A cute porcupinefish seen in Roatan

Scuba Diving in Roatan, Honduras: Everything You Need To Know!

Diving in Roatan, Honduras is an experience that’s hard to put into words. Color is turned up, time slows down, and the surreal beauty of the marine world surrounds you, stunning you into silence.

Roatán is the largest of Honduras’ Bay Islands (Islas de Bahía) and one of two major scuba hotspots in the country, the other being the more backpacker-friendly island of Utila about a one-hour ferry away.

Allison Green sitting on dive boat wearing a wetsuit in Utila Honduras

This guide to Roatan scuba diving will first explain why diving in Roatan is so special and unique, before talking briefly about the best time to dive in Roatan as well as what you can expect to see while diving there.

I’ll then talk about my own personal experience diving in Roatan, sharing my very own Roatan dive logs with you, including what I saw and what my dive profiles looked like.

After that, I’ll write about some of the best dive sites in Roatan I have earmarked for a return trip, since six days in Roatan wasn’t nearly enough to see all that I wanted to see (with over 150 distinct dive sites in Roatan alone, that’d be a hard feat to accomplish!).

Why Go Diving in Roatan?

divers in roatan with a gray angelfish on the coral
Thanks to Martin Leglize from Roatan Divers for this high-quality underwater shots!

Located at the very southwestern fringe of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef that hugs the coast of Mexico and Central America, scuba diving in Roatán has much in common with other popular dive destinations along this reef system, like Cozumel and Belize.

But it also has some of its own unique offerings that you won’t find just anywhere in the Caribbean.

Diving in Roatan means journeys through coral-strewn wrecks where macro life snakes it way up a mask, showing a living history of the sea reclaiming what once was made by man.

It means glittering bioluminescent shrimp forming the unique “string of pearls” phenomenon only detectable on new moons, when the sea can reach its fullest darkness.

But it also shares some of the same joys of diving in these other Caribbean destinations along the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, like admiring the graceful journey of an eagle ray in the distance, its elegant wings slicing through the water as it effortlessly glides through the sea.

Roatan’s underwater landscapes also boast breathtaking coral canyons and swim-throughs, where near-iridescent coral formations dance in the filtered sunlight in tremendously clear visibility.

Along Roatán’s coral formations, giant barrel sponges – aptly nicknamed the ‘redwoods of the reef’ for their size and longevity – stand as silent sentinels of the sea floor, some nearly 2,000 years old.

Scuba diving in Roatan isn’t merely about enjoying an affordable dive destination — it’s about seeing all the pelagic magic that this specific island has to offer.

Best Time to Go Diving in Roatan

Allison Green looking away from camera underwater while scuba diving

It’s often just marketing speak when people say there’s “no bad time to dive” in a place… but that’s actually fairly true when it comes to diving in Roatan.

Generally, the dry season in Roatan is from March through September, whereas the wet season runs from October through February. We personally visited in May and it was perfect!

The dry season will definitely promise you calmer seas and better viz, with water temperatures typically ranging from 79°F to 84°F (26°C – 29°C) and visibility up to 100+ feet on the clearest days!

Certain sea life likes different times of the year as well, so that’s something to consider.

For example, the majestic eagle rays (an animal I love so much I literally have a tattoo of one!) are always around Roatán, but you’ll have a slightly higher chance of spotting them around the dry season.

That said, I saw far more eagle rays while diving in Cozumel in February than I did diving in Roatán in May, so the fact that the eagle rays are in Roatán ‘year-round’ doesn’t necessarily guarantee you’ll spot (heh!) one.

roatan diver boat from the water surface

The wet season from October through February typically means brief showers throughout the day rather than full-on downpours, though of course, tropical storms are possible.

Still, during the season, rain showers tend to be brief and followed by sunshine, and water temperatures only slightly drop to about 77°F (25°C).

The perk of this? Fewer crowds, lower prices, and lower heat and humidity throughout the day (the heat in May was intense, and it supposedly only gets worse through about August!).

Another perk is that the wet season coincides with the whale shark season in Roatán, where you have a chance of seeing them between October and December.

However, don’t get your hopes up too high — these sightings are rare and getting rarer, and you actually have a greater chance of seeing a whale shark in the wild in Utila.

Generally, Utila has a higher chance of getting to see larger pelagic sea life (we got to swim with spinner dolphins on a surface interval in Utila — one of the coolest things I did there there!)

What Marine Life Can You See Diving in Roatan?

