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Roatán is the largest and most developed of the Bay Islands. Long and thin (31 miles (50km) long, but only 1.2 miles (2km) to 2.5 miles (4km) wide), the island is (like neighboring Utila) a diving and snorkeling paradise – virtually its entire coastline is fringed by an astonishingly diverse coral reef teeming with tropical fish. On land, exquisite white-sand beaches like West Bay, a mountainous interior of pine-forested hills and the remote wild east of the island (once a pirate hangout) beg to be explored.

Roatán attracts a far more midrange crowd than Utila, and has fewer budget options. Nearly all backpackers base themselves in West End, where most of the shoestring places are located along with a lively and fun traveler's scene.

Gigantic cruise ships visit Roatán regularly, but dock at Coxen Hole or Mahogany Bay. You'll probably see minivans full of cruise-shippers around the island's hot spots during the day.