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How to Choose From the Best Dive Shops in Roatan

How to Choose From the Best Dive Shops in Roatan

Dive Shops in Roatan are like Starbucks cafes in the U.S.: there’s one on every corner!

Just google ‘best dive shops in Roatan’ and over 50 different Roatan dive centers pop up. Some are boutique operations and others are all-inclusive. Some boast large boats for big groups and others focus on smaller, more personalized experiences. With all the choices, what’s a diver to do? If you’re finding it difficult to decide which Roatan dive shop to entrust your dive vacation to, evaluate your options using this guide on How to Choose from the Best Dive Shops in Roatan. 

Full disclosure, this guide was created by Sun Divers Roatan. Why? Because while we’d love for everyone to dive with us, we know that our island is a world-class diving destination with many reputable Roatan dive centers to choose from. While there’s a dive center for everyone, not all dive centers are created equal. And what makes a great dive center to you might be different for another diver. So we’re presenting this guide to help you find the best dive shop in Roatan for YOU!  

Here are 5 criteria to help you choose from the best dive shops in Roatan. You can also use this criteria to assess dive centers in any dive destination!  

 5 Criteria to Choose from the Best Dive Shops in Roatan


1. Location, Location, Location  

Location is a top consideration when deciding which of the best dive shops in Roatan is just right for you. Roatan is made up of several villages and the most popular destinations for divers include West End, West Bay, Sandy Bay and Camp Bay.  Each ‘village’ (or neighborhood) has its own character and vibe, as well as natural beauty and local amenities. You can find options for great Roatan dive shops in all these areas. Here’s a few ways to assess location:  

Proximity to Popular Dive Sites: Roatan has a fringing reef with literally hundreds of moored dive sites surrounding the island.

The Northside of the island is sheltered from the prevailing winds, creating ideal dive conditions almost year-round. So, most of the popular dive sites are located on this side of the island – particularly in the northwest where West End Village and West Bay Beach are located. In West End, Roatan dive shops are going to be more centrally located to the majority of dive sites on the Northside. West Bay, Roatan dive shops and Sandy Bay dive shops will be closer to their respective areas.  

However, the most popular dive site in Roatan, Mary’s Place, is ironically located on the Southside of the island. It is exposed to the easterly winds and thus typically has more waves and surface current. The topography of the reef and marine life on the Southside can also differ. This side of the island tends to have more dramatic deep walls and swaying soft corals. While the Northside is known for its extensive plateau with exciting swim throughs and channels carved through it. Some dive centers, including Sun Divers, travel to the Southside when we have either perfectly flat seas or northern winds make the conditions more ideal on this side. Read about ‘Southside Days’ here.  

If Mary’s Place Roatan is on your bucket list and your dive shop can’t take you there, you can always do a day of diving with Barefoot Cay. This Roatan dive resort is located right by the dive site and also has an amazing poolside restaurant to spend the rest of the day.  

Close to the action (or not!): Depending upon your vacation style, you’ll want to find a dive center (and lodging) that is in a Roatan village with the right vibe for you.  

West End village might just be your vibe if you like to travel more like a local but still have access to great cuisine and entertainment. Akin to a sleepy beach town with character, West End has a few boutique hotels and tons more vacation rentals. You can walk to lots of great beach front restaurants – many featuring live music and other special events throughout the week.  

If an all-inclusive Roatan dive resort with beautiful beach views is more your style, West Bay will be for you. The waters are turquoise, the sands white and the beach is bustling! Most hotels have an affiliated dive center on site for convenience. Forewarning, this area is a hot spot for large groups of cruise shippers and the beach can be crowded with both visitors and vendors.  

If you want to feel more remote, but still within a quick jaunt to the happening spots, then you might consider Sandy Bay. This is a primarily residential neighborhood along the beach with a few vacation rentals and lodges with small dive shops. There are also a few local restaurants, but most of the lodges also have fantastic dining spots on site. You will likely need a rental car or a hired driver for most activities and to access the best beaches and restaurants.  

And if you really want to get off the beaten path, look to Roatan’s East End. Here you’ll find eco resorts and undeveloped beaches for a more organic and rustic feel to your vacation.  

Sun Divers is located in West End Village, Roatan on the shore of Half Moon Bay. We’re smack dab in the middle of over 70 different dive sites on the Northside and make it a point to take you to as many different dive sites as possible. When conditions allow, we will head out to explore more remote locations like Mary’s Place on the Southside, Roatan’s East End dive sites more remote locations like the seamounts and Cayos Cochinos. We’re neighbors with the iconic beach bar Sundowners and the Beach House boutique hotel, with whom we have a Dive & Stay packages available May through November. This little corner of West End is a real chill vibe and you could never leave. But if you do want to explore the best restaurants and bars – we’re just a beachy stroll away. 


2. Dive Group Organization 

Save yourself from frustrating dives by asking the Roatan dive centers that you’re assessing how they organize their fun dive groups.  

Be sure to find out about the group sizes and number of people per boat when doing your research. Specifically, ask what the diver to divemaster ratio is for fun dives. Obviously the less fun divers assigned to a divemaster, the less likely you are to have to wait your turn to see cool stuff. And the less likey you’ll find fins in your face!  

How the groups are organized matters as well. Find out if groups are arranged by skill level. If you’re into photography, see if there’s an opportunity to dive with other photographers or to even organize a photography dive.  

If you are a student yourself, ask about the course ratio. While some PADI courses allow for up to 8 students per instructor – we believe that courses are more manageable for instructors and students get more personal attention when the ratio is 4 students to instructor or less.  

When it comes to group size, we believe less is more! Our fun dive groups are kept relatively small at no more than 6 divers per guide. We organize groups by skill level and interest whenever we can, and also keep track of where everyone dives so that we can make sure you see a wide variety of Roatan diving. Courses are capped at 4 students per instructor to allow for more personalized attention even in a group setting.  


 3. The Type of Roatan Dive Center   

There are many different types of dive shops in Roatan. Each offer a different environment (or “vibe”) and customer service experience. Each also has different amenities and course offerings. Here are a few examples of the type of dive shops in Roatan you can find:   

  • Boutique Dive Centers: These are smaller operations that focus mostly on recreational diving and courses. The boats are smaller with a capacity of around 10 people compared to 20+. Many offer 3-4 dives per day and cater to a personalized experience. These centers cater to folks who are visiting Roatan with the primary focus to dive and explore as much as they can. You’ll get a mix of experienced and well-traveled divers, along with younger people who have a newfound passion for scuba diving. The most popular boutique West End dive shops include Sun Divers and Roatan Divers.
  • Dive Resorts: These centers are usually connected to hotels. Dive resorts are most prevalent in West Bay and tend to cater toward large groups and families. Many offer all-inclusive deals and also have amenities in common with the hotels they’re located within such as a pool, restaurants, gym and beach lounge chair access. Most of the Roatan dive resorts are located on West Bay beach. Some of the all inclusive resorts there include Mayan Divers and Infinity Divers. In Sandy Bay, you’ll find Anthony’s Key resort – the first dive resort on the island. And on the southside of the island, Coco View which is also one of the longest standing resorts and caters to underwater photographers.
  • Instructor Development Centers: These operations offer recreational diving, but also focus heavily on training programs for divemasters and instructors. These centers will have a youthful, international vibe with young people who come from around the world to become dive professionals. On the boat, you will usually find a mix of fun dive groups with students who are doing their professional training. Many of our divemasters move on to become instructors with Go Pro Caribbean
  • TEC Centers: Similar to dive pro training centers, TEC centers offer niche instruction in technical diving. The centers that offer technical dive training in Roatan, also offer recreational diving, as well as professional training. Roatan Tec Center is one of the longest standing TDI certification centers on Roatan.  

