The island of Roatan in Honduras is well-known as having the “second largest coral reef” in the world. If you’re looking to sunbathe, snorkel, and search for buried treasure, this is it! In fact, Roatan was home to thousands of pirates back in the day. Aside from the turquoise waters, white sands and phenomenal beaches, it is the perfect destination for families with kids who seek adventure.
Roatan Island Must-Dos
When our son’s two-year birthday was approaching, we quickly jumped on the idea of doing one last “free” trip and Roatan was on the top of our bucket list. Notably, Toronto has direct flights to Roatan, Honduras so there’s many flights and vacation packages available. Being the backpackers we are, we opted to book flights separately for added flexibility. Surely, you can’t beat a $500 return ticket per adult. Plus, our toddler would fly for free! It was a no-brainer.
In any event, Roatan has lots of activities suitable for families. We enjoyed every minute. Most of all, our toddler loved it! Below, is our top 7 adventurous things to do with kids in Roatan.
1. Daniel Johnson’s Sloth Hangout. Head down the road to the “French Cay” and when you reach a fork in the road, continue on the right until you reach this local sanctuary. Owned and operated by a local family that lives on-site. It’s a great experience for the kids to learn about native animals to Honduras; such as the Capuchin and spider monkeys, Scarlett macaws, and darling Sloths. Included with the entrance fee is a personalized guide. Furthermore, there is more than enough time to touch, hold and interact with some of the animals. Beware of the spider monkeys though as they’re known as professional pickpockets!
2. Arch’s Iguana Farm. Another local family run operation which all started out with one man’s love for Iguanas. Walk past the entrance and descend down the hill where hundreds of iguanas are patiently waiting. For $1 US, there is an option to buy banana leaves to feed the iguanas. If you’ve never seen an iguana (or dozens of them), it definitely is a sight. Most kids find iguanas fascinating. Close your eyes and imagine travelling through time to the Jurassic era. Who would’ve thought we would be able to see our dinosaurs long-lost cousins?
3. Carambola Gardens: Get your hiking shoes ready for some rugged terrain. Surrounded in nature, there is so much to explore at the Carambola gardens. Take a peek at different trees, plants, flowers, fruits and nuts. Hike to the top of the hill for a panoramic view of the sea. It is a moderate climb as there are some steep inclines. However, if you’re doing this trail with children, take caution especially during or after a rain fall. There are no hand rails or barriers and trails tend to get slippery and muddy. We recommend leaving the stroller behind, as it’s more practical to bring a child carrier instead.
4. West Bay Beach. White sands, turquoise waters, and a smooth, long stretch of beach. Kids (and adults) love swimming here. No need to bring water shoes as there are no rocks in sight. Temperatures can get very hot in the summer time. For this reason, don’t forget to bring sun protection such as SPF clothing, sunblock, sunglasses and sun hats.
Moreover, the West Bay beach area has many restaurants and resorts that face the beach. If you’re visiting for just the day, it may cost a pretty penny just to hang out. However, there are several restaurants on the beach that offer customers access to their beach chairs when you order a meal.
5. Gumbalina Park. The major attraction here is the zip-line also known as the “zip and dip.” Kids and adults can take a 30 minute guided tour to view the suspension bridge, Capuchin monkeys and macaws. The property boasts over 20 acres that contain a botanical garden, sandy beach, fresh water kiddie pool, eatery, and animal section.
6. Roatan Butterfly Gardens. View different species of butterflies, native plants and flowers. In any case, it’s a good place to let the kids loose to explore and stretch their legs. Marvel at this unique attraction with a personal guide. And if you’re lucky, you may see a Queen Long Wing!
7. West End Beach. Also known as “Backpackers Haven.” Why? Because you’ll see locals, backpackers, cruise shippers, and all kinds of tourists hanging out at this beach. Bring your snorkelling gear to get up close to pretty corals and tropical fish. You can’t miss the West End Beach! Along the main strip there are many quirky touristy shops and vendors, massage stalls and touts selling snorkelling trips. Aside from all the excitement, West End beach is a good place to relax in the shade and watch life go by.
Roatan has lots of fantastic places to explore, learn and discover in regards to ocean, plant, and animal life. Generally speaking, if it is “cruise ship” day, be ready for long line ups and big crowds. To bypass this, check the cruise ship schedule. Even though it has been centuries since the last pirate lived on Roatan, the island is still full of wonder and untold treasures.
Sometimes, travelling with young children takes more than just skill. It takes a positive attitude and heaps of patience. Read Infant Travel: When Your Baby is Your Backpack for more backpacking tips.
Darlynne founded Live Love Backpack to inspire others to make a positive difference in the world through traveling, volunteering, and self-awareness. Darlynne has traveled to over 76 countries. Family adventures include backpacking off the beaten path, hiking in Ontario and creating happy memories.