Today, Roatán is still mostly undeveloped. From the air, you see an island that is about 60 kilometers (40 miles) long 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 Roatán; only if you visited years ago will you appreciate the changes in residents, language, and amenities.
Although Honduras is a mostly Catholic country, Roatán 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. Roatán 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; Roatán is no different in that regard.
Roatán 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 and 29°C).
Can you live on US$1,000 a month in Roatán? Certainly, especially if you’re thinking of growing your own fruits and vegetables (fortunately, that’s easy to do in this fertile soil and warm climate), and maybe raise hens for organic eggs.
Household help is generally a luxury in North America, but in Roatán and throughout the rest of the Americas it’s quite affordable to have a maid, either part-time or full-time.
You can eat out at restaurants that offer culinary delights from a wide range of countries such as Peru, Argentina, India, Thailand, England, South Africa, Italy, China, New Zealand, Jamaica, America, Canada and, of course, Honduras. A good meal will range anywhere between US$8 and US$15.
Roatán 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. The average monthly budget for food and household items for a couple is US$500.
(Given in Lempira, Honduras’s local currency.)
|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|
Roatán isn’t a flat spot of sand in the ocean (as several Caribbean islands are), it’s a mountain that sticks out of the water. It’s close enough to the mainland (Honduras) which gives you a distant mountain view rather than uninterrupted open water.
Roatán 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, Roatán has grown into a full-fledged resort island destination. Tourism is its main economic activity. Snorkeling and diving are its biggest attractions, but cruise ships also call regularly. Dozens of resorts and hotels that accommodate tourists have gone up on the island along with dozens of real estate developments catering to retirees and second-home buyers.
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