HONDURAS – Honduras is waiting to surprise you! Home to vast natural areas, unique cultural groups, quaint villages, ancient ruins, a barrier reef with tropical islands, fast growing modern cities and more. Hondurans are very friendly, and welcome visitors to their beautiful country! Things in Roatan often run on “island time” (with the notable exception of dive boat departure times!)
U.S. citizens are now required to have a passport to re-enter the USA, so you’ll need a valid passport to travel. IMPORTANT: in order to enter the country, Honduran regulations require that your passport has at least 6 MONTHS remaining validity after your return travel date. Residents of all other countries, please either check with the Honduran Embassy/Consulate or visit www.letsgohonduras.com (click on “getting here” then “legal requirements”) for specific entry/documentation requirements. Minors under age 21 who are not traveling with both parents need a signed & notarized letter of consent from the parent who is not traveling. There is a US$39 departure tax that is not included in your airline ticket, and payable as you leave the country (cash only; US dollars or the equivalent in Honduran lempiras).
Airlines sometimes make last minute changes to flight itineraries. For this reason & for your own peace of mind, we recommend that you call your airline 72 hours and again at 24 hours for extra peace of mind (if this is different for your airline, we will tell you) prior to departure to reconfirm your flight times and flight numbers in each direction. International flights require check-in AT LEAST 2 hours prior to departure (don’t be late to the airport, since you may be denied boarding!)
Although Spanish is the official language of Honduras, Roatan is bilingual. Everyone speaks Spanish, and English with a Caribbean lilt is also widely spoken.
Our vacation packages on Roatan generally include roundtrip airport-hotel transportation… a hotel representative will meet you at the airport and assist with your luggage (and the hotel will give you instructions about your return to the airport). If something were to go wrong (if your flight is delayed, for example) and you don’t connect with the hotel representative, taxis are available. There’s a small entertainment district known as “West End” with shops and bars; your hotel may offer an excursion package, or you can take a taxi. Ask for current taxi rates at the hotel first, since taxis don’t have meters.
The weather is most refreshing in winter (Janaury through April). Summer rains start in May (you can expect some rain most every day, but it usually comes and goes). September through November are the most rainy times of the year, when the island receives most of its 80 inches of annual rainfall. Hats and sunglasses are essential for beach time and in the wetter months a raincoat or an umbrella is suggested. Mosquitos and “no-see-ums” can be troublesome, especially in the summer (bring insect protection!)
Important – airlines may charge you for checking bags! AIrline policies differ and change frequently – if you are unsure about your airline’s baggage charges check the airline’s website, or we’ll be happy to assist. Most airlines enforce a 3 bag limit (two checked, one carry-on). Checked bags are usually limited to 50 pounds each. Pack lightly Honduras is very informal and tropical, and you’ll be living in swimsuits and sunglasses most of the time. Some items to remember: several swimming suits, mostly t-shirts, shorts and casual wear, comfortable shoes, flip flops, sunscreen, sunglasses, hat, and windbreaker or light jacket. Definitely remember insect repellent!
TRAVEL INSURANCE – We always recommend spending a little more and buying travel insurance to protect you against financial loss in case of emergency or unplanned circumstances. Things happen: you or a family member gets sick and you’re unable to travel at the last minute (and hotel/dive packages are almost never refundable once paid for). Weather prevents you getting to the airport and you miss your flight, and you have to buy another ticket. You miss a connection and arrive two days later than planned. An airline cancels your flight, and you incur unplanned hotel expenses. An emergency back home forces you to cut your trip short. Your luggage is lost and you have to buy new clothes to wear. You get sick and have to go the hospital, and your home insurance doesn’t cover all your expenses. All these and more happen every single day, and travel insurance would cover these circumstances. Check what the policy covers before buying, of course – travel insurance isn’t perfect, but the more expensive and the more complex the trip, the more important it becomes. Travel packages can cost thousands of dollars, and route deviations can get very expensive. Please protect yourself in case of emergency!
