Honduras from Cruising Information Community

George.Curtis2 (Past OCC Member)
New Member (10 reputation)New Member (10 reputation)New Member (10 reputation)New Member (10 reputation)New Member (10 reputation)New Member (10 reputation)New Member (10 reputation)New Member (10 reputation)New Member (10 reputation)
Group: Past Members
Posts: 0, Visits: 1

Flying Fish Articles

Entry requirements

Guanaja - The Port Captain is located on the Bonacca main town jetty. He gave us a one-month cruising permit for the whole of Honduras. This would need to be extended when it nears expiry – subsequent permits may be granted for a longer period. Immigration can be found down the main street – a 3-month visa was granted for $3 a head though some cruisers received only 30 days and were asked to pay $10.
Transit requirements (departing one port, entering another)

With you cruising permit, there is now no requirement to check in at every island as stated in guidebooks. Furthermore, there is no need to check in with customs as cruisers are treated as tourists in Honduras.

Honduras including BAY ISLANDS - 13 Anchorage and Harbours

Contributed by Alan & Jan Pulfrey, Yacht - Coral Moon

June 2005

The purpose of these notes is to supplement the out of date information provided by Calder’s Cruising Guide to the NW Caribbean or the sparse details contained in Rhodes’ Honduras and Its Bay Islands - a Mariner’s Guide. The former guide, although written in the early 90’s is still very useful. Unfortunately, it is out of print now but it’s worthwhile obtaining a copy if possible. Rauscher’s Cruising Guide to Belize and Mexico’s Caribbean Coast including the Rio Dulce is also a useful document. The list of anchorages we visited is by no means all inclusive – many more exist but there was only a certain amount of time available; moreover, we found several wonderful anchorages where time just disappeared.

The NW Caribbean Net at 0800 CST (UTC-6) on 8188 KHz is an informal net that normally includes a useful amateur forecast. Chris Parker on 8104 at 0630 CST mentions the western Caribbean briefly. Navtex transmissions from Miami cover the NW Caribbean. We also downloaded weatherfax from New Orleans - 24, 48 and 72hr Wind and Wave charts are transmitted on 4316.1, 8502.1 or 12788.1 every 6 hours starting 0035 UTC.

- Approach. Arrival by day is straightforward. We crossed the reef at night using waypoints 16°26.13’N 85°52.27’N to 16°26.42’N 85°52.58’W through the widest gap and dropped anchor in the main bay as a temporary measure. The Pond Cay green was not illuminated.

- Clearance. The Port Captain is located on the Bonacca main town jetty. He gave us a one-month cruising permit for the whole of Honduras. This would need to be extended when it nears expiry – subsequent permits may be granted for a longer period. Immigration can be found down the main street – a 3-month visa was granted for $3 a head though some cruisers received only 30 days and were asked to pay $10. With you cruising permit, there is now no requirement to check in at every island as stated in guidebooks. Furthermore, there is no need to check in with customs as cruisers are treated as tourists in Honduras.

- Anchorages.

-- Bonacca. This is the main town and is also known as Guanaja Settlement or the Cay. Once inside the outer reef, you can approach around the north or via the south of the Settlement, and the cays and reefs are clearly visible in good light. Anchor to the west on a shallower patch of 3.5m. OK for checking in but boat traffic to and from the main island will keep you rolling. Tie your dinghy to the main dock. See below for details ashore.

-- El Bight. A well-protected anchorage 10-minute dinghy from town - the best place to be when a norther sets in – good holding in clay and grass. There is a colourful bar called the Crazy Parrot on the headland. Some walks inland – ask the locals for details. If calm conditions prevail, anchor a little away from the shore to avoid the bugs, especially the no-see-ums.

-- Josh’s Cay. Graham’s Place is a small, low-key resort providing good facilities for cruisers – free moorings, free laundry, trash disposal, water and ice plus a very friendly welcome. Take one of his 6 mooring buoys or anchor anywhere clear of the marker delineating the power cable running from the main island. Follow the markers to the dinghy dock on the reef side of the island. There is a small bar serving drinks and average food. Restful place in calmish weather. Interesting menagerie and aquarium ashore.

