Bay Islands

Bay Islands Travel Guide

The largest coral reef system in the Western Hemisphere lies off the three Bay Islands, about 30 miles north of the mainland. You can descend as far as 2,000 feet aboard the three-man sub Idabel to see such deep-dwelling rarities as the squat lobster and the six-gilled shark.

A launch whisks you across a mangrove-lined bay to Roatán’s hotel and spa that offers open-air treatments in a palapa by the ocean. Listen to the waves as your masseuse eases out the knots with a house-made oil infused with fruits of the island-grown noni plant.

The waters off Utila, another Bay Island, are home to a thriving population of whale sharks. The research center conducts four-hour snorkeling trips to observe the gentle, plankton-eating giants, which can grow up to 60 feet long.

Where It Is: Off the coast of Honduras and at the southern end of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System—a series of reefs stretching some 450 miles across the Caribbean Sea—Utila is a 12-square-mile island surrounded by world-class dive spots.