Water taxi.JPG
Local Transportation 

Prices quoted in this article are subject to change, especially with the current oil crisis, and should be used as a guide only.

Transportation has changed a lot in the 17 years I have been here and I am very grateful. Major upgrades to the roads started during COVID and continue. The roads were basically dirt or tarmacadam and with every rainy season, holes would open creating disaster zones. The main roads are now being converted to concrete. Not surprisingly they started with the roads that connect the cruise ship docks and by concreting Mud Hill road created a ring road that will prevent any major blockages. 

Blockages and slowdowns can be common on Roatan for several reasons. When there is an accident by law the vehicles may not be moved until the police arrive and say so. The police have become quicker at arriving on the scene but you can imagine the frustration of those on either side of an accident that can be easily moved to the side but blocks the road completely. Another reason is that some vehicles travel slowly and build up a large backlog of cars that cannot pass but want to get on with their lives. Long chains of ATVs loaded with cruise shippers are notorious for slowing down traffic. 

Driving your own car

If you are driving your own car or rental car. It is extremely important that you have your up-to-date registration in the car and you are carrying your driver's license. The police have roadblocks food various reasons and if your papers are in order they quickly move you on. However, having either of these missing or incorrect and they could take the car. Generally, after all this time of being here, I generally pass myself off as a visitor. The police officers change regularly, usually do not speak English, and are generally from the mainland. They have probably been told to not make problems unless necessary.  As always treat them with helpful respect. 

Gas stations are all over the place on the West End of the island however as a general rule if I am heading East past French Harbor I fill up on the way.

It is pretty hard to get lost on Roatan as there really is only one main road. Sometimes looking for a place you may take the wrong side road but it is not hard to get yourself back on track.

Registrations must be paid every year at the bank and they can go up or down from last year. Down I assume because the car gets older. Up I assume because of new taxes. I always get an extra copy for 20 Lps and leave it at home. Mainly so I never remove the other from the car.

 

Bus routes

I find the buses extremely claustrophobic they are basically large vans that take 15-25 people. They are usually solid black or white and will stop if you flag them down. Like taxi points, you can tell where people usually pick them up as they wait in groups.

 

Roatan has two bus routes, both originating in Coxen Hole. One route heads west, linking Coxen Hole with Sandy Bay and West End. Unfortunately, it does not go to West Bay. 

Starting rate is 15 HNL, it does not matter if you’re on for just a block or five, that is the set fare for getting on the bus, ending at 25 HNL which takes you from Coxen Hole all the way to West End or vise versus.  

If you’re on the bus that takes the west route, have in mind that route takes a detour into Sandy Bay (La Colonia) stopping there for a maximum of 5 minutes to get more passengers. 

The second route heads east from Coxen Hole, passing the airport, Dixon Cove, French Harbour, and ending at Oak Ridge. Eastbound minibusses depart every 30 minutes to French Harbour, Polytilly Bight, Punta Gorda, and Oak Ridge with fares ranging from L20-40 ($1 - $2.00 USD). Approximately one hour to Oak Ridge one way.


 

Taxis Private and "Colectivo" 

Licensed taxis are white and have numbers on the side. Do not get in a taxi that does not look like it is licensed it is not worth the risk. Taxi fares are higher than bus fares (double the amount).  There are currently about 600 cabs on the island. The Government charges them a lot of money to license and register their vehicle for taxi service. Then they have to pay 40,000 HNL every six months for their cab number. A total of 80,000 HNL a year. While on the mainland it is only 1,000 HNL a month, a total of 12,000 a year. Therefore, taxi costs are expensive and they will generally charge a lot more to tourists who don't know the regular prices.

Private generally means that you are the only passenger(s). It could be a regular white taxi or a private car that has become known as a good reliable driver and so has lifted himself out of the collectivo world. It is advisable to ask first and set the price before getting in. Most taxi drivers will go up on the price thinking you’re a tourist. 

Taxis at the airport have set fares. The prices are posted on the airport walls. They range from $25 to West End. To West Bay and Punta Gorda $30. To Camp Bay $40. They may charge extra if you want to stop at Eldon's to get groceries on the way. You can generally negotiate though they are not supposed to but as you can always walk out the road and get one for half the price. It is possible. Many people and hotels have a regular driver to drop them off or pick them up at the airport. It works out to be the same price but they are reliable and friendly.

When you live here it is good even if you have a car to have a trusted driver or two in your phone list. Either to give to someone when asked or to use yourself if you are in dire need. If you ask around you will be able to find a trusted taxi that you can use for day trips for a fixed fee. Useful when you want to go to Eldon's and run multiple errands. 

Collectivo taxis are the way the majority of non-car owning people on the island get around.  They are shared taxis that stop to pick up and drop off passengers as they go. So they will only pick you up if you are going the same way as their existing customers. So make sure you are facing the right way down the road. They will leave the main road to drop you off at your house so you may only be a mile away from your destination but if someone lives down a long side road before that it may take longer than you think. 

 

They usually do not expect tips however if you drag them off their route, they give good service or help you with your bags then tip them. If you are their first passenger make sure you establish the collectivo fare before you close the door otherwise you may have suddenly gone private.

 

Estimated Collectivo rates

HNL (I write LPS or L which is incorrect but it reminds me of Lempiras)

West End to West Bay Beach   L100

West End to Coxen Holle L45

West Bay Beach to Coxen Hole L145

Sandy Bay to Coxen Hole L25

West End to French Harbour L140

West Bay Beach to French Harbour L170

Sandy Bay to French Harbour L50

Note these are daytime prices and will double at 5-6 pm. Also West Bay to West End is a bit of a trap at night and you will find people charging you $20 or L 500.

 

Water Taxis

Water taxis have just one route and it’s from the west end to west bay and back. Their taxi point is located in West End in front of Splash Inn Dive shop. The run goes for 70-100 HNL a person ($3-$4) and they don’t leave the dock until they have a minimum of 4 people or you can always pay extra if you’re in a hurry.  They’ll drop you off on Infinity Bay or Foster's dock, it’s up to you. They start running from 7 am and stop at 6 pm.  The opening of boutique hotels and restaurants along the strip of beach between West Bay and West End means now there are a lot more stopping-off points and those places can usually arrange one for you.

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