The warm temperature and heavy rainfall during some seasons support a wide variety of plant life and eco-systems.
Guanaja was named by Christopher Columbus as the “Island of Pines” after the abundant pine forests found on the islands. The islands also boast tropical forest areas, which are home to a wide range of tropical species including fruit trees such as hog plum, nance and strangler fig. Bromeliads, ferns, orchids, bamboo, and palms are also common sights.
Mangrove forests are found throughout the islands and play an important role in protecting the coastal areas from storm and hurricane damage. Mangroves are also important breeding grounds for the diverse marine life; red, black, white and buttonwood are the four common species found.
A variety of plants fringe the islands tropical beaches. Coconut palms symbolize Caribbean beaches, as they do the Bay Islands. Coco plums, sea grapes, almond trees and a variety of vines and bright flowering plants add to the color of the island’s Caribbean beaches.
About twelve mammal species inhabit the islands. A third of these are bat species, additionally Agoutis, two varieties of rats, possum and white-tailed deer, which now are very rare, are found. Historical reports state that manatee and monk seals where also found in the area but now are extinct.
About 40 reptile species are found on the islands including endangered species of sea turtles such as the hawksbill. Six species of frogs are found, 15 lizard species and 13 snake species, the only poisonous species being the coral snake.
You will find approximately 120 species of birds on Roatan, of these only about 40 species actually live and nest on the Islands, the rest are migratory. The yellow-nape parrot is one of the more famous resident species as it is listed as an endangered species in Honduras, additionally several species of hummingbirds, golden-fronted woodpeckers, osprey, and the great-tailed grackle are regularly seen.
Of the migratory bird’s warblers, vireos, tanagers are the most common along with a variety of Caribbean sea birds such as the white ibis, brown pelican, frigate bird and the roseate tern.
Roatan’s fringing coral reef is still one of the most beautiful and unique in the world, and at just a short swim from the shore, easily accessible. There are over 200 dive sites on Roatan, all a short boat ride away, and they are all different. There are many very shallow snorkeling areas and the coral reef is perfect for everyone, as the top is about 40ft. This reef structure allows snorkelers and novice divers to glide along in shallow water, while the more advanced are down below, all visible to each other because of the island’s crystalline waters. With deep drop-offs, caverns, swim throughs, canyons and an abundance of marine life, Roatan offers something for everyone. The West End is on the leeward side of the island, so the water is always calm.