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The Best Dive Sites in Roatan in 2022

Situated on the second largest barrier reef in the world, Roatan is home to some of the best dive sites in the Caribbean. Roatan diving is also one of the best places to get certified. These unique marine ecosystems are fiercely guarded by progressive conservation efforts undertaken by the local government, as well as strong engagement of the local community and dive industry.

The waters off of this Honduran island’s coast offer a diverse array of scuba opportunities: protected shorelines, stunning wrecks, intricate wall dives, and glimpses of pelagic giants. A chance to dive in Roatan is a chance to see reefs as they once were and offers a glimpse of how the Caribbean may again look for future generations of divers under careful stewardship.

With over 100 named dive spots and countless more hidden gems, it would be an ordeal to give a comprehensive guide to diving Roatan. What follows is our guide to our favorites, based on a variety of experiences and skill levels.

Best Dive Sites In Roatan 2022

Location
Dive Type

Recommended Level

El Aguila

El Aguila is one of the more iconic sites in Roatan. Situated in 110 feet of water on a sandy floor, this three-piece wreck has a history as rich and diverse as its host of resident marine life. Sunk, salvaged, cleaned, scuttled, and partially disassembled by a particularly violent October hurricane, the wreck of El Aguila provides a varied environment for exploration and fantastic swim throughs.

The main body of the wreck is split into three parts: the bow and stern mostly intact and gathering an impressive encrustation of sponge and soft coral, while the cargo bay has been split in two and the resulting detritus provides ample overhanging shelves for elusive bottom dwellers to lurk.

  • Easily accessed sandy-bottom wreck dive with potential for interior exploration
  • Varied artificial reef environment with striking coral growth
  • Resident grouper and moray guarantee some big life sightings

What you’ll see

The stars of this wreck are certainly the resident moray and black grouper you can find in and around the main structures. Aside from the hulking attention hogs, divers can expect to be treated to striking reef fish like parrotfish and snapper. Those with a little patience and attention to detail can find varied crustaceans, hogfish, and a dense crop of garden eels off of the stern wreckage.

Dolphin’s Den

Taking its name for the skeletal remains of a decades-old skull, Dolphin’s Den comprises a network of shallow and easily navigated coral caves. These canyons and caverns are punctuated by large openings where sunlight can percolate through. The result is a dazzling interplay between natural features and light, with the additional benefit of a robust creature count.

If you’re a coral connoisseur, between the shallow water and dramatic lighting, Dolphin’s Den is a showcase of some of the Caribbean’s finest. The dramatic colors of the hard coral are further heightened by sizable anemones, sponges, and algae growth. With the depth range kept between 15 and 40 feet, it’s a great way to accumulate some serious single tank bottom time.

What you’ll see

Cavernous without being claustrophobic, Dolphin’s Den is densely populated by large schools of silversides, presumably the very thing that lured its namesake dolphin into the confines of the canyon. Wrasse, green moray, and nurse sharks along with other bold and bright tropical fish can be found in the canyons. A flashlight will allow for exploration of the more overhung sections of the coral caves, and may well help you spot slipper lobsters and other elusive crustaceans.

Coco View Wall

There’s something special about being able to access a true wall dive from the shore, let alone one as dramatic as this. One of the house reefs of the Coco View Resort, this platformed wall makes dive management a little easier for burgeoning scuba enthusiasts unfamiliar with the nuances of wall diving.

Accessible by either Coco View’s diving platform or from the shore at the nearby Fantasy Island Resort, the top portion of the wall is made up of a diverse combination of hard and soft corals. The most shallow part of the reef is a popular cleaning station where you may catch a glimpse of larger fish taking advantage of the services of cleaner shrimp.

What you’ll see

Top to bottom, this reef is a real treat given its accessibility. The sand gardens near the top often host unexpected guests stopping by for a quick shrimp scrub, but the real reason to check out Coco View Wall is the large sections of undercut reef. Green Moray, barracuda, lobsters and crabs are assured. But given the scope and intricate cuts of these overhangs, there’s a chance for some very special sightings.

Mandy’s Eel Garden

Ranging from 20 to 65 feet, Mandy’s Eel Garden is one of Roatan’s premier beginner sites. This gentle wall dotted at the top with shallow coral heads is home to tons of juvenile reef fish along with the occasional more exciting invertebrate or ray. You can spend your time roaming between patches of coral while stopping to examine the namesake garden eels in the soft sandy beds.

This site has everything a growing diver could want to build their confidence. Bottoming out at a very reasonable 65 feet, those who are feeling adventurous can give the mellow swim through a try. It doesn’t hurt that all of this is easily accessible from the popular West Bay Beach.

What you’ll see

Juvenile reef fish are always a treat–particularly when you can catch a glimpse at their mature counterparts a little further down the reef. Of course, there are garden eels, and beyond these, you might also spot larger variations of moray. Invertebrates like Caribbean squid and octopi, the odd pair of eagle rays, stingrays, and more are all also on display.

Menagerie

A dramatic-yet-manageable wall, Menagerie starts as many Roatan dive sites do as a shallow sandy bottom dotted with exemplary specimens of smaller coral heads. Closer to the wall, the coverage picks up in an overwhelming crust of corals, sponges, and sea fans that are among the best you’ll see anywhere off the island.

