Roatán – Bay Islands, Honduras

The Way the Caribbean Used to Be

The lovely coral reefs off the unspoiled Bay Islands are an extension of Belize’s barrier reefs – world-famous as the largest after Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. But the unparalleled marine life here may seem even more beautiful, due to less tourism and less development. Of the three principal Bay Islands (four lesser islands and sixty small cays stretch 70 miles in a northeasterly arc), Roatán is the largest and most popu­lar.

With the only paved road in this mini-archipelago, it’s also the most “developed.” The reefs fringing these mountainous islands are home to the greatest diversity of corals, sponges, and invertebrates in the Caribbean – heaven to legions of divers, including scuba snobs who come here to avoid the overtrafficked and the done-to-death. As an escapist destination, these Islas de la Bahía are as lush and allur­ing as a tourist poster, attracting nondiving travelers as well. Many come to Roatán’s Institute for Marine Sciences (RIMS), a research and educational facility working with dolphins, where training demonstrations are open to the public. Located on the peripheral grounds of Anthony’s Key Resort, the island’s best-sited and best-all-around hotel, RIMS offers guests the chance to swim, snorkel, or dive with bottlenose dolphins in the open ocean or inside the lagoon.

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