Learn To Dive In Roatan: Scuba Diving Roatan Companies, Prices & What To Expect

Thinking you may want to learn to dive in Roatan during your visit! Well, I was in the exact same position as you so I walked the streets talking to the different Scuba Diving Roatan companies, did a discover dive, got my PADI Open Water, and now I am here to tell you all you need to know. From prices, what to expect, Roatan or Utila, and more!


If you are wanting a tropical paradise with crystal clear water, colorful coral reefs, and diverse marine life, look no further than Roatan. This island off the coast of Honduras absolutely stole my heart during my visit, and in part of that is my experience scuba diving in Roatan.

Here you can find some of the best dive sites in the Caribbean, with over 100. Discover everything from shallow reefs to deep walls, from wrecks to caves, and from macro life to pelagic life.

I didn’t actually go to Roatan with the plan to learn how to scuba dive. Instead, this is somewhere my partner’s family grew up and we wanted to discover why exactly they fell in love with this place and decided to start a dive shop there.

Unfortunately, they are no longer there due to a particularly bad hurricane, though there are still a crazy number of dive shops around where you can learn to dive in Roatan.

After wandering past countless dive shops during our stay, and being someone who loves snorkeling and being in the water, I decided to bite the bullet and learn to scuba dive in Roatan.

Though as I am someone with anxiety problems I wasn’t sure how this would affect me diving. Therefore I decided to book a Discover diving session. Of course, this went great, I spent the evening canceling my further travels down Central America, extended my time on the island, and booked in my PADI Open Water in Roatan.

Now, this wasn’t as simple as I am making everything sound. As this was a real on-the-whim decision there were a lot of logistics to figure out, such as finding somewhere that would take a last-minute booking!

Though I am here to allow you to learn from my mistakes, give you some awesome pointers, and set expectations.

In this guide for those wanting to learn to dive in Roatan, I will let you know whether it is worth doing, whether to dive on Roatan or Utila, scuba diving companies on Roatan, what to expect doing a discover dive, and doing your open water, as well as so much more!


Learn To Scuba Dive In Roatan: My Scuba Diving Roatan Experience As An Open Water Student

diving inside our first cave in roatan called blue cave, albeit a small one, it still counts
diving inside our first cave in roatan called blue cave, albeit a small one, it still counts

Why Learn To Dive In Roatan

Roatan has a stunning coral reef that surrounds the island and forms part of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System. This is actually the second largest in the world after the Great Barrier Reef.

It is home to over 500 species of fish, 65 species of coral, and countless other creatures like turtles, rays, sharks, dolphins, and whales.

On Roatan, you have a variety of dive sites to suit all levels of experience and interest. Whether you want to see colorful coral gardens, swim through caverns and tunnels, visit sunken shipwrecks, or encounter large pelagic animals.

Some of the most popular dive sites include West End Wall, Mary’s Place, El Aguila Wreck, Dolphin Den, and Cara a Cara (Face to Face) where you can get up close and personal with Caribbean reef sharks.

For those on a budget, Roatan has a relatively low cost of living, especially compared to a lot of Western countries. You can find affordable accommodation, food, and transportation on the island.

On top of this, you can also find professional and friendly dive operators who will make your diving experience safe and enjoyable. There are also plenty of other things to do in Roatan so your dry days are also full of adventure.

Roatan has a warm and welcoming culture that will make you feel at home. The people of Roatan are mostly descendants of indigenous groups, European settlers, and African slaves who have created a unique and diverse society. They speak English, Spanish, and Creole, and they are known for their hospitality, generosity, and sense of humor.

You will have no trouble making friends and learning about their history and traditions on Roatan. Also, even though Roatan isn’t a super popular island for backpackers you will find plenty of young expats working in the dive centers here.

throwing a peace sign while waiting for the other divers to descend // exiting a small cave in roatan
throwing a peace sign while waiting for the other divers to descend // exiting a small cave in roatan
these small fish were absolutely everywhere around the dive sites in roatan
these small fish were absolutely everywhere around the dive sites in roatan

Roatan Or Utila For Scuba Diving

Roatan and Utila are both part of the Bay Islands in Honduras and offer excellent diving opportunities. However, they have some differences that may appeal to different types of divers.

You should know that Roatan has more fish diversity and abundance, while Utila has more coral diversity and health. Both islands have a chance to see sharks, rays, turtles, and dolphins, but Utila is more famous for whale sharks, although they are not guaranteed.

