These prime properties are accommodating both above and below the water
There was a time when scuba divers were content to bed down in simple lodge-style accommodations, because the vacation was all about being underwater. But not these days. Modern resorts not only cater to the needs of divers, but also provide them with a full range of additional water sports, along with first-class rooms, excellent restaurants and a full range of resort amenities. The Honduran island of Roatan has long been considered to be one of the best diving and snorkeling destinations in the Caribbean, and these resorts are known as the best places to combine some serious diving with resort-style relaxation.
Anthony’s Key Resort
Many of Roatan’s most popular dive sites are located just off the island’s northwestern corner. And the closest dive center to many of these sites is Anthony’s Key Resort. Calling this property a dive center is a bit of an understatement, as the grounds are also home to one of the island’s premier resorts, as well as the Roatan Institute of Marine Sciences and a dolphin research center. A fleet of modern, high-speed boats brings divers to several local shipwrecks and sites such as the West End Wall, where southern stingrays and spotted eagle rays glide along the face of a towering 90-foot coral cliff that rises from the depths. And if three daily boat trips aren’t enough, divers can also enjoy shore dives on the famous Front Porch Reef, which is available day and night.
The resort’s grounds are laid out like an island village that includes the dive center, photo lab, gift shop and a hillside restaurant and bar. Guests can enjoy elevated views from bungalows perched in a palm grove above the beach, or opt for a waterfront or over-water cottage on a small island just offshore. In addition to diving and snorkeling, the resort offers water sports such as kayaks, stand-up paddleboards and sailing trips. Other available activities range from beachside horseback rides to nature tours and day trips to the Honduras mainland for tours of the ancient Mayan city of Copan. If relaxation is the order of the day, there is Ixora Spa, plus daily happy hours on the deck of the Frangipani Bar.
Coco View Resort
Divers can wade in right from the beach at Coco View and make a short swim to explore the wreck of the 140-foot Prince Albert. And if sunken ships aren’t enough, there’s also a vertical underwater wall nearby. In addition to excellent all-access shore diving and snorkeling, the resort has a full-service dive shop on site, making daily trips to a number of the most popular dive sites along Roatan’s south central coast. The reefs along this part of the island are known for colorful soft coral growths and the intricate networks of cracks and crevices that hold numerous small creatures. It is a favorite area for underwater macro photography, and for night dives that bring shy creatures out of hiding under cover of darkness.
The resort is made up of 29 water view and over-water bungalows that are spaced along a narrow peninsula between the Caribbean Sea and a mangrove lagoon. Pathways wind through palm groves to beaches and the resort’s private island. Accommodations blend modern amenities such as air conditioning and WiFi with a traditional island style, and a décor that showcases traditional Honduran textiles and woodwork. The reefs are the star attraction, but guests can also plan adventures such as zip-line canopy tours, fishing excursions and dolphin encounters, play a round of golf, book a spa treatment, or just relax in the hammock on their private balcony.
Turquoise Bay Resort
This relatively secluded property is located on the less developed northeastern shore of Roatan, and it is the only dive resort in the area. Guests have exclusive access to a number of prime dive sites beyond the normal range of resorts on the island’s western and southern coasts. The resort’s on-site dive center is located within easy walking distance of all rooms. Dive packages typically include three boat dives daily and a night dive. Because the resort is close to many prime north shore sites, boats often return to the dock between the first and second morning dives. Water clarity is good throughout the year, and can be significantly better than the south side during the rainy season. Underwater topographies include walls and high-profile spur-and-groove formations with numerous channels, undercuts, swim throughs and caverns.
The 30-acre hillside property overlooks the waters of a protected bay, and is fronted by a private white sand beach. With just 26 guest rooms, the resort is small enough to provide personalized service, and the staff takes pride on doing so. Guest rooms occupy a collection of two-story villas spaced across the landscaped grounds, with many offering water views from patios or balconies. Activities center around the central lobby complex, which is just steps from the beach, and includes the resort’s pool and the Urudau restaurant.
Fantasy Island Beach Resort
Water access at Fantasy Island couldn’t be easier. Snorkelers have two protected coves all to themselves, and divers can make a short swim to the edge of an extensive reef. Also close at hand are memorable sites such as Mary’s Place and Valley of the Kings, which are considered among the island’s finest dives. Here, an underwater wall carved with deep clefts drops from 20 feet to beyond diving depths. There is an on-site marina and PADI dive center offering a wide range of courses from intro to scuba to advanced certifications. With nine dive boats in the fleet, there is no crowding on board, and qualified divers can take advantage of an unlimited nitrox supply.
A stay at this south shore property has the feel of a private island getaway. No, you won’t be the only guests at the 115-room resort, but you will be cloistered on a 21-acre island attached to Roatan only by a causeway. Rooms offer panoramic oceanfront views framed by private beaches, lush palms and tropical gardens teeming with exotic indigenous wildlife. A special treat for many guests are the gregarious capuchin monkeys that sometimes come onto balconies for a visit. The resort’s pool is set adjacent to the beach, with water views, as is the outdoor La Palapa restaurant.