Scuba Diving in Roatán

Roatán is nothing less than a diving paradise. There are more than 130 dive sites scattered around the island, and in just one day of diving, you can experience the full range of dives from coral reefs, canyons, and walls to wrecks and tunnels. The waters are crystal clear, and the reef, part of the second-largest barrier reef in the world, runs just offshore. Many of the best dive sites are literally right off the dock or within a 5-minute boat ride. Following is a list of the best dive sites:

  • Mary's Place: Mary's Place, near Sarah Cay, is one of the most legendary dive sites around the island. Here, you crawl through volcanic tunnels, crevices, and canyons around a reef plateau that has vertical walls that drop as much as 36m (118 ft.). You'll encounter black groupers, feather black coral, gorgonians, large bearded fireworms, and barrel sponges.
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  • Four Sponges: This dive site in Sandy Bay is one of the most complete and is the best for beginning divers. The site is defined by its different levels of reef that range from 3m to 36m (9 3/4 ft.-118 ft.), allowing for the opportunity to encounter a wide range of sea life like electric blue chromis, barracuda, toadfish, yellow jawfish, scorpionfish, and sponges.
  • Prince Albert Wreck: Since it sank back in 1985 near Coco View Resort, the 50m (165-ft.) ship Prince Albert has attracted more soft coral growth than any other wreck on the island. There's also a sunken DC-3 plane that you can explore nearby.
  • Calvin's Crack: This Jonesville dive site is defined by the huge crevice that runs through the reef, ranging from 9m to 24m (30 ft.-79 ft.) in depth -- Calvin must have been a big guy. Brain, leaf, and black coral; sponges; gorgonians; rainbow parrotfish; fan leaf algae; and the occasional seahorse can often be sighted along the walls of the crevice.
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  • Spooky Channel: The Spooky Channel (sometimes called Wayne's Place), on the northwest shore near Sandy Bay, is, well, spooky. The floor, ranging from 6m to 27m (20 ft.-89 ft.), is lined with sea whips and crabs, and cleaner shrimp crawl about on the abundant coral formations.
  • El Aguila Wreck:El Aguila is a 61m (200-ft.) cargo ship that sank in 1997 by Anthony's Key Resort and was later split in three by Hurricane Mitch. It sits 30m (98 ft.) below the surface of Sandy Bay. You can find green moray and garden eels in varying spots around the wreck, as well as large grouper, blue parrotfish, glassy sweepers, nudibranchs, and anemones.

Diving Operators in Roatán

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Almost every hotel on the island has a dive center or can give you special rates with one. Dive packages and certification courses attract a majority of travelers to Roatán, where rates are some of the lowest in the world, at less than $40 per dive. Prices are not as cheap as Utila or Guanaja, though they are not far off. Here are a few recommended dive schools, listed according to their location:

French Harbour

Coco View Resort (tel. 504/2911-7371; www.cocoviewresort.com)

Fantasy Island Resort (tel. 504/2455-7499; www.fantasyislandresort.com)

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Sandy Bay

Anthony's Key Resort (tel. 954/2929-0090; www.anthonyskey.com)

Octopus Dive School (tel. 504/2403-8071; www.roatan-octopusdiveschool.com)

West End

Coconut Tree Divers (tel. 504/2445-4081; www.coconuttreedivers.com)

Native Sons (tel. 504/2445-4003; www.nativesonsroatan.com)

Reef Gliders (tel. 504/2403-8243; www.reefgliders.com)

Sueno del Mar Dive Center (tel. 800/298-9009; www.suenodelmar.com)

West Bay

Bananarama Dive Resort (tel. 504/2445-5005; www.bananaramadive.com)

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.