-- Michael’s Rock. This is worth a visit when no threat of norther forecast – it’s located on the north-west coast. Relatively straightforward narrow channel through the reef. Can anchor just SW of Bo’s restaurant or the southern side of Michael’s Rock. The restaurant is built on stilts over the water - reserve a table for set dinner or lunch for about L150 a head including a couple of beers. This side of the island is unspoilt, verdant and peaceful. If you don’t want to anchor here, try a trip by dinghy through the canal. Good snorkeling on the reef off Bo’s and on southern side of Michael’s Rock – colourful coral here.

- Facilities in Guanaja.

-- Bonacca. Reputedly as densely populated as Hong Kong, this is the only place for shopping - it has 2 reasonable supermarkets and several small ones and a couple of veggie stalls. Time your visit for Friday when the fresh produce arrives from the mainland. A bank is located on the main street and will cash $ but no ATM – exchange rate Jan 05 Lempiras 18.5 to the US$. Richard, a young hustler, takes laundry for his wife who washes, dries and irons for a very expensive $20 a good load. Fuel can be taken from alongside the Texaco dock on the north of the settlement – 14 feet of water. Propane is available at horseshoe-shaped cay to west of Bonacca – instant fill-up. Bonacca is a fun place but restaurants are few and basic. Pirates Bar a good hostelry to visit on Friday afternoons when expats – German, US and Brits – meet for liquid lunch. Honduran beer is refreshing and not overpriced – try Salva Vida or Port Royal.

-- Savannah Bight. Quaint village but not suitable location for provisioning. A new town dock was just being completed when we visited. Boatyard serves the shrimp fishing industry. The road (euphemism for unpaved, rutted track) out of town to the west leads to Mangrove Bight – a pleasant leg stretch.

Barbareta Island

- Anchorage

-- Pascual Bight. Gloriously peaceful and well protected anchorage. You can pass through the outer reef due south of the highest point on the island and the inner reef has about an 8m-deep passage from 16°25.89’N 86°09.02’W to 16 26.08N 86 08.88W. Anchor in 4m, holding is good in shallow grass and sand. Snorkel the reef to the east of the cut – we saw an 8ft green moray here, which set the heart racing. Much wildlife ashore – supposedly it’s a reserve, entry to which is $10 a head but nobody there to collect the fee. We spied Agoutis and had fleeting glimpses of other unidentifiable mammals and numerous species of bird.


- Clearance. If you need to visit immigration or the port captain, both are located on the waterfront at Coxen Hole. Not necessary if you checked in at Guanaja unless your cruising permit expires (it took 5 minutes for the Coxen Hole Port Captain to extend our permit for another 30 days).

- Anchorages.

-- French Harbour. Two choices of entry. Keep the red can to starboard and turn right into the anchorage beyond the metal stake, ie keeping it to starboard. You can either follow the break in the reefs passing very close to shore and keeping an eye on depths at both sides of the channel or alternatively (and our favoured route), give the stake a reasonably wide berth and then turn onto 090 between the 2 reefs, heading towards French Cay. Maintain this heading until clear of the reef. This anchorage off French Cay is well protected, offers good holding and is reasonably peaceful. Anchoring off the Yacht Club in the Old Harbour is possible but it’s dirty and we were told security could be a problem. The most convenient dinghy dock is at the Yacht Club in the Old Harbour – up the steps is a restaurant with a simple menu, a bar and balcony with attractive view. At the front entrance to the Yacht Club, turn left for the town, which is scruffy but has one or 2 good restaurants; otherwise, turn right for Elden’s, a well stocked supermarket, and a bank but no ATM – Banco Atlantido will allow cash withdrawals on Credit/Debit Cards but service is slow. A carniceria is located just before the supermarket. Hybur Shipyard (pass Elden’s supermarket, turn left at the gas station, then 2-300m on the left) has a ship’s store carrying some useful chandlery items and a shrimp store is located here also – 5lbs for $20. Fantasy Island resort will take your laundry for a moderate charge. Fuel not easily available. Tried to get jerry jugs filled at commercial dock round the corner in new French Harbour but dock was closed so ended up getting a taxi to the gas station. We were told fuel was available at Fantasy Is but we could never pin them down! The outer reefs are definitely worth a visit. Dinghy around to the outer side and take a diving buoy – some of the most intact coral seen so far and steep walls drop to the depths. Canyons run across the extensive reef providing nooks and crannies in which lobsters and other creatures can hide.

