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Negril or Roatan?

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Negril or Roatan?

Hi everyone! I am planning the annual January getaway for my husband and me. Right now, it is a toss-up between a smaller hotel (not an AI giant) in Negril and someplace in Roatan (haven't chosen a specific place). We have never been to either place (we have been to Tulum and Punta Cana). I would love advice from you about the choice between Negril and Roatan.

My wish list includes warm days and evenings on a beautiful, white-sand beach with beautiful, turquoise water. We love to kayak, swim, read on the beach, try local food, learn something about where we are, and enjoy a mojito or two. And, I would rather not have to look at cruise ships or jet-skis, if possible.

I appreciate any advice you might give - thanks in advance!

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1. Re: Negril or Roatan?

Beaches? Negril.

Dearth of jet skis and such? Roatan.

Contrived? Negril.

Natural? Roatan.

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Kitchener, Canada
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2. Re: Negril or Roatan?

Ive been to both and they are both nice, depends on what you are looking for.

The beaches are similar, Roatan's West Bay is smaller then Negril's 7 Mile. Roatan is also less commercial, less crowded and doesnt have jetskis, water skiing etc. Even with all the cruisers, Roatan is less crowded then Negril.

There is more local culture in Negril. If you are apt to leave the resort areas and go exploring - Negril can me awesome if you like Jamaican culture, reggae and partying. However, that is Jamaican culture and it isnt for everyone. Honduran culture is more conservative, for example you have the naked end of Negril with Hedonism - that wouldnt fly in Honduras. But if youre looking to have nightlife club style parties every night, Negril has it.

Snorkeling is just OK in Negril and it does require a boat to access the reef area. The beach is semi protected but still has waves even on the calmest wind days.

West Bay has amazing snorkeling and diving. The best part about West Bay is you don't need a boat to get to amazing snorkeling! You can access great reefs within 30 ft of the beach. This is why we came to Roatan in the first place, and even after several trips, we keep returning.

I think the restaurants in West End (and a couple in West bay) are better then what you will find in Negril, but you won't really find 'Honduran' food - unlike Jamaican food.

In Roatan, if you want to explore - you can find semi private beaches (you may be the only one on the beach) - this didnt happen in Jamaica at all - Roatan seems much more natural then Jamaica.

If you have other questions, please ask away!

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3. Re: Negril or Roatan?

I am heading to Roatan this Jan. after several trips to Negril. We usually stay on West End Road - on the rocks, not the beach. There is a lot to like about Negril but we are looking forward to Roatan and making it our new "go to" location.

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Menlo Park...
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4. Re: Negril or Roatan?

part of Negril is a lovely long white beach, and part is rocks. So if you want beach, you would have to be careful where you stayed. Roatan's best beaches compare to Negril's best. But Roatan is surrounded by a fringing reef, which allows for fabulous snorkeling (the best in the Caribbean IMHO) and dampens the waves so that the waves at the beach almost disappear. I dn't think Jamaica has any fringing reef anywhere. So you swim in surf and the snorkeling is hardly close to what Roatan offers. If you aren't into snorkeling yet, that's probably because you haven't been to Roatan.

Both are quite lovely photogenic, with lush mountains and gorgeous vistas. I've never felt safe in Jamaica, compounded by the fact that many places around the Caribbean blame their increased crime rate on jamaican immigration. I hear that repeatedly in Grand Cayman, the BVI, and Anguilla.

Roatan gets mid-week cruise ships, but they anchor on the south side of the island, away from where you would be staying.

I would encourage you to explore both places on Google maps, which gives you a good sense of what places offer turquoise waters. You'll see Roatan surrounded with them.

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5. Re: Negril or Roatan?

Most people I talk to who liked Jamaica never left their gated resort except maybe for a well orchestrated tour. So, they never actually visited the real Jamaica. They may as well have been at DisneyLand. Jamaica is a beautiful island with major problems. The constant hassles on the street get very tiresome.

The last time I was in Jamaica, we spent a week anchored off Negril waiting for a weather window to sail to the Bay Islands. Never went ashore nor had any desire to.

