Roatan Snorkeling Excursion Reviews
My least favorite excursion, and the ONLY one booked with the cruise line-go figure. Although it was enjoyable once we got there and got in the water, it was a long and difficult drive. The level of poverty that we passed through but a huge damper on the day. I know it sounds bad, but seeing people trying to make it hour to hour, made me feel guilty for enjoying such an extravagant time. We went to Carnivals beach and the locals circling us like vultures was overwhelming. They kept petting my hair and asking to braid it, they were in our faces and hounding us until the police arrived and made them leave. I WISH that we had just visited the park that was right at the port! It looked beautiful and fun!
We booked a private catamaran excursion with two other families that were on the same cruise with us. Booked with Radical Adventures - was great. They took us off beaten path to non touristy areas to two different snorkeling spots. Crew was very attentive. They provided lots of good food and plenty to drink (both non alcoholic and alcoholic beverages). It was great having the boat to ourselves and worth the cost.
LOVED, LOVED, LOVED Roatan!!! The people are friendly and nice but not overbearing. You could walk through markets and shops without being harassed. We opted to take a full day snorkel and kayaking trip booked independently of the ship. The weather was less that cooperative, so our snorkeling was cut short due to thunderstorms, but the operator made other arrangements for us to go the restaurant next door and have lunch and enjoy the local beers of Honduras. This is a beautiful tropical island and one that we would love to come back to either by plane or ship.
I took the Shipwreck and snorkel excursion because I wanted a more remote location for the beach area to take scenic photos. I also had my underwater camera with me for the snorkeling. I thought the snorkeling was great but the shipwreck was disappointing. It was farther down and you didn't really get more than 3-4 minutes over it to look around. On the day we went there was little to no sea life around the ship, however around the reefs it was beautiful. I have snorkeled many times before and I loved how the guide (Darryl) swam with us and pointed out various things on the reef. I have been on many where they just tell you to jump in and point to where to swim, this one was different because they were in the water with you the entire time and the boat stayed near by. Snorkeling was a short trip from the beach and all your items were on the snorkeling boat and kept safe. The resort we went to "Fantasy Island Resort" was a small private location with wild monkeys in the trees. It was beautiful and relaxing. There was a nice little place to get $3 beers and a sandwich right by the beach and we had adequate time to roam and swim once we were done snorkeling. I loved this excursion and would recommend it to those who like snorkeling (maybe not first timers as it could be a little intimidating).
Jolly Roger catamaran snorkel. The reef was great. The crew was a lot of fun. The food was excellent. Rum was available after the snorkel.
Recovering from the fun in Belize, the next mooring you wake up in Roatan. The port Carnival uses was built by Carnival and is well designed and expensive as compared to other ports. If you are going to do any shopping, this is probably the “easiest” to do it at. Spent over $60 on a shirt, towel, trinket, and shark tooth necklace for the kid.
We booked a barefoot snorkeling tour through Carnival based on the reports of issues in Roatan and the desire to just have someone else run the show in case things went bad time wise. The boat was a five minute walk from the Legend and once we signed our forms in the rain (hint Jolly Roger ink-jet printed forms run in the rain…get a laser printer for next time).
Boat pushed off with 60+ people on board and away we went. Takes about 35 minutes to get to the reef and from the surface it does not look like much. A very brief safety review and the masks/snorkels/fins are handed out. The more experienced people go first, so if you have snorkeled before head towards the back of the boat. And if you do not want to use the fins, by all means tell them. Also, if you have a waterproof video camera (thinking GoPro) by all means bring it. You will thank me later for this.
The reef is incredible and we saw tons of various fish. Would have been nice to know which fish are what and what we might see out there…even a pic of one of the T-Shirts they sell onshore would have went far. Went through some very shallow and deep areas and saw a wide variety of fish, eels, etc (again, 8GB of shaky video to sort through). And then back on the boat for lunch which was the second best meal we had on the trip. A leisurely ride back to the dock and then the short walk back to the boat.