Divers in Roatan with giant barrel sponge and other sponge and coral formations

We’ve already talked a bit about Roatán’s spotted eagle rays (uncommon) and whale sharks (downright rare), but there’s a lot more to see while diving in Roatán than just that!

I’ll break it down into the different types of marine life, because I know not everyone is as much of a nerd about marine biology as I am… and feel free to skip this section and just get onto reading about the diving itself!

Coral & Sponges

various coral life in the roatan landscape

First, let’s talk coral, because diving is my special interest and since I’m running out of fish to learn, apparently now I’m onto coral identification (I swear I’m really fun to talk to, guys).

Some of the types you can expect to see are the stunning azure vase sponges, which are nearly iridescent and actually flouresce on their own, giving off a pinkish-purplish, vaguely neon hue.

Textured almost like brain coral on the outside, they have a “vase” depression in the interior — take a peek inside, as sometimes sea life like brittle stars, trunkfish, etc. like to hang out in the protection these kaleidoscopic sponges offer!

Another cool sponge you’ll see everywhere along the coral reef is the “variable boring sponge” which (to me) is anything but boring!

Typically no more than 4 inches in size, this cone-shaped sponge forms individual cones on larger coral structures, almost like a bright mustard-yellow colored barnacle.

Besides vase sponges and tube sponges, you’ll also find the magnificent barrel sponges, particularly the giant barrel sponge which can grow to nearly 7 feet in size and grow to almost 2,000 years old.

In terms of coral, expect to see lovely lettuce and sheet corals which look like stacks of brilliantly colored plates, boulder and grooved brain corals which live up to their name with their unique striations and ridges, and my personal favorite — the unique “cactus coral” which has a neon, botanical vibe to it.

And of course, there are sea fans (gorgoniums) like the purplish common sea fans and the soft yellow spiny sea fans.

Tropical Fish

beautiful indigo hamlet a colorful blue fish and coral

OK, now that we’ve covered the coral that forms the landscape, let’s talk about all the marine life that calls those incredible formations home!

In terms of fish, you’ll likely see the following in spades:

Territorial threespot damselfish, blue chromis, butterflyfish (specially spot fin, banded, and four eye), speckly graysbys, creole and bluehead wrasses, sharpnose puffers, Spanish hogfish, blue striped grunts, schools of jacks (especially horse eye and bar jacks), niche-lurking squirrelfish, and an enormous number of colorful parrotfish species are found all over the reef.

A few favorites to spot are what my divemaster nicknamed the “disco fish”, the yellowtail damselfish with electric blue spots in its juvenile period that slowly fade a bit (but still shine pretty bright!) as the fish ages and gets larger.

Other noteworthy fish are in the angelfish family: the brilliant blue and yellow queen angelfish, the elegant black and yellow French angelfish, and the funny-looking color block rock beauty.

Some other personal favorites are the brilliantly-colored indigo hamlet, huge-mouthed tiger groupers (who are fun to watch get their teeth cleaned!), all sorts of filefish (especially the iridescent scrawled filefish), the pouty-looking smooth trunkfish, and my personal favorite — the wriggly, dancing baby drumfish!

Other Sea Life (Large & Small!)

moray eel and cleaner shrimp hanging out together under the water

Small life to look out for include seahorses, nudibranchs, Christmas tree worms, pipefish, and colorful sea slugs!

Some larger marine life that you might see include: eels (green moray and spotted morays as well as bown garden eels), green sea turtles and hawksbill turtles (which are almost always accompanied by sharksuckers, since the shark population in Roatán has decreased dramatically), and stingrays.

And of course, there’s always the crustaceans! My favorite are the coral-banded shrimp and the purple Pederson anemone shrimp (typically found hanging out in corkscrew anemones).

You can also spot the spider-like arrow crabs, larger crabs like the spray crabs and clinging crabs, as well as the gorgeous Caribbean spiny lobster which are frequent sights.

My Roatan Dive Experience + Dive Logs

Allison Green and her partner scuba diving in Roatan

I spent six nights and Roatan and three nights in Utila for a total of 10 days of exploring and diving in Honduras.

I’ll be writing about my Utila dive experiences in another blog post, so that won’t be found here.

I did a total of 14 dives in Honduras: 5 dives in Utila and 9 dives in Roatan… and I wish I had time to do more, as there’s so much I didn’t get to see!

Luckily, I got to visit 9 different dive sites during my time in Roatan, so I’ll go over my dive log for each of those (including one extremely magical night dive I did!) and explain some of the highlights of the sight.

