Roatan is a stunningly beautiful island in the Caribbean Sea, part of the Bay Islands of Honduras. It is a popular destination for cruise travelers who want to enjoy the tropical scenery, the pristine beaches, the rich marine life, and the diverse culture of this island paradise. You’ll learn all about the Roatan cruise port in this article!
I’m a travel agent, highly-experienced itinerary planner, Virgin Voyages aficionado, and Caribbean expert. I’ve been to the Caribbean countless times and have visited Roatan twice in 2023. When visiting, I completed two different itineraries, taking me all around this incredible island.
Roatan has two cruise ports: Coxen Hole and Mahogany Bay. Virgin Voyages docks at Coxen Hole. Depending on which cruise line you choose, you will dock at one of these ports and have access to different attractions and activities.
In this guide, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about the Roatan Cruise Ports, what to do while visiting Roatan, and what to know for your visit. Let’s dive in!
Quick Glance: Top Things to Do in Roatan:
- Animal Encounters
- West Bay Beach
- Oak Ridge Tour
The Roatan Cruise Ports
There are two cruise ports in Roatan: Coxen Hole and Mahogany Bay. Coxen Hole (Port of Roatan) is a public port that is used by Virgin Voyages, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise Line, Celebrity Cruises, MSC Cruises, and other cruise lines. Mahogany Bay is a private port owned by Carnival Corporation and used by Carnival Cruise Line, Princess Cruises, and Holland America Line. Both ports are located on the south side of the island, about 15 miles apart.
Coxen Hole Roatan Cruise Port
Coxen Hole is the main town and capital of Roatan, and it is where the public cruise port is located. This is the port that Virgin Voyages utilizes. It is a bustling port that has a more authentic and local feel than Mahogany Bay. Coxen Hole has a smaller shopping area with local vendors, handicrafts, and souvenirs. It also has a tourist information center, a bank, and an ATM.
Coxen Hole is the gateway to the rest of the island, and it is where you can find more options for shore excursions, transportation, and tours. You can take a taxi, a bus, or a water taxi to explore other parts of Roatan, such as West Bay, West End, Sandy Bay, or French Harbour. It does not have a beach within walking distance, but there are many nearby beaches that you can visit, such as Tabyana Beach, West Bay Beach, or Half Moon Bay Beach.
Mahogany Bay Roatan Cruise Port
Mahogany Bay is a modern and well-designed port that offers a lot of amenities and facilities for cruise travelers. It has a large shopping complex with duty-free shops, souvenir stores, restaurants, bars, and a pharmacy. It also has a transportation hub where you can book shore excursions, rent a car, or take a taxi.
The highlight of Mahogany Bay is Mahogany Beach, a private beach that is exclusive for cruise passengers. You can access the beach by walking for about 5 minutes, or by taking the Magical Flying Beach Chair, a ski-lift-style ride that costs $14 per person for unlimited rides. The beach is clean and spacious, with plenty of lounge chairs, umbrellas, cabanas, and water sports equipment for rent. There is also a beach bar and grill, a volleyball court, and a water park for kids.
Is Roatan, Honduras Safe for Cruise Port Passengers?
One of the common questions that cruise travelers have is whether Honduras is safe for cruise ships. Honduras is a developing country that has a high level of poverty, crime, and violence. However, Roatan is a separate island that is relatively safer and more peaceful than the mainland.
The cruise ports are well-secured and patrolled by security guards and police officers. The cruise lines also work closely with the local authorities and tour operators to ensure the safety and comfort of their passengers. However, this does not mean that you should let your guard down or ignore the common-sense precautions.
I felt safe all throughout Roatan. The locals were friendly and eager to have us visit as travelers. I also met a handful of travelers and ex-pats along the journey.
Things to Do in Roatan Honduras Cruise Port
Enjoy the Beach
The main attraction of Roatan is the beach!. The island has over 40 miles of coastline, with white sand, turquoise water, and palm trees. You can find a beach for every taste and preference, from secluded and quiet to lively and fun. Many cruise port visitors will go to West Bay Beach. Tabyana Beach and French Key are also great options for a lovely, relaxing day.
