"If you got into a taxi and the driver started driving backward, would the taxi driver end up owing you money?" - Author: Steven Wright
Prices quoted in this article are subject to change, especially with the current oil crisis, and should be used as a rough estimate guide only.
The state of the roads
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 to the present day. The roads were basically dirt or tarmacadam when I moved here with my family, 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, they have created a ring road that will prevent any major blockages.
Traffic and slowdowns can be common on Roatan for several reasons. For example, when there is an accident the vehicles may not legally be moved until the police arrive and say it’s okay. 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 put up roadblocks for 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 respect and be ready to share the documents they request.
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, presumably because of new taxes, or down, presumably because the car gets older from last year. I always get an extra copy for 20 Lps and leave it at home so that I never have to remove the other from the car.
I cover obtaining a Hondurean License in other articles but until you have residency and then until you have the 5-year residency the process is so difficult and unreliable that it is generally not worth the process. Since they will not make it valid past the expiry of your residency and there are many times you waste large parts of your day waiting for machines that do not work or forms that are not available.
I personally find the buses extremely claustrophobic; they are basically large vans that carry up to 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 vice versa.
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 as 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. Although they are not supposed to, you can generally negotiate the price as you can always walk out the road and get one for half the price. 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) and to the nearest dollar as far as conversions are concerned.
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.
Official Taxi Costs
These are the last official sheets I can find. Note that this does not mean what you will be charged, it is what you are supposed to be charged. Also, they can just refuse to take you if you don't want to pay what they want. You see this most often going to and from West Bay as they don't pick up as many fairs there.
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 (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.
Last official printing of collective taxi rates
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