Slippery Nick

a parrotfish with a silly smile on its face

Dive Specs: Max depth 23m, average depth 14m, dive time 56 minutes, average temp 27°

Dive Sightings: Octopus camouflagingtwo hawksbill turtles with shark suckers accompanying them, juvenile yellowtail damselfish, French angelfish, juvenile spotfin butterflyfish, Nassau grouper, tiger grouper, Caribbean spiny lobster, banded coral shrimp, school of Atlantic spadefish

My first dive in Roatán was a pretty magical one — I descended to literally see an octopus camouflaging itself on the coral within the first few minutes of my dive.

Shortly thereafter, I saw two hawksbill turtles glide past, all accompanied by sharksuckers. This was the first time in all my diving I had ever seen that happen, so I found that very interesting.

I later learned it’s because all the sharks have been lured away from other parts of the reef to the Cara a Cara shark dive (which I don’t recommend doing, as it’s changed the sharks behavior), so the sharksuckers have found other animals to do ridealongs with.

Other than that, I have to admit this dive was mostly a blur, since it was my first dive of the trip and I had a few issues with the regulator during this dive (it had too small of a mouthpiece, and it was easily fixed by my next dive), plus my GoPro froze about a few minutes into the dive, leaving me with few videos to refresh my memory.

I did love this dive, though, and while there’s not a lot of information out there on the internet about it, I’d absolutely repeat it, though maybe it’s mostly bias from the amount of large sea life I was lucky enough to immediately see!

It’s not often you descend on a dive to immediately see an octopus and two turtles and end a dive amidst a school of beautiful batfish (also called Atlantic spadefish).

It was certainly a great dive site, and one that set the perfect stage for a week of incredible diving in Honduras!


A beautiful scrawled filefish with iridescent markings and slender shape

Dive Specs: Max depth 21m, average depth 13m, dive time 54 minutes, average temp 27°

Dive Sightings: Scrawled filefish, four-eye butterflyflish, sharpnose puffer, ocean triggerfish, Christmas tree worms, blue chromis, fairy basslet, harlequin bass, Caribbean neon gobies, juvenile bluehead wrasses, dusky damselfish, bicolor damselfish

This second dive was spectacular and definitely made me forget any equipment issues I had on my first dive.

Lighthouse is a common dive site as it’s so close to all the West End dive shops, but it’s popular for a reason!

It’s good for beginner divers with lots to see at a shallow depth, but it’s suitable for more advanced divers as well, as it’s a wall dive that drops off to 30 meters / 100 feet.

However, you can do it at any depth — we maxed out at 21 meters as it was our second dive and we wanted a shallower dive profile — so it’s also great as a second dive.

It’s rich with all sorts of coral — tons of brain corals and branching corals in a ton of different shades, a variety of sea sponges and beautifully wavering sea fans.

There’s tons to see — from sand patches where larger fish make pit stops at cleaning stations to all the interesting life in the niches of the wall, from squirrelfish to lobsters and more.

As you descend along the wall, keep an eye out as the wall is teeming with life, especially in the niches along the wall, where you might spot squirrelfish, lobsters, and eels.

Keener eyes can spot smaller life like cleaner shrimp and nudibranchs if you’re a fan of macro diving!

There are a number of fun swim-throughs and overhangs at Lighthouse, which make for fun exercises in working on your buoyancy as well as playing with underwater photography.

You’ll see all the regulars like parrotfish, angelfish, groupers, chromis, etc. here — but you might also spot an eagle ray or a sea turtle if you look out into the blue!

We didn’t see any spectacular or rare sea life during this particular dive — mostly the same old stuff you typically see on Caribbean reefs, save for one beautiful scrawled filefish — but I loved it anyway because it was so bustling with fish due to the healthy coral here.

While we didn’t end up doing our night dive at Lighthouse, it is a popular spot for night dives, because the reef completely transforms at night.

In the dark aided only by a dive torch, you can spot the eyes of a shrimp from dozens of feet away, the shy-by-day lobsters come out to hunt, and octopus become less shy and more showy.

El Aguila

the aguila wreck in roatan honduras with divers descending to the sunken boat
Scuba divers descend to the El Águila wreck on Roatan, Honduras

Dive Specs: Max depth 30m, average depth 18m, dive time 36 minutes, average temp 28°

Dive Sightings: Huge shipwreck (230-foot-long freighter broken into sections, with a large in-tact mast), porkfish, sharpnose puffer, spotted trunkfish, three huge rainbow parrotfish… the rest is a blur!