The next morning we docked in Mahogany Bay which is a private Carnival island in Roatan, Honduras. We took a small charter catamaran out to snorkel. The fish and sea life were amazing. I would recommend this excursion very highly.
Next day we arrived in Mahogany Bay, Roatan. It is a very clean port that carnival paid a lot of money to fix up. There is a "village" of all the tourist shops like Del Sol, Diamonds International, and Piranha Joe and Fat Tuesdays and so on. It was well manicured and looked like a botanical garden. We booked a tour through eh ship to Mahogany Bay island retreat with snorkel and lunch buffet. The ride to the beach was on an overcrowded boat and about 20 minutes. It was a nice section of beach that is also very well maintained. There is a small "zoo" really just birds in cages and some ocicats. They also have nice snorkel gear and a large well maintained gift shop as well as very nice restrooms and changing rooms. The long pier to go snorkeling off is very well maintained. Once you get in the water, there is a small place to stand and get your gear on properly, and then there is a path that you follow to get between the coral reef out to the drop off area. There is a pool with many tables and loungers and on the beach there are many loungers and tables to enjoy both in the sun and the shade. The lunch buffet was pretty wimpy compared to ones on half moon cay I have been to. Also, you could only go thru the line one time, so when I went to get salad, they marked my wrist tag, then when I went to get the main meal, they tried to deny me, and I was trying to explain that I had not eaten my meats and beans. After about 5 minutes of arguing, they finally let me eat my meal! Once again the rain found us while we were enjoying lunch, but it was a brief hard rain and then it was over.
Maya Key Beach getaway was great!! Animal Sanctuary, Snorkel train, Buffet - All excellent!
Definitely recommend "Shipwreck Snorkel and Beach - RT41." 30 minute bus ride; not a big deal. Nice resort, although definitely aged. Nice beach, sand, and trees. You take a dive boat out and jump off, which is always fun. They ask you to wear a life preserver, but they don't make you inflate it. Great snorkeling. Beautiful fish and coral. We snorkeled for about 45 minutes. Beach is fun - it has monkeys! They're pretty socialized. Bring cash for food and drinks.
Let me preface by saying that I never take cruise ship excursions because I don't want to be part of a massive amount of people herding along. I also prefer to utilize the local talent as much as possible in order to feed the local economy.
When we arrived at Roatan, it was a little confusing attempting to locate where we needed to be to start this tour. You will need to exit the port gates and your guide will be waiting for you with a sign right outside those gates. We were greeted by the owner of this company himself Herbert. A younger gentleman who was born and raised locally, Herbert has a wonderful smile and a personality that puts you at ease immediately. We were delighted to discover that my wife and I were literally the only couple that had signed up for most of the tour we had booked! In light of this Herbert decided to use his personal car as our "tour vehicle". Along the ride to the countryside we were provided many options and asked several questions in which he gauged what would be the most appropriate and exciting things for us to see and do on our tour. This part of the excursion felt a lot like a best friend picking you up and showing you the city that he lives in for the first time.
Online I had booked the tour as a snorkel and sightseeing tour. In the end this simple explanation really did no justice to the excursion that we experienced. Herbert's entire family seem to be in the tourism business in some way. Our first stop was to "see the iguanas". We arrived at Arch's Iguana and Marine Park where there were several tour buses/vans. We would later learn and meet Herbert's cousin who owns and runs this place. We were treated like family while there and really had an incredible experience interacting with the large amount of iguanas found on this property. We were even able to feed the iguanas! On the back half of this property which sits on the water is a pier with a fenced off "Marine Park" in which they have large fish like tarpon and snook as well as a barracuda. There are also seabirds like pelicans. Living in Florida, we found these to be all too common and made short work of this part of the tour. On her way back from the pier we stopped off at the monkey cages and took a couple of pictures of them. We were introduced to some of Herbert's relatives and shared a Coke with them discussing how the iguana city got started. It's a pretty cool story and worthy of you asking.
