Before you decide to buy a house in Roatán Honduras, you might want to learn some facts about the island:
Roatan is about 50 miles (65 kilometers) long and 5 miles (8 kilometers) wide at island in Caribbean, off the northern coast of Honduras (48 miles), located between the islands of Útila and Guanaja. It is the largest of the Bay Islands, initially known as Ruatan or Rattan.
There are two districts: José Santos Guardiola in the east and Cayos Cochinos in the west, with the capital and largest city of Coxen Hole. Further main cities on Roatan are: Gravel Bay, Flowers Bay and Pensacola, Sandy Bay, Mount Pleasant, French Harbour, Parrot Tree, Jonesville and Oakridge.
The island itself is actually an old exposed coral reef, rising about 900 feet above sea level, located near the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, the largest barrier reef in the Caribbean Sea (second largest worldwide after Australia’s Great Barrier Reef). This makes the entire Island an excellent diving opportunity! It is important cruise ship, scuba diving and eco-tourism destination in Honduras.
The Indians of the Bay Islands are likely related to the Paya, the Maya, the Lenca or the Jicaque, which were the tribes present on the mainland. Christopher Columbus on his fourth voyage (1502–1504) came to the islands as he visited the neighbouring Bay Island of Guanaja. Soon after, the Spanish began trading in the islands for slave labour. More devastating for the local Indians was exposure to Eurasian infectious diseases to which they had no immunity, such as smallpox and measles. No indigenous people survived the consequent epidemics
Throughout European colonial times, the Bay of Honduras attracted an array of individual settlers, pirates, traders and military forces. Various economic activities were engaged in and political struggles played out between the European powers, chiefly Britain and Spain. Sea travellers frequently stopped over at Roatán and the other islands as resting points. On several occasions, the islands were subject to military occupation. In contesting with the Spanish for colonisation of the Caribbean, the English occupied the Bay Islands on and off between 1550 and 1700. During this time, buccaneers found the vacated, mostly unprotected islands a haven for safe harbour and transport. English, French and Dutch pirates established settlements on the islands. They frequently raided the Spanish treasure ships, cargo vessels carrying gold and silver from the New World to Spain.
During the War of the Austrian Succession (King George’s War in the US), a detachment of the British Army under Lt. Col John Caulfeild garrisoned the island from 1742 to 1749. The garrison was originally found from two companies of Gooch’s Virginia Regiment, but these were eventually amalgamated into Trelawney’s 49th Foot (later the 1st Royal Berkshire Regiment).
In 1797, the British defeated the Black Carib, who had been supported by the French, in a battle for control of the Windward Caribbean island of St. Vincent. Weary of their resistance to British plans for sugar plantations, the British rounded up the St. Vincent Black Carib and deported them to Roatán. The majority of Black Carib migrated to Trujillo on mainland Honduras, but a portion remained to found the community of Punta Gorda on the northern coast of Roatán. The Black Carib, whose ancestry includes Arawak and African Maroons, remained in Punta Gorda, becoming the Bay Island’s first permanent post-Columbian settlers. They also migrated from there to parts of the northern coast of Central America, becoming the foundation of the modern-day Garífuna culture in Honduras, Belize and Guatemala.
The majority permanent population of Roatán originated from the Cayman Islands near Jamaica. They arrived in the 1830s shortly after Britain’s abolition of slavery in 1838. The changes in the labour system disrupted the economic structure of the Caymans. The islands had a largely seafaring culture; natives were familiar with the area from turtle fishing and other activities. Former slaveholders from the Cayman Islands were among the first to settle in the seaside locations throughout primarily western Roatán. During the late 1830s and 1840s, former slaves also migrated from the Cayman Islands, in larger number than planters. All together, the former Cayman peoples became the largest cultural group on the island.
For a brief period in the 1850s, Britain declared the Bay Islands its colony. Within a decade, the Crown ceded the territory formally back to Honduras. British colonists were sent to compete for control. They asked American William Walker, a freebooter (filibuster) with a private army, to help end the crisis in 1860 by invading Honduras; he was captured upon landing in Trujillo and executed there.
In the latter half of the 19th century, the island populations grew steadily and established new settlements all over Roatán and the other islands. Settlers came from all over the world and played a part in shaping the cultural face of the island. Islanders started a fruit trade industry which became profitable. By the 1870s it was purchased by American interests, most notably the New Orleans and Bay Islands Fruit Company. Later the Standard Fruit and United Fruit companies became the foundation for modern-day fruit companies, the industry which led to Honduras being called a “banana republic”.
In the 20th century, there was continued population growth resulting in increased economic changes and environmental challenges. A population boom began with an influx of Spanish-speaking Mestizo migrants from the Honduran mainland. Since the late 20th century, they tripled the previous resident population. Mestizo migrants settled primarily in the urban areas of Coxen Hole and Barrio Los Fuertes (near French Harbour). Even the mainlander influx was dwarfed in number and economic effects by the overwhelming tourist presence in the 21st century. Numerous American, Canadian, British, New Zealander, Australian and South African settlers and entrepreneurs engaged chiefly in the fishing industry, and later, provided the foundation for attracting the tourist trade.
Enjoy the Relaxing Atmosphere of Roatán with Violin Music.