-- Coxen Hole. We were discouraged from anchoring here for security reasons. The town can be reached by taxi from French Harbour or West End at a cost of approximately L25 per head. The main attraction of this otherwise unattractive place is the availability of ATM machines; however, they only dispense Lempiras, not Dollars. There is a supermarket that seemed a little less expensive than its counterpart in French Harbour.

-- West End. Not to be confused with the beach resort called West Bay just to the south, West End is large bay accommodating several dive shops and a village of restaurants, bars and basic suppliers. It has a feel of Bequia – colourful and tropical. Approach the stake (close to 16°17.67’N 86°36.09’W) and pass the stake about 10m to your port heading east – minimum depth about 2.6m and beware large coral heads about 20m right of the stake. Welcomed by 2 large turtles, we anchored in 4m of clear water in grass and sand – here you will have good protection from the trades but plan to leave if a cold front and associated strong norther is forecast. We ate at the Eagle Ray Bar and Grill, a large wooden structure built over the water – a balcony affords a brilliant view of the setting sun. The food was good and wine moderately priced. Rick’s Bar offers inexpensive food including fillet steak and an excellent Thai Curry. The Sundowner Bar in Half Moon Bay is a lively place for happy hour from 4-7. The Cannibal Cafe has a great (and large) burrito for $7. Taxis to Coxen Hole are freely available. It is a pleasurable walk along the beach to West Bay where several beach bars and restaurants nestle on the water’s edge. Dive buoys are situated along the length of the outer reef for snorkelling etc. There is a laundry (not tested) a few small grocery shops, internet, and at the Barefoot, a book swap.

Cayos Cochinos

- This archipelago of islands and cays, just 20 miles south of Roatan, has been declared a national biological reserve where NO anchoring is allowed. There are 6 mooring buoys to the west of Cochino Grande where reasonable protection is available in normal conditions – we arrived when a light westerly was blowing and the associated swell in the bay made for a rolly night and a looming cold front the following day unfortunately curtailed our visit. The moorings are not overly substantial but adequate for light to moderate conditions. Also water is very deep so difficult to check them properly. Normally, Cayos Cochinos would be a beautifully peaceful place to spend a few days. Though the surface reefs have been damaged by various weather and climatic phenomena, the fish life is varied and colourful. Just off the boat we saw a large Queen Trigger and a whole host of different types of Angel fish. Ashore, tucked away behind trees is the Plantation Beach Resort. Jack the owner welcomes yachts, runs a tab for the duration of your stay and can provide meals with a little notice. Behind the resort, a track leading to the lighthouse would stretch those leg muscles.


- Approach and Anchorage. The entry to Puerto Este is relatively easy. A reef extends west from the lighthouse. Waypoint 16°05.08’N 86°54.18’W keeps you clear and from here head NE into the large protected anchorage. Anchor more or less anywhere, avoiding the odd shoal area, in sand and grass.

- Clearance. The Port Captain and Immigration Officer are located in the white building on the ferry dock. Clearing out was simple – the Port Captain was friendly – he typed out a Zarpe free of charge. The Immigration Officer was away on the mainland but the Port Captain took care of formalities.

- Ashore. We found the small dock to the right of the ferry pier to be convenient for town. Puerto Este is extremely laid back, if slightly shambolic, and caters mainly for back packers and divers seeking low-priced holidays. It has a wonderful atmosphere and the mainly English-speaking locals are friendly and helpful. Bush’s supermarket is fairly well stocked and prices are lower than those in Roatan. There are several smaller supermarkets along the main street, including a carniceria, plus several hardware stores. Just a few metres up the street opposite the dinghy dock is a Yamaha dealer who can solve any outboard problems quickly and inexpensively. Budget restaurants abound. We enjoyed a delicious Thai curry for $5 at Scotty’s Place collocated with the Tranquilla Bar on the waterfront. RJ’s BBQ shack serves plentiful helpings of freshly barbecued meat or fish with a mixture of accompaniments for a mere + or -$5 – they open only 3 times a week at 5:30 and don’t be late as it’s a very popular haunt. Several places on the main street advertise laundry facilities. There is also a fuel dock here but we did not use it.

