Cruise Planners of Cedartown - Sheri and Mike Hunter

Sheri and Mike Hunter are the owners and operators of Cruise Planners in Cedartown, a franchise travel business. (Kevin Myrick/SJ)

Roatan is the largest of the Bay Islands, which are a part the Central American country of Honduras.

It is about 30 miles off the coast of the Honduran mainland.

Roatan is known around the world for its scuba diving. The reef surrounding the island attracts numerous and beautiful tropical fish. Dive attractions include sea walls, shipwrecks, a submerged airplane, and night diving. Sea turtles, dolphins, and whales also swim in the waters of Roatan.

Coxen Hole is the largest town on Roatan. It is home of government offices, the airport, the cruise ship dock, and is also one of the less attractive communities of Roatan. French Harbor is the second largest community on Roatan. It has a nice shopping center featuring a restaurant, grocery store, and many other businesses.

Punta Gorda has the largest settlement of Garifuna people on the Bay Islands. The Garifuna have a fascinating culture, preserving their African roots. They beat African drums and still speak the Garifuna language, which is very unusual sounding. West End is one of the main tourist destinations of the island, with dive centers, hotels, restaurants, and tourist shops.

While Roatan has lots to do and see, they have two very unique attractions that, I think, are a must see, especially if you have children or grandchildren.

♦ The first is Arch’s Iguana Farm & Marine Park. This place has over 4,000 iguanas roaming around 12 acres with some up to 4 feet long. For a dollar you can buy a handful of green leaves/sprouts and feed them. I never knew how varied the shapes, sizes, colors, and other physical characteristics could be.

They really do look like small dinosaurs. Just reach down with the food and a group will “storm” toward you. A bit intimidating at first but quite quickly you realize how friendly and docile they are. You can even hold and pet them. They seem to really like being stroked on the head. The park also has a number of other rescued animals, birds, and even fish but the iguanas are the real stars.

♦ The next is Daniel Johnson’s Monkey and Sloth Hangout. Here you can get up close and personal with monkeys, parrot, and even sloths. You get your own personal and knowledgeable group guide for your visit. Our family had a blast in the Capuchin monkey pen where they climb all over you and make for incredible photo opportunities.

My adult daughter took quite a few selfies with a monkey or two on her head. Two of my grandsons were able to hold a sloth. Actually, the sloth draped its arms around their neck and hugged them for several minutes each. They thought this was AWESOME and by itself, made this visit worth it.

The Hangout also has Scarlet Macaws, indigenous Agouti or Guatusa, also known as the Roatan Island rabbit, and Spider Monkeys. A South American raccoon is also sure to amaze, an exotic animal only seen in this part of the world.

The good news for those wanting to visit Roatan. All the main or popular cruise lines have itineraries that include Roatan and originate from just about all the Florida ports as well as New Orleans.

If you would like help planning a cruise or land vacation to Roatan, contact Mike Hunter at 678-901-0993.