Beachfront Resort with World-Class Diving Center
Just off the Honduran island of Roatán lies the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, the second-largest coral reef in the world. Spectacular biodiversity can be found at this site, ranging from colorful tropical fish to giant sponges and swaying sea fans. Coastal Living recently named the waters off Roatán among 9 Coastal Wonders to See Now, and few places better prepare visitors for exploring the area 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, known for its variety of certification courses and unforgettable excursions, including night dives and shark dives (additional fees required).
The resort grounds feature lush gardens dotted with private cabanas offering some seclusion amid the action at West Bay. Interiors channel the Caribbean with bright colors, local artwork, and hand-carved wooden doors. Garden rooms sit within a larger complex, and each room has a private porch with views of the surrounding tropical plants.
All stays include complimentary breakfast 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. Drop by the Roatán Activities Center on the beach right in front of Bananarama to set up 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 with pirates looting the gold of Spanish galleons, most of the popular shipwrecks in the area were sunk on purpose for divers. But that doesn't make them 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 small 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.