Sun Divers is a boutique dive center focused on curating epic dive trips for recreational divers. No one’s feeling like a number here. We take great care to pair you with divers of similar skills & interest, and make sure to show you a wide variety of dive sites.  No heavy lifting required here! We set up your gear for your on the boats and will store all of your personal gear for you securely for the duration of your dive trip. 

If you’re a student, you’ll learn from one of our experienced PADI scuba diving instructors and we always keep our groups small to ensure plenty of personal attention.  

4. Quality of Gear and Boats 

Don’t be afraid to ask questions about the type of gear stocked by the dive shops that you’re considering. Here are some questions to consider asking:  

  • What is the brand/model of the BCDs, regulators and wetsuits?  
  • When was your equipment last replaced?  
  • Do you use weight integrated BCDs or weight belts?  
  • How often do you conduct hydrostatic testing and visual inspections on your tanks? Hydrostatic requirements can be different based upon region, but typically should be conducted every 5 years. Visual inspections should be conducted annually. impeccable 

At Sun Divers, we have a strict commitment to quality, whether it’s our all-star team, our impeccable boats and facilities, or the top-rated SCUBAPRO rental equipment we offer. Check out the details on our BCDs, regulators, fins, wetsuits and masks available for rent. And take a look at our custom dive boats built for comfort and speed.  


5. Environmental & Social Responsibility 

As beautiful as coastal communities like Roatan are, they face a number of unique environmental and socioeconomic challenges. While tourism and scuba diving are economic growth engines for our island, they do also contribute to increased pollution and pressure on our reefs. And as coastal communities have moved away from harmful commercial overfishing, that workforce has had to find new ways to make a living.  

That is why it’s important to find a Roatan dive center that conducts its operations in an environmentally friendly way, as well as supports local conservation efforts.  

A few considerations:  

  • Is the Roatan dive center you’re assessing a supporter of the Roatan Marine Park either as a sponsor or Coral Restoration center?  
  • Do they support any other local conservation efforts or local nonprofits?  
  • Do they promote eco-friendly diving guidelines on their website?  
  • Do they have a sustainability program?  

We’re on a mission to not only be the best dive shop in Roatan, but to also make the biggest difference. We are sponsors of the Roatan Marine Park, as well as a RMP Coral Restoration center.  We’re proud supporters of the Bay Island Conservation Association and we also run our own scuba scholarship program for island girls in partnership with Roatan Peer Health Exchange and PADI. We also host the island’s premier Charity Golf Tournament event which raises money for the SOL Foundation and has earned us the prestige of hanging the Golden Buoy in our dive shop! 


Other Considerations for Choosing the Best Dive Shop in Roatan for You:  

  • What do other customers say about them? Check out TripAdvisor and Google Reviews.  
  • How quickly do they respond to your inquiry?  
  • How thorough is the information they provide?  
  • Do they offer multi-dive packages? When it comes to dive services, you get what you pay for. So while cheaper doesn’t equal better, it  
  • Do they offer any unique experiences such as trips to Mary’s Place, Cayos Cochinos or other remote areas? 


Check out what our divers have to say about us on TripAdvisor! If we sound like the best dive shop in Roatan for you, shoot us an email and let’s start planning the most epic Roatan dive vacation ever!  


4 Types of Divers Who Should Be Diving Nitrox

4 Types of Divers Who Should Be Diving Nitrox

Many recreational divers know of enriched air (nitrox), but aren’t familiar with it enough to know if they could benefit from diving nitrox.

The benefit of diving nitrox is that you absorb less nitrogen. So it’s safe to say that you should dive enriched air whenever you can. Why? Because with less nitrogen absorption you can enjoy a longer allowable bottom time and also improve your safety margin as it relates to decompression sickness (DCS), when diving on an air profile.

But there are certain types of divers who benefit more significantly from diving nitrox. We’ve identified the 5 Types of Divers who should dive enriched air. Read on to see if you’re one of them!

But first: Are you nitrox curious, but feel like you need a primer on what nitrox is before determining if you should be diving with enriched air? Check out details on nitrox and the PADI Enriched Air Diver course here.

4 Type of Divers Who Should Be Diving Nitrox


1. The ‘Dive All Day, Every Day Diver’

If your primary purpose for vacationing is diving, and your name is on every daily dive possible, then you might consider diving with enriched air – even if your group is following an air profile. Many divers who use it daily for typical-duration dives swear that they have more energy than if they were diving on air. While nitrox has not been proven to reduce fatigue, logically it makes sense since your body is absorbing less nitrogen and not having to off-gas as much.

2. The Liveaboard Junkie

Similarly, if you’re someone who loves liveaboards or is considering one – you definitely want your nitrox certification. Most liveaboards will offer nitrox for free or deeply discount. And that’s smart, because unlike dive centers who typically offer 3-4 dives a day, liveaboards can offer up to 5 dives per day – that’s a lot of residual nitrogen that can build up from dive to dive. A smart way to manage your safety margin on a liveaboard is to dive nitrox on the nitrox profile for the first 3 dives, and then dive nitrox on an air profile for the remaining 2 dives of the day.

3. The ‘Go Deep or Go Home’ Diver

If you get a thrill from deeper depths then nitrox will keep you from pushing your limits (no deco limits that is!). While you can’t necessarily dive deeper on nitrox. This means that you have more time to stay at those depths, assuming you have enough gas, and you’re less likely to “bump up” to your no deco limits when diving at a deeper range. Of course, you still have to be mindful of your the maximum operating depth on nitrox, as it will be shallower than the recreational depth limit we have when using air (40meters / 130 feet.)

4. The Super Safe Diver

If you’re the type of diver who never forgets a buddy check and gets peace of mind from conservative dive profiles, we applaud you and also recommend that you dive with enriched air. Diving nitrox can give you additional peace of mind on your dive, because it’s less likely for you to “push” your no deco limits. And when diving nitrox on an air profile, you can reduce your risk of DCS.

