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Snorkelling around Roatán

Listed under Snorkelling in Roatán, Honduras.

  • Photo of Snorkelling around Roatán
  • Photo of Snorkelling around Roatán
  • Photo of Snorkelling around Roatán
  • Photo of Snorkelling around Roatán
  • Photo of Snorkelling around Roatán
  • Photo of Snorkelling around Roatán
  • Photo of Snorkelling around Roatán
  • Photo of Snorkelling around Roatán
Photo of Snorkelling around Roatán
Photo by flickr user pony_33406
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In contrast to most other Caribbean destinations, many of Roatan’s reefs feature a broad shallow terrace of luxuriant lettuce coral, edged by dramatic vertical drop-offs starting in only 15 – 20 feet of water. In addition to the coral, prolific sponges, sea fans, and other gorgonians offer the snorkeler lush vistas filled with color and texture. Thriving amidst the coral is a broad diversity of fish.

Roatan offers fish enthusiasts ample opportunity to view grunts, lizardfish, flounders, scrawled filefish, red-lipped blennies, jawfish (the males brood the eggs in their mouths!), small rays, blue and indigo hamlets (that mate reliably between 5:00 - 5:30 every afternoon!) and the occasional harmless nurse shark. Although not entirely predictable, it’s also possible to spot large numbers of elegant eagle rays.

The Bay Islands, of which Roatan is the largest, lie roughly 35 miles off the North coast of Honduras. Consequently, the surrounding waters stay clear, and the reefs remain healthy. Roatan is a slender gentle ridge stretching 40 miles east to west, but less than 4 miles wide. This orientation gives us access to either the north or south shore, providing reasonably protected snorkeling regardless of wind direction. The lush fringing reefs of Roatan offer some of the most topographically diverse snorkeling opportunities in the Western Caribbean. Near-shore stands of elkhorn and staghorn coral are flanked by slightly deeper ridges of dense lettuce coral. These are separated by narrow sand channels lined with purple sea fans and "soft" corals gently swaying back and forth, adding motion, color and texture to the vistas.

Snorkeling here is like flying above a series of small, forested mountain ranges with deep canyons in between. These “spurs and grooves” typically lead to a dramatic small wall, where the coral formation drops vertically to a depth of between 50 – 80 feet. The precipice however, is usually in only 15 – 20 feet of water.

In addition to opportunities to view (and hold!) local iguanas and endemic birds, one option for the visitor is an opportunity for a close encounter with captive dolphins. Really close! Under the guidance of a trainer, and while standing in waist deep water, you can hold a dolphin, kiss a dolphin, and intimately appreciate dolphin strength, agility, and intelligence.

Written by  Joel Simon.

Comments, reviews and questions by other travellers

What a beautiful description! Any tips on how to find snorkel sites with elkhorn and staghorn coral?

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