ACCESS AND RESOURCES
Doubles from $115; Cocolobo hotel, cocolobo.com. Diving from $35 per tank with rental equipment; coconuttreedivers.com, westenddivers.info. $800 per person for a 3.5-hour expedition to 2,000 feet; Stanley Submarines, stanleysubmarines.com. HOW TO GET THERE: Continental and Taca offer nonstop flights to Roatán from several U.S. cities. WHEN TO GO: February and March, for calm water and high visibility. ALSO CHECK OUT: Ask around the West End for the one and only Miss Mazy Ann, who makes the island’s best conch soup and iguana.
WITH MORE THAN 700 species of birds and an expanding national-park system, Honduras is no slouch when it comes to land-based offerings. But the real draw is underwater. If you’ve heard of Roatán, it’s for good reason: deep cuts in the reef around the island drop thousands of feet, offering vertiginous wall diving, wreck exploration, blooming coral, and high visibility. Head to the island’s laid-back West End for white-sand beaches, open-air bars, and the Cocolobo hotel, which has a sweet infinity pool and ten balcony rooms. Nearby you’ll find accredited dive outfitters of long standing like Coconut Tree and West End Divers. If you’ve got the cojones, explore the bizarre deep-sea universe of jelly-nosed eels and ghost sharks with Karl Stanley, a 37-year-old American inventor who takes aspiring Nemos thousands of feet down in his homemade submarine, Idabel.