Age, Weight and Nitrox

Two other important factors to consider when choosing whether or not to dive nitrox are age and weight. While no one wants to admit they’re getting older or that they’ve put on a few extra pounds, neither of those factors have to stop you from diving. But the reality is that they can increase your risk of decompression sickness. Nitrogen is more easily absorbed in our fat tissues. And as we age our circulatory systems slow which also slows down the process of off-gassing nitrogen. So if these are factors for you, diving nitrox is a smart decision.

Know that we’ve shared the 4 types of divers we believe should be diving nitrox, and additional health factors that make it a good move, it’s your turn to decide if nitrox is right for you. Not certified to dive with enriched air? It’s a relatively quick and easy course, that is also very cost effective to do while diving in Roatan. Learn more about the PADI Enriched Air (Nitrox) Diver course at Sun Divers! 


ROA Girls Dive! Scholarship Update

ROA Girls Dive! Scholarship Update

School’s out! And there’s lots of ROA girls blowing bubbles here at Sun Divers thanks to the generous contributions of our dive tribe ??

To date, the scholarship program has supported 4 Discover Scuba Diving experiences, 9 PADI certifications and an exciting day out on the water for some fun diving. We’ve watched these girls develop a love for scuba diving and Roatan’s amazing marine wildlife. And that passion has become infectious! Interest in the program has grown immensely as word has spread about just how cool it is to get to blow bubbles in your own backyard.

Watching these girls embrace new adventures, learn new skills, and even overcome fears & challenges has been nothing but amazing. We’re in awe at how brave and embracing they’ve been in the process. And seeing their pride and smiles shine has been the ultimate reward. Want to share in the joy? Check out our ROA Girls Dive! webpage for a video recap of our latest scholarship activities – and get ready for lots of smiles and high fives!

What’s Next for ROA Girls Dive!

Our next focus is to take all the girls who have been certified and advance them to the next level. That means upgrading Scuba Divers who are certified to dive to 40 feet, to Open Water Divers. And taking our Advanced Open Water Divers to the next level with Emergency First Responder and Rescue Diver certifications.

And, if we’re able to raise more funds, we’ll start a whole new wave of introductory experience and certifications.

How You Can Help

Whether you’re a continuing supporter or just learning about ROA Girls Dive! there are lots of opportunities to help us reach more local girls.

  • Join PADI Women’s Dive Day in Roatan: This July 15, we’ll hold our third annual Dip & Sip event. Enjoy some epic Roatan  diving, as well as a sunset social at our neighbors Sundowners. Get to meet other women who are passionate about the ocean and diving, while supporting Roatan’s girls. 100% of ticket costs benefit Roatan Peer Health Exchange and the ROA Girls Dive! Scholarship program. Register today!
  • Sponsor a Girl to Dive! We’re continuing to raise funds to connect more girls to the ocean and you can help. Donate by visiting the ROA Girls Dive! Gofundme page. Course costs are subsidized by Sun Divers and PADI 76-85% depending upon the course, so it costs $200 – $264 per certification scholarship. And we’re always happy to share updates about the ROA girl that you helped sponsor, just ask!

About ROA Girls Dive!

The ROA Girls Dive! Scholarship program was founded in 2022 to help connect local girls & women to scuba diving. The program is a partnership between Sun Divers, Roatan Peer Health Exchange and PADI – and was developed to increase Roatan’s girls’ access to scuba diving both as a sport and as a profession.

This scholarship program certifies young women in Roatan in all recreational scuba diving courses from Open Water to Divemaster. The program’s goals are threefold: to enrich lives, develop our future’s environmental stewards and create awareness of the professional pathways that these young women can take in the scuba diving industry.

Learn more about the ROA Girls Dive! Scholarship Program

The Sounds of Sun Divers: Beach Vacation Playlists

The Sounds of Sun Divers: Beach Vacation Playlists

While we only like to hear bubbles under water, we love listening to good tunes anytime we’re not under the waves. Whether it’s feeling Irie to some reggae on a surface interval or getting pumped for a new day of diving with some indie pop, music is a major part of the good vibes you’ll feel here at Sun Divers.  So much so, we have our own beach vacation spotify playlists.

And just like we curate epic dive adventures, we also curate our playlists to make sure our vibes are just right for your vacation. Here are a few of our favorite beach vacation spotify playlists for your listening enjoyment: 

Beach Vacation Spotify Playlists

Beach Skankin’

Nothing quite puts you on island time like a good reggae playlist. We’ve got your classic reggae all stars like Bob Marley & Jimmy Cliff, mixed in with some modern-day Rastafarians like Chronixx.   

Cali Vibes

Surf, sand and Sublime made for a California vibe in the 90s that never really went out of style – even if you weren’t alive or oldenough yet to experience it. This playlist will make you wanna throw responsibility to the wind, dive in and chill with the homies by a beachside bonfire. If you agree that “Life’s too short, so love the one you got” and the words “summertime and the living’s easy” speak to your soul, then this one’s for you.  

SD Indie Pop

If you’re vacay is about having fun, but also finding yourself as you explore new places, we got the playlist for you. Indie pop is always filled with the fun-loving electro beats of summer, but the deep lyrics will wash over you like the waves of Half Moon Bay. Surfaces, DoubleCamp and Empire of the Sun are just a few of our favorites that make this playlist.   

Funk the Beats

No soundtrack to salt life would be complete without a few tunes to bob your head to. This playlist features hooks from hip hop lyricists like the Roots, Tribe Called Quest and Jurassic 5, along with some infusion of jazz, neo soul and funk from the likes of Tyler the Creator and Childish Gambino.  


Here’s what else we’re listening to:  

Bungalow Beach Vibes – featuring Neko Case, Father John Misty, Big Thief  

SD Soul  – featuring Raphael Saadiq, Mayor Hawthorne, Erykah Badu and Stevie Wonder 

SD Internacional Sounds  – featuring Gorillaz, M.I.A., Saint Levant and Manu Chao 

Surfer Grooves – featuring Khruangbin, King Gizzard & Lizard Wizard, Babe Rainbow and Peter Lake 

Psychedelic Pop  – featuring Tame Impala, MGMT, Unknown Mortal Orchestra and Local Natives 

Afrobeach – featuring Wizkid, Burna Boy, Asake and Fireboy DML 


Have a favorite song, you love to listen to when you’re getting ready to dive or just boat & float? Tell us what you’d love to hear us play in our shop and we’ll add it to our beach vacation playlists.  



DIY: How to Paint Scuba Diving Fins

DIY: How to Paint Scuba Diving Fins

Add some flair to your scuba diving equipment with these easy instructions on how to paint your scuba diving fins.  

As dive equipment goes, there is not much that you can do to add your own sense of style beyond choosing unique colors and maybe a colorful rashguard. But you can let your individuality shine by using non-toxic paints to add some personal flair to your fins – and stand out on your next dive.  