This was another dive I had a bit of a challenge with! I had only done one deep dive before, while getting my advanced certification.

As this dive hit about 100 feet, I think I felt the experience of getting narc’ed for the first time. It wasn’t super severe, but it did leave me feeling rather anxious, and I focused most of the dive on managing my breathing and ensuring I felt safe to continue to the dive.

That said, I don’t want to scare anyone off from doing this: it’s an excellent dive, regardless of how I felt during it.

Here’s what to know about this legendary wreck dive: El Aguila (The Eagle in Spanish) is a massive 230-foot freighter that sits on the sea floor at 110 feet.

Originally sunk in 1997 to create an artificial reef outside of Anthony’s Key Resort, only a year later Hurricane Mitch hurled it deeper into the sea, also breaking it into multiple parts.

In the decades since it landed on the sea floor, it’s become an intriguing sight: the broken remnants of a ship, adorned with hard and soft corals that contrast the rusting hull of the former freighter.

To actually enter the ship, you’ll need your Wreck Diving certification: if so, you might find yourself navigating the interiors with jacks, snappers, and groupers, or perhaps a moray eel or two.

But if you just have your Advanced Open Water, you’ll have to stick to the exterior… which is not a terrible place to be!

The dive goes deep, and it goes deep quick: suddenly, you’ll find yourself 100-110 feet deep, as you start to navigate the stern of the ship (the deepest part), making your way along the hull until you reach the bow.

The coolest part, though, is circling up the ship’s mast and seeing what life has made its home there in the decades since the ship became part of the reef’s story. It’s home to lots of small life, so macro photographers will enjoy this part of the dive!

I did this dive with Nitrox, which helped extend my NDL time quite a bit… although frankly, because of my anxiety, I used up my air rather early compared to the rest of the group.

I reached my air reserve, so I had to do a safety stop and end the dive early with my dive buddy and another divemaster who was accompanying the dive.

Oh well — I always say that a dive that doesn’t go the way you think or want but ultimately ends safely only makes you a better diver!

Mandy’s Eel Garden

elderly moray eel looking out from a hole in the coral

Dive Specs: Max depth 21m, average depth 9m, dive time 60 minutes, average temp 28°

Dive Sightings: Swim through with an elderly moray eel saying hello, massive number of brown garden eels in a sandy patch, shortfin pipefish, harlequin pipefish, queen angelfish, banded butterflyfish, trumpetfish, lizardfish, Christmas tree worms, indigo hamlet, a parrotfish having its teeth cleaned

This was one of my favorite dives in Roatán and one I think I could do time and again!

We started with a lovely swim-through that had an elderly moray eel (we could tell because of the cataracts in his eyes!) saying hello to all the passing divers.

But that wasn’t who this eel garden is named for — there’s a larger eel population here further into the dive!

Located in the waters of West Bay, this unique Roatan dive site offers a unique underwater spectacle: a mesmerizing field of garden eels.

What seems at first a simple patch of white sand, on closer inspection becomes something quite different: a home to dozens, possibly hundreds, of garden eels.

They rise from the seafloor, swaying rhythmically, almost more like pieces of kelp than a large field of eels.

Endlessly shy, you won’t be able to get up close with these eels — if you start to approach them, they’ll duck down into their holes, cascading almost like a row of dominoes.

While the eel garden is quite special, it’s one small part of a much more epic dive site.

After the sandy patch, you’ll find a drop off, with a gorgeous coral wall teeming with corals and sponges in a rainbow of hues — and all the life it supports darting around it.

Along the coral, don’t be surprised to see parrotfish nibbling the coral, giant schools of blue tangs, trumpetfish, hamlets, angelfish, and all sorts of reef fish in a rainbow of colors darting about.

While it’s named for its eel garden, this dive site is also known for its macro life potential.

I’m only just starting to get into macro photography and animal ID (and frankly, I need a better photography kit to do that — any close-up I tried to get on my Gro Pro was very blurry!).

This dive was still a great introduction to it, as we got to see a shortfin pipefish and a harlequin pipefish!

While not exactly as macro as it gets, they were still a little hard to spot, which made zeroing in on them once spotted all the more fun!