West Bay Beach is one of the best beaches I’ve ever been to. I snorkeled along the shore and saw gorgeous colorful coral and fish. The water is very calm for swimming. And, the sand is a soft powdery white.
Along West Bay beach, there are several hotels and resorts, including the popular Infinity Bay Resort (pictured below). Infinity Bay Resort also boasts La Palapa, Beach Bar and Grill, a fun waterfront hangout with delicious seafood and flowing drinks.
Snorkel the Reef
Another major attraction of Roatan is the reef. The island is part of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, the second-largest coral reef system in the world. The reef is home to thousands of species of fish, coral, and other marine life. It is also one of the best places in the world for snorkeling and diving, as the water is warm, clear, and calm.
You can find many spots and sites to explore the reef, from shallow and easy to deep and challenging. Some of the best spots and sites to explore the reef are West Bay Reef, Mahogany Bay Reef, and Mary’s Place which is a dive site on the south side of the island.
Experience the Culture
Roatan is not only a natural paradise, but also a cultural melting pot, with a variety of ethnic groups and languages. The island has a rich and diverse history and heritage, influenced by the indigenous, Spanish, British, African, and Caribbean cultures. You can experience the culture of Roatan by visiting some of the historical and cultural sites, such as the Roatan Museum which displays artifacts and exhibits related to the history, culture, and natural environment of the island, and Garifuna Village, the first Garifuna settlement in Central America.
Visit Roatan Chocolate Factory to see how the fresh chocolate is made on the island. While you’re there, scoop up some souveniers to take home!
You can also visit the Roatan Rum Company, which sells the most delicious rum cake! Some is packaged to easily take home from your travels, though you may have a tough time waiting to dig into it.
Roatan is not only a paradise for marine life, but also for land animals. The island has a diverse and abundant wildlife, with many species of animals, birds, reptiles, and insects. You can meet the wildlife of Roatan by visiting some of the animal sanctuaries and parks, such as Top Jungle, Daniel Johnson’s Monkey and Sloth Hangout, Arch’s Iguana and Marine Park, and Carambola Botanical Gardens and Trails.
Quick side note: Please do not touch or hold the sloths while visiting. This is considered animal cruelty, as sloths don’t like to be touched. Unfortunately, places that have branded themselves as sanctuaries are profiting over the exploitation of the sloths.
Tours from Roatan Cruise Port
Many travelers will take shore excursions hosted by their cruise lines, especially because of safety and assurance in getting back to the ship on time.
I recommend the following Shore Things for Virgin Voyages sailors:
- For a fun day in the sun: Live, Lunch, Lounge French Key Beach
- For those who just want to hit the beach: West Bay Beach Transfer
- For the best of the island: Trifecta Tour with mangroves pictured below
- For adrenaline: Zip Line Adventure
Other cruise lines, like MSC, offer similar excursions.
However, you’ll get to see more of the island if you hire a local guide. Please email me directly to arrange private group tours.
I’ve gone on two trips with a local guide:
- Private highlights of Roatan (west side of the island) – lookout points, island tour, Roatan Chocolate Factory, West Bay Beach, Roatan Rum Company, animal encounter at Jungle Top
- Private Oak Ridge tour (east side of the island) – the “Venice of Roatan”, tiki boat, mangroves (pictured above), Trico beach bar, Reef House bar & beach. This is best for those who have been to Roatan before and are seeking a different experience.
Things to Know Before Going to Roatan, Honduras Cruise Port
Roatan is a wonderful and welcoming island that is easy and enjoyable to visit. However, there are some things that you should know before going to Roatan Honduras cruise port, to make your trip smoother and more pleasant. Here are some of the things that you should know before going to the Roatan Honduras cruise port:
- The currency of Honduras is the lempira (HNL), but the US dollar (USD) is widely accepted and preferred in Roatan. You can exchange your money at the bank or the ATM at the port, or use your credit or debit card at most places. However, it is advisable to have some cash on hand, especially for tips, taxis, or small purchases. Take small bills with you!
