The Bay Islands – Roatan, Guanaja, Cayos Cochinos, Utila
The Bay Islands of Honduras are a divers paradise with a rich history and unique heritage. The Bay Islands offer a unique experience, and the most interesting facet is that each of the islands is so very different from the others. Another advantage of the Bay Islands is that English is so widely spoken in the Islands, that some people don't even speak Spanish, despite the fact that this is the official language of Honduras! The Bonacca Ridge, a submerged mountain range, created the spectacular islands and thriving barrier reef, second only to Australia's Great Barrier.
Of the Bay Islands, the largest and most developed for tourism is Roatan. Roatan is a 30 mile long and 3 mile wide forested ridge rising from the Caribbean Sea and remains mostly unchanged from the 16th century. A great place to vacation, Roatan has been compared to the eastern Caribbean before commercialization took place. There are many activities available on Roatan; Scuba Diving and Snorkeling, stunning beaches, fishing, hiking, kayaking, horseback riding and many more. Whether you want to Dive the abundant dive sites off Roatan, party or relax aboard a livaboard dive boat, Roatan provides what you are looking for.
Guanaja, the eastern-most of the Bay Islands on all sides by magnificent reef. Christopher Columbus christened what is today Guanaja as the "Island of Pines" in 1502. Although there are a few patches of pine on Roatan, Guanaja is the only island whose vegetation is dominated by conifers. When it comes to diving, Guanaja has a lot to offer. The islands' 45 dive sites are known for healthy reefs, pinnacles and volcanic caverns, wrecks and the newly inaugurated Mestizo Reef. There is a new dive site, called the Mestizo Reef, located in 65ft of water and includes two life-size head-and-shoulder statues of Christopher Columbus and Lempira (local Indian chief) and a partial shipwreck with objects from that period.
Cayos Cochinos is a small archipelago located 19 kilometers off the coast of Honduras. The two larger islands are covered with thick tropical forest and are ringed by white sand beaches. The Cayos and surrounding waters were declared a marine reserve in 1994, protecting all marine and terrestrial flora and fauna within a 460-square-km area from fishing, development or any other harmful activity. Because of the reserve and the fact that only a few people live on the islands, the reef surrounding Cayos Cochinos is in fantastic shape and is teeming with colorful marine life. The Cayos are one of the most spectacular collections of islands, beaches, and reefs in the western Caribbean.
Located approximately 18 miles (29 km) from the Honduras mainland port of La Ceiba, Utila is the flattest of the Bay Islands and is accessible by small aircraft or by a one-hour ferryboat. Utila is one of the smallest of the Bay Islands and is renowned as being one of the least expensive and most beautiful places in the world for a scuba diving vacation. Most of the hotels on the island cater to the budget minded traveler, but high-end alternatives are also available. The diving is spectacular in Utila and it is one of the best places in the world to see the world's largest fish, the whale shark. Utila presents vacationers with a wide range of fun activities, or just chill out on the beach.