It is the largest island of the islet archipelago, (which are: Roatán, Guanaja, Utila, José Santos Guardiola and the smaller islands of Morat, Santa Elena, Barbareta and 65 small cayes). All of the make up the department of Islas de la Bahia. Located on the coasts of the Honduran Caribbean, in front of the departments of Atlantida and Colon. This island has the most developed tourist activity of all of them and is the one that provides the most varied range of services in tourism.
It was discovered by Cristobal Colon on Oct 30rd of 1502, and he declared it property of the Spanish crown. From 1638 to 1788 the island passed from the hands of the Spanish to the English over and over again between struggles and legal disputes. Eventually these territories became the property of England and it was until 1860 that the British empire ceded dominance to the new state of Honduras. However the municipality of Roatán was created until 1872, with its primitive name Coxen Hole and later was changed to the name with which we know it. Today the island has a circuit of small towns distributed throughout this beautiful and natural island. Some of the main cities are: Coxen Hole, West Bay Beach, French Harbor, Parrot Tree, West End, Sandy Bay, Paya Bay, Flowers Bay and the Cayos Cochinos among others.
Coxen Hole obeys his name to one of the pirates who settled the place in 1642. At that time several filibusters took over this island and also the island of Guanaja. Turning this Honduran Caribbean territory into its headquarters. It was from here that they directed all their operations and programmed the looting to the Spanish crown galleons who crossed the Caribbean to and from Europe. The desired shipments of the pirates were always the ones that carried the treasures that were obtained in the colonies of the new world, and that were destined for their majesties the Kings of Spain.
Later the Spanish authorities of Santo Domingo and the Captaincy General of Guatemala managed to expel them from the region. The kingdom of England was left under the rule of the entire archipelago, as at 1742 Spain liberated a diplomatic and legal struggle with them in Europe that allows them to retake the sovereignty of the place. Again for the year 1796 England appropriated the Islands and it was not until 22 April 1861, that in new state of Honduras they added (prior to an agreement with England) to its territory, during the administration of General Santos Guardiola.
In a pre-Hispanic past, the islands were also the settlement of mayan culture and others of that time, you can appreciate the samples of this historical heritage in the museum located in the institute of marine research of Roatán.
English and Spanish are the common languages spoken in Roatán, but there is also a small colony of Italians in the West Bay Beach and West End areas. Thanks to the English presence for more than 200 years you can appreciate the influence on the culture of the place, reflected in the construction techniques, the English language and many traditions of the islanders.
Roatán is located approximately 40 miles from the Honduran mainland coast, has a territorial extension of 125.9 KM2 and with a length of 60KM2, the estimated population for 2008 was 50,000 inhabitants. One of Roatan's most important natural values is the impressive coral reef that circles the island and is considered the second largest in the world after Australia. It extends from the coasts of Belize to the entire islet archipelago in the Caribbean Honduran. This allows to offer excellent conditions for diving in crystal clear waters and a rich marine life ideal for sport fishing. This is one of the biggest attractions for its stunning and beautiful coral marine gardens that allow the exploration of hundreds of divers each year. These gardens extend at the western end of the island and join forming a tip that faces the neighboring island of Utila, which is the closest to mainland.
It can be said that of the three large islands that make up the Bay Islands department, Roatan is the largest and the one with the greatest infrastructure, with a paved road that runs half its territory, with more than 80 km of bearing. The island has a mountain range that serves as a column along its entire stretch from east to west.