Sea Quest Shallow

a beautiful caribbean reef squid saying hello and swimming near to the camera

Dive Specs: Max depth 18m, average depth 11m, dive time 59 minutes, average temp 27°

Dive Sightings: Five Caribbean reef squids, green sea turtle, two French angelfish hanging out, queen angelfish, trio of banded butterflyfish, squirrelfish, many groups of goatfish (spotted and yellow), shy featherduster worm, giant tiger grouper having its teeth cleaned by Pederson cleaner shrimp

It’s always magical when a dive starts out with a bang.

In this case, it was spotting a duo of Caribbean reef squid moving about in the afternoon light, their bodies lighting up with iridescence as they passed.

It was my first time seeing any type of squid while diving, so it was a very special moment for me… that was quickly followed up by spotting three more reef squid, though a little further in the distance this time!

Besides seeing these spectacular squid, we also got to explore the wall, a stunning panorama or thriving coral in pink, yellow, purple, and orange, interspersed with soft fluttering sea fans and immense barrel sponges.

Along the wall’s crevices, you can look for lobsters and squirrelfish who like to call the darkest nooks of the reef home.

Colorful reef fish like French and queen angelfish are often found here, as well as larger life such as groupers, sea turtles (we saw a green turtle), and more.

One of the coolest parts of this dive for me was watching an enormous tiger grouper resting on a sandy patch of the sea floor, having his intimidating teeth cleaned by a team of purplish Pederson cleaner shrimp!

Also in the shallower sandy parts, you’ll spot silly goatfish who work their way along the sand patches, nibbling with their namesake goat-like ‘beards’ helping them scoop up their feast.

El Aquario (Night Dive)

A Caribbean reef octopus splayed against the coral in brilliant blue colors
A gorgeous Caribbean octopus came out to play at night!

Dive Specs: Max depth 18m, average depth 11m, dive time 59 minutes, average temp 28°

Dive Sightings: String of pearls bioluminescent display, bioluminescent plankton, gorgeous and bold Caribbean reef octopus who was not afraid of us at all, sleeping loggerhead turtle, countless lobsters, countless shrimp and brittle stars, giant crab.

This was hands down my favorite dive in Roatan and one of my favorite dives, periods.

Admittedly, I’m a bit entranced by night dives. The higher chance to see my favorite underwater animal, the octopus, is always a big winner.

I did get to see one on this spectacular dive, one of the least shy octopus I’ve ever seen — in fact, she was downright showy, intrigued by our dive lights and cameras, undulating towards us curiously and with little hesitation before continuing on her way.

It was captivating to watch her work her way through the reef, each tentacled arm reaching into crevices in search of nighttime munchies.

She moved the reef like her body was as liquid as the ocean itself, changing colors slightly with a gorgeous iridescent shimmer as she moved, occasionally briefly turning white when spooked before shining bright again.

Beyond the octopus, I saw dozens upon dozens of brittle stars as well as a few basket stars, moving around on sponges and sea fans.

I lost count of how many lobsters I spotted, who seemed to make eye contact and hold their ground, wondering if they’d need to move or just peacefully stay where they were.

There was also a giant loggerhead turtle sleeping peacefully beneath a coral underhang, almost using it as if a blanket, which was adorable to see.

Another spectacular sight was a giant crab — perhaps a channel clinging crab — paused on a sandy patch, munching on whatever he was catching for dinner.

But the best part of the dive came at the very end: the bioluminescent string of pearls, a phenomenon that only occurs on the new moon, when the ocean is very dark.

The “string of pearls” phenomenon happens when a small shrimp-like crustacean (also nicknamed a ‘sea firefly’) does its mating ritual around the new moon, releasing a burst of glowing particles into the water in patterns that resemble, well, a string of pearls.

Supposedly, the most appealing (longest, most consistent) display of bioluminescence results in the female’s attention, and thus her courtship!

There was also some bioluminescent plankton that we could see when we moved our hands in the water with our torches off, which was also cool to see, but that’s a more common phenomenon — the string of pearls is a really rare and special experience!

Zack’s Patch & Mack’s Wall

Camouflaging peacock flounder on a colorful coral formation at depth in Roatan
The peacock flounder does a beautiful job of blending in nearly everywhere, from brilliant coral to sand patches!

Dive Specs: Max depth 29m, average depth 16m, dive time 47 minutes, average temp 28°

Dive Sightings: Eagle ray, Caribbean spiny lobster, peacock flounder, school of wrasse

A little bit north of the El Aguila wreck is the dive site known as Zack’s Patch, with vibrant coral formations and a moderate depth, maxing out around 50 feet.

