Today, Roatan is still mostly undeveloped. From the air, you see an island that is about 60 kilometers (40 miles) long Mahogany Bay Cruise Ship dock blends in to the scenery and 8 kilometers (5 miles) at its widest point… And green!
There are no high-rise hotels; building regulations don’t allow high buildings and there are density setbacks from the beach and strict controls on development, particularly close to the water.
Change comes slowly on Roatan; only if you visited years ago will you appreciate the changes in residents, language, and amenities.
Although Honduras is a mostly Catholic country, Roatan is broader in scope and tolerance; with the number of foreigners on the island, who are generally more tolerant of differences, everyone seems to blend together rather than form groups of like-minded people who separate themselves. Roatan is truly a melting pot of people, and they all seem to meld together, so there is a variety of religions represented and accepted, as well as all kinds of non-traditional sexual and gender lifestyles. Everywhere on earth differences will be both challenged and celebrated; Roatan is no different in that regard.
Roatan has a tropical climate with little change in temperature from winter to summer but with variation in rainfall between the wet and dry seasons. Average annual temperature is 85°F/29°C but ranges between 77°F and 84°F (25°C-29°C).
Can you live on US$1,000 a month on Roatan? Certainly, but be prepared to grow your own fruits and vegetables (fortunately, that’s easy to do in this fertile soil and warm climate) and maybe raise pigs and chickens.
Household help is generally a luxury in North America, but here and in the rest of the Americas it’s almost the norm to have at least a maid, either part time or full time. A good way to look at household help is that it provides an income for someone whose skills are learned in the home, at a minimal cost to you, and a maid will be very grateful to have a job.
You can eat out at restaurants that offer culinary delights from a wide range of countries including Peru, Argentina, India, Thailand, England, South Africa, Italy, China, New Zealand, Jamaica, America, Canada and, of course, Honduras. A good meal will range anywhere from $8.00 to $15.00.
Roatan is fortunate to be located in the original banana republic, so fruit is plentiful and varied on the mainland of Honduras, but still has to be brought to the island. There are also American-style supermarkets, so there is access to products you will be familiar with. An average monthly budget for food and household items for a couple is US$500.
|Rent||HNL 25,000||Furnished, two-bedroom apartment.
|Gas||HNL 300||For cooking.
|Transportation||HNL 2,000||Cost to own a car.
|Internet||N/A||Bundled with phone.
|Cable TV||N/A||Bundled with phone.
|Groceries||HNL 6,820||Basic items for couple.
|Entertainment||HNL 7,550||Social outing, 550 lempiras p/person
Roatan isn’t a flat spot of sand in the ocean (as most Caribbean islands are). It’s a mountain that sticks up out of the water. And it’s close enough to the mainland (Honduras) that you have distant mountain views rather than uninterrupted open water to the horizon, at least from the south side of the island.
Of course, Roatan also has the white sand beaches that define the Caribbean and that most people seem to appreciate.
From its hammocks-on-the-beach-for-backpackers beginnings, Roatan has grown into a full-fledged resort island destination. Tourism is the main economic activity. Snorkeling and diving are the big attractions, plus cruise ships call regularly. Along with dozens of resorts and hotels to accommodate the tourists, dozens of real estate developments have been undertaken catering to the retirees and second-home buyers the island continues to attract.
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