Next was a drive again through the countryside with a small pit stop at his aunt's house where he checked on another relatives tour group to see if they wanted to possibly snorkel with us. We met them at the family-run "Marina". They have several different kinds of boats including some fishing vessels. There is a restroom here and a place to change into your suit if necessary. Be certain to either wear a shirt or completely cover yourself with sunscreen! Even though the lifejackets are full vest style jackets, you can still get sunburned through the cracks, trust me I unfortunately know. The boat that we were taken out on was quite nice and compared to other boats we saw with other tour groups it was incredibly nice. The canopy covers the entire length of the boat shielding you from the blasting sun but still allowing you to enjoy the seabreeze as you skate along to the snorkel location. We chose to do both the reef and the Lobster City.
We were accompanied on our trip with three women from three generations of a Japanese family from Houston. The mother did not swim very well and Herbert made her feel very comfortable by accompanying her for the beginning of the snorkel adventure. The water is a little rougher out here, but fortunately I always bring our sea snorkels and masks as I prefer to wear something I'm comfortable in. Herbert supplied the ladies with snorkels and masks and purposely chose snorkels that were "dry" as a result of the wind that we had and he supplied us with fins. Although he stated that the lifejackets were optional, he did suggest that it would be better to wear them. Personally, I always wear my lifejacket when snorkeling because I find it takes a lot less effort to maneuver around and in shallower water gives me the ability to glide over coral that I would have to avoid otherwise.
I found the reef snorkel adventure to be very cool for a couple of reasons. First, the coral here is very healthy and extremely colorful in some locations. Second, the water has a beautiful blue palette of colors especially near the drop off. We were able to see down to the wildlife with no problems. The coral is located at about 12 to 18 feet below the surface. We started approximately 50 to 100 yards away from the drop off. I was able to swim off to the drop off and take some really neat pictures. I highly recommend bringing an underwater camera even if it's a disposable one so that you can take pictures of the things that you see. At the reef, we saw many fish and even a very large moray eel (6 to 7 feet in length). Unfortunately in my excitement I didn't get a very good picture of it but it was still very cool to see. As a diver I always find that snorkeling at any reef with the coral at this depth, to be irritating, because I want to dive down and get closer to the reef. However, my craving for getting up close and personal was satisfied on our next snorkel in the Marine Park started by his family called Lobster City. The Marine Park is located in just 4 feet of water or less so great care is needed to ensure that the coral does not get destroyed by people standing up on top of it. Herbert did a good job of explaining to our group how it is important to maintain swimming until you reach the sandy areas if you need to stand. This water is crystal clear. In this area we saw many more fish, huge lobsters, sea urchins and even a barracuda! Having the variety of snorkeling sites was truly delightful. Along the way Herbert takes pictures with his go Pro camera and he will email you those pictures to download after your adventure. The pictures that we received back were really incredible! They are crystal-clear shots of us in action while snorkeling. For us, they were a great supplement to the pictures that I took with my underwater camera.
After the snorkeling adventure we changed again and we asked if we could be dropped off at some place for lunch. We were looking to eat at a local restaurant not a tourist location and Herbert suggested a family owned restaurant not far from where we were. For six dollars, my wife got an entire fish and a huge plate of beans and rice as well as a drink. I found it extremely cool to be able to not only help his family out but also to experience lunch like a local. After lunch Herbert took us to "The View" is really just a location at the top of the mountain where locals have set up stands much like a flea market. You can pick up all sorts of trinkets here if you'd like. The view is quite nice and I was able to get some good panorama shots. Afterwards, Herbert drove us back to our ship and dropped us off inside the gates right at the entrance to the building. We were able to get a security guard to take our picture with him which was very cool as well.
Overall I'd have to say that this is one of my favorite sightseeing excursions I've ever taken. With local flavor that feels more like a friendship and less like a moneymaking venture, Roatan Ocean Adventures makes the top of my list for things to do in the Roatan Bay Islands!