Roatan has more dive sites and a wider range of environments, such as walls, wrecks, caves, and swim-throughs. Utila has fewer dive sites but still offers some interesting features, such as caverns and pinnacles.

One thing to note is that Roatan has more dive centers and resorts that cater to different budgets and preferences, from luxury to backpackers. Utila has fewer dive centers and most of them are focused on budget travelers and backpackers who want to get certified or do fun dives.

You will definitely find a more budget-friendly backpacker vibe on the island of Utila. If you are a solo traveler looking to make friends while you learn to dive Utila is the best option for you.

Lastly, Roatan is larger and more developed than Utila, with more infrastructure, amenities, and activities. It also has more diversity in terms of culture, cuisine, and nightlife. Utila is smaller and more laid-back, with a bohemian and hippie vibe. It has fewer options for entertainment and dining, but more opportunities for nature exploration and relaxation.

So, depending on what you are looking for in your diving vacation, you may prefer one island over the other. In general, Roatan may be better for divers who want more variety, comfort, and convenience, while Utila may be better for divers who want more adventure, simplicity, and authenticity.

an incredible barrel sponge sticking out of the side of the reef, these are a highlight when you learn to dive in roatan
an incredible barrel sponge sticking out of the side of the reef, these are a highlight when you learn to dive in roatan

PADI Or SSI

PADI and SSI are two of the most popular and widely recognized scuba diving certification agencies in the world. They both offer courses for beginners to professionals, and they both follow the standards set by the World Recreational Scuba Training Council (WRSTC).

Depending on the dive store you visit will affect which one they offer. For example, I did my PADI Open Water in Roatan and then did my SSI Advanced Adventurer Program in Koh Tao.

You can swap and change organizations through your diving journey as both organizations’ programs overlap each other with the certifications and skills. However, there are some differences between PADI and SSI that may influence your choice of which one to choose. Here are some of them:

PADI requires you to buy training materials (such as manuals, DVDs, and e-learning) for each course, while SSI allows you to borrow or buy them from the dive center.

PADI also includes a Personal Identification Card (PIC) with each material, which is used to register your certification online. SSI does not have PICs, but you can still register your certification through the SSI app.

The teaching methods PADI uses are more rigid and standardized, which means you have to follow the same sequence of skills and theory for each course. SSI allows more flexibility and adaptation for the instructor and the student, which means you can learn at your own pace and complete other skills first before moving on to the next ones.

Both PADI and SSI offer e-learning options for some of their courses, which allow you to complete the theory part online before doing the practical part with an instructor. However, PADI charges a fee for each e-learning course, while SSI offers them for free via the SSI app.

PADI charges a certification fee for each course, which is usually included in the price of the course. SSI does not charge a certification fee, but you may have to pay for the training materials or rental equipment.

Lastly, both PADI and SSI certifications are recognized worldwide and accepted by most dive centers and resorts. However, PADI has a larger network of dive centers and instructors than SSI, which means you may have more options and availability to choose from when looking for a course or a dive site.

Honestly, I would recommend finding a diving school where you are comfortable learning to dive in Roatan rather than worrying about PADI or SSI. You want to ensure they have qualified teachers who you feel safe with, decent equipment, and a good boat to take you around the dive sites.

a stream of fish following divers alongside the reef wall in roatan
a stream of fish following divers alongside the reef wall in roatan

Prerequisites To Learn To Dive In Roatan

The PADI Open Water Diver course is the first scuba certification level that teaches you the basic skills and knowledge to dive safely and independently. To enroll in the course, you need to meet the following prerequisites:

  • Be at least 10 years old (12 years old for some dive sites and regions)
  • Be medically fit for diving (complete a medical questionnaire or get a doctor’s approval)
  • Be able to swim 200 meters (or 300 meters with mask, fins, and snorkel) and float for 10 minutes
  • Complete the knowledge development section online or offline
  • Complete the confined water training and open water dives with a PADI instructor

Overall as long as you are comfortable in the water and with no health concerns you should be able to complete it.

One thing to be aware of if you are someone who suffers from anxiety like I do, it can be hard to know how your body will respond the first time you go under, as it’s not something that comes naturally. You just need to breathe, put your trust in the equipment and your instructor, and just take it slow.

