So you only have a week to see and do all the best excursions in Roatan, what do you do? Luckily I have been on them all and can help you decide. Every excursion is different but there are excursions that we consistently get better feedback from. These tour operators go out of their way to create a memorable and magical experience which is different from the Cattle Boat BS you typically find on Caribbean Islands. What I love about Roatan is it still has a soul, you can feel it and you can connect with the nature and people in a way that is lost in Mexico or the Caymans..I digress. For the sake of simplicity I will leave out boat charters, boat trips, sailing trips and deserted islands..All of which I love dearly.
The Best Excursions to do in Roatan:
1) Snorkeling with the Dolphins in Roatan:
Anthony´s Key, otherwise known as AKR to the cool kids offers the opportunity to snorkel with 28 dolphins without any trainers. They have set this up in a big open ocean pen on a tiny little island. Yes the dolphins are in captivity but I have done the dolphins in about 6 other centers in the Caribbean the treatment of the animals at AKR is a world apart. AKR is such a progressive center that they let the dolphins out in the open ocean and they always come back, the pen walls are only about 4 feet off the water so the dolphins could easily jump out if need be. What makes snorkeling with the dolphins breath taking is you get to do so without trainers and they only let 12 people in the water. Thats more then 2 dolphins per person. When you are snorkeling you can swim under the dolphins, pet them gently, pick up sea weed and play catch or just play with the 4 babies that are in the water.. Not a horse and pony show! I have had guests in the brink of tears telling me how amazing it was. Fair warning it gets booked up during cruise ship days so plan ahead. This is a video from the encounter.. I will try and get a video of the snorkel shortly..
2) Driving Dune buggies through the jungles of Roatan (on a rainy day):
There is a company which brought down 6 Baja dune buggies and set up this amazing off road trail on the east end of the island. When driving these beasts you start off driving up the side of a mountain, then work your way back down to a mud pit where you can do doughnuts and get covered in Mud, and from there you drive to a white sand beach where you can rinse the mud off. In the 2 hours you are driving you get to see little villages, deep jungle and all sorts of Randomness happening on the road as you pass. I have done it only when we have 3-5 days of continuous rain and I am a kid in a candy store.
3) Exploring the East end of Roatan with Marco and Zenolla:
So many people come to the island and don´t even bother to check anything out other then the cruise ship port or the buffet station at their resort. DON´T BE THOSE PEOPLE.. What I have learnt in my years of travelling is the experiences that stick with you are the small ones off the beaten path that you didn’t have to share with anyone else. For those people in Mahogany Bay who come in on a cruise ship, that is not Roatan. It is a man made beach and not reflective of the spectacular beauty only 15 minutes away.
Marco and Zenolla are the 2 sweetest people on the island, they are islanders and have been doing private tours of the island for the past 12 years. They speak perfect english and know just about everyone on the island giving you an unrestricted look at how people live.
You will pass French Harbour and move through the dense jungles of the east end which are sparsely populated with fishing villages. You will arrive at Oak Ridge, a large fishing village with all the houses built on stilts on the water and the last city where the road ends. Oak Ridge was an important source of oak masts for pirate and merchant ships in the 1700s. After a briefing on the area you will go by water taxi through canals and see beautiful colorfully painted houses, described as the Venice of the Carribbean. You will then go through the famous naturally occurring mangrove tunnels of Jonesville. Once in Jonesville, you will get off the boat and have lunch in Hole in the Wall restaurant, started by hippies 15 Years ago, Hole in the Wall is only accessible by boat and known for their all you can eat lobster and cast of characters which usually haunt the bar.
The tour is private so you can move at your own pace and really learn about the island. It is possible to get a ride out to the east end of the island for cheaper, but having Marco & Zenolla is well worth the extra few bucks.