Roatan is also beautiful but you wont find the sharp dividing line, implemented by high fences and security, between tourists and locals there like in Jamaica because it is not necessary. You can feel free to leave your accomodations and roam at will in Roatan. Not recommended in Jamaica.

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Montreal, Canada
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6. Re: Negril or Roatan?

For the record....I did not stay on a resort in Jamaica, I arranged everything myself on the island, from tours, to taxis, restaurants, hotels, etc.....felt every bit as safe as we do on Roatan.....found the people incredibly friendly & the island beautiful.

I have a number of family members and friends who visit Jamaica and keep returning....they also venture out & live to tell the tale.

* I've not been to Negril though, so can't help the OP with that.

Edited: 21 November 2013, 00:11
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7. Re: Negril or Roatan?

Have been visiting Jamaica for over 30 years - there is nothing contrived about Negril for me as I first stepped foot there when there was NOTHING there except a couple of backpacker type hotels. Today's Roatan is way more developed than Negril was at that time.

The vendors in Jamaica can aggressive but usually a simple, firm "no thanks" works.

There is some snorkeling to be found off-shore but you have to know where to find it - the Bloody Bay section of 7 mile beach, Rhodes Hall, Half Moon Beach and Runaway Bay are some examples. Of course it isn't of the same calibre as Roatan but enough to keep hubby and I interested for an hour or two each day. We have seen the usual reef fish, trumpet fish, snake eels, moray eels, stingrays and tons of different kinds of starfish. I have also seen a friend's pics of a seahorse and a flying gunard that he found just off of the Grand Lido Negril c/o beach in Bloody Bay.

Many many peeps go to Jamaica and don't stay on a resort, per se,. They do bed and breakfast and eat at the wonderful local eateries. Hubby and I have never been afraid to venture off on our own as we don't like the group excursions where they herd you like sheep and we are mid-sixties :). Just keep your wits about you like anywhere. I don't understand the perception of many who have never even visited the island that you have to stay on resort. It may be a myth perpetuated by the large, foreign owned hotel chains to encourage folk to book the "canned" tours from the tour desks in their lobbies thus keeping the tourist dollars from spreading to the local economy !!

Having said all that, we went to Roatan for the first time last year and absolutely fell in love with it!

We are off to Jamaica for Xmas but hoping to go back to Roatan next spring. Out of all the places we have travelled , ie many Caribbean Islands, parts of Central America, Hawaii , Bali ,Thailand and others I'm sure I've forgotten, Jamaica and Roatan are absolutely right up there with our favourited places to vacation. I think you would be happy with either but if you choose Negril, depending on where you want to stay, I wouldn't wait too long to book. Some of the smaller , popular places book up months in advance and January from about the middle onwards is getting into high season, . Good luck!

Edited: 21 November 2013, 18:46
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8. Re: Negril or Roatan?

Good list of places Stargreen - no wrong answer! Tulum, Roatan & Negril are our 3 favorite destinations. We've been to Tulum twice, Roatan once and Negril 30+ times. The vibes are different in all 3 places: Negril is a lively small party town, with lots of Jamaican culture on display everywhere. Tulum is sleepy and great for relaxing & peace. Roatan is great for diving/snorkeling.

We've felt quite safe in Negril. The hustlers can be a little annoying, but as said above, a pleasant 'no thanks' is almost always sufficient. We've really enjoyed chatting with Jamaican folks and appreciate their culture and overall zest for life - hence our many vacations there.

Negrin's Long Bay and Bloody Bay beaches are both gorgeous. Long Bay is ~5 miles long and is quite busy and colorful, with many hotels, bars, shops, and vendors. Bloody Bay is ~2 miles long and is dominated by ~5 large AI resorts. It's got very little else - maybe 2 small bars and few vendors.

Both beaches are superb for swimming, kayaking, and other watersports. For snorkeling tho, you need to take a 5-10 min. boat ride (or a kayak paddle) out to the small reefs.

Roatan in comparison has exceptional snorkeling. We stayed at the relaxed, small Paya Bay Resort on the eatern side of th island, so I can't commet on the more touristy western areas.

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9. Re: Negril or Roatan?

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