- Security. Although we had no problems, in the months following our time in the Bay Islands, we heard of 2 yacht break-ins in Puerto Este, Utila. These happened to locked boats when crews were ashore and the incidents were about a month apart. The thief stole personal electronics, cameras and money. Hopefully, he is one bad apple who will soon be caught.

Mainland Honduras

- Puerto Escondido. En route to Guatemala, we spent a night in Puerto Escondido on the western side of Punta Sal. The entrance is 200yds wide between breaking rocks – we left at night without difficulty. The bay is deserted and well protected if you tuck in to the NE corner. The wildlife chorus is intriguing.

1) Information Submitted by

John and Jean Armitage OSTRICA OF ORWELL,

2) Date

June 1997

3) Harbour or Area Covered

Include Lat & Long

The Bay Islands consist of three principal islands, from west to east - Utila, Roatan, and Guanaja (pronounced gwanar-har) - with numerous smaller Cays. They are 20 to 30 miles north of the mainland coast of Honduras at approx. 16?N and between 85?50’ W and 87? W.

4) Suitability and Attraction for


The mainland coast of Honduras is neither attractive nor blessed with safe harbours and anchorages. In contrast the Bay islands have many protected anchorages and have fringing barrier reefs in many places. They are on route to the Western Caribbean from Panama, Columbia or the A.B.C. islands.

The reefs provide excellent snorkelling and there are spectacular wall dives on both Roatan and Guanaja, both rising straight up from vast depths.

The wind blows steadily from the east at 15 to 25 knots, and hurricanes are rare. It is a popular place to spend the hurricane season being only 24 hour sail to the Rio Dulce in Guatemala should one threaten.

English is spoken widely despite the official language being Spanish, a hangover from when British settlers and pirates first made bases here.

There are no roads on GUANAJA, the interior is sparsely inhabited being a spine of steep pine covered hills rising to 1300 feet. Great Walking with sea views.

The hills of ROATAN rise to 700 feet and are less spectacular. There are fjord like bays on the southern coast where the majority of a larger population live in villages. The administrative centre of the islands is here at Coxens Hole from where buses run to the outlying villages. There is a growing hotel based tourist industry at West End.

The cheapest diving instruction in the world is claimed on UTILA, otherwise we found it unattractive, low lying and swampy. There is one harbour and no more than half a dozen comfortable anchorages.

5) Marinas, Berthing or


Only on ROATAN

French Harbour Yacht Club: limited to six berths stern to in a protected bight, full club facilities and the focus of most yachting activity in the islands. Eight feet controlling depth at the entrance to the bight. Large anchorage area protected inside the reef about half a mile distant, easy access by dinghy. Full mail and fax facilities. Fax: 504 455 459.

Oak Ridge Marina: max six berths at home of Sandy and Carmen Byrd who offer most facilities very cheaply, (alongside for $5 per boat per night). Tel: 504 45 2163 Fax: 504 45 2230.

Fantasy Island Resort: 86 room hotel, $120 US per room per night also has some slips complete with room service. $25 US per boat per night.Tel 504 45 5119 We have no other details).

Brick Bay Marina: Dive resort with some slips. Tel 504 45 1337. 8ft alongside $125 per month including electricity. 10-12 slips.

6) Entry Ports

From the East:

The Settlement, Guanaja: daylight entry through reef passage, plenty of depth and anchor off west side of town, dinghy to Zapatas Bros dock.

Coxen 's Hole, Roatan: plenty of depth, and anchor off Big Cay. Light probably not operational and not on the end of the reef.

Puerto Este, Utila: daylight only entry, anchor in centre of harbour clear of the town jetty. Has now become a port of entry.