If you do have any concerns about health conditions it is recommended you talk to your doctor.

some more unique corals of various shows and colors, a highlight when you learn to dive in roatan
some more unique corals of various shows and colors, a highlight when you learn to dive in roatan

Price Of Scuba Diving Courses In Roatan

Assuming you are just beginning your journey of scuba diving in Roatan you will be looking at the basic level of courses on offer by the organizations here. I will go into more depth into each one a bit further down, though for now here is what you need to know:

Discover Scuba Diving: This is a one-day introductory course for beginners who want to try scuba diving for the first time. You will learn some basic theory and skills in a pool or shallow water and then do one open-water dive with an instructor.

The average price for this course is $110 USD, which includes equipment rental and certification fees.

Scuba Diver: This is a two-day course for beginners who want to get a limited certification that allows them to dive up to 12 meters (40 feet) with a professional guide. You will complete three theory sessions, three pool sessions, and two open-water dives.

The average price for this course is $270, which includes equipment rental, logbook, and certification fee.

Open Water Diver: This is a three-day course for beginners who want to get a full certification that allows them to dive up to 18 meters (60 feet) with a buddy. You will complete five theory sessions, five pool sessions, and four open-water dives.

The average price for this course is $380, which includes equipment rental, logbook, and certification fee. You can also opt for an e-learning option, which allows you to complete the theory part online before doing the practical part with an instructor. The average price for this option is $280, but you have to pay PADI directly for the online course.

If you decide to do some fun dives with the same dive shop you did your certification with they will often give you discounts for equipment hire etc.

As you can see, there is a wide range of scuba diving courses in Roatan that suit different levels of experience and interest. The prices are also reasonable compared to other diving destinations. However, these are only average prices and they may vary depending on the dive center you choose, the season you visit, and other factors. Though I will do a full rundown on the best scuba diving in Roatan companies a bit further below with all the information you need to know about them.

our dive schedule for the week // hanging out with some of the other divers at sun divers in roatan
our dive schedule for the week // hanging out with some of the other divers at sun divers in roatan
a fish hiding underneath a large piece of coral on the reef in roatan
a fish hiding underneath a large piece of coral on the reef in roatan

Best Dive Shops In Roatan To Learn To Dive

Now you know a little bit of the basics of learning to dive, let’s get into the best dive shops in Roatan. These aren’t in any order, though they are the best-rated on offer and offer SSI or PADI dive courses.


Sun Divers Roatan

Location

Half Moon Bay, West End

Courses offered

Sun Divers offers a variety of PADI courses from Discover Scuba Diving to Divemaster, as well as specialty courses such as Nitrox, Deep, Wreck, and Underwater Photography. In terms of beginner courses, they offer Discover Scuba Diving, Open Water 1, Scuba Diver, and Open Water.

About their Open water course

  • Sun Divers is a top rated 5 star PADI Dive Center
  • The Open water courses cost $380.00
  • The duration of the Open water course is 3 to 4 days
  • Small to medium classes 4-6 students per instructor
  • They Also Offer Open Water 1 which costs $135.00 and will credit the price of the open water course if you continue learning with them
  • Accommodation – They work with the neighboring Beach House Hotel to offer packages. Though this would be out of the price range for many backpackers, if you can afford it and want a little bit of luxury go for it.
  • They dive all sites during the course depending on conditions.
  • Excellent Subapro equipment including integrated BCDs

Facilities

  • Step onto the beach out of the dive center
  • Dive skills are done in shallow waters
  • Air-conditioned classrooms
  • Next to the popular Sundowners bar

Sun Divers has been operating for over 25 years and has a team of experienced and knowledgeable instructors and divemasters who will make your diving experience unforgettable. They dive a couple of different comfortable dive boat that can accommodate up to 12 divers and takes you to some of the best dive sites in Roatan in just minutes.

Once you visit you will quickly become one of their loyal customers that keep coming back year after year. They are also passionate about diving and conservation and support the Roatan Marine Park and other local initiatives.

This is actually who I decided to learn to scuba dive in Roatan with and I had the most incredible time. From the instructors, the boat captains, and the owners, everyone here is so lovely and made us feel welcome as soon as we walked through the door. They also will relocate their boat around to the other side of the island in case of bad weather you can continue diving in a more sheltered spot.

coming back from our first dive and grabbing our gear at sun divers
coming back from our first dive and grabbing our gear at sun divers


Roatan Divers

Location

Half Moon Bay, West End

Courses offered

You will find that Roatan Divers offers an assortment of PADI courses from Discover Scuba Diving to Rescue Diver, as well as specialty courses such as Nitrox, Deep, Wreck, Sidemount, and Underwater Photography. Though the beginner courses they offer are Discover Suba Diving, Scuba Diver, and Open Water.