We started this dive at Zack’s Patch for about 10 minutes before we ended up around Mack’s Wall, so we had a combination of a shallow start followed by a wall dive where we maxed out around 100 feet.

We explored rather deep for about 10 minutes before our NDL limits approached, so then we started diving around 50-60 feet for the rest of the dive.

Zack’s Patch has a gorgeous coral colonies, where soft and hard corals create a beautiful underwater mosaic rife with life.

You’ll see everything from bulbous brain corals to intricate vase sponges to elegant sea fans vie for attention alongside vibrant clusters of branching corals.

The marine life at Zack’s Patch is as diverse as the reef itself, with petulant damselfish patrolling their little patch of reef, peacock flounders trying to camouflage into the coral, wrasses darting around everywhere, and parrotfish nibbling away at algae on the coral.

The diving scene here is a mix of kinetic reef life and beautiful serene landscapes, and it’s beautiful.

As you approach the Mack’s Wall area, peer closely into the reef’s crevices to discover shy creatures like blennies, eels, and various crustaceans.

In the blue, you might see rays, barracudas, or possibly even a rare hammerhead shark sighting off in the distance.

This was where I saw my first (and only!) eagle ray of my time diving in Roatán, so this particular dive site has a special meaning to me!


a sharpnose eel in roatan approaching near the camera
A sharpnose eel getting quite close and comfortable!

Dive Specs: Max depth 23m, average depth 10m, dive time 56 minutes, average temp 28°

Dive Sightings: Sharptail eel, 

Close to all the West End dive shops and a favorite among dive shops, there’s a good chance you’ll dive at Moonlight during your time in Roatan.

Follow the swimthroughts and coral canyons along gorgeous coral slopes that eventually give way to a stunning wall where you can zero in on reef life along the wall.

You can also stay relatively shallow, as we did (since it was our second dive) and spend most of the time in the shallower areas of the dive site, checking out all the beautiful crevices of the reef in search of beautiful life.

Moonlight is close to Lighthouse Reef and share a similar stunning underwater topography, and you may end up combining portions of both sites as it’s hard to tell where one reef ends and the other begins, especially since I believe the dive sites share a mooring line.

Immediately upon descending, we spotted a beautiful sharptail eel out and about, who was so unbothered by my presence that was the one who ended up spooked and giving it some space!


a white and black drumfish moving about in a niche little cavern in the coral formations in roatan
The beautiful, frenetic movements of the drumfish are wild to behold!

Dive Specs: Max depth 18m, average depth 11m, dive time 59 minutes, average temp 28°

Dive Sightings: Spotted moray eel, coral banded shrimp, sleeping green turtle with big shark sucker, two baby drumfish, three trumpetfish, spotfin butterfly fish being cleaned, queen angelfish, French angelfish, rock beauty, many huge parrotfish (redband, queen, striped, stoplight), indigo hamlet, baby lionfish (almost black in color)

This dive site is actually sponsored by Roatan Divers via the Roatan marine park’s sponsor program, who ‘bought’ the beautiful dive site in the shallows now known as Saaya’s (one of the co-owners of Roatan Divers, the dive shop we went with).

It’s a spectacular patch of reef, mostly shallow and so perfect as a second or third dive of the day. Our average depth was only 11 meters, and we were still able to see so much.

I find that afternoon dives (we did this dive at 2:30 PM) are often a little sleepier in terms of fish life, but that wasn’t the case at Saaya’s, which was positively humming with activity.

The topography of this reef isn’t anything particularly spectacular — it’s a shallow-ish coral garden with the typical reef structure that you’ll find all over Roatán — but the life it holds is staggering!

I truly lost count of the number of parrotfish I saw going to town on the reef, cleaning it of algae — and going back through my footage, I saw at least four species of dozen-ish species of parrotfish who call the Roatan reefs home.

We saw three separate trumpetfish — one of my favorite reef residents — who bumble through the ocean semi-awkwardly, semi-gracefully.

Later in the dive, I found a small spotted moray eel lurking beneath a rock, camouflaging well against it, with a coral banded cleaner shrimp right next to him!

But the coolest site was in a little niche of the reef, where we saw two adorable baby drumfish, darting around like pieces of black-and-white ribbon.

Drumfish are funny little critters: they stick to one little niche of the reef (typically under a ledge or in a small cave in the coral) and basically never leave it, forever pacing about in repetitive little circles. If they weren’t so cute, they’d look rather anxious!

These are one of my favorite sights when I dive in the Caribbean, and it was such a fun way to end our diving in Honduras.

