Beachfront Resort with World-Class Diving Center
Just off West Bay Beach Honduran island of Roatán lies the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, the world’s second-largest coral reef. Spectacular biodiversity awaits below the surface, from colorful tropical fish to giant sponges and swaying sea fans. Coastal Living recently named the waters off Roatán one of their 9 Coastal Wonders to See Now, and few places better prepare visitors for exploring it than Roatán’s Bananarama Dive Resort. Located just a few feet from the reef on West Bay Beach, Bananarama's dive center is one of the island’s best, well-known for its variety of certification courses and unforgettable excursions, including night dives and shark dives.
The resort consists of lush gardens dotted with private cabanas that offer some seclusion amid the action at West Bay. These cabanas channel the Caribbean with bright colors, local artwork, and hand-carved wooden doors. Garden rooms sit within a larger complex, each with its own private porch and views of surrounding tropical plants. Alternatively, those looking to for ocean vistas and easy access to the beach can stay in one of the five villas, which lie on Bananarama's sister site, Island Pearl Resort. The owner's villa is the crown jewel, with 1,600 square feet of space, two bedrooms, and a large screened-in porch.
All stays include complimentary breakfasts at the beachfront Thirsty Turtle Bar and Grill, which also serves seafood specialties for alfresco lunch and dinner dining. For a more intimate atmosphere, head to the Vintage Pearl Restaurant, where you can pair Caribbean cuisine with an impressive selection of international wines.
Use of Bananarama's kayaks is free for all guests, and snorkel gear for two is included with each stay with this Groupon. Drop by the Roatán Activities Center on the beach right in front of Bananarama to set up other excursions in and out of the water, including fishing trips, dolphin swims, and zipline tours.
Roatán, Honduras: Diver's Paradise with Dense Jungle Interior
Though Roatán—the largest of Honduras's Bay Islands—used to be plagued by pirates looting the gold of Spanish galleons, most of the popular shipwrecks were purposefully sunk for divers. But that doesn't make the many dive sites surrounding the island any less appealing. Walls of coral and more than 800 species of fish have turned them into natural wonders. Starfish, sea turtles, and eels are common sights during scuba-diving and snorkeling trips. The crystal-clear waters contain a wealth of Mayan, Paya, and Garifuna artifacts as well.
Farther inland, dense jungles and grassy hills stretch across the surface of the island. From the secluded bays of Roatán's East End, you can get a change of scenery by taking winding dirt roads to smaller villages. The towns of Coxen Hole and French Harbour in particular provide a taste of local culture in the form of street vendors, an iguana farm, and shrimp fishers working the docks.