Crime in Honduras is often filling the front pages of newspapers. It is important to distinguish the security on the island and mainland which is very different.
Mainland Honduras is evolving in a very different way to the Islas de la Bahia, an archipelago that includes Roatan. The mainland has very little tourism and expats while the economy of the island depends on these factors.
More people find employment in the tourist industry and maintain a good standard of living the less petty crime there is. Theft is really the only crime affecting the tourists on the island.
The crime is very limited by the size of the actual island. Anything that can be hidden on the mainland is very closely watched on the island. People know each other and a new face is always a point of interest.
Compared to the mainland the island has more police per citizen and the order is maintained by the army too.
We’ve been living on the island for a few years now and we’ve been watching the security situation for our own sake. If you follow the usual security guidelines commonly followed in Europe or anywhere else in the world the holidays on Roatan are completely safe.
Despite the fact the island is a safe touristic destination we recommend following few simple rules:
- don’t carry a large amount of cash,
- consider leaving expensive jewellery and watches at home,
- get full information of your planned trips at the hotel,
- avoid deserted places with few people,
- return to the hotel before dark (not just for your personal safety but also for the traffic).
Safety on road
The traffic on Roatan is very different to what we are used to from North America or Europe. However, if you are an intermediate driver you will manage just fine.
The roads get busy after nightfall. There is very often children and dogs running into the road. Most of the cars on the island have tinted glass which makes it very difficult to see in the dark. Driving in the dark can therefore be quite dangerous on the island.
There is a large number of taxi‘s available on the island. They are all white colour and have an identification number on the side of the vehicle. The taxi drivers stop anywhere and anytime. It’s rare they indicate or warn you in any way. We recommend keeping a safe distance when driving behind a taxi.
We would like to discourage you from driving a motorbike or a scooter. There might be fewer cars on the roads than in South East Asia but the drivers are very fast and impulsive here.
Traffic signs, as well as crossroads and trafficlights, are basically non-existent on the island. You always give way to the vehicle on the main road. When it’s unclear who has the right of way it’s always the bigger or bolder one.
It‘s good to download an offline map from google.com to your phone.
As in any other country in Central America, there is easy access to drugs. However, a regular tourist who is not seeking such will most likely not encounter them at all. If you do encounter drugs we recommend leaving the place immediately and stop any communication with people involved.
The local police are very strict and the punishment is severe in case of drug possession. There is zero tolerance of drugs in Honduras and possession of any amount is strictly forbidden.
You can encounter child crime in some parts of the island. It is usually a petty crime. They can steal your towels, shoes or other small items left unattended on the beach.
Very often you will see children begging. Usually they tell a story of a sick family member and beg for financial help. Sadly it’s very difficult to tell which child really needs your help and which is only sent by parents to take advantage of you.
We don’t buy anything from children and encourage them to beg out of a principal. When the parents see their child getting the money they will send them to the streets begging or selling bracelets instead of school. Children belong in school and on a playground not at work.