We got off the ship in the beautiful Mahogany Bay. The private beach looked nice but clearly offered no snorkeling. We saw a Carnival manned ‘last minute’ booth at the ‘Y’ in the path and they said for $19 pp, we could go to West Bay but only for an hour. 20 feet to the left was a ‘Roatan Express’ booth. Same price and even took our sign and sail cards to pay but offered any return time up to 4:00 PM. They had a guy at West Bay that would take care of us. DONE DEAL! Once we got there, Gustavo was our ‘beach concierge’ guy. He arranged for the 5 of us to take a snorkel trip on a boat with Captain Andy (small boat). He took us around the corner to the best snorkeling I have ever had in my life. Do the math, $35 all in per person and a perfect experience. Food was moderately priced on West Bay but beer was $2. I am personally ready to go to Roatan for a week. Don’t miss this place. Definitely venture out beyond the private beach and lines (we heard about) at Mahogany Bay.
- Roatan Bay: Unfortunately this port was in Coxen Hole which is not necessarily a place you want to go and walk around. The port was heavily secured and the guards discouraged you from going out the gates without a tour. We did a Catamaran snorkel trip that started off a bit disorganized, but after a 20 min bus ride we boarded the catamaran and sailed out to the site (technically motored on the way out). The snorkel site was very impressive. Large sea fans, lobster, lots of marine life. Very beautiful site. The "tour" was a bit clunk as it was only one guide for 45 people in the water. Sail back was quite nice with lots of rum punch! (ok just for me, not my wife)
Fun, fun, fun. good food, great beach, it was hard to turn in my snorkel. Remember to turn in you rsnorkel with the same person who is holding it. I didnt do this and discovered I did not have my ship card after we got back and we had to go back and get it. Lucky that we left early to get back to the boat and the driver was ok with taking us back.
We had been told the current was pretty strong and waters were a little rough, but they took us out to a spot not far from the beach where we were. They grouped us by snorkeling experience, with each group going with a guide.
The water was a little rough, but the coral reef and fish made it all worth it. They told us we had about an hour in the water. The clarity of the water was fairly good. The coral reef was amazing and we saw some great schools of fish. I had forgotten about the fact that this was a "shipwreck snorkeling tour" until I got back on the boat when I started feeling sea sick from all the rocking waves (i lasted about 30 minutes or so). It didn't make sense to me that we'd be taken on this "shipwreck" tour and not get to see it, but the last 5-10 minutes they brought all the remaining snorkelers right by the boat where there was a shipwreck, but from what everyone said, you could only see the outline of it. It was too far down or visibility wasn't too great. Even those that dove down didn't get too close.
West Bay Tours was absolutely amazing - Marco was our tour guide. Very informative and personable. He would stop along the way and offer us tidbits of information about island life. We would even pull of the road for longer stories or to let us take pictures. He stopped at a local market so we could do some shopping with the locals.
Took us to a semi private beach where we paid a small fee to use the facilities offered - the one down fall to this area was that the locals bothered us constantly offering to sell us their wares. Did book with a local to take us snorkeling.
Awesome experience - this turned out to be our favorite stop.
We chose Carnival's Maya Key + lunch. We have our own snorkel equipment. After the ship docks at Roatan, we walked right off the boat, up the pier, and into Carnival's shopping port. We saw many Carnival employees holding up Carnival excursion signs, and we just had to find ours. We had about 30 minutes before we were to leave, so we walked around some of the shops. Then, we followed the guide who walked us up the hill (the same hill that leads to Carnival's Beach), and down a path right to the ferry boat (maybe a 2-3 minute walk). Then the ride over to Maya Key was about 10-15 minutes on the ferry. (We could see our ship from the island.) Immediately after getting off the boat, an island employee briefed us on the different things the island has to offer - a ruin/nature walk, shark encounter, sea lions, animal rescue area, and the beach. There is a small gift shop with t-shirts & a few souvenirs. The facilities on the island are very nice, and the island is landscaped beautifully with lovely tropical flowers.
We walked down a path to the other side of the island (very short walk) and found a couple of chairs to put our beach bag & towels. We grabbed our snorkel gear & headed down the long pier towards the reef we had read about here on Cruise Critic. There is a gazebo type structure at the end of the pier where we could sit & put on our fins & masks before entering the water via ladders at the end of the pier. The water here is about 5'. There were guides sitting on the pier that told us how to follow the water bottles they have as markers out to the drop off. Then you can go left or right and follow the reef wall.
