What to Expect Diving in Roatan
It is no secret that diving in Roatan rivals scuba destinations around the world. If you’ve never been to Roatan, the information here should help you plan. This article will focus specifically on Roatan diving. Future articles will provide details to help with Roatan travel planning as well as information about the resort, activities, etc.
Roatan rises from deep (by diver standards) water, along with her sister islands, Utila and Guanaja. Of the three, Roatan is the largest and experiences the most diving activity. The West side of the island is where you’ll find most Roatan dive resorts, as well as nightlife and activity in general. This is also where cruise ships stop for day trips.
Since the island is surrounded by deep water, diving in Roatan is made up largely of walls. More specifically, Roatan has a fringing reef system that extends anywhere form a few feet to a mile or more from the island. In most places, the fringing reef descends gradually to about 30 or 40 feet, where the wall begins.
Dive sites in Roatan are marked by some kind of float attached to a permanently anchored mooring line. The float can be anything from a milk jug to a commercial mooring ball. Whatever the construction, these prevent damage to the delicate reef from traditionally anchoring vessels.
Nearly every dive site mooring has been placed at the edge of the fringing reef where the wall begins. Many dive sites, like Calvin’s Crack, require previous knowledge or luck to find the key features. In this case, it makes sense to pay close attention during briefings, or to follow the dive guide.
As a general rule, diving in Roatan will be less congested the farther you travel East.
Beginning Through Advanced Divers
Most Roatan dive sites are well protected from ocean swells and currents. This is especially true to the East and South, which just happens to be where the Reef House Lodge is located. The water is clear, calm and warm, typically 78-82 degrees.
Warm clear water makes Roatan well suited to novice divers, however, good buoyancy control is essential. It is easy to lose track of your depth, so it makes sense for less experienced divers to keep close to the fringe.
Advanced divers will love exploring deeper parts of the wall, where abundant crevasses and overhangs provide cover for countless marine species.
Roatan’s unique geology makes it possible to beginning through advanced divers to explore the same site.
Best Time to Dive in Roatan
Roatan has a rainy season, which typically lasts from some time in October through early December. This has little effect on the diving conditions, but can cool down surface temperatures a bit. At some dive sites, this may also reduce visibility a bit. Nevertheless, you can expect great diving almost 365 days a year.
Summer dive conditions in Roatan are almost always perfect, but it can get quite hot on land. The Reef House is air-conditioned, but there are a few resorts that aren’t.
Roatan Boat Diving
Most, if not all, dive resorts in Roatan run daily boat diving schedules. Our dive boat leaves at 9:45 for our morning 2-tank dive, and again at 1:45 for our afternoon dive. We also offer a night dive one to two days per week for our guests that wish to explore the reef at night. Boat diving schedules vary from resort to resort, so you should check in advance.
Since the Reef House Lodge is relatively small, we can offer more flexibility than most dive resorts on Roatan. We are also the Easternmost Roatan dive resort. This gives us access to some of the most remote and pristine dive sites in the Bay Islands.
Boat diving operations on Roatan are similar to what you’ll find elsewhere in the Caribbean. You should find out in advance how many divers you’ll be sharing the boat with, as well as any limitations the operator places on divers. Many resorts enforce strict limits on depth and bottom time, which can be frustrating–especially for advanced divers.
You should also be sure that your dive resort can accommodate special requests or needs like Nitrox, DIN valves, sidemount, O2 or Trimix fills, CCR, photography, etc. We do our best to provide for the needs of the widest possible range of divers, but we need to know well in advance what your plans are.
Roatan Shore Diving
Many dive resorts on Roatan will offer shore diving onsite. Our own Reef House Reef is spectacular, for example. However, shore diving can be limited to sites that are very close to where you’ll be staying.
Dive resorts that offer shore diving in Roatan will be those that have easy access to deeper water. Not all of them do, so if shore diving is important to you, be sure to check.
At the Reef House, shore access is easily accessible as long as surface conditions are calm. The way our pier is situated, steps leading into the water are protected by what amounts to a small breakwater formed by the end of the pier. If you are planning to dive from shore here, be sure to let us know, so we can have tanks available, along with any equipment you might be renting.
One final thought on shore dives in Roatan… During the rainy season some dive sites are affected by runoff, which can reduce visibility. If you are planning to do a lot of shore dives during your Roatan dive vacation, you should check to make sure that won’t be a factor.
Final Thoughts About Roatan Scuba Diving
Hopefully, this has provided you with a good idea of what to expect during your Roatan dive vacation. By every measure, Roatan diving is in a class by itself. Everywhere on Roatan you’ll find great diving, but if you’re looking for the most remote, personalized diving experience, the East part of the island is your best bet. Of course, if you have special requests, or any questions related to Roatan diving, or the Reef House specifically, don’t hesitate to contact us.