The local currency is the Honduran lempira (as of December 2005, about 19 lempiras to US$1). U.S. dollars are widely accepted on the Bay Islands; cash, travelers checks & Visa, MasterCard or Amex credit cards are most commonly used on the Island. There are no ATMS on the island.
Of course, tipping depends entirely on the quality of service you receive. Waiters and bartenders get 15-20% of the bill. Dive boat personnel, about US$5 for a one-tank /trip. Your hotel maid will appreciate US$1 or so per day, left in the room upon departure. Wages are low in Honduras (the minimum wage is about US$1 per hour), and many people depend almost entirely on your tips to earn a living… if you’re pleased with the service, consider tipping a bit extra.
Take sensible precautions… as you would anywhere. Don’t leave valuables lying around, and don’t flash large amounts of cash in public. Your hotel has a safe-deposit service for your valuables – take advantage of this, for your own peace of mind. There may be a nominal charge for the use of safes.
110 volt, 60 cycle, same as in the U.S. Voltage spikes can wreak havoc with sensitive equipment; use surge protectors!
EATING AND DRINKING
We recommend you drink bottled water: why take a chance on getting sick on your vacation (exception: Anthony’s Key Resort has a resort-wide water purification system). The food is very safe. However, stomach problems can occur anytime you travel internationally. If you do experience intestinal distress, Kaopectate or Pepto-Bismol may help (available locally, but you might consider bringing some with you), or try Lomotil or Immodium. DRINK LOTS OF WATER if you get diarrhea!
Locally produced liquor is fairly reasonably priced, but imported brands can be very expensive. There are 2 duty free liquor stores in West End.
In Roatan night life is mostly centered around your hotel. After a full day of diving and sun, most divers hang out at their hotel’s beach bar. However, there are several beach bars in West End. Roatan is also home to a wide variety of fine restaurants, offering delicious typical food, regional specialties, gourmet international cuisine and of course fresh seafood!
In Coxen Hole (the main town on the island), a number of souvenier and handicraft stores cater to cruise ship passengers; there are also lots of smaller shops in West End
Staff at the hotels and dive shop will be able to help you resolve almost any problem that comes up. If you’re unhappy with your hotel room for any reason, tell the front desk or manager, and ask them to resolve the situation. For serious situations, emergencies, or assistance with problems you can’t resolve locally, call us at Bay Adventures (Miami) at 305-892-4280. IMPORTANT: if you believe you are being charged unfairly for something, get a receipt and the name of the person who insists on payment otherwise there is no recourse for getting your money back!
International phone calls can be expensive! Ask about rates in advance of making international calls from your hotel. Internet and fax service are available at your resort. Telephone numbers for your resort appear on your hotel vouchers.
In additional to excellent diving and snorkeling, Roatan offers lots of land-based activites – these include exciting canopy rides through the jungle, horseback riding, tours of the island (by land, sea or air), glass-bottom boat and mangrove tours, the iguana farm and fishing trips. Ask at your hotel about available tours and rates.
AND A FEW MORE SUGGESTIONS –
Use our advice as a starting point for your own exploration, and you’ll find that great sunsets, exhilarating diving, and the beautiful waters of the Caribbean are only the beginnings of a great vacation.
SCUBA DIVING TIPS
Dive Gear – tanks and weights are provided. You bring (or rent) the rest. Remember mask, snorkel, fins, regulator, BC, booties, slate, dive light, depth gauge, bottom timer or watch, computer/dive tables, camera, logbook and weight belt (without weights). A mesh bag packed inside your gear bag for traveling, can be handy for carrying and rinsing your gear. Bring extra: mask and fin straps, snorkel keeper, batteries. Ocean water temperature varies from about 74 in the winter to the mid 80s in the summer. A light tropical shorty or dive skin is great for summer and fall; you may want more thermal protection in the winter.
HAVE A GREAT TRIP!
Bay Adventures Inc. | P. O. Box 530745 Miami Shores, FL 33153-0745 | 888-599-3483