What sets Menagerie apart from the rest of the shallow coral emporiums on this list is the dramatic drop-off. This wall is filled with shelves that are impressive in their own right, but all of the drama is around the imposing open backdrop behind the reef. Attentive divers might get a glimpse at bigger life cruising the blue in the distance.

What you’ll see

Being such an exemplary specimen of a healthy reef, Menagerie is a great place to check out if you consider yourself a coral enthusiast. The scale and drama of having so many colorful columns stacked atop one another steal the show from the more dynamic life on the reef. Divers who stick to the top of the wall and keep their eyes towards the horizon might see schools of rays or other groups of large creatures making their way along the drop-off.

Calvin’s Crack

If the density of swim-throughs on this list is a little unnerving to you, but you want a similar experience without the overhead restriction, Calvin’s Crack might be just the thing you’re looking for. Sandwiched between two towering walls, Calvin’s is one of those unique dives that provokes the sensation of flying between skyscrapers in an alien landscape.

Due to the awkward entrance and delicate corals covering the walls, this dive requires above entry-level buoyancy control. Savvy divers will be well rewarded by a truly unique experience. Between the coral-crusted walls on either side of you and striking perspective gazing toward the bottom, it’s one of those dives where every direction is a feast for the eyes.

What you’ll see

Aside from the dramatic seascape, Calvin’s is teeming with the kind of life you’d expect to see in similar craggy coral outcroppings. In addition to the various crustaceans, sponges, gorgons and other invertebrate varieties, expect large schools of silversides and other schooling fish to populate the area between the walls. Lucky divers may even be privileged to see a seahorse or two taking refuge in the crack from the surge above.

Cayos Cochinos Seamounts

If the amazing shore dives around Roatan don’t sound adventurous enough for you, on a calm day the renowned Seamounts may be accessible a short 17 miles off the coast. These underwater mountains plunge up from the ocean floor to depths well within recreational limits. Their limited accessibility makes them a truly spectacular place, well worth the effort for any diver willing to invest the time and effort getting out there.

If the Roatan section Mesoamerican Barrier Reef is an example of healthy Caribbean coral, the Seamounts are the crown jewel of the entire area. Surrounded by ocean currents and rich waters upwelling from the deeps, Cayos Cochinos offers a chance to see both exemplary reef life as well as large pelagic species rarely seen by recreational divers.

What you’ll see

Barracuda, jacks, wrasse, and turtles are all well within your purview. Healthy reef life of every variety from corals to eagle rays to giant purple barrel sponges are just a few examples. Lucky divers might get a glimpse at some truly special creatures like giant manta rays or even a whale shark.

Texas

Taking its name from the Lonestar State, everything at the dive site Texas is flat and comically oversized. Though the dive is accessible to all skill levels, those with a little bit of experience and a Nitrox certification will get the most out of exploring the underwater expanse.

It can be a little bit of a finicky dive to pull off: located at the confluence of two currents visibility, it helps to be drifting rather than fighting it if at all possible. This site is famous for the chance to see some exceptionally rare creatures- hammerheads on days when the current is ripping and the Sargassum Triggerfish if you’re very lucky.

What you’ll see

Your experience will largely depend on your skill level and where you decide to explore. Confined to the shallower flats, you’ll catch eyefuls of Texas-sized barrel sponges, angelfish and barracuda. Nearer the wall, there’s the opportunity to see the aforementioned hammerheads and larger rays. This is one you definitely want to bring your camera for.

Spooky Channel

A shadow ensconced canyon, Spooky Channel might not be as fishy as other Roatan staples, but what it lacks in life it more than makes up for in atmosphere. A relatively narrow opening up top limits the amount of light that can make its way into the main chamber of the channel, resulting in an eerie, pillar-filled palace of exploration.

The mucky bottom of this 10-story channel makes it one of the only places in Roatan with the potential for limited visibility, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s nice to have your scope narrowed a little bit after the wide sweeping views off of the rest of the island, and if you’re paying close attention, you just might see something special.

What you’ll see

Even though this is more of a scenic dive, there are still plenty of creatures to take a look at while you’re exploring the chambers. Grouper and parrotfish are commonly sighted near the exits, as well as schools of houndfish within the chamber itself. While you’re at maximum depth, shrimp, lobsters, and other invertebrates are abundant and add a little alien feeling to this already bizarre environment.

Keyhole Reef

Another Roatan classic canyon dive, Keyhole Reef is at the confluence of the ocean and an inland lagoon. This unique environment keeps things calm and sheltered and attracts a fair amount of life to the area as well. Beyond the novelty of its location, Keyhole Reef has a pretty impressive array of coral growth, sure to stun even the most jaded of divers.

One of the most appealing parts about Keyhole Reef is its very manageable, gradually sloping terrain. With depths ranging from 30 down to nearly 100 feet, it’s a great place for intermediate divers to cut their teeth and get comfortable spending some time with water overhead.

What you’ll see

Keyhole has all of the quintessential Roatan dive sightings. You have your morays, snapper, butterflyfish and other reef stunners; as well as brightly colored green starfish and fan worms. Keyhole Reef is also one of the only places you might catch a glimpse of the aptly named toadfish, a rare if unsightly delight.

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