I have to say this was probably the most beautiful reef I have seen anywhere! It was absolutely gorgeous. Once you get out to the reef, it is 100% reef in such beautiful, colorful formations. We were disappointed it was so cloudy, as the colors would have been more vivid if there had been sun. There were 1000's of fish in all different colors, sizes & designs. Fascinating to say the least! We heard a couple of people say they saw lobsters & an octopus, but we could never find them. We saw plenty of other beautiful fish though. We could have stayed in there forever, but the hard rain that finally showed up drove us out.
My husband did the snorkel with the nurse sharks. They have about 13 sharks in a big penned off area, and it was $35 to snorkel with them. The guides fed the sharks while his group was in the water. My husband said they were longer than him, and he's 6'. He loved it, and got some great pictures. They didn't care if you took your own camera in the water to take pictures. There were also a few stingray in the pen, turtles, lobster, etc. My DH thoroughly enjoyed this adventure.
We had a few minutes while it quit raining that we did get to walk through the ruins and visit the animals.
The excursion provides a very tasty lunch under a pavilion with chairs & tables. As others have mentioned, you are given a colored paper bracelet at the pier before the excursion. As you go through the food line (buffet style) they will mark your bracelet - so you can only go through once. They had BBQ chicken, fried fish strips (which were very good) and a delicious homemade tartar sauce. There was also salad, banana chips, pickled onions and coconut rice & beans (which was also very good). We were impressed with the meal. A lot of excursion meals leave a lot to be desired, but this one was actually good.
We would HIGHLY recommend this excursion - especially if you want an EXCELLENT snorkel spot. If you are looking for a beach, and a place to swim, I wouldn't recommend this excursion. There is a very small beach with chairs, but the shallow water had a lot of grass in it.
Because of the rain, the ferry boats started coming out early to pick us up. They delivered us back to the port. We went back aboard the ship to wash off the salt water & change clothes, then went back out to shop at the port. We had plenty of time to leisurely shop and picked up a few good items to remember Roatan.
This was our favorite excursion. We can't tell the world enough about the awesome excursion we went on. IT started with a bus ride through the city to a zip line adventure over the jungle. Our tour guide was out of this world. He stayed with us the whole trip and talked to us about everything in their lives there. Helped us find a great snorkeling guide so we were able to enjoy that adventure as well. The guides for that took us some beautiful places in the ocean that one could only dream of seeing. The prices were amazingly cheap for what we got to do.
Afterwards we ate lunch at the restaurants out there and the food was excellent.
We enjoyed every minute there and were sad to leave. Our tour guide clearly is not someone who just does this to make a living. He enjoys the area and taking time to make sure we got the best experience we could in the short time we were there.
We really, really like Roatan. Although (because of a storm) the snorkeling was rough, we can't say enough about what a great place this is. It's one of the main reasons we came on this particular Cruise.
Really not a good tour. We booked it via Costa (Blue Channel snorkeling, locally handled by MC Tours) and most of what we did was wait. On the ship. In the port. And finally a whole hour (!!) in a beach bar to get on the boat. Snorkeling itself was OK, but not great. The water was not really clear. On the way back we could see lots of plastic trash floating in the water, brought by one of the storms. Really nasty and makes you really think about how much waste we all produce and what happens to it in the end.
Next time, I would definitely book another tour or even preferably organize something independently.
It was ok. Partly my fault. After the snorkeling trip your driver picks you up. But you have to be very clear about what you want when the driver pick you up. They are there to take you where you want to go so if you don't give directions then driver will take you to a few place. We wanted to have lunch on the beach. Not stay on the beach. Had to pay $10 each to get into a private resort. I told the owner that we only wanted to have lunch not lay on the beach. She gave us our $10 per person back. Roatan was ok but I can cross it off my list of places since I've been there. I did like their port for the shopping.
Best shore excursion to date.