5 More Incredible Roatan Dive Sites

Of course, with only 9 dives and 150 dive sites on Roatan, I didn’t even come close to seeing all of the best dive sites in Roatan.

I have my advanced open water certification, but I consider myself an intermediate diver since I have about 50 dives under my belt at the time of writing this.

There are some dives better suited for more advanced divers that I hope to return to and get to experience!

Mary’s Place

View through the crack at Mary's Place with a scuba diver in silhouette off the island of Roatan, Honduras.

Mary’s Place, nestled on the south side of Roatan, is revered amongst divers as one of the best of Roatan’s dive sites due to its unique topography.

Mary’s Place is famous for its stunning deep but narrow canyons and swim-throughs, which you enter through a vertical split in the coral reef caused by ancient volcanic activity.

Swimming through these natural corridors is spectacular — especially as the sponges and corals form a beautiful kaleidoscope around you and the light interplays with the shadows created by the swim-throughs.

That said, you also need excellent buoyancy control so you don’t risk harming the corals with a poorly-placed fin kick.

Passing through these underwater corridors. It’s not uncommon to spot lobsters, eels, or even a majestic seahorse nestled among the crevices.

However, the allure of Mary’s Place also presents a few challenges: primarily, its popularity among divers is a bit of a double-edged sword.

The site can get quite crowded, especially during peak diving seasons, and I’ve heard stories of people needing to wait underwater to enter the crevice where the swim-throughs start, burning off valuable oxygen and bottom time.

Additionally, Mary’s Place is situated further from the popular West End and West Bay areas. Not all dive shops offer visits to Mary’s Place, and for those that do, it means a longer boat journey for divers staying in these areas.

If you have rented a car in Roatan, you may want to dive with a shop closer to the South Side, like Roatan Dive Center, to avoid some fuss.

Detractions aside, the unique dive experience offered by Mary’s Place is still considered by many worth the extra travel time and underwater crowds.

Hole in The Wall

hole in the wall tunnel dive with little light remaining

For a similar dive on the north side of the island, the Hole in the Wall is a good alternative to Mary’s Place, offering a dive that’s extraordinary (and likely with fewer crowds).

This site owes its name to a unique geological feature—you guessed it, a literal hole in the reef wall—that creates an unforgettable diving experience!

This narrow, vertical hole creates a chimney-like tunnel that starts at about 40 feet down, and you have to descend down along the tunnel to finally emerge back into the blue around 100 feet down.

Its depth makes it only an option for those who are AOW certified (or higher), and your dive shop will likely want to see you dive somewhere else before bringing you here so that they can ensure you have the skills required (namely, good buoyancy control — poor buoyancy will damage this fragile structure).

For those who do make the dive, though, it’s akin to being transported to another world as you pass through the tunnel, and upon exiting the hole, you’ll find yourself on a steep reef wall that plunges into the deep.

Besides its cool topography, this wall dive is home to a diverse range of marine life — in particular, macro enthusiasts will love looking for blennies, gobies, and shrimp hiding in nooks and crannies along the wall.

The Odyssey

odyssey shipwreck dive site with a sunken boat with coral growing on it

Similar to El Aguila, the Odyssey is a north coast shipwreck dive site, featuring a 300-foot-long freighter that was sunk on purpose in 2002 (also by Anthony’s Key) to create an artificial reef.

Now, the rusting structure of this colossal ship lies about 115 feet below the surface (though due to its large size, you can see the top of the wreck around 60 feet).

It’s the largest wreck dive in Honduras and indeed, also one of the largest in all of the Caribbean!

You’ll need to be AOW certified to visit the exterior of the wreck due to its depth, and if you want to enter and dive inside the wreck itself, you’ll need your Wreck Diving certification.

For those who do have their Wreck cert, they’ll find that coral growth and marine life have taken over this steel behemoth, transforming it into a thriving aquatic habitat!

Regardless of whether or not you can enter the wreck, you’ll get to see all the flourishing marine life that has made the wreck its home. Expect to encounter some extremely large groupers, stoic barracuda, and swirling schools of jacks.

West End Wall

School of yellow striped tropical grunt fish and coral reef. Swimming fish and healthy corals

While generally, Roatán is not a huge drift diving destination, West End Wall is an exception.

Located along the edge of the island, West End Wall is a beloved spot for advanced divers who enjoy the exhilarating experience of drift diving.

West End Wall is known for having some of the strongest currents on the island, making it a site that requires advanced diving skills and a high level of comfort in the water.