About their Open water course

  • Roatan Divers is a more luxe diving operation in which instructors can teach in English, Spanish, German, Dutch, French, Portuguese, and Swiss German.
  • The Open water courses cost $450.00 which include e-learning so you don’t need to study in paradise
  • The duration of the Open water course is 3 to 4 days
  • Small to medium classes 4-6 students per instructor
  • Accommodation – They can assist in helping you find accommodation, though they don’t seem to offer dive and stay packages. Nevertheless located in Half Moon Bay you will have plenty of choice as to where to stay.
  • They dive all sites during the course depending on conditions.
  • They use new Mares equipment and can hire dive computers for $10 per day

Facilities

  • Have a pier right in front of the dive center where you can jump on the boat
  • Dive skills are done in shallow waters
  • Air-conditioned classrooms with flat-screen televisions
  • Complimentary water, coffee, tea, hot chocolate, and iced tea

Roatan Divers is an award-winning dive operator based in West End, Roatan. As a boutique operation, they cater to small groups and focus on personal attention, comfort, safety, and environmental responsibility.


Coconut Tree Divers

Location

Half Moon Bay, West End

Courses offered

Coconut Tree Divers offer a variety of diving certifications, from your standard open water all the way through to your dive master. It is the only dive center on the island that has PADI Instructor courses, Technical diving, Sidemount diving, Rebreather support, and Divemaster internships all in one place.

About their Open water course

  • I did find Coconut Tree Divers had the youngest divers that I met on the island. As Roatan isn’t super popular with backpackers, there did seem to be quite a few budget travelers studying here
  • The Open water courses cost $370.00 which include e-learning so you don’t need to study in paradise
  • The duration of the Open water course is 3 to 4 days
  • Accommodation – N/A Though located in Half Moon Bay you will find plenty of options around, I recommend Chilies for a budget-friendly stay
  • They dive all sites during the course depending on conditions.
  • Nice big deck out front where you can hang with your new friends and watch the sunset

Facilities

  • Have a pier right in front of the dive center where you can jump on the boat
  • Dive skills are done in the shallow waters
  • Large and spacious classrooms
  • Complimentary water

Coconut Tree Divers is a PADI 5-Star Instructor Development Center that has a friendly and professional staff of multilingual instructors and captains, who will guide you through the amazing dive sites of Roatan’s reef system.

Coconut Tree Divers has a convenient location within walking distance from most accommodations and restaurants in West End. They also have a large, covered open-air deck overlooking the beautiful bay, where you can relax and enjoy complimentary beverages and Wi-Fi.

There are two dive boats that leave four times a day for different dive sites, including night dives on Tuesdays and Thursdays.


Clear Water Adventures

Location

West Bay

Courses offered

Clear Water Adventures offers both SSI and PADI courses all the way from your basic discover diving and open water through to dive master.

About their Open water course

  • Can either do SSI or PADI Open Water
  • The Open water courses cost $395.00 including e-learning
  • The duration of the Open water course is 3 to 4 days
  • Small to medium classes 4-6 students per instructor
  • Accommodation – N/A but you will find plenty of options in West Bay
  • They dive all sites during the course depending on conditions, though they are just minutes away from Roatan Marine Park.

Facilities

  • Have their own pier with hammocks at the end
  • Dive skills are done in shallow waters

Clear Water Adventures is a great alternative if you are staying in West Bay rather than Half Moon Bay. If you are looking for a personalized, relaxed, and enjoyable underwater island experience, you should check them out

Clearwater Adventures offers a variety of scuba diving and snorkeling tours tailored to your specific needs and preferences. You can learn from their excellent instructors and explore the fascinating underwater world in a safe, educational, and exciting way.


Discover Diving Or Open Water Course

Okay, now you know a little bit more of the basics let’s get into the difference between the majority of beginner scuba diving courses and what they mean once you are qualified.

Discover Scuba Diving (DSD): This program is a short try-diving experience that introduces you to the basics of scuba diving without certifying you as a diver.

You will learn how to use basic scuba gear and practice some simple skills in confined water, then enjoy an open water dive with an instructor. A DSD program is ideal for those who want to try scuba diving for the first time, but don’t have much time or commitment.