7) Formal Requirements for Yachts Entering/Departing:

a) from/to same country

b) from/to abroad

All officials speak Spanish, don 't count on an interpreter. (I found a schoolchild!) Much confusion over various procedures, get latest information from N W Caribbean Net.

Port Captain provides a cruising permit, $30 US payable at the local bank, plus $10 US per passport for Environmental Impact Fee which is not obligatory.

Then to immigration for visas. Official charge is 20 limpiras per passport, do not pay the $10 US asked for, it is the officer 's own fund! Back to Port Captain with bank receipt and passports, who stamps and issues the Zarpe, cruising permit valid for 30 days. Renewal is reported to be easy. You can cruise all the Bay Islands without checking-in again.

Departure is a repeat procedure to obtain clearance for your next port, a further fee of $30 US is payable. Immigration will attempt to collect 20L per passport.

c) visa requirements

8) Location/Existence of:

a) harbour master

b) customs/immigration

c) health authorities

d) police

9) Control of Foreign Yachts

Now no need to check in/out of each island. We did not hear of any spot checks or policing of the cruising yachts.

10) Attitude of Officials to Visiting


Some difficulty with our lack of Latin Spanish was overcome eventually but it was difficult when refusing to pay the unofficial fees!

11) Repair/Hauling Facilities

Guanaja: A marine railway is under construction at Savannah Bight, well advanced when we saw it. It will haul huge shrimp boats to 300 tons. Yachts will be welcomed by owner Truman Tatum who is planning to offer sand blasting, painting, welding, and simple engineering. Diesel, petrol and propane gas are available, free water and friendly family service (also rents horses) VHF 06.

Roatan: Facilities centred at French Harbour but we think it should be considered for emergency repairs only as they are committed to the huge shrimp boat fleet. There is a well stocked chandlery, Agua Azul. Bottom paint and batteries but big boat bits generally.

There is a naval shipyard at Puerto Cortez about 90 miles west of Roatan on the mainland. Many yachts haul-out here by prior arrangement and most repairs can be handled. Take own materials and a Spanish dictionary.

12) Sailing Directions or Charts


28000 N. coast of Honduras 28151 Guanaja & Eastern Roatan

28123 Isla de Guanaja (same as BA 1718)~~ 28154 Western Roatan & Cayos Cochinos

28143 Isla de Utila


1643 Isla Bonnaca (Guanaja)

Caution - to be wary of using GPS for pilotage near land. There are differences with the charts and only visual final approaches should be made. Lights are very unreliable. The big shrimp boats have relatively shallow draught.

13) Cruising Guide and where

Obtainable. Include Phone and/or E-Mail

Best Guide/Pilot CRUISING GUIDE TO NORTHWEST CARIBBEAN by Nigel Calder Charts: Two Sketch Charts from information by J.M. Wilensky are published by Wescott Cove Publishing Co. Stamford, Connecticut, U.S.A.

14) Port Radio Services
VHF 16 is monitored during office hours, Spanish speaking only officials. Other yachts will often respond with advice and help: VHF 11 Guanaja VHF 68 Roatan

15) Weather Forecasts

Local time is UTC minus 6 hours.

SSB Radio: N.W. Caribbean Net 0800 local, 1400 UTC, 4054 khz for all information and a resume of the weather forecasts, very informal and welcoming.

Weather forecasts from WOM in U.S. at 1300 UTC and 2300 UTC on 4363; 8722; 13092 khz. Repeats of NMN coastguard broadcasts at uncivilised times, see A.L.O.R.S.

T.V. Weather picture at about 10 mins to the hour was seen in local bars etc.

16) Yacht Club(S)

French Harbour Y.C. at Roatan is also a hotel. Focus of sailing activities in the islands. Hosts a Regatta in June. Poste Restante and fax facilities, restaurant and bar, social events and pleasant grounds. They send mail to Miami by courier twice per week for onward posting.

17) Other Facilities:

drinking water

Good spring water, not treated so caution to know source. Available at bars and some private docks by arrangement. Best to catch any rain otherwise assume you will have to carry it.


