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The Bay Islands of Honduras | Scuba Diving Blog

Updated: Jan 10, 2023

Off the north coast of Honduras, the Bay Islands are a group of eight islands and 53 small cays lying between 10 and 50 miles offshore. You may have heard of the three largest islands of Roatan, Utila, and Gunaja, however, the two islands of Cayos Cochinos to the south, and the Swan Islands to the north are far less popular.

At around 40 miles long, Roatan is the largest of the Bay Islands and also the most populous. The region's capital, Coxen Hole, is located on the west of Roatan, and this is also the most popular area for tourists to visit. Guanaja is the second largest island, although far less populated than Roatan. Characterized by lush green jungle and quiet beaches, there are several high-end luxury resorts scattered around the island's coastline.

The Bay Islands were first claimed for Spain by Christopher Columbus in the early 1500s. The indigenous Pech people were then subjected to slave trading for many years, and the islands' population decreased dramatically as a result. After continued unrest between the Spanish and British throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, the British organized the islands into a colony in 1850 and gave them their current name. In 1859, a convention was agreed whereby the islands were passed to Honduran ownership where they have remained ever since.

Today, the population of the Bay Islands is very mixed, comprising mainly of the descendants of many European and Caribbean settlers, as well as modern ex-pat inhabitants from the US and Canada. The predominant industries of fishing and tourism both rely heavily on the ocean and together make up for more than 50% of the islands' gross product.

Gaining popularity as a vacation destination in the 1980s, the Bay Islands have become increasingly developed and are now at the forefront of Honduras's blossoming tourist industry. Close to 1 million cruise ship passengers visit Roatan each year, and thousands more explore the stunning seascapes and healthy marine life around the islands' reefs and cays. Numerous dive resorts have sprung up around the three larger islands, providing direct access to some of the Caribbean's best diving.

For a relaxing, all-inclusive dive break, check out Anthony's Key Resort in Roatan.

Check out the nikon z7ii underwater camera from the Bluewater Photo Store.

For tips on shooting in underwater mode, take at look at the Underwater Photography Guide.


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