A DSD program usually takes one day and allows you to dive up to 12 meters/40 feet.

Scuba Diver (SDC): is a subset of the Open Water Course that introduces you to the basics of scuba diving without certifying you as an independent diver.

You will learn how to use basic scuba gear and practice some simple skills in confined water, then enjoy two open water dives with an instructor. A SDC is ideal for those who don’t have much time or commitment, or who only want to dive with a professional.

An SDC usually takes two days and allows you to dive up to 12 meters/40 feet under the direct supervision of an instructor.

Open Water 1 (OW1): This is somewhere between DSD and the OWC for those who may want to become an open water diver, but want to try dive first before committing to a multi-day course.

Be aware that not all dive shops offer this, though Sun Divers in Half Moon Bay does. You will learn how to set up your own gear, and some of the basic skills. You can also put the cost towards completing your OWC.

Open Water (OWC): This is the first level of scuba diving certification that allows you to dive independently with a buddy up to 18 meters/60 feet anywhere in the world.

You will learn more about scuba diving theory, equipment, safety, and skills in knowledge development sessions, confined water dives, and open water dives. An OWC is suitable for those who want to become certified divers and enjoy more freedom and depth.

An OWC usually takes three to four days and involves five confined water dives and four open water dives.

diving over the incredible reef around roatan no doubt that learning to dive in roatan will be a highlight of your trip
diving over the incredible reef around roatan no doubt that learning to dive in roatan will be a highlight of your trip

The Theory Side Of Learning To Dive In Roatan

The theory learning for your PADI open water course is an essential part of becoming a safe and confident diver. It covers everything you need to know about basic techniques, terminology, and safety procedures in scuba diving.

You will learn about dive physics, physiology, equipment, decompression theory, and dive planning

Dive physics: You will learn about the effects of pressure, buoyancy, density, temperature, and sound on diving. You will also learn how to use some basic formulas and calculations to plan your dives safely.

Dive physiology: You will learn about the human body and how it adapts to the underwater environment. You will also learn how to prevent and manage common diving problems such as barotrauma, decompression sickness, nitrogen narcosis, and oxygen toxicity.

Dive equipment: You will learn about the different types of scuba gear and how they work. You will also learn how to choose, maintain and troubleshoot your equipment.

Decompression theory: You will learn about the concept of no-decompression limits and how to use dive tables or computers to plan your dives within these limits. You will also learn about the factors that affect your decompression status and how to avoid or treat decompression sickness.

Dive planning: You will learn how to plan your dives according to your objectives, conditions, abilities, and limitations.

You can complete the theory learning online using PADI’s eLearning system, which allows you to study at your own pace and convenience. You will have access to interactive presentations, videos, and quizzes that will test your knowledge and prepare you for the final exam.

Alternatively, you can choose to study with a manual in a classroom setting which is the more affordable option. The theory learning usually takes about 10 hours to complete, and there are tests to make sure you have actually done the reading.

checking off our homework in the air conditioned class room // a map showing some of the dive sites around roatan
checking off our homework in the air conditioned class room // a map showing some of the dive sites around roatan

The Practical Side Of Learning To Dive In Roatan

The practical learning for your PADI open water course is an important part of becoming a competent and confident diver. It consists of two parts: confined water training and open water training.

Confined water training is where you learn and practice basic scuba skills in a pool or shallow water with pool-like conditions.

You will learn how to assemble and use your scuba gear, how to control your buoyancy, how to breathe and move underwater, how to perform safety checks and procedures, and how to deal with common problems. You will also do some practice “mini dives” to prepare you for the open water dives.

Open water training is where you apply and demonstrate your skills in the ocean with your instructor.

You will make four dives over two days, each lasting about 40 minutes. You will perform various skills underwater and on the surface, such as clearing your mask, recovering your regulator, sharing air with a buddy, and ascending safely. You will also get to explore the underwater environment and see the marine life.

diving alongside the wall at flowers bay wall in roatan
diving alongside the wall at flowers bay wall in roatan

Best Season For Diving In Roatan

The best time of year to go scuba diving in Roatan depends on your preferences and priorities. Generally, the dry season runs from March to September, and the wet season runs from October to February.

The dry season has less rain, better visibility, and calmer seas, but it can also be hotter and more crowded.

The wet season has more rain, lower visibility, and rougher seas, but it can also be cooler and less crowded. Some divers prefer the wet season because it brings more plankton and nutrients to the water, which attracts more marine life.