Why Paint Your Scuba Diving Fins 

In addition to taking your dive style to the next level, there are some practical reasons to paint scuba diving fins. If you’re an instructor or divemaster, they make you easy and spot to follow in a dive group. If you’re a recreational diver – you can rest assured, you’ll never lose your fins in a busy shop or on a busy boat. Or worse, mistake your fins for someone else’s…Trust us, this happens more often than you think!  

But at the end of the day, painting your scuba diving fins is just a fun way to show off your own unique style. 

Sun Divers hosted a fin-painting party for our dive tribe here in Roatan.

Here are the tips & tricks we learned are best for long-lasting, personalized designs on your scuba diving fins.

How To Paint Scuba Diving Fins 

Step One: Wash & Dry Your Fins 

Use soap and warm water to remove salt, sand and dust from your fins. Wash thoroughly and then towel or air dry.  

Step Two: Sand Your Fins Down  

In order for the paint to stick to your fins, you need to scuff up the surface. To do this, use XX mm sand paper and scuff up the area where you want to paint the fins. If you find that the paint is bleeding when you go to design, that’s a sign that you need to sand your fins down even more.  

Step Three: Get Creative with (Non-toxic) Paint  

From there, the world is your oyster. Go crazy with color adding any touches to your fins that speak to you. If you’re great with freehand, just go for it. Or you can sketch your design out first with pencil – erasing where needed. These stencils were a life saver for some of us. But be careful because on some fin surfaces the paint can bleed under the stencil just creating a big blob of color. This is especially true if you’ve not sanded your fins down enough. 

Be sure to use non-toxic, water-based paint. We loved these paint pens.  

And it’s nice to have a series of acrylic paint brushes with different tip shapes and sizes for finer details.  

Step 4: Allow your fins to dry  

You’re going to want to use them right away. And you’re going to be tempted to touch the paint to see if it’s dry. DON’T. Just be patient and let your fins dry for at least 24 hours to be safe.  

Other Scuba Fin Painting Tips  

  • Acetone is your friend. If you make a mistake (which you wil), it’s the magic eraser!  
  • Do NOT use lacquer. We did our research beforehand, and some blogs suggested applying a spray lacquer to seal in the design. One person tested this and it dulled the paint pens and eventually flaked off. The outcome was fugly fins and the potential for lacquer to end up in the ocean which is no bueno in our book.  
  • Go abstract! If you still draw like you’re in kindergarten (raises hand ?) then avoid detailed imagery and just go with an abstract design when you paint your scuba fins. This will be much more forgiving for any errors.  

Now you have all our best tips for how to paint scuba diving fins. Check out some of our dive tribes creativity for inspo! 

Painted Scuba Diving Fins Inspo

DIY Save-a-Dive Kit

DIY Save-a-Dive Kit

Wondering what a save-a-dive kit is and why you should always dive with one? Read on!

Imagine this: you’re on your dream dive vacation (in Roatan, duh!) and you’re about to dive one of the destination’s most iconic dive spots. You’re all geared up and go to put your mask on. Boom, the strap busts! Now, any good dive center is going to have a spare kit with a mask that will at minimum do the job. But, what if they don’t or someone else is already using the spare? Are you going to miss this dive you’ve been waiting to check out all week? Heck no! You’re going to have a mask strap in your save-a-dive kit. And not only are you going to continue with the dive as planned, you’re going to have YOUR favorite mask to see it with!

What is a save-a-dive-kit? 

A save-a-dive-kit is a travel kit that contains the basic tools and parts needed to make non-technical, dive equipment repairs. Common malfunctions that a save-a-dive kit can help repair include busted O-rings, a torn mouthpiece, snapped mask or fin strap. All small issues, but issues that can be the difference between getting to make a dive or not.

Where can you get a save-a-dive-kit?

You can likely find a pre-assembled save-a-dive kit at a local dive center or online. And it should contain all of the essentials. But you’ll pay for the pre-packaged convenience. Why pay more, when you can easily make a DIY Save-a-Dive Kit with materials you may already have -and with materials that are specific to your personal equipment and liking.

What’s in a save-a-dive kit? 

There are a few essentials that your save-a-dive kit should have (at minimum):

  1. O-rings
  2. An extra mouthpiece and zip tie
  3. Mask strap
  4. Fin strap
  5. Double-ended bolt snap hook
  6. Defog
  7. Dry case to store save-a-dive kit contents

These items will cover the most common gear snafus and what you should have in your kit at minimum. If you want to be uber-prepared, check out our Complete Save-a-Dive Kit checklist. And if you’re a technical diver, photographer you’ll obviously want to add equipment specific to those activities.

What else should you pack for your dive trip?

Want to make sure you have all the equipment essentials for your upcoming trip? Check out our Dive Gear Packing List.

Don’t have your own gear, but wish you did? Sun Divers is a certified Scubapro dealer and we offer our customers great deals, as well as direct shipping. Scope out the ScubaPro gear deals! 

Now that you know what to bring on your next dive trip, it’s time to start planning it .


Top 10 Restaurants in Roatan | West End

Top 10 Restaurants in Roatan | West End

When you’ve got the post-dive munchies, we know which restaurants in Roatan should be on your list.

There is world-class diving in Roatan, adventurous activities, fun night life, and serene natural settings. But one of the most common questions divers always ask is “Where are the best places to eat in Roatan?”

We get it. A big part of traveling is experiencing the food and culture of another country.

Chef and world traveler Anthony Bourdain famously known for his Parts Unknown series once said “I think food, culture, people and landscape are all absolutely inseparable.” And we couldn’t agree more.

People come to Roatan for a variety of reasons. But the ocean and the food usually sit squarely at the top of the travel priorities.

Just like diving, the challenge of having an incredible dining experience is finding the best spots.

What makes us experts on where to eat in West End, Roatan?

Our location gives us a great perspective on the topic. And we also have a few resident experts, a.k.a. our dive tribe of instructors, captains and local customers who are enjoying the Roatan food scene daily.

Sun Divers sits perfectly on the beautiful Half Moon Bay beach in West End and is surrounded by over forty restaurants and street vendors. The food scene in West End is the most diverse on the island. It ranges from your traditional Honduran meals and cheap street food eats, to fancy steak houses and gorgeous destinations serving tropical drinks with sunset views. Whatever you are hankering for, you’re sure to find it within a short walk. And we’ve likely already been there, done that and can tell you if it’s worth adding to your Roatan food tour.

How we chose the Top 10 Best Restaurants in Roatan | West End 

We created a thorough list of local restaurants from up and down the mile-long West End strip which totaled 36 options. The list was sent to our staff and local customers asking them to rank each restaurant in order from their #1 choice to their last. Each restaurant’s score was determined by their average ranking.

The justification for everyone’s rankings is very different. Some might prefer fine dining, others the cocktail scene, and some lean heavily on the cheap eats. But the end result is a great starting point for you to choose your own dining adventure.

Focusing on just 10 restaurants proved incredibly challenging. So, here’s a bonus: we’re giving you our dive tribe picks for the Top 15 best restaurants in Roatan’s West End.