However, with this challenge comes an equally rewarding experience; the currents bring with them an abundance of nutrients, attracting a wide array of marine life.

As you enter the water and descend along the impressive wall, you’ll be greeted by the sight of large schools of snappers, jacks, and wrasses swirling around, impossible to count.

Drifting along the wall, you’ll glide past vibrant corals and sponges clinging to the wall, their colors standing out starkly against the deep blue backdrop of the sea, where you might spot some even larger schools or even a shark in the distant blue!


a nudibranch on a piece of coral

Positioned about 18 miles off the island of Roatan, the Seamounts off of Cayos Cochinos offer an exhilarating diving experience for advanced divers.

First of all, keep in mind that the dive at the Seamounts is predominantly weather dependent due to its remote location.

It’s also not a dive site you just chance upon — you’ll need to specifically request to dive at the Seamounts, and that will typically require a minimum number of participants and an additional charge (as it’s so far from Roatan).

Due to the distance required to get here, Seamounts is always a two-tank dive, which is great so you can have ample time to explore this stunning underwater landscape.

Be prepared to quickly orient yourself in the water here — there are no sandy patches or mooring lines for descent here, a testament to the Seamounts’ untouched charm, but also its need for expertise.

The site is characterized by strong currents, which means this dive is strictly for advanced divers. Proficient buoyancy control and comfort with currents and drift diving are essential when exploring this site.

One of the unique features of the Seamounts is the deep reef formed by underwater mountain ranges, forming a mesmerizing topography that is quite unlike the other dive sites around Roatan.

The strong currents bring in nutrient-rich waters, supporting a vibrant ecosystem teeming with both coral reef species and pelagic visitors, including the occasional whale shark.

Best Dive Shops in Roatan

Best West End Dive Centers

A group of divers in Roatan looking at a dive boat with Roatan Divers on it

Roatan Divers: Our personal choice, we absolutely adored our experience diving with Roatan Divers and would happily give them our return business (and I would definitely consider doing further PADI coursework with them, like if I ever get do my Rescue Diver or Divemaster training).

They were highly professional and easy to work with and very flexible — when we started diving and immediately realized we wanted to do even more dives that we had planned, they easily accommodated our extra dive requests.

Two other big pluses for Roatan Divers: their excellent fast boats and your ability to hire an underwater photographer!

First, the fast boats: I have pretty bad seasickness and that can always be a bit of an enemy while diving… it’s no fun to worry about puking into your regulator.

As they explained it, their fast boats are actually custom-designed to go through the water extremely smoothly, with a deeper build so they can cut through the waves rather than bounce off of them.

They also get you to your dive sites incredibly fast — another huge plus for people like me!

The other plus is their underwater photography package which you can purchase for a very reasonable rate.

We didn’t actually intend to use this service — a fellow diver on our boat did — but he took excellent photos of us underwater and allowed us to purchase a set of them for a great price ($100 for two divers, or $50 per person).

Their prices are really good, starting at $50 per dive inclusive of everything (rental gear included except for dive computer — but you should really own your own, anyway) and accruing discounts for dive packages ($95 for two dives, $400 for 10 dives — like getting two free!).

Sun Divers: Our second choice, we considered Sun Divers but eventually went with Roatan Divers. They do have a good reputation though, so I’m sure we would have also had a great time there; we just didn’t have the firsthand experience!

Starting at $40 per dive, their per-dive prices are lower than Roatan Divers if you are not renting gear, as their gear rental costs $10/day, which then puts them on equal footing as Roatan Divers.

a beautiful display of fish swimming in a semi-circle

Best West Bay Dive Centers

West Bay Divers: This is the best-rated dive shop in Roatan’s resort-y West Bay. Prices here are higher than in West End — their dives start at $57 per dive when doing at least two tanks, and don’t drop to $50 until you’ve bought a package of 10+ dives (though these packages can be split amongst a group)

Blue Planet Divers: The next-best-rated dive shop in West Bay, Blue Planet is another popular dive shop. They offer morning two-tank dives and one-tank afternoon dives, and a handful of night dives per week. Their prices are cheaper than West Bay Divers, with their 1-tank price starting at $50 per dive inclusive of gear.

South Side Dive Centers

Roatan Dive Center: With two branches, one in West Bay and one in Dixon Cove, the latter is the place to go for diving the south side of the island, including famous spots like Mary’s Place. It’s also the closest dive center to cruise ships, making it a popular choice for those visiting Honduras by cruise.

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