The peak season for tourism in Roatan is from December to March when the weather is cooler and drier. This is also when the prices are higher and the dive sites are busier. The low season for tourism is from September to November when the weather is hotter and wetter. This is also when the prices are lower and the dive sites are quieter.

Some divers recommend September as the best month to dive in Roatan, because it is after the school holidays but before the rainy season. The weather is still hot and dry, but the crowds are gone. Another good time to dive in Roatan is from February to June, when the dry season is in full swing and the water temperature is warm.

some of the impressive sponges and barrel corals on the reef in roatan
some of the impressive sponges and barrel corals on the reef in roatan

What To See Diving In Roatan

Scuba diving in Roatan is a wonderful way to experience the beauty and diversity of the underwater world. Roatan is surrounded by the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, the second-largest coral reef system in the world, which hosts a variety of marine life.

When scuba diving in Roatan, you can see many different types of fish, such as angelfish, parrotfish, butterflyfish, groupers, and more. You can also see turtles, rays, eels, lobsters, and colorful corals. If you are lucky, you might even spot sharks, dolphins, or whale sharks.

Some of the best dive sites in Roatan include:

Hole in the Wall: a series of holes and swim-throughs carved into the rock, with a deep cavern that ends at 130 feet (39 meters).

Cara a Cara: a shark encounter site where you can get close to Caribbean reef sharks at 70 feet (21 meters).

Mary’s Place: a deep crevice formed by volcanic activity, with vertical walls covered in corals and sponges, and abundant marine life.

El Aguila Wreck: a 250-foot (76-meter) long cargo ship that was intentionally sunk in 1997 and now hosts a variety of fish and critters.

West End Wall: a spectacular wall dive that drops from 30 feet (9 meters) to over 100 feet (30 meters), with coral formations, sponges, and sea fans.

Be aware that some of these dive sites require you to have your advanced certification. Though as an open water diver, I still had a fantastic time learning to dive in Roatan, as well as doing a few fun dives afterward as well.

the deep colors looking back up at the surface from a drift dive along a reef wall in roatan
the deep colors looking back up at the surface from a drift dive along a reef wall in roatan
a cheeky little parrot fish coming to say hello while diving in roatan
a cheeky little parrot fish coming to say hello while diving in roatan

My Experience Learning To Dive In Roatan

No doubt the time I spent learning to dive in Roatan was one of the highlights of my Central America trip. So, let me tell you all about my experience!


Deciding On A Course And Shop

Now after spending a few days in Roatan walking past endless dive shops, watching people lug their gear around, and watching the students practice in the shallows around Half Moon Bay, I was finally convinced.

Honestly, learning how to scuba dive wasn’t something that had crossed my mind before. Plus I only had 1 spare day in Roatan before continuing my travels through Central America.

After a bit of research I found doing a Discover scuba diving session would be best for me as I was short on time and that way I could figure out if it is something I enjoy before signing up for a course.

That afternoon I wander down the main road, stopping in at the numerous dive stores, all of which are unfortunately booked out for the following day.

Walking back to our accommodation a little bit defeated, we decided to check with one place who gave us the best vibes and when would be the next date they could fit us in. Speaking with Val here they had space the day after tomorrow, so we booked it in and cancelled any plans we had made for the rest of our trip.

We ended up deciding to do an Open Water 1 course, which is only $25 more expensive than the Discover scuba diver course and if you decide to continue your studies the money you have paid will be deducted from the full open water course price. There are a few extra skills you will learn, though we were excited just to take the next step.

diving alongside the top of a reef at blue cave dive site
diving alongside the top of a reef at blue cave dive site

Open Water 1 Course

In a couple of days’ time, we roll up to Sun DIvers not entirely sure what to expect. Though are met by our instructor Nick who was absolutely lovely. He helped us get suited, finding appropriately sized fins, BCD, and a rashie to provide a little extra warmth, though the sea here is a comfortable 28 degrees Celsius.

Since we are doing our Open Water 1 course rather than the standard Discovering Scuba Diving there is a few more things we need to learn. The first is setting up the gear and connecting the BCD, tank, and regulator. Honestly, the first time you do this can be a little bit overwhelming as there is a fair bit to remember, though with practice it becomes second nature.