Check out the list below and don’t hesitate to jump into the debate. We want to hear your opinions. What did we leave off of the best places to eat in Roatan list?

Top 15 Best Restaurants in Roatan

#1 Sandy Buns

What makes Sandy Buns special: Located in the heart of West End, Sandy Buns serves breakfast and lunch. It’s owned and operated by a former Texas couple Tim and Shantal Dolan. Just like in Texas, the portions of everything on the menu are “bigger.”

Enter Sandy Buns and the first thing you notice is the size of the plates served to other guests. Watching a Dirty Bird Chicken Sandwich or a Rough Night Breakfast sandwich will have you drooling like one of Pavlov’s dogs. Their BBQ brisket is the stuff and making a stop for BBQ Country Saturday is never a bad idea.

This isn’t just a case of achieving a food coma. The food at Sandy Buns – and we mean ALL of the food – is drool worthy. No other place in West End (many would argue the entire island) has the reputation for pleasing countless hungry divers and tourists. OurAn extra large cinammon roll drizzled with icing sits atop a plate at Sandy Buns Restaurant in Roatan dive tribe is no different. With nearly 90% of voters ranking Sandy Buns in the top 5 they are the runaway #1 best restaurant in Roatan’s West End and should not be missed.

Don’t Miss: The entire menu features one incredible meal after another. But if you must have only one thing, do yourself a favor and get a Cinnamon Roll. You can also order it ahead to have served as a lunchtime dessert.

Pro-tip: Upgrade your fries to Garlic Sweet Potato Fries. You’ll thank us!

Best enjoyed: As a post-dive lunch or as the hangover cure on a dry day.

#2 Roatan Oasis

What makes Roatan Oasis special: Nestled on the hillside above West End, Roatan Oasis is the only restaurant on our list that will likely require some type of transportation. The extra effort to get there is well worth it as they were recently awarded Honduras’ Best Restaurant by the World Culinary Awards.

An elegant pasta dish is served at Roatan Oasis restaurant in RoatanKnown for a dynamic, internationally inspired menu and craft cocktails, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better dining experience on the entire island. As a testament to the consistent quality, Roatan Oasis ranks #1 with over a quarter of our voters – the most of all restaurants on our list.

Don’t Miss: The Roatan Oasis menu changes frequently, but one item has been a constant: the Chipotle Baby Back Ribs. Just ask Sun Divers Instructor Ricky how good they are.

Pro-tip: This place is always hoppin’ so be sure to make advanced reservations. Too late? You might try squeezing in at the bar where you can watch the craft cocktail mixology in action.

Best enjoyed: When celebrating something special or treating yourself to a nice night out.

#3 Sundowners Beach Bar

What makes Sundowners special: Sundowners is an island icon. Situated right on the beach in Half Moon Bay, Sundowners is the sunset beach bar of your dreams. Caribbean sunsets, swaying palm trees, toes in the sand and a drink in your hand.

Sundowners features a full menu of wraps, sandwiches, and burgers (buns from A tropical martini with a lime wedge is silhouetted by the sunset in Half Moon Bay, West End, Roatan. Sandy Buns) as well as an extensive list of tropical cocktails. And don’t miss the local music most evenings. Whether you are winding down after a long day in the sun or kick-starting an evening exploring West End, Sundowners should make your daily agenda.

Don’t Miss: Roatan’s traditional island cocktail  the Monkey La La, combined with a Half Moon Bay sunset and your toes in the sand.

Pro-tip: If you bring your own insulated tumbler, they’ll fill it with your drink of choice. It’ll keep your bevvy chilled and you’ll look like a local.

Best enjoyed: When you want an ice cold beer and burger after a day of diving, or want to jump start your night with a sunset cocktail and some live music.

#4 Pazzo’s

What makes Pazzo special: There are only six tables, the pasta is homemade, and you can bring your own wine. Chef and Owner Johnny Pedretti brings authentic Italian cuisine to the island in a quaint setting where you WILL need a reservation. Each dish is expertly crafted with simple ingredients, but exceptional skill. Check any review of Pazzo and you will inevitably see quotes that compare the dishes to those that can only be found in Italy.

One word describes dining at Pazzo Spettacolare!

Don’t Miss: All of the Pasta dishes are delectable, but you really are missing out if you don’t start with the Beef Carpaccio.

Pro-Tip: We’re serious about the reservations. Make them well in advance and don’t be late!

Best enjoyed: When you want a nice meal in a truly local setting

#5 Drunken Sailor

What makes Drunken Sailor special: Don’t be fooled by the name… this is not a bar (although they make a tremendous Campari Spritz). The owner is from Northern Italy and brings an authentic dining experience to Roatan. The Drunken Sailor is smack in theA large portion of cheesy lasagna from Roatan restaurant Drunken Sailor sits on a wooden serving platter with a small brown bag of bread on the side. middle of West End. No matter which way you are traveling through the city, you will stumble across this Italian gem. When you see it, trust me, go no further. The pasta is homemade, the pizza is some of the best in the area, and gnocchi is tender, ethereally light, nicely potatoey, and paired with a selection of homemade sauces.

Don’t Miss: The lasagna. Especially if you brought your appetite or want leftovers for lunch. It will rival any made by an Italian grandmother.

Pro-tip: If you don’t have a big appetite, share a main so that you can grub down on one of the delicious Cristini Mistis that come sweet or savory. And dessert, of course!

#6 Creole’s Rotisserie Chicken

What makes Creole’s Rotisserie Chicken special: Located on the Southern end of West End, Creole’s is the islands go-to for the most highly rated rotisserie chicken. The prices are very reasonable and the large selection of sides, make Creole’s a winning dining experience for everyone. You need to be early, though! There are limited chickens available each night and if you aren’t there by 7pm, its likely the doors will be closed.

The island style outdoor seating under the trees, a gang of local dogs and cats (well fed and taken care of) and right across from the beach gives you a true sense of dining in paradise. For $20 you can get an entire chicken with four sides… probably one of the best deals around.

Don’t Miss: The Desserts – As in any and ALL of the Desserts

Pro-tip: A whole chicken comes with four generous sides – enough to feed 3-4 people.

Best enjoyed: When you want to take an early stroll to dinner through West End to take in the energy and spirit of island life on Roatan.

#7 Loretta’s Island Cooking

What makes Loretta’s special: Loretta built her own small local dining patio in her yard in Half Moon Bay in 2021 due to so much demand for her home style island cooking. Loretta’s authentic island food away from the tourist spots makes it a favorit local restaurant in Roatan. It is a hidden gem and Loretta is a star local chef.

Loretta’s features a menu of island favorites including the best fried chicken, perfectly seasoned beans & coconut rice, tender coconut shrimp and an amazing blackened fish. It’s hard to pick a favorite, just ask Sun Divers captains and instructors who order lunch from here at least once a week.

