Frequently asked questions about Roatan (besides inquiries about the bugs) have to do with the weather.
The weather is the main attraction, enticing people to this tropical island nestled in the Caribbean Sea. It’s always summer! No need for cold weather clothing. No need for blankets on your bed. No need for central heating.
We never have to scrape frost off the vehicle windshield, or worry that the anti-freeze is topped up. No cold toes or frozen fingers. No need for fleece-lined boots, gloves, or even socks—it’s always warm on Roatan.
The concern for some people is that it is too warm here.
Perhaps I am too used to it! When the temperature drops a degree or two below 27 C there is a fine line between proclaiming, “Hey I haven’t sweated through even one outfit today,” or “Brrr, I’m cold.”
If you are going to spend an extended period of time on Roatan, you too will become acclimatized. However, if you are coming to visit for just a week or two you probably will want air-conditioning to escape the heat. Personally I’m not a fan of air-conditioning. Going from hot, to cold, and back to hot again, I find makes me more uncomfortable than simply throwing the windows open, praying for a breeze, and basking in the balmy weather. When there is no breeze a fan will suffice.
The number one question I get asked about the weather is, “Will it rain when I visit Roatan?”
Now I can understand wanting reassurance that it won’t. For three years running (before I moved to Roatan) I went on an Eastern Caribbean Cruise—none including a stop at Roatan, which is in the Western Caribbean.
The first year in March, the weather was glorious, no rain, plenty of sunshine and the best tan I’d ever gotten.
The second year in November, a couple of nice days, but there were more that couldn’t be called tropical. Not to mention, on the way home to Ontario we drove through a raging snowstorm out of Buffalo.
The third year, I went on a cruise in January. I checked and re-checked the Caribbean weather reports leading up to the week of travel. All looked great! Yah, right! The sea was rough. The sun rarely peeked through the angry black clouds. And the sunlamp tan I had invested in before I left cold and snowy Ontario faded before we returned to port in New Orleans. And then it was snowing during the few hours we were there waiting for our flight back to Canada.
Chances are, even during the rainy season, you will enjoy glorious, sunny, warm weather on Roatan, but it is possible the weather gods will not be working in your favour.
When the heck is Rainy Season?
Technically, I think it starts right after Hurricane Season and then fizzles out by the end of February. Since 2007, I’ve experienced the rainy season start by mid-September and last well into March. And, one year, it didn’t kick in until the end of November, and pretty much only rained at night.
The weather is equally as unpredictable where I’m originally from: one winter it doesn’t start getting cold and snowing until January. The next year, by the end of October: heavy, wet snow is on late blooming flowers that don’t stand a chance. And everyone is wearing fleece-lined jackets and toques—that’s Canadian for hat, eh!
Note: Weather conditions, on Roatan and Mainland Honduras, including Rainy Season and Hurricane information—are not the same! If you are checking weather reports for Honduras, be sure to confirm it is specifically for Roatan.
For whatever reason, Roatan gets spared the impact of the majority of hurricanes. The last one to do any significant damage on Roatan was Mitch in 1998. And even then, the personal injury and damage to property was minimal compared to what happened on Mainland Honduras.
Within two week of moving to Roatan, warnings went out that Hurricane Alex was heading right for us!
Everyone started preparing; stocking up on supplies, boarding over windows, and tourists were evacuated. I had