Fuel: Always use a biocide and filter into the boat.

GUANAJA: Alongside at The Settlement, and Trumans at Savannah Bight.

ROATAN : Marisco (Texaco) depot in French Harbour. Occasionally available at Marisco 's depot in Oak Ridge.(check depth or dinghy in).

gas (propane)/gaz

Only propane fills on the islands, butane bottles are shipped to the mainland and returned within a week. Trumans at Savannah Bight Guanaja and Tropigas or Texaco in French Harbour Roatan (last two accessible by dinghy through main harbour).


Some small items available in The Settlement, Guanaja ( including a VHF radio). Agua Azul in French Harbour is the best chance for chandlery but is not sail boat orientated.


13 Lempiras to the US dollar. VISA accepted by banks in the Settlement, Coxen 's Hole, French Harbour and Puerto Este. US dollars accepted everywhere


Main shopping centre is Coxen 's Hole but other than food the islanders make trips to the mainland for their goods. Fresh fruit, vegetables and meat come on the supply ship to Guanaja and Utila once per week, days seem to vary, and sells quickly. Coxen 's Hole has greater reserves but you have to find it. Eldon 's Supermarket,French Harbour has good selection, good meat at shop close by.


Limited choice and quality on Guanaja and Utila but acceptable. On Roatan a larger range is available. The most expensive hotels have the choice locations but do not expect the best service or food for the highest prices. Tourist information avalable from Honduras Tips, Apartado Postal 2699, San Pedro Sula, Hondjiras, Central America. Fax 504 52 9557.

post office/telephones including mobile facilities

surface mail is notoriously unreliable.(see Yacht Clubs) Guanaja - one room in municipal building across street from BANCASA bank. Roatan - Coxens Hole Utila - In the building on the town dock.

Telephone / fax: HONDUTEL have offices in the Settlement, Coxens Hole, and Puerto Este. (One at French Harbour promised soon). International calls are connected only to their phone booths in the Hondutel offices. One page fax to UK about $2 US and receipt is free.

internet cafes

best mailing address

See Post Office, Marinas and Yacht Clubs.


Presumably at marinas and yacht clubs, none used.


Horizonte bar, The Bight, Guanaja has D.I.Y. washing machine, large load $3 US.; F.H.Y.C. and Oak Ridge marina (DIY), Sandys laundry in French Harbour.Utila not researched.

transport/air services

Roatan airport links direct to mainland Honduras, Miami, New Orleans and Houston. Inter-island links are by boat. On island in Roatan there are buses. On Utila and Guanaja coast hop in boats as for less accessible places on Roatan. Small airplanes land on Utila and Guanaja but we did no research on facilities for travellers.

medical facilities/hospital

There are clinics in each island 's centre capable of most running repairs and assessment.. When they are beaten there are flights out to the hospital facilities in San Pedro Sula.

18) Recommendations or Warnings

Security: If you do not want to lose it, lock it up, preferably out of sight.Accept that it is a very poor population so remove temptation. We heard of several thefts of outboard motors but no street crime.

19) Other Information – please include here general impressions, opinions, comments or any other matter which might be of use to those visiting.

There are the most vicious no-seeums (sand flies) we have encountered to date on these islands. Day or night visits ashore demand liberal applications of insect repellant. If bitten prepare to itch for three days.

The Cayos Cochinos are remarkably beautiful and are a protected area managed by the Smithsonian in Washington: no anchoring, only nine moorings. (There is a dive hotel resort here)

Many cruisers enjoyed their stay at the West End anchorage, Roatan, where there is a night life and the diving is especially good.

If lonely places appeal then dally around Guanaja, go for walks, dive and snorkel the reef and find the cruisers who have swallowed the anchor, tied their boats to the shore and are building homes.

West End, Roatan: cheapest diving in the Caribbean. Sueno del Mar Divers, one of two facilities in the W Caribbean that can do hydros on tanks, other at French Harbour. Suena del Mar offers free dinghy dock, rubbish disposal and book exchange.

Merge Selected

Merge into selected topic...

Merge into merge target...

Merge into a specific topic ID...