Don’t Miss: The Lobster Pasta is over-the-top rich and oozing with creamy goodness.

Pro-tip: If you spend your day on one of the fishing charters, you can bring your catch to Loretta and she will whip up a dish that will knock your socks off.

Best enjoyed: Breakfast, lunch or dinner. But early in your trip because it is a place many of our divers choose to enjoy more than once!

#8 Ginger’s Caribbean Grill

What makes Ginger’s special: Gingers is tucked into a picturesque alcove in Half Moon Bay. They have a great menu of burgers, sandwiches, wraps, wings, and salads – but the main attractions are their casual fish dishes. Owners Jeff and Ginger have a commitment to sourcing fish sustainably and buy fish from local fisherman to create all sorts of delicacies depending on the catch of the day. We often get the question “where is the best seafood” – the typical response is “Gingers”.

They also feature a great bar to enjoy sporting events, live music, and meeting the local community.

Don’t Miss: Lionfish tacos. You know Lionfish are invasive and we can all do our part saving our reef by consuming as many as possible.

Pro-tip: Looking for somewhere to get great food and catch your favorite sports team? Give them a call, they’re sure to be playing all the popular games on their big screen.

Best enjoyed: When you want to spend the day lounging on a beautiful tropical beach, eating, drinking, swimming and sunning.

#9 Yahongreh

What makes Yahongreh special: Yahongreh is the smallest restaurant on the list, but has one big winner on the menu: The Baleada, a Honduran favorite food. These baleadas are stacked with goodness: eggs, beans, cheese, the meat of your choice, avocados, and tomatoes. Not only is this the biggest, best baleada available, but it is also ONLY $2 making it a favorite of the cheap eats in Roatan. There is no better deal than Yahongreh on the island when you are looking for a filling breakfast, lunch or snack at a remarkable price. While the baleada is the star of the menu, you can also find breakfast bagels, banana pancakes, and a selection of fresh tropical juices. Yahongreh is tucked in the Chili’s hotel grounds and they only serve breakfast and lunch.

Don’t Miss: Assuming you are having the baleada, don’t miss the homemade Chile Cabro (Habanero Pepper) sauce to spice up your life. It’ll likely be in a syrup bottle which can be a little confusing, but the flaming hot yellow color can’t be missed.

Pro-tip: This is a cash only joint accepting USD or lempiras. But make sure your US dollars are not ripped and you have enough to tip the staff member on duty who is usually hustling to take orders, cook, prep, clean up all on their own.

Best enjoyed: When you want quick and cheap, but satisfying meal before the dive day starts or in between dives.

#10 Stowaway Gastrobar

What makes Stowaway special: Stowaway is the newest entry in the West End dining scene and almost immediately propelled into the top 10 dining experiences. Located well off the main drag in the neighborhood north of Half Moon Bay, you are going to ask yourself “did we go the wrong direction?”.

Just keep going, we promise the search will be worth every step. The space is small and unassuming, but also romantic. The Mediterranean-inspired menu changes daily with locally sourced ingredients and, by far, the most creative menu in town. It would likely do no good to list a favorite since it may be gone tomorrow, but a few examples of the gastro genius at Stowaway include Spinach & Mushroom Cannelloni, Pear & Blue Cheese Quiche, mussel croquettes, and brie fingers to name a few. All dishes are cooked to order right in front of you.

Don’t Miss: The frozen Sangria is equally unique and will get your dinner off to the right start.

Pro-tip: Save room for dessert. Literally every creation made by Chef Alionka is pure gastronomical delight.

Best enjoyed: When you’re in the mood for wining & dining.

#11 Argentinian Grill

What makes Argentinian Grill special: Technically there are two locations – one in West End and one in West Bay. The menus are the same, but you cant beat the beach seating in West End. The romantic setting between palm trees overlooking Half Moon Bay under the stars is what Caribbean dreams are made of.

As the name suggests, the Argentinian Grill is all about the grilled meats including all varieties of fine steaks, pork, chicken, fish, shrimp and lobster. All are grilled over an open flame prominently featured in the dining room of the restaurant. The open space is great for groups and couples alike.

Don’t Miss: The West Bay location for daytime lounging & lunch on the beach.

Pro-tip: Don’t be fooled by the exceptional dinner menu, they serve a great breakfast and lunch also.

Best enjoyed: During sunset in West End or on a dry day where you want to work on your tan while treating yourself to delicious cuisine and cocktails in West Bay.

#12 Café Escondido

What makes Café Escondido special: Café Escondido is the first café on our list of best places to eat in Roatan – and earned its position by offering a menu focused on healthy options in addition to a great upper-deck setting that overlooks the water in West End. You can find Café Escondido above West End Divers in the middle of town.

Once you find your way in, you will be welcomed to a very comfortable setting great for meeting friends, hooking into the wifi to get some work done, or just enjoying a great cup of coffee, fresh smoothies, and a healthy breakfast or lunch featuring salads, rice or noodle bowls, and a selection of great sandwiches.

Don’t Miss: The banana pancakes with a side of vanilla ice cream.

Pro-tip: Bring your laptop or book…this is a great place to chill while you grab a coffee and a bite

Best-enjoyed: When you’re looking for a relaxing lunch spot with great views

#13 Crisp

What makes Crisp special: It is admittedly difficult to find a healthy option on the island. And why would you when you are on vacation?! But sometimes, your body needs a break from the fried foods, baleadas, and sweet treats. Or maybe your just truly blessed with a love for healthy food. Whatever the reason, this is one of the healthiest yet still delicious restaurants in Roatan.

As a relative newcomer to the dining scene, and an outlier who is not on the main strip (located in the Coconut Tree Plaza at the entrance of town), Crisp has quickly become the goto for a healthy meal.

Crisp offers a great selection of Poke Bowls, Cold Pressed Juices, Smoothies, Health Shots, and salads. The location is convenient with ample parking (a rarity) and the dining room is colorful, comfortable, and chic regularly featuring new local art for sale.

Don’t Miss: The OG Poke Bowl featuring fresh local Tuna

Pro-tip: As an excellent option for those who are vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, nut-free, pay attention to the icons on their menu showing you which options fit your dietary preferences.

Best enjoyed: When you want natural ingredients that are fresh, light and crisp (hence the name)

#14 Café de Palo

What makes Café de Palo special: You simply will not find a more serene place to relax than at Café de Palo. They are located at the very end of the road in Half Moon Bay tucked inside the Arco Orquideas hotel. You step into the café and it’s like stepping into the heart of a magical jungle. You’ll find yourself surrounded by tropical foliage, big windows open to the breeze rolling off Gibson Bight, and a dining space that can only be described as enchanting.

You can sit there for hours while you sip on a latte or any of their creative cocktails. Now that you are here, there is no rush to leave. Simply kick back and enjoy the serenity – and the food. They are open for breakfast and lunch (but closed on Tuesdays).