We booked the Jolly Roger Sail & Snorkel. It was well worth the money. They serve a nice lunch and after the snorkeling, and the Rum was free flowing. We had rum punch, or rum & coke. The sailing crew were very nice and helpful with people who were new to snorkeling. I wouldn't suggest this excursion to anyone who are not very comfortable in the water, as it is about 20 feet deep where we snorkeled. Most of the people did wear floatation vests. We had a great time.
Snorkeling and nature walk..excellent job from Hulio!!
We went on a snorkeling trip with Jolly Roger tours in the morning. The weather was rainy, but the tour guys made the best of it. They were all friendly and really seemed to enjoy talking about the area. The water was warm and we swam out to a nice reef about 200 feet from the boat. There we saw plenty of corals and fish. If the sun had been out, I would have seen more. We did get pictures of 4 lionfish and all kinds of coral. The only downside to the place we were anchored was that there was trash in the water that had run off land from a recent storm. Apparently Roatan has a bit of a garbage problem.
Overall, it was a nice day. The sun came out later and after we were all out of the water, they served a tasty lunch and drinks.
Maya Key Excursion, excellent snorkeling for beginners or otherwise as it is right off the end of a shallow 50 yard pier, at least until the trash arrive (See below). There is a nice size pool for lounging, ¼ size Maya temple with an small museum, beach, a caged wildlife refuge and other stuff to keep one occupied if snorkeling is not your thing. The provided lunch was also very good.
At about 1 PM, while snorkeling at Maya Key, a wall of trash above and below water, hit this area and proceed to float down the entire cost of this side of Roatan, the same side where the ship docks. Very, very sad to have seen these occur. We are talking about many 40’ x 40’ floating islands of trash floating on top of the water at the beginning of this event. Literally it went from crystal clear water to murky in under a minute. I poked my head out of the water to see a Cheetos bag floating inched from my face amongst what look liked other processed debris. This was not localized issue as other ship passengers’ miles down shore form us confirmed the same thing and the litter could be seen along the Mahogany Bay when we got back, where there was none when we left in the morning.
My Wife describes Roatan as being vastly different than she remembers. The port at Mahogany Bay is very new and modern and completely enclosed into another Disney-esq collection of shops and restaurants. Most of which you would be able to find in your local shopping mall. This was a severe disappointment to us as we prefer to be immersed in local culture, even if that culture is very poor and doesn't speak good English. Think of us as Anthony Bourdain-type travelers. While very safe and secure, the Mahogany bay port itself didn't appeal to us at all. I guess for worried travelers that can't handle indigenous peoples at ports of call, this is what they want. Not us. The beach here is very recently man made and a short walk down a steep hill. For a fee, you can ride a chair lift style ride for $12 down to the beach. We had about an hour to kill before our catamaran snorkel dive and we found a little nature trail to climb around on across from the Liberty, and hiked that. The snorkel dive was pretty crowded with about sixty cruisers onboard from both the Carnival Liberty and the Carnival Magic. No de-fog was given for our masks and when I jumped off the boat, I got a lung and sinuses filled with sea water and a flooded mask. I panicked and wound up spending the rest of the dive on the boat getting the salt water out of my lungs. My Wife continued with the swim and the reefs were mostly dead at both dive spots. The highlight of the dive was a single reef lobster picture on our olympus camera. Very disappointing dive.
I found "Roger Cat-Cruises" thanks to reviews. What a wonderful day on the water. Sailing and snorkeling. Roger took us out even though it was just us (he usually won't take less than 6) He gives you a tour of the beautiful West End and good snorkeling areas.
Jolly Roger Snorkeling tours are a great bunch of people. Went to a great reef, lots to see, great guides, felt very safe and well attended.
We booked the snorkeling tour at Tabyana beach. The views were amazing and the wildlife was abundant. We snorkeled for hours and enjoyed the local cuisine. The beach itself looked like something out of a magazine!!! The wait staff at the beach was amazing, They had security on the beach to make sure your belongings were safe. The offered para sailing and boat rides as well as play equipment for children. I recommend this for people of all ages.