We the head into the shallows to practice some of the more basic skills. This includes hand signals, retrieving your regulator, flooding the mask, and simply just getting comfortable. After a couple hours we break for a lunch break, then head back for the actual diving side of the course.

Though before heading out on the boat it’s time to get up our gear again with a fresh tank. Having to remember what we did prior was a little bit difficult, though with the help of our instructor Nick, we get suited back up and load the gear onto the boat which is waiting in the shallows.

Sun Divers have two boats, though we head out on the one with fellow travelers on the various courses they offer. It is a quick 10-minute drive to our first dive spot called Shallow Sea Quest.

Before jumping in we get told how to flip off the boat and then it’s time to suit up, inflate our bcd a little, and get in. Before descending we meet on the surface and just cover the basics one more time before heading to a buoy to go down the rope.

Honestly, this wasn’t the easiest for me, I descended down about half a meter, then freaked out and ascended to the surface again. After a couple of deep breaths I try again, and this time successfully descend and wait for my partner.

At the bottom, we follow around our instructor who checks in and makes sure we are all okay. It is absolutely incredible being able to see the fish and coral up close, and such a relaxing experience. We are even lucky enough to come across a green turtle! Though for me the most amazing thing about watching the fish look down on you, whereas they would usually be you looking down on them if you were snorkeling.

After ascending with no issues, and getting some great feedback from our instructor we decide to book our Open Water course. Nick has availablility in one in a couple of days’ time, and that will give us the opportunity to do the actual theory side of it.

yes another peace sign but this time i removed my regulator for an unobstructed smile
yes another peace sign but this time i removed my regulator for an unobstructed smile

Studying For Our PADI Open Water

Now we were actually booked in for our PADI open water we had to start studying it. A couple of people we would be joining for the course had done their e-learning back at home. Though Sun Divers provided us with the manual which had the questions we would need to answer in it.

Luckily for this portion, we upgraded our accommodation to somewhere with air conditioning as the next couple of days would be spent indoors studying. We would need to read around 100 pages a day and answer the knowledge checks for each section.

Honestly, this part wasn’t exciting in the slightest. Though if you are thinking of doing the same it is worth deciding if you want to do your e-learning in advance or instead set a few days aside for your reading once you are on holiday.

studying for our padi open water in our hotel room and in restaurants
studying for our padi open water in our hotel room and in restaurants

Completing Our PADI Open Water

In between our study sessions, we also had a confined water dive and 1 open water dive, a day off to study, then a confined water dive, and our final 2 open water dives. The focus of these dives is to practice our skills such as completely removing and replacing our mask underwater, sharing air, communicating with hand signals, emergency ascents, and plenty more.

Dive 1: This was actually the dive we did on the Open Water 1 certification we did to give diving a go. The dive site was Shallow Sea Quest and we were lucky enough to swim with the only turtle we saw in Roatan. During this dive we just completed the basic skills such as hand signal recognition, equipment preparation, donning and adjustment, predive safety check, entry, weight check, controlled descent, trim check, partial mask flood, regulator recovery/clear, Underwater exploration, to signal air supply and ascending,

Dive 2: This was my first dive as a proper Open Water student learning to dive in Roatan. The dive site is called Moonlight and we saw flounder, angelfish, filefish, barracuda, scorpionfish, and spade fish. During the dive, we also practiced cramp removal, snorkel/regulator exchange, emergency weight drop (or in CW), tired diver tow, and removing/replacing scuba gear.

Dive 3: The third dive for my training was completed at a dive site called Puncher’s Paradise. During this one, we saw southern stingrays, trumpetfish, grouper, and triggerfish. We just practiced a couple of skills including DSMB deployment, and a Controlled Emergency Swimming Ascent.

Dive 4: Finally our last dive before becoming a certified Open water diver was at a site called Light House. On this dive, we saw Dog snapper, sailfish blenny, and filefish. The final skill we practiced was navigation including a surface swim with a compass and underwater compass navigation.

Once these were all completed we had a final test, and thankfully we passed! Now I don’t just have land to explore, but under the water as well!

a happy selfie after a diving session // my dive computer after one of our fun dives after completing our open water in roatan
a happy selfie after a diving session // my dive computer after one of our fun dives after completing our open water in roatan
our dive instructor nick from sun divers roatan spearing a lionfish which is an invasive species on the reef here
our dive instructor nick from sun divers roatan spearing a lionfish which is an invasive species on the reef here

Where To Stay In Roatan?

