Roatan Vacations: The East End

Roatan Vacations: The East End

Most visitors to Roatan head to the west side of the island.  And for good reason – it’s where most of the action happens!  You’ll find numerous resorts and other lodgings, more restaurants and bars than you could patronize in a month, some of the island’s most iconic beaches and shopping options for every taste.  But if you skip out on the lesser-known East End, you’re definitely missing the authentic flavor of the island.  For those wanting a taste of true islander life on their Roatan vacations: Discover the East End.

Discovering Roatan’s East End

Roatan is split into two municipalities, Roatan municipality in the west and Santos Guardiola in the east.  Because there’s only one highway traversing the 32 mile long island, finding your way to Roatan’s East End isn’t difficult.  That said, if you want to make it to the legendary Port Royal at the easternmost tip of the island, you’ll want a vehicle with a little more suspension.  The road past Oak Ridge is gravel rather than pavement.  As the islanders say, “head up East” and come visit us in Santos Guardiola!

French Harbour

Although it’s technically still part of Roatan municipality, French Harbour is the de facto dividing line between east and west.  Some of the first Europeans arrived in what’s now known as French Harbour in the early 14th century.  It’s now the home to an active fishing community, Arch’s Iguana and Marine Park and the island’s only shopping mall.

Punta Gorda

Punta Gorda is the oldest permanent settlement in Roatan and home to the Garifuna people who were enslaved and subsequently released by British settlers in the 16th century.  The Garifuna Cultural Center provides information about traditional Garifuna culture including drumming and dancing demonstrations, food offerings and craft displays.  On April 12 there is an annual celebration commemorating the arrival of the Garifuna people on the island.


Oak Ridge

Oak Ridge is another fishing village that’s often called the “Venice of Roatan” because of the many colorful, traditional houses built on stilts above the water.  The area is also known for its boat tours through the tunnels and canals created by the mangrove forest.

Camp Bay

Compared to the busy beaches of the West End, Camp Bay provides the often sought-after miles of deserted white sand, tropical beaches.  If you’re looking to escape the tourist crowds and find a quiet, tranquil getaway with clear, turquoise waters, Camp Bay will fulfill your wishes.  The few low-key, rustic resorts in the area will still keep you busy with yoga, kitesurfing and all the other usual ocean activities.

Port Royal

Port Royal is the end of the island from which you can view the ruins of an old British fortress.  This is the area where thousands of 17th century pirates sheltered, taking refuge in the naturally protected harbor and utilizing the long sightlines.  Over the last hundred years, treasure hunters have combed the cays and ruins for hidden pirate booty.