Roatan is an island in the Caribbean Sea, about 65 kilometres (40 miles) off the northern coast of Honduras. It is the largest island of the Bay Islands of Honduras and is located between the second and third largest islands of the archipelago Utila and Guanaja. Roatan is located on the Meso-American Reef, the second largest coral reef system in the world. Its unique location makes it one of the world’s best dive destinations.
It is approximately 77 kilometres (48 mi) long, and less than 8 kilometres (5.0 mi) across at its widest point. The island consists of two municipalities: José Santos Guardiola in the East and Roatán, including the Cayos Cochinos, further South in the West. The West-East orientation of the island is one factor which makes Roatan such a popular diving destination. Regardless of the direction of the prevailing wind there is always a leeward side and diving is possible 365 days a year.
Roatan is culturally diverse. The original inhabitants of the island, the Paya Indian, were displayed by Spanish conquistadors in the 1700’s. Since then, the island has been used by various foriegn entities as a trading post, military stronghold, and even pirate lair. In the 1800’s the island was briefly governed by the British. During this time the British military relocated the Garifuna, people of African and Arawok Indian descent, to Roatan from the eastern Caribbean. Also, during this time many English-speaking people of African descent migrated from the British owned Cayman Islands to form free settlements. Ultimately in 1959 the island was ceded by the British to the Spanish and it became part of Spanish Honduras under whose governance it remains today. In recent decades, thanks to the growing tourism economy, more people are migrating from the mainland to seek opportunity and security on Roatan. These people are Spanish-speaking descendants of indigenous Indians or European Spanish.
The official national language of Honduras is Spanish however, the “islanders” are originally from Cayman and they consider English to be their mother tongue. The Garifuna people have their own language – a mixture or arawok, French and west African – but this is slowly dying out and the younger generation no longer learn it. The Garifuna community mostly speak English, Spanish or Garifuna. Increasingly Spanish-speaking people from the mainland are migrating to Roatan for the relative prosperity and safety engendered by the tourism economy. There are now large communities on the island where only Spanish is spoken. For the international melting pot of residential expats, English is often the only common language. Ultimately (and especially in the tourist facing areas) English is widely spoken on the island. At the Roatan Municipalidad everyone is speaking English. However, if you are dealing with a Federal Government entity and/or a business which is headquartered on the mainland you may find it difficult to communicate without some basic Spanish.
The Roatan climate is equatorial. We have year round warm temperatures with a winter rainy season. During the summer months we have an average temperature range of 27 ºC – 30 ºC (80 ºF – 86 ºF) and in the winter months 24 ºC – 27 ºC (75 ºF – 80 ºF). The rainy season can last from mid-October till mid-January but varies each year in terms of length and intensity. In the winter months we sometimes experience northerly cold fronts in which cool air pushes down from North America and thrills us with high winds and high seas. We welcome these weather systems for the novelty of putting on socks and cozy sweaters.
Despite being on the edge of the Caribbean hurricane zone, on Roatan we rarely feel the effects of hurricanes thanks to our unique position in the protected “L” shaped corner between the east coast of Belize and the north coast of mainland Honduras.
The currency of Honduras is the Lempira. At the time of publication (February 2021) the exchange rate to the USD is approximately 24:1. On Roatan USD is also widely accepted by most businesses and it’s possible to have a Honduran bank account in USD.
Lempiras are not available for sale outside of Honduras. You can easily obtain Lempira once you are inside the country by using one of the many ATM’s and withdrawing against your foreign bank account. Likewise, you can exchange foreign currency such as USD, CAD and Euro at most banks.
Yes, there are several domestic and international Honduran banks which will permit a foreigner (even a non-resident) to open a bank account in either Lempira or USD. This is entirely legal.
Purchasing property on Roatan is a simple and uncomplicated process. You do not need to be a Honduran citizen or legal resident to buy property. Property ownership is guaranteed by the Honduran Government and foreigners are allowed to purchase up to .75 of an acre of property under their individual name. To purchase more than 0.75 acres, a Honduran corporation needs to be created. With the help of a qualified attorney, forming a corporation in Honduras is fairly easy. When you are working with ZeUs Roatan Real Estate we will guide you through this process.
If you plan to live in Roatan full-time, then you will need to apply for residency. This is a fairly straightforward process for which you must use a Honduran attorney. There are four main paths to Honduran Residency
Finally, there is an immigration status which allows you to work legally in Honduras. This is permitted if you have specialized skills and a Honduran company is sponsoring you, or you can form a Honduran Corporation and employ yourself. In both cases you receive the same status as a legal resident however your residency is dependent on maintaining the employment status under which you applied.
It is mandatory that you use a Honduran attorney for the application of residency and if you are working with ZeUs Roatan Real Estate on your property purchase we will also guide you to ensure that your attorney is well qualified to carry out this process for you.