You Must Go To Roatan With Kids. Here’s Why.

March 4, 2022

Roatan Divers in Roatan, Honduras

If you’ve heard of Roatan at all, you’ve likely heard its mantra: “dive, eat, sleep, repeat.” But what if you’re considering a trip to Roatan with kids who aren’t old enough to dive? Can you head to Roatan with kids for a vacation the whole family will enjoy? I went to find out.  

This western Caribbean island off the coast of Honduras is home to the world’s second largest barrier reef. It attracts scuba divers from around the globe – myself included. But, it turns out, it’s more than just a diver’s paradise. It has a lot to offer families!  

If you’ve already decided Roatan is the right place for your next family trip, you won’t regret it. Head to my complete Roatan destination guide for answers to your questions about where to stay and eat in Roatan with kids.  Once you’re booked, save my list of Top 10 things to do in Roatan with kids

If you’re still on the fence, wondering whether Roatan is a good fit for your family trip, this is the post for you, so keep reading. 

Snorkel at Half Moon Bay beach When in Roatan With Kids

 

Is It Safe To Go To Roatan With Kids? 

According to Patsy, the owner of Roatan’s boutique Xbalanque Resort, the question she most often gets from families: Is it safe? Absolutely. 

I traveled solo to Roatan, rented a car on my own, and always felt safe. It turns out, the safety warnings you’ve read about Honduras really do not apply to Roatan. As with any destination, of course, travel cautiously and keep your wits about you. But you can book trip to Roatan with kids and feel confident that you’ll feel safe when you get there.

 

How Do We Get Around Roatan? 

Roatan was surprisingly easy to navigate and explore—a huge plus when traveling with kids. I rented a car at the airport and braced myself for unruly, bumpy island roads. What a pleasant surprise to discover a single, well-paved road running the stretch of the island. 

I was able to navigate Roatan with a printed map and no GPS. I highly recommend renting a car so you’ll have the flexibility to see the island’s top spots on your own schedule. But you absolutely can make due without a car if you stay near West Bay Beach and use taxis for excursions. 

Also, note that most people in Roatan speak English. Plus, the U.S. dollar is widely accepted. These details all make it easy to get around and enjoy your family vacation.


Kid-friendly Xbalanque Resort in Roatan
Xbalanque Resort in Roatan has spacious suites and welcomes families

 

What Makes Roatan A Kid-Friendly Destination? 

Roatan is a place where everyone is welcome. The island feels easy and full of kid-friendly activities–but they are activities that parents will enjoy too. Every restaurant has a kids’ menu. The island’s hotels will welcome your kids with open arms. 

More than anything else, it’s the people who live in Roatan that have me itching to go back.

Each day in Roatan, I met someone who had moved to the island after falling in love with its laid-back vibe. It makes for a warm and eclectic expat community full of travelers-turned-locals that all seem to know one another. Each felt lucky to have crossed paths with Roatan during their own personal journey. Each was eager to give me ideas for things to do in Roatan with kids.

Despite its global citizenry, Roatan keeps a very small-town vibe. On my second night, I grabbed a seat at the bar of Roatan Oasis next to Foxy—a tattoo artist who found her way to its no-hurries-or-worries beaches a decade ago. On my third night, I bumped into Foxy again at a different restaurant, she greeted me like an old friend. 

At each hotel, the staff were eager, approachable and ready to help. I left Roatan with no less than half a dozen phone numbers from people who wanted to help traveling families have a great vacation on this special island. 

This warmth and helpfulness is great to find when traveling with kids: a place with a “come as you are” attitude. Roatan is a place where everyone is welcome, people return year after year, and many never leave. That’s a feeling worth sharing with your kids. 

 

 

West End, Roatan - fresh coconut stand for travel to Roatan with kids

 

Roatan With kids: Timing, Cost & Vibe

Roatan is very affordable compared to many other Caribbean destinations.  Your money will stretch much farther here, which means you can get a bigger room where the family can spread out.

ROATAN’S PEAK SEASONS  

I also have to let you in on a secret. In February—when many Caribbean destinations are overflowing with Americans on winter break—Roatan has a dip in its high season. I found enormous hotel suites for a February Roatan trip at half the price of some of Cancun’s top resorts. Many US travelers may rule out Roatan because it can be an expensive plane flight, but the overall trip cost may be quite affordable (especially if you can cash in some airline miles).

Roatan’s Low Key Vibe

One thing you should know when traveling to Roatan with kids: This is not a fancy island. By and large, the accommodations are rustic. That’s partly due to its dive-centric ethos. Divers would rather spend their money on the diving and drinking, not the place they stop between drinks and dives. 

Most restaurants in Roatan are beach shacks. Come for the $3 beers, not the bespoke cocktails or wine. You will have to go out of your way to find luxury accommodations (but don’t worry, I hunted them down – more hotel details here). The low maintenance vibe is part of Roatan’s charm. Leave the strappy sandals and sport coats at home; come with your kids and your flip flops to experience authentic, relaxed island life without pretention.

 

Best snorkeling location for kids on West Bay beach Roatan
The best spot on West Bay beach - all the way at the end - where the reef begins right off the shore

ACTIVITES IN ROATAN: BEST FOR KIDS AGE 5+

Anyone can enjoy this island, but the best trip to Roatan with kids will be one with older kids.  That’s because the whole family should get to enjoy the island’s claim to fame: the reef.

Roatan does not offer dozens of quiet, kid-friendly beaches of the sort you’ll find in St. Martin or Antigua. It has very few hotels with grand infinity pools and comfortable chairs that you never want to leave. The tourist hub of West End is kid-friendly during the day when the divers are underwater but much less so when they resurface for happy hour.  

What really sets Roatan apart is its reef which, in West Bay, begins where the white sand beach ends. Wade into the water and within minutes you will see colorful fish to rival any aquarium. The same goes for Half Moon Bay, Maya Key, French Key, and countless other snorkeling spots that dot the coastline.

The minute you see people snorkeling straight off the shore in Roatan, you’ll want to grab your fins and hit the water.  If your kids are too young to snorkel or dive, you’re going to need to find a way to keep them entertained while you do. If your kids can snorkel off the beach with you, or join you on a dive, you’re much more likely to enjoy Roatan with them.

Most of the other kid-friendly activities in Roatan are suited for older kids, too. Monkeys, sloths, iguanas, ziplines—my five-year old would love Roatan’s nature parks. But any kids much younger would likely freak out by a macaw landing on their head.  

Iguana at Gumbalimba Park ion Roatan Family Vacation
Older kids will love seeing iguanas, monkeys. sloths, and more at Roatan's natural parks

 

The long and short of it? Go to Roatan with kids, but especially kids who can snorkel

If you live somewhere that has a direct flight to Roatan—such as Dallas or Toronto—absolutely book a trip to Roatan with kids, no matter their age. Let the little ones splash around in West Bay beach, and relax at a hotel with nice kid-friendly pool—like Las Verandas on the quiet part of the island.  

If the journey to Roatan is a longer one for you—meaning this is an island you might visit only once with your kids—save it until they are swimming well enough to snorkel or dive. You won’t find snorkeling like this anywhere else, and you’ll want the whole family to experience it.    

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