Picture paradise and you’re here: pearl-white beaches shaded by palms and lapped by gentle waves; walls of coral dropping into deep waters; and barely a tourist in sight. Roatán, an island that’s quietly home to some of the best resort hotels in Honduras, is one of the Caribbean’s under-the-radar dive and beach destinations, still low-key and laid-back. Book into one of these places and you’ll be in seventh heaven.
You can’t beat the location, right on Roatán’s favorite sunset strand, West Bay Beach. There are bars and restaurants within a few minutes’ walk, and that’s not the only reason Paradise is perfect for a sun-and-sea family break. Villas decorated in simple tiles and cream tones come with big breakfast verandas overlooking the Caribbean or the leafy garden and swimming pool. It’s a great place for a trip with friends – some accommodations have space for up to eight. In the main building, you’ll find simpler balcony rooms, decked out in all-white walls, warm woods and scatterings of colorful cushions.
In the north of the island, this hideaway feels particularly serene, with villas positioned around a lawned garden behind a small golf course, at the end of an isolated cape. Cut off from the rest of the world by the resort grounds, the small beach is effectively private, and guests get to savor dreamy sunrise and sunset views from the poolside cocktail bar. Room interiors are refreshingly plain, with honey-colored floor tiles and white walls, tall French doors coaxing in warm sunlight. Nightlife and a selection of restaurants are all yours a 15-minute golf cart drive away.
Most of Roatán’s resorts cater principally to divers, but the Grand is built for families. Condo-style villas and suites fit the bill perfectly, with up to three bedrooms, fully equipped kitchen-dining rooms and plenty of space. Some have big balconies with views over the soft white sands of West Bay Beach, lapped by turquoise shallows, and fine sunsets over the sea. The hotel has one of the biggest pools on the island, with a swim-up bar and a restaurant with a family-friendly menu. There are plenty more eating options within walking distance, so your palate won’t be bored.
Fancy a private island retreat? Check into Barefoot Cay, an isolated idyll that’s a boat-hop and cab ride from anywhere. It’s on a tiny pinnacle of coral trimmed with white sand, just south of Los Fuertes village. Stays here are intimate affairs, as there are only five shutterboard villas, with cozy timber interiors colored by heliconia flowers and bright scatter cushions. Whichever you pick, you’ll have a private balcony leading to sandy, palm-shaded areas slung with hammocks. If you prefer, you can book one of the simpler loft rooms in the main building, above the dive shop.
A stay at the XBalanque is one of the most tranquil you could have at any hotel in Honduras. Villas overlook a luxurious pool and semi-private beach at the northern end of West Bay. Almost all have sunset-through-the palms views. Interiors – all warm wood, polished stone and whitewash – are airy, modern and spacious, with lounge areas and kitchenettes. Some are large enough for families. At the hotel, you’ll be encouraged to eat in, but you don’t have to – a scattering of eateries await just a stroll along the sands to the north, and there are more a 10-minute cab ride away.
This small-scale, dive-focused resort is in a great spot, commanding the powder-soft sands of West Bay Beach, an easy walk from a string of restaurants. There’s fabulous snorkeling close to shore, and dive trips depart from right in front of the hotel. The compact, backpacker-simple villas are good-value, decorated with textured whitewash, beige floor tiles and marine-themed art. They stand in a lovely location under palms, in a garden right off the sand.
Rooms with a dash of panache can be hard to find on Roatán – most divers use their hotels in Honduras to simply sleep and dump their bags. But couples-friendly Ibagari is mightily plush: check out the elegant, Scandi-minimalist villas and suites in lush warm woods, offset by Mykonos whites and abstract art. Most have private plunge pools and decks with sunset views. There’s a romantic, low-lit al fresco bar, an intimate restaurant and a luxurious main pool, which comes in very handy once high tide covers the beach.
Infinity Bay is as close as Roatán gets to the big package hotels that proliferate in the Caribbean. Expect ranks of big villa units housing more than 140 condo-style suites with kitchens and ample lounge space. The location cannot be faulted: on West Bay Beach, close to bars and great places to eat. That said, the resort leaves you with few incentives to leave: it’s home to a fleet of restaurants and has a huge pool, as well as a sunset bar, a spa and a huge menu of activities, including diving, parasailing and dolphin encounters.
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