How to get
The tiny little islands dotted around the Caribbean are bucket list destinations for a lot of travellers, but it’s often assumed that they’re incredibly hard to get to and therefore not worth the effort – but that’s not the case! Reaching Roatán is actually a lot easier than you might think; there are plenty of options of international flights, domestic flights, cruises, and even ferries.
Read our handy guide for all the different ways to get there, and pick whichever one suits you the most.
Where is Roatán?
Roatán is a small little island in the Caribbean, only about 37 miles long, and home to some of the most important cruising and diving destinations in the area. Located off the northern coast of Honduras, it sits pretty much right on top of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, the second-largest reef in the world. Covered in stunning jungle and complete with rolling hills, white-sand beaches, and deep blue sparkling waters, Roatán is brimming with natural beauty that will carry on amazing you with every new location you discover on the island.
Distance from major cities
- A 1-hour flight from San Pedro Sula in Honduras
- 10-minute flight or 90-minute boat journey from La Ceiba in Honduras
- A 3-hour flight from Houston and Atlanta in the USA
- A 4-hour flight from Ottawa and Toronto in Canada
Direct international flights
The Roatán international airport welcomes direct international flights from literally all over the world, so don’t be discouraged if you’re not located in the Americas. It typically depends on the time of year, but during the winter especially tourism is high, and multiple flights will depart and arrive every day. During the low season, at the end of summer and into September/October, you’ll be hard pushed to find super regular flights – but rest assured there are still some heading out, you just need to time it right.
Roatán is fairly easy to get to from a number of different international airports – and it doesn’t have to take a long time, either. Roatán’s airport, Juan Manuel Galvez International Airport receives flights throughout the year, from both domestic and international airlines.
If you’re travelling from the USA, you can use American Airlines out of Dallas or Miami, Delta Airlines out of Atlanta, or United Airlines from Houston. You’ll probably find that a lot of the West Coast airports will fly via Houston, or there’s the option to use the Avianca Airlines hub of San Salvador airport which will fly you to Roatán in less than an hour on any one of their daily flights.
If you’re travelling from Canada, there are flights direct from Toronto or Montreal between late November through to April, and if you’re jetting off from any other points in Central America, you’re able to use Tropic Air direct from Belize City. San Salvador is a major hub for getting to Roatán, so you’ll find a lot of flights coming into this airport from elsewhere on the American continents, before heading off to Roatán.
Direct flights from Europe will be a little more difficult to find, but you’ll typically find airlines flying from Madrid, Milan, and London flying into San Pedro Sula on the mainland, and from there you’ll be able to jump on a domestic flight straight overt to Roatán.
There are plenty of local flights available to reach Roatán, coming from Honduras’ airports in Tegucigalpa, San Pedro Sula, Copan, and La Ceiba. Your best option is to try and catch one of the direct weekend flights if you’re not already in Honduras, but if you are then you can easily jump on one of the connecting flights or anyone of the especially run flights going straight to Roatán.
Taca, Sosa, Isleña, Lanhsa, SOSA, and CM Airlines all offer daily flights from La Ceiba, Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula to Roatan. The schedules for daily flights do tend to change regularly, so it’s best to keep an eye on it on a daily basis – and make sure you confirm flight departure times and dates in advance. aside from that, you can buy your tickets at the counters before your flights, it’s just best to know when these flights will be first.
Typically, visitors to Roatán will come through on a cruise ship, as part of a longer holiday around the whole of the Caribbean. The small island is a popular port of a call for a lot of big cruise lines, such as the Royal Caribbean Cruise Line and the Carnival Cruise Line, and the cruises typically tend to just stop in Roatán – mostly a small island overlooked by the travellers because they won’t have heard of it before.
Roatán has two cruise ship terminals: Port of Roatán in Coxen Hole, and Mahogany Bay near the French Harbour. The cruises that dock here bring over a million tourists a year to the island, often for a day at a time. Having said that, a lot of people tend to fall in love with the island and are already planning their trip back before the ship has even left the harbour.
Other ways to get there
Another popular way to get to Roatán is to fly into neighbouring Honduras, travel by land to La Ceiba, and then take the ferry over to the island. The new high-speed ferry between La Ceiba and Roatán runs twice a day and takes under two hours to make the journey. In La Ceiba, it anchors at the ferry dock – otherwise known as “Muelle de Cabotaje” – which is located just outside of town, and it docks at Brick Bay in Roatán.
For a lot of the islanders, this is the way they’ll get to the mainland for a day trip, or to go shopping, which just proves how easy, reliable, and affordable the trip is. There’s also a ferry service from the Bay Island of Utila, or travellers can choose to book private charters to reach Roatán.
Visa / Passport requirements
The passport and VISA requirements to get into Roatán are pretty similar to anywhere else on the American continents, but it’s worth recapping to be sure. All travellers must have a passport that’s valid for at least 6 months following their entry to the country – if your passport is too close to its expiration date, chances are airlines may turn you away from your flight departure.
US and Canadian citizens will be issued either a one month or 3-month tourist visa – and this is the same for many other nationalities – but certain nationalities will need an advance visa application, such as Albania, Armenia, Grenada, Nepal, Jamaica, Tunisia, Vietnam, and many others (see full list below).
If your country does appear on the list, then you need to apply for a visa with your local Honduras consulate prior to your trip, and most travellers will enter under a tourist or business visa. For this, you’ll need two passport size photos, a photocopy of your passport photo page, a photocopy of your residence card or a previous visa stamped in your passport. Your best bet is to contact your Honduran consulate for a complete list of everything you’ll need.
On a tourist visa, you can stay in Honduras for up to three months and this can’t be extended – you’ll have to leave Central America for at least three days or more thanks to the immigration union formed in Central America, which means that crossing into a neighbouring country on the continent no longer fulfils the requirement to leave after your visa has expired.
Foreigners leaving the country must pay a departure tax at the airport, which is $39.24 USD per person.
Countries that require advance visa application:
All travellers must have a certificate for yellow fever vaccination if arriving within six days of being in a country that is at risk for yellow fever. Other suggested vaccinations are measles, rubella, rabies, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and typhoid.
Roatán is one of the best and most beautiful Caribbean islands to travel to, and your journey should be straightforward wherever you are coming from. Securing visas and booking multiple flights or ferry tickets is well worth getting to experience life on Roatán, and once you’ve visited once you’ll find yourself returning time and time again.