirements, taxes, tipping, customs, bringing a pet, clothing, weather, hospitals, pharmacies, taxis, electricity, and holidays.
There are two cruise ship terminals in Roatan, Coxen Hole and Mahogany Bay. Mahogany Bay is used mainly by Carnival and Princess Cruise Lines. Coxen Hole is used by Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise Lines, and Princess Cruise Lines. If you are on the cruise ship and want to see the real island, you must venture away from the immediate area of the docks. The picture below is what you will see as you enter Coxen Hole. Just were taxi #211 is pictured below is a road that leads to the local "Mercado". Just beyond the taxi is H B Warrens grocery (now Eldon's Sun Grocery), the Captain of the Port office, and the post office. Beyond those locations there only a few shops and some small local restaurants. The restaurants here will be less crowded than the ones near the port terminal. You only have to venture a few hundred yards to see everything you might want to see. If you purchase items in Coxen Hole, just check around at a few of the shops before you make your purchase to insure you are not getting an inflated price. Most trinket shops offer a 15% if you ask for it.
If you want to see island's beauty, catch a mini bus as described below or negotiate a taxi or van tour. Go to West End or West Bay or have the tour operator take you towards the East end of the island to see the island's true beauty!
There is a mini bus system (routes 1, 2, and 3) that operates daily from Coxen Hole to various locations throughout the island. Look for the small dark blue, red, or white mini vans. The mini buses stop by waving at them. You can get the mini bus from the center of Coxen Hole at a staging area next the Super Mercado (Municipal Market). To get to the Mercado, turn right at the port gates and walk about a quarter mile. Turn left before Warrens grocery (see the picture above where taxi 211 is located) store opposite the Hotel Coral and pass the Hotel Plaza Santa Maria on the right. The minibus Ruta Dos "2" to West End begins from outside the market on the right and runs every 10 minutes or so. The fare is 40 lemperas each and you pay when you leave the minibus. HSBC (just past Warrens grocery store) in town will exchange USD. Alternatively, why not go into the market and buy some snack food such as plantain chips or a water bottle and pay in dollars and you will get lempiras in change. Use 5 dollars and you will have plenty of lempiras for the bus. This is a short walk from the Roatan cruise ship dock. You have to pay in lempiras! The Ruta 2 bus will take you via the side streets in Coxen Hole to the main road and the short trip to West End.
Taxis are supposed to be regulated but you must inquire about the rates prior to entering the vehicle. Also keep in mind that the local currency is Lempiras and not US dollars. If the taxi driver says 20, you need to determine if the fare is Lempiras or dollars? You can pay taxis in either currency. Find out if the fare is for the taxi meaning 1 to 4 people or per person. The January 2014 official rate from West End to Coxen Hole is 45 Lempiras!
You must negotiate the daily rate for a taxi if you are hiring them for an island tour or for the day (this rate is supposed to be 230 Lempiras per hour). The most likely rate during a port call for an all-day taxi tour ( 6 hours) is $100 and this is for the taxi (not per person). You can negotiate a better rate with multiple people in the taxi. Bodden Tours (www.boddentours.com) provides reasonable rates for island tours.
Another choice for tours is www.roatancabtours.com. Their rates are:
Cruiseship Dock to West End and return – starting at $15 per person
group of 4 passengers.
Another choice for tours is www.ronystours.com. They have pickup at both ship terminals.
Take careful note that tours and taxi rates are totally different.
"Tour rates" not
taxi fare rates
The mini buses stop running at 6 PM. Taxi fares go up at 6 PM and all fares become negotiable.
Local Water Taxi Service
Water taxi service is convenient and easy between West End and West Bay. The fare is 60 Lempiras during the day. Look for the dock near the Eagle Ray Restaurant in West End. The return trip from West Bay has two pickup spots and you'll easily recognize where to catch a ride. Note that the water taxi rate will increase slightly after 6 PM. Water taxis will go to other areas and be sure to confirm the fee before taking the trip.
As of February 2015, the LEMPIRA compared to the US $1.00 = Lps. 21 Check the current currency rate (Use your back button to return).
