Roatan is one of the dive capitals of the world. People come from all over the world to dive, snorkel, volunteer and be a beach bum like myself. There are numerous places to stay on the island located off the coast of Honduras. For my month-long visit, I stayed at the Roatan Backpackers’ Hostel in Sandy Bay. It is located on the north side of the island heading towards the town of West End.
The thing that makes this place the best hostel to stay is the camaraderie. It is instantaneous. People are absorbed immediately into the family feeling. Whether people stayed a day or a month, all were welcomed and invited to go to the beach or go diving or eat dinner at one of the area restaurants. Shared dinners took place frequently too. People got along so well that there was a going away party every other day or so it seemed.
Located in Sandy Bay, the hostel is in a quiet non-touristy area, a very short walk from the main road. It is a quick taxi or bus ride to the beach town of West End or go a little farther to West Bay. Very convenient. It is also within a slightly long walking distance of Octopus Dive School and a beach. I’ve heard they give hostel guests a discount, too. There are a few locally owned restaurants as well as Anthony’s Key Resort and Blue Bahia Resort in the general vicinity. At the end of the road is a small carry-out store for a few necessities. The end of the road is also where you flag down buses and taxis.
The airport is located in Coxen Hole which the hostel will arrange airport transportation for $15 USD, if needed, plus the driver will make a quick trip to the grocery store so you can stock up on supplies before heading to the hostel. The main grocery store in Coxen Hole is located on the opposite side of the island as the hostel. Not that that is a big deal, but it is convenient to stop prior to arrival as you don’t have to take bags on the bus which can be cramped.
Medical students who were doing a rotation through Clinica Esperanza used the hostel as home base. It is in a short walking distance making it very convenient and inexpensive.
There is a community kitchen with individual baskets for food. The dining area is outside on the front porch and catches a great breeze. This is the main hang out spot for hostel guests. Added tarps make it possible to still enjoy the outdoors area even when it rains. Upstairs there is a hammock and small sitting room. Behind the two buildings which house the hostel and private rooms, is the refreshing pool. It is a little small but will hold a lot of people. We spent many an hour there cooling off and reading books. It is probably the most bookish hostel I’ve ever stayed. It was rare to see someone in the pool without a book or something to read.
There are several outdoor hammocks for guests to relax in while laying in the sun. I took many naps in them. Take your morning cup of coffee up to The Lizard Lounge. It is a small rooftop area with chairs that overlooks the ocean and hillside. I enjoyed this relaxing area in the early morning after the medical students took off for their shifts.
For an extra cost:
Wifi is available at a nominal cost. Guests can also purchase 5-gallon containers of bottled water for cheap ($3 USD). You can rent bath towels and snorkel equipment.
The outside of the building does not look the greatest. It is a little weather-beaten, to be expected for the area. The grounds come to life though with lots of tropical flowers. Very colorful. There are a resident dog and cat so if you have allergies, use caution. They do not go into the rooms but roam the property. Super cute and friendly little buggers.
There is one 6-bed dorm room, one 2-person room, two private singles, one private double and several apartments. I stayed in the 6-bed dorm. It is a little cramped, but I’ve stayed in smaller dorms. There are small lockers and plenty of space under bunks to store large backpacks and suitcases. Each bed has a small fan and electrical plugins. There is an ensuite bathroom. The other rooms share bathrooms. There is one upstairs and one downstairs. The pillows suck. Plain and simple. They are as flat as pancakes. I had to buy my own pillow. While I was there, the management was in the process of restocking sheets for a fresher cleaner look.
Best features: Atmosphere definitely! Pool, quietness of surroundings, friendliness, and helpfulness of staff, plenty of places to enjoy the outdoors, cheap
Needs improvement: Cleanliness, upgrade of kitchen equipment
Recommendation: At first glance you may not want to stay here, but give it a shot. You will not be disappointed if you are a relaxed backpacker. If you are looking for a highfalutin traveler, this is not your place. For the island, Roatan Backpackers Hostel is the best value for your money.
Make your reservation quick and easy through HostelBookers, my favorite hostel booking site.