Is Roatan A Safe Destination Despite Honduras's Crime Reputation?
What is Honduras's reputation?
Honduras is a Central American country surrounded by the Caribbean Sea coastline to the north and the Pacific Ocean to the south. It is true that Honduras is known to be the most violent country on the planet. The U.S Department of State has issued a travel warning for Honduras since 2012 to caution American travelers about high crime rates. Since 2010, Honduras had one of the highest murder rates in the world. Violence in the country became a norm to many areas in Honduras. To learn more about the struggle of Honduran people in the urban areas and the difficulty that they go through everyday dealing with violence, click here.
Do you recommend traveling to Honduras?
I always do my research before traveling to a country, so I was aware of the country's reputation. I don't wish to put my life in danger nor do I wish to be that much of an adventurer to take that much risk. I travel to make memories, to live life and to broaden my perspective. But for now, I know that traveling to the mainland was not something I feel comfortable of doing yet unless I know my safety is 100% guaranteed.
Even though Honduras didn't seem to fit my checklist, that didn't stop me from trying to find a way to explore even just a small part of the country. What other's may not know is that there is a small island that offers something you might be looking for in Honduras. The island is called, Roatan.
Where is Roatan?
Roatan is one of Honduras' Caribbean Bay Islands. It is part of the huge Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, the second largest barrier reef in the world. It is known for its beaches, dive sites and marine life including whale sharks. Nature has given Roatan its fair share of wonders and was named top 3 of the most beautiful islands in the Caribbean.
(Photos taken by my husband, Dungstar using DJI Phantom 4)
Here's a video to summarize our mini trip to Roatan
Few Tips When Planning A Trip In Roatan
Thousands of tourists come to Roatan each week without a safety problem. Most Honduras crime takes place on the mainland and not in the islands. However, since crime still exist in Roatan, it is important for each traveler to stay cautious. I put together a few tips of how you can plan your trip in Roatan.
1. Stay in West Bay
Though some people stay in the West End part of the island, I highly recommend staying in West Bay. West Bay is a beach about a mile long. It has beautiful turquoise water that offers great snorkeling (near the barrier reef), good restaurants and has plenty of hotels to choose from. It's a calmer side and a much quieter area especially at night.
We stayed in Grand Roatan Resort. It is located on the southernmost tip of the Roatan Island. The resort is a rare tropical gem that is nestled between a pristine forest sanctuary and the crystal clear waters of the Caribbean with access to Mesoamerican Reef.
Here's a few photos from our trip and the resort.
The resort also offer a great view of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef.
Access to the barrier reef is just 30 yards away!
2. Book A Private Car Service
We booked a private car service for pick-up and drop-off directly from our hotel. I think this will decrease the worry of getting into a "wrong" taxi or getting ripped off in general. It's very important to keep in contact with your hotel and ask about the safety and the best way to get to their hotel. A trusted car service is never a bad idea and communicating with the people who know more about the area you are about to go to is your best bet.
3. Book A Trusted Tour Guide
Picking the right tour guides is very important for travelers. It's the responsibility of the tour guide to help travelers understand the culture of the region and the way of life of its inhabitants. They have to promote the cultural and natural heritage and at the same time impress on the visitors the significance of the place they are visiting. Always read reviews online from past travelers of what they recommend or you can ask your hotel receptionist about any hotel recommendation.
4. Be A Smart Traveler
I wrote a post recently about a few things you need to watch out for when traveling. To know more about on how to be a better traveler, click here.
5. Explore The Island!
I was unable to see everything in the island due to a short amount of time we had, but I found a video that can show you seven of the most amazing things you can do in Roatan.
Will you visit again?
Even though Roatan is part of Honduras and crime still occurs, I found this place the safest and closest way to interact with a few of the Honduran people. I have met wonderful locals and truly great people that made our stay enjoyable. I can honestly say that the islands are much safer and the whole time I was there, I didn't feel like my life was in danger. It was the best mini-getaway we had and truly met all the needs we were looking for. The island was very relaxing and beautiful. The attraction of the Bay Islands was majestic. Being less than three hour flight away from Houston, Roatan is definitely one of those places I will return to in the future.