There is excellent luxury accommodation in Roatan, though in all honesty, it doesn’t really fit into my budget. Luckily there are a handful, of budget stays that are worth your money. We actually stayed in three different properties during our nearly 2 weeks in Roatan.

Roatan Backpackers Hostel: Honestly this place was a bit of a miss for us, simply due to the location. The beach area nearby was very average, though they did have a kitchen onsite and a grocery store down the road. There is also a lovely pool you can relax in.

Hotel Chillies: This is an excellent budget choice right on Half Moon Bay. They have an assortment of budget-friendly and more lux rooms, in a beautiful jungle setting. Though in the jungle comes the bugs so just be prepared for that. They also have dorm rooms but these need to be booked directly on their website.

Sea Breeze Inn: Again located in Half Moon Bay, though in a busier area of it, this was our favorite stay in Roatan. Even the budget rooms have air conditioning and after a busy day of diving, this was all we wanted. The property is clean and tidy, and we had proper windows to keep those cheeky bugs out.

shark hostel

Roatan Backpackers Hostel

The only real proper hostel on the island. Rooms start from $14.00 for a dorm and $20.00 for a private.

BOOK NOW
53866125

Hotel Chillies

Across the road from the beach in more of a quiet location. Single and double rooms start at $30.00.

BOOK NOW
328477854

Seabreeze Inn

A lovely affordable hotel in Half Moon Bay. Private rooms here start at $50.00 per night.

BOOK NOW
184233220

West End Dive Resort

A slightly dated resort in a good location. Prices start from $80.00 per night.

BOOK NOW

Other Things To Do In Roatan

Roatan is the perfect place to relax and is surrounded by the most incredible ocean. Therefore you will find a lot of water-based activities here. It also caters to cruise ships so you will find a large assortment of tours available, and if you were like me, may actually have a cruise ship at the port when you arrive.

Before I get into this list I do need to point out that Roatan has A LOT, like HEAPS of animal tourism activities. Personally, I do not support this in the slightest so won’t be mentioning this here. Though if you partake in animal tourism of any sort it is important you book ethical experiences and do your research. I didn’t support any of the activities involving animals on Roatan, whether that was because dolphins were captive, sloths were used as photo props, etc.

Roatan Brewing Co: If you are a beer lover and want to try some local brews in Roatan, you should definitely visit the Roatan Island Brewing Co. This is an artisanal brewery that is located in the lush Palmetto Valley of Roatan. They brew a variety of easy-drinking ales and lagers, many with a tropical twist.

Parasail above the Bay of Roatan: This is an exhilarating activity that lets you fly high above the water and enjoy the stunning views of Roatan. You can parasail solo or tandem with a friend or partner. You can also choose from different heights and durations.

Ride an ATV: This is a fun way to explore the island and see some of the hidden gems. You can ride an ATV through the dirt roads, hills, and beaches of Roatan. You can also stop at some of the attractions along the way, such as the chocolate factory.

Swim at Half Moon Bay Beach: This is a beautiful beach in West End that has clear water, white sand, and a relaxed vibe. You can swim, snorkel, or just enjoy the sun. There are also some restaurants and bars nearby if you get hungry or thirsty.

Eat Baleadas at Calelulus: This is a local grocery store that serves the best baleadas in Roatan. Baleadas are fresh tortillas filled with cheese and beans, and sometimes meat, eggs, or avocado. They are cheap, delicious, and filling.

Roatan Rum Company: This is a great place to come for souvenirs, though no promises they will make it off the island because we consumed ours. This is a specialty store that offers complimentary rum and rum cake treats while overlooking the crystal blue waters of the Caribbean from high atop “Rum Point” at The Rum Runners Bar and Patio. You can visit their gift shop and sample their products, such as the Roatan Infusions, which are handcrafted Caribbean rum infusions with natural fruits and spices. I also recommend trying their original Roatan rum cake, which is moist, delicious, and soaked in rum.


Any Questions? Let me know in the comments!


LIKE IT? PIN IT!

Thinking you may want to learn to dive in Roatan during your visit! Well, I was in the exact same position as you so I walked the streets talking to the different Scuba Diving Roatan companies, did a discover dive, got my PADI Open Water, and now I am here to tell you all you need to know. From prices, what to expect, Roatan or Utila, and more!

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Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. So, if you click on it and purchase something, I get a small percentage at no extra cost to you. As always all opinions are my own and your support is much appreciated.

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