- The weather of Roatan is tropical and humid, with an average temperature of 82°F (28°C) and an average humidity of 75%. The rainy season is from October to January, and the dry season is from February to September. However, the weather can be unpredictable and change quickly, so it is advisable to check the forecast before your trip and pack accordingly. You should bring sunscreen, sunglasses, a hat, insect repellent, and a light jacket or sweater for the evenings or the air-conditioned places.
- The time zone of Roatan is Central Standard Time (CST). The ship will likely stay on Ship Time, the time at home base – ET for cruises departing from Miami. Roatan does not observe daylight saving time (DST), so it is the same time as the US Central Time Zone in the winter, and one hour behind in the summer.
Can you walk to a beach from the cruise port in Roatan, Honduras?
It depends on which cruise port you dock at. If you dock at Coxen Hole (Virgin Voyages), you cannot walk to a beach from the port, but you can take a taxi, a bus, or a water taxi to one of the nearby beaches, such as West Bay Beach, Tabyana Beach, or Half Moon Bay Beach. The ride takes about 15 to 30 minutes, depending on the traffic and the destination, and costs about $10 to $20 per person, round trip.
At port, there will be many drivers aggressively trying to get you to drive with them. I would recommend taking a private tour but if you just want a ride, try to arrange with a reputable company in advance of your trip.
If you dock at Mahogany Bay, you can walk to Mahogany Beach, a private beach that is exclusive for cruise passengers. It takes about 5 minutes to walk to the beach, or you can take the Magical Flying Beach Chair.
Do you need a passport to get off a cruise ship in Honduras?
According to the US Department of State, US citizens who travel to Honduras by cruise ship do not need a passport to enter or exit the country, as long as they have a government-issued photo ID and a cruise line ID. However, it is strongly recommended to have a valid passport in case of an emergency or a change of plans, such as missing the ship or needing to fly back home.
Is there a shopping complex at the port in Roatan?
Yes, there is a shopping complex at both ports in Roatan. Coxen Hole has a smaller and more local shopping area with vendors, handicrafts, and souvenirs. You can find a variety of items and products at the port, such as clothing, jewelry, art, coffee, chocolate, rum, cigars, and more. Additionally, there are a number of restaurants and bars within the port. Why not get some drinks and enjoy the atmosphere?
Mahogany Bay has a large and modern shopping complex with duty-free shops, souvenir stores, restaurants, bars, and a pharmacy. However, be aware that the prices and the quality may vary depending on the place and the seller. You should also be careful of counterfeit or fake goods, especially for brand-name or luxury items.
What to buy in Roatan, Honduras cruise port?
Some of the most popular and unique things to buy at the Roatan Cruise Port are high-quality coffee beans, organic cacao, locally-made rum, and freshly-baked rum cakes.
Do they speak English in Roatan?
English is widely spoken and understood in Roatan, especially in the tourist areas and by the service providers. Spanish is the official language of Honduras. However, it is always nice and respectful to learn some basic phrases in Spanish, such as “hola” (hello), “gracias” (thank you), or “por favor” (please). You can also use a translation app or a dictionary to help you communicate with the locals.
Is there a free beach at Mahogany Bay Roatan cruise port?
Yes, there is a free beach at Mahogany Bay cruise port, which is Mahogany Beach, a private beach that is exclusive for cruise passengers who dock at Mahogany Bay. You can access the beach by walking for about 5 minutes, or by taking the Magical Flying Beach Chair.
Final Thoughts: A Guide for Roatan Cruise Port in 2024
Roatan is a beautiful and diverse island that offers a lot of attractions and activities for cruise travelers. Whether you dock at either of Roatan’s cruise ports – Coxen Hole or Mahogany Bay, you will have access to different beaches, reefs, islands, parks, and cultural sites. You will also have the opportunity to enjoy the tropical weather, the friendly people, and the delicious food and drinks. Roatan is a paradise for cruise travelers who love the sun, the sand, and the sea. Have a wonderful and memorable voyage!
For Virgin Voyages sailors, check out other helpful information here. All Roatan port stops are included on the Virgin Voyages Western Caribbean Charm itinerary, which embarks from Miami, and also stops in Costa Maya (with excursions in Bacalar) and Bimini, Bahamas.