The Honduran Lempira and U.S. dollars are readily accepted throughout the Bay Islands. Credit cards and traveler’s checks are accepted at some small gift shops and restaurants in the towns and villages. However, since more cruise ships are now making Roatan a port of call, credit cards are being readily accepted by more establishments every day. Be certain to check with the establishment before making purchases at restaurants and small shops.. Larger restaurants and resorts do accept credit cards. Don't be surprised to see a credit card surcharge of 6% for processing the transaction. Be sure to ask before using credit cards for payment if there is any surcharge.
Getting Married on Roatan
All marriage licenses must be obtained at the Roatan Municipality located in Coxen Hole. You need to apply at lease one week prior to your planned event. You will need a copy of the following documents: birth certificate, passports, a medical certification, a letter signed by a lawyer from your country which confirms your marital status.
A valid passport that is not expiring within the next six months is required for citizens from the following countries to enter Honduras: Argentina, Australia, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Denmark, El Salvador, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Iceland, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Ireland, Norway, Panama, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States and Uruguay. Visitors can stay up to six months by going to the immigration office at the airport and having their visa re-validated for an additional 30 to 90 days. When you enter Honduras, just ask for a 90 day visa. Then before the 90 days expire, renew the visa for another 90 days. After that, you will need to leave Honduras for another country and return after 24 hours.
A 15% sales tax is applied to merchandise and services throughout Honduras. There is a 15% tax on alcoholic beverages, cigarettes and other tobacco products. Tipping is generally 10% of a restaurant bill. Taxes on lodging on Roatan are currently 16%. Visitors from other countries must have a valid visa or tourist card. Visas for US citizens cost are issued at the airport upon your arrival in Honduras. There is a $38 departure tax on international travel and a $3 departure tax on in country travel. Be sure to have the exact change in pennies or they will take an extra $1 since they do not provide coin change. Entry and exit tariffs can change on short notice and you should check with your travel agent for details.
Customs regulations permit tourists to bring their used personal effects without paying duty; in addition, you can bring new belongings, including sports and camera equipment, up to a total value of US $1,000. Children under twelve can bring in new effects worth up to US $500. Tourists can take advantage of this exemption a maximum of two times each year. These benefits are not applicable to items brought in for commercial purposes. Tourists traveling with pets must provide proof of vaccination and a medical certificate from their home country.
Bringing a pet to Roatan?
Traveling with pets can be an expensive and time consuming effort for US based travelers. For more information concerning entry and exit requirements, travelers may contact the Embassy of Honduras at 3007 Tilden Street N.W., Washington, D.C. 20008, telephone (202) 966-7702, or a Honduran consulate in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Jacksonville, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York, Phoenix, San Francisco, San Juan or Tampa. The Honduran Embassy’s e-mail address is email@example.com. For US based travelers, you should visit the US Treasury web site for pet re-import requirements back to the US. Pets, except for pet birds, taken out of the United States and returned are subject to the same requirements as those entering for the first time. Returning U.S. origin pet birds are subject to different import restrictions than pet birds of non-U.S. origin entering the United States for the first time. If you are renting a private home or visiting a resort, be sure to inquire BEFORE bringing a pet to Honduras. Most resorts and private homes do not accept pets in rental units.
Average water temperature varies from 78F in winter to 82F in summer. The normal trade winds are out of the south east. The current weather conditions are posted on our weather page. Bring light informal clothing such as T-shirts, slacks, shorts, and casual dresses for the evenings. Forget the coats and ties as those items are rarely seen anywhere on the island! Come dressed for tropical island fun.
Electricity on Roatan is provided by RECO (www.recoroatan.com) which is a private electric company. It 110 volts AC, 60 cycles. Regular U.S. plugs are the standard.
Roatan is the only Bay Island with a paved road and telephone system. Public telephones on Roatan are limited. Do not expect to find pay phones anywhere. Cell phones are everywhere. You can readily buy a cell phone with a blocks of time. A paved road links most of Roatan’s towns and the airport. On Utila and Guanaja, transportation is primarily via small boats and water taxis.
For divers, there are several decompression chambers including one at Anthony's Key, supported by fees collected by the dive operators on Roatan.
January 1 New Years Day
March 19: Fathers
day in Honduras
April: Holy Week
May 1: Workers Day
July 1: Shrimp
August (first weekend):
Honduran Flag Day
December: Roatan Christmas Festival