Resting in the gorgeous Caribbean Sea, the Bay Islands are a group of islands located off the northern coast of Honduras. As the crow flies, head due south from Pensacola, Florida, straight through Cancun, Mexico, and you'll reach our stunning Bay Islands of Honduras. The islands have a long and interesting history with various populations of people residing in and fighting over the islands.
First, there were the indigenous Paya, or Pech, people who traded by sea with places as far away as Jamaica and the Yucatan Peninsula. Today, an eclectic international population resides in this island paradise, calling it home and welcoming visitors from around the world.
The Bay Islands consist of three major islands, plus a large number of small cays and islands. The main islands are Guanaja, Roatan, and Utila. Some of the more popular cays and islands are St. Helene, which is separated from the eastern end of Roatan by a series of mangrove tunnels; Barbareta and Morat are other small islands also off Roatan’s eastern end. Pigeon Cay is a popular day trip from Roatan, offering guests a visit to a spot of sand in the sea as this cay is too small to be inhabited and merely offers a visit to pristine paradise.
The Bay Island of Guanaja
Guanaja is located about 43 miles from the Honduran mainland, and about 8 miles east of Roatan. Guanaja is the second-largest of the Bay Islands, and is known as the Green Paradise for its stunning natural beauty. The Cay, or Bonacca, is where the majority of the island's population lives.
Guanaja is not as developed as its neighboring Roatan and Utila, but rather, it is known for its quiet beauty and friendly local population. The limited tourist services available on the island grant visitors unique insight into true Caribbean island life. Like its sister islands, Guanaja enjoys incredible scuba diving, snorkeling, and deep-sea fishing.
The Bay Island of Roatan
Roatan is the largest of the Bay Islands and offers the widest array of tourist activities and attractions. The only international airport in the Bay Islands is located on the island of Roatan. Additionally, two cruise ship docks bring in thousands of visitors each day to enjoy the natural beauty and exciting attractions of Roatan.
Roatan is located about 40 miles from the Honduran mainland, and rests between Utila to the west and Guanaja to the east. St. Helene, Barbareta, and Morat lie of Roatan’s eastern end, with several small cays surrounding the island as well.
The Bay Island of Utila
Utila is the smaller of the main Bay Islands, but enjoys a wonderful combination of fun local culture and tourism with stunning natural beauty – all packed into an accessible island you can enjoy on vacation. Utila is located about 11 miles from the Honduran mainland, and is typically reached by the ferry or a domestic flight from La Ceiba, or by chartered boat or plane from Roatan.
Utila offers a fun atmosphere and incredibly affordable activities and accommodations for its visitors. Backpackers find Utila to be more affordable than Roatan, and the nightlife in town makes for an entertaining holiday.
There are also stunning vacation rentals and even a private cay you can rent out toward Utila’s western end, where a quiet escape into pure natural bliss can reinvigorate even the most stressed of visitors. Utila truly offers an amazing array on such a small island!