Don’t Miss: The Coconut Margarita is dangerously delicious

Pro Tip: While the inside is such a serene setting, be sure to consider dining on their outdoor patio or at the end of the dock. Or at least go take a pic on the hammock swings!

Best enjoyed: When you want a side of serenity with your meal

#15 Juniors Patio

What makes Junior’s Patio special: Restaurants in Roatan include a fair share of pizza joints, but Junior’s Patio (named for pizza chef and owner Junior) takes the top spot in our rankings. Junior has taken a piece of land next to a parking lot at Coconut Tree Plaza and turned it into a romantic courtyard and patio where you completely lose track of your surroundings once you enter.

The creative outdoor ambiance is only half the draw. Junior uses only the best ingredients and features a menu of creative pies to satisfy the most discerning of pizza connoisseurs. His thinner crust variety isn’t as heavy as other pizzas and allows the flavors of the sauce and toppings to take center stage. This is gourmet pizza at its best.

Don’t Miss: Add the garlic oil. Need we say more?

Pro-tip: BYOB or any other alcoholic bevvy you might want. They’ll even put it in the fridge for you.

Best enjoyed: After an incredible Roatan night dive. Only Junior’s pizza comes close to topping the sensory overload of the String of Pearls.

Honorable Mentions | Top Restaurants in Roatan

Okay, we just couldn’t help ourselves. There are SO many good restaurants in Roatan, we had to throw a few more of our favorites in at least for an honorable mention.

Mila del Mar at The Beach House: One of the newest entries in the dining scene in the recently renovated spectacular Beach House Hotel. Sitting two stories above the beach in Half Moon bay, there isn’t a better sunset view from a restaurant in Roatan. Especially in the summer when the sun sets directly in the middle of the bay. They feature an excellent food menu and creative drink menu – including a weekend sunset happy hour on the dock.

Pura Vida: Another newcomer that will undoubtedly break into the top of the list, this Costa Rican gem sits on Half Moon Bay next to Ginger’s. We can’t decide what is better, the food or the sangria… so get both. Try the Rondon soup or Wrapped Snapper for a true taste of Costa Rica… and don’t forget the Tropical Sangria.

Seawiches Lounge Bar: Roatan’s first lounge bar, Seawiches is located on the main street in front of the beach. You can find a very creative selection for meat and vegan dishes. The menu is clever and the setting is completely unique featuring a house DJ on the weekends to kickup the lounge vibe.

Anthony’s Chicken: Often considered the rival of earlier ranked Creole’s, you will find Anthony’s Chicken has cornered the market on Jerk Chicken style rotisserie. Ask anyone who has spent any time on the island and you will run into a heated debate to whose chicken is better. To us, its just a matter of how much spice do you like. Another plus for Anthony’s Chicken is they are reliably open later in the evenings.

Lily Pond House: No place on the list is quite like Lily Pond. During the day, you could poke your head in and the setting appears dark, but at night it transforms into the most romantic space on the island as far as restaurants in Roatan go. Owners Zak and Luis have created a truly charming and enchanting atmosphere to enjoy some one-on-one time with your partner.

See, we’re really experts in the two things that matter most on vacation: diving and eating. Now that we’ve planned the restaurants in Roatan you’re going to try, let us know how else we can help with the rest of  your trip planning!

How to Pack A Dive Bag

How to Pack A Dive Bag

When packing a dive bag for travel, the ‘stuff & smash’ strategy just isn’t going to work well. Dive gear is not an investment for the faint of heart, and many times we develop a weird emotional connection with our kits. Still rocking those vintage teal Tusa fins handed down to you when you first got certified – we see you!

Here are some tips to help you pack your dive bag like a pro and make sure your precious kit is well-protected in transit.

Want make sure you don’t forget anything?

First, what NOT to pack

There are 3 things that you can likely spare yourself from packing that will save you on both space and weight:

  1. Weights – these are absolutely not necessary when packing your dive bag and will only put you at risk for arriving at the airport overweight. The dive shop you’re diving with or renting tanks from should be able to provide these. And don’t worry, they will have weights in various sizes to help you configure your weight distribution exactly how you like it.
  2. Snorkel – check with the local guidelines to see if snorkels are recommended or required for any reason. The answer is likely that they are not, so bringing these comes down to personal preference.
  3. Gloves – most dive destinations, unless they’re colder water, do not allow gloves unless it’s for medical purposes. So check local guidelines and ditch the gloves if not necessary.

Choosing your dive bag

Is a legit travel dive bag necessary? NO. Will it make you look cooler? Okay, maybe. But travel dive bags are by no means necessary. They’re just convenient. Especially if your dive bag is the same brand as your gear – since they’re made specifically to the dimensions of your equipment. Many dive bags come with cool features like fin compartments, roller wheels and back pack systems for when you need to grab that gear and book it to your gate.

If you don’t want to spend the extra cash on a travel bag, no sweat. Any old suitcase will do. Just find one that’s slighty larger than your BCD, so that it fits snugly with your fins, but you have some additional space for the rest of your gear, accessories and even clothes.

5 Steps to Pack Your Dive Bag

  1. BCD Goes First: place in the bag with the back facing down. The backside will provide structure and protection. Make sure the inflator hose is tucked in and not getting smooshed underneath the backside. You can spread the BCD open a bit to allow you to place your other items inside it.
  2. Fins for Structure: Next, place your fins vertically on either side of the BCD. This creates a rigid frame for you to pack within. If you have dive booties, you can usually place these inside the foot of your fin.
  3. Pack Your Regulator with Care: Next you can place your regulator on top of the BCD. This should be in its regulator bag. Don’t have a regulator bag? This is one piece of protective travel gear we would recommend. But, you can also wrap it in a towel for added protection. If you want to be super safe, then carry on your regulator.
  4. Get the Accessories In: At this point there will likely be some extra space where you can secure your accessories, while also adding a bumper to prevent your BCD from moving around. Use this space for your mask, SMB and reel, save-a-dive-kit and whatever else fits. For delicate items like a mask or camera housing, be sure to put in protective casings, bubble wrap or wrap in clothes/towels for added cushion.
  5. Top off with the Wetsuit: Finally, lay your wetsuit on top. Try to minimize the number of times you fold your wetsuit so that you don’t create creases in it.

Additional Tips

Most suitcases and dive travel bags will have additional compartments for any other items you might bring like chargers, dive logbooks, reef-safe sunscreen, etc. High value items like your cameras and dive computers are best kept in a carry on with you.

And it’s always good to give your bag a weight before you get to the airport. You can get a luggage scale online for cheap or if you want to go the free route: step on a regular scale holding your bag close to you, and then subtract your weight from the total to get the weight of your suitcase.

Now that you’ve got the packing process down, it’s time to decide where to go! Thinking about Roatan? Here’s the lowdown on diving here and why it’s considered world class.

And if you’re looking to add to your personal dive gear, we’re a certified ScubaPro dealer that always offers great deals and direct shipping.

If our tips on how to pack a dive bag were helpful, follow us on Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok for more great dive travel hacks!





Sun Divers Charity Golf Tournament Shatters Fundraising Goal for SOL

Sun Divers Charity Golf Tournament Shatters Fundraising Goal for SOL

The 6th Annual Sun Divers Charity Golf Tournament started in the way no golf tournament should start: with a downpour. But the clouds parted and skies cleared, making it an exceptionally beautiful day for golf. And nonetheless, Team Sun Divers managed to still “make it rain” in the best way for the SOL International Foundation.

The tournament, held on October 23, 2022, raised a whopping $14,500 in the form of event registrations,
sponsorships, individual donations, and a the ‘Chip’ in For Charity hole contest put on by Destileria La Zona.

Additionally, Sun Divers dive equipment partner Scubapro made an in-kind donation valuing $1,000 in scuba kits for the kids of SOL. This brought Sun Divers entry into the Golden Buoy Competition to a grand total of $15,500. Not familiar with the Golden Buoy? Learn about this local dive shop competition that benefits SOL.

The money raised supports SOL’s programs such as the Happy Tummies Active Minds breakfast program, organized sports and scholarships.

While SOL and Roatan’s kids were the most important winners of the day, they weren’t the only ones. The tournament featured 10 hole prizes, a first and second place team, along with a “biggest loser” prize for the last place team. Winners were announced at an awards ceremony hosted by Roatan Island Brewing Co.


First Place: Russ Regentz, Sam Burgin, Bo Shomaker, Kirk Herrick

Second Place: Dennis Fehler, Denny Hynes, Rik Gary, David Santa

Last Place: Team “PAR-TEE GRLZ”: Loren Welbourne, Cindy Carter, Melissa Benfield, Elise Piatkowski

First place winners (left to right): Russ Regentz, Sam Burgin, Bo Shomaker, Kirk Herrick

The day also featured breakfast sandwiches courtesy of Sandy Buns Bakery, mimosas and a “first shot” coffee liquor drink courtesy of Destileria La Zona. And photographer Monique Tareé of Roatan Moments Photography, made everyone’s golf games look good!

“We’re overwhelmed by the generosity of our business partners, customers and friends. Everyone’s contribution is going to one of Roatan’s most important non-profit organizations, and will make a real difference in the lives of Roatan’s kids,” Sun Divers Owner and Golf Tournament Coordinator Shannon Shuman said.

“We’re determined to grow this golf tournament into Roatan’s premier event with even more hole experiences and prizes, as well as continuously growing the support for SOL.”

Stay tuned for photos from the event and a save the date for the 2023 event.


Do you know about The Golden Buoy?

Do you know about The Golden Buoy?

Diving is one sport that doesn’t have that “go for the gold” style competition. There’s no World Cup, no Heisman and certainly no Super Bowl.  

But if you come to Roatan in the fall, you might get to witness or partake in a major competition amongst local dive shops called The Golden Buoy Competition.  

The Golden Buoy is a highly coveted award that is bestowed upon the dive shop that can raise the most money for SOL International Foundation. Each participating dive shop creates their own unique fundraising event in support of SOL. And then competition season is culminated with Dive Shop Olympics where teams of five people from each shop compete in outrageous events like a three-legged snorkel race or hot dog eating contest.  

How did the Golden Buoy come about?  

Like all good ideas, the Golden Buoy was concepted over a few drinks at the local Roatan watering hole, Sundowners in 2007. SOL Founders Dave Elmore and Brandon Raab, along with their buddies Mark Flanagan (of Roatan Island Brew Co.), Mal Forrest (formerly of Sun Divers)  and Nick Taruscio came up with the idea as a way to creatively engage the community in supporting SOL, while raising the profile of the organization and the positive impact they were making in the community.  

Five shops competed the first year through raffles, auctions, scavenger hunts and the ever-creative three-legged pub crawl. “As the years went by, the events became more and more imaginative, and the event took on a life of its own,” Dave said. “We found that it was the one thing that seemed to bring all the different dive shops together, working toward a single goal of raising money for the kids in the community.”  

Tell me more about these events! 

Some of the more memorable (and comical) events have been belly flop competitions, the pub crawls and poker runs.  

“The best thing about the Golden Buoy is that it brings the community together for a great cause,” SOL International Foundation Treasurer and Owner of Roatan Island Brew Co. Joanie Flanagan said.  

Dive Shops host fundraising events that run the gamut, from cornhole competitions to family carnivals. We can’t wait to see what this year had in store for our community.

Sun Divers will continue our tradition of hosting the island’s premier golf tournament. Our 7th Annual Charity Golf Tournament will take place on September 9 at the Black Pearl Golf Resort at Pristine Bay. We have space for twice as many players this year, which means we can raise even more money for the amazing work that the SOL International Foundation does for our island community. Check out the event & registration details!

And tournament sponsors are a major way that we raise our charitable funds, so if you have a company or brand that you’re looking to elevate your profile in the Roatan community, be sure to look into becoming a sponsor.

Is there an actual Golden Buoy? 

The Golden Buoy featuring the names and dates of all the Roatan dive shops that have won it. While the Golden Buoy competition is really done in the name of Roatan’s kids, no competition is complete without a coveted grand prize. There must be a symbol of triumph and a source of motivation for future competitions. For dive shops in Roatan, that golden glory comes in the form of shiny, gold buoy that the winning dive center gets to display proudly in their dive shop.  

The Golden Buoy was designed and painted by local artist Bella Willshire. Last year, the Golden Buoy was given a facelift so that it could shine bright when it was brought to hang back up at Sun Divers for yet another year. 

Previous winners of the Golden Buoy include Native Sons, West End Divers, Coconut Tree Divers, Reef Gliders, and Sun Divers where the prized possession currently hangs.  

Help Sun Divers keep the Golden Buoy!  

While the golf tournament is SOLD OUT, you can still support the SOL foundation and help us keep the Golden Buoy hanging in her rightful place, by donating directly to the SOL Foundation here. Be sure to add “Sun Divers” in the notes section and send us a screen shot to +504-9585-2113 or [email protected] so we can add it to our fundraising tally! 

How are the funds raised used? 

There have been at least 13 Golden Buoy competitions and well over $100,000 raised in support of the SOL International Foundation. Last year, Sun Divers was able to raise a whopping $15,500.  These funds go to support SOL academic scholarships – of which they currently have 40 students ranging from kindergarten to med school. They also operate a community center that serves breakfast to local kids and offers a wide range of learning opportunities, as well as Little League and several other sports programs that hundreds of local kids participate in. All these initiatives are providing local kids with a good education, positive extracurricular activities and proper nutrition – building blocks to nurturing healthy, successful adults and community members.  

To learn more about SOL International Foundation, visit their website. And stay tuned for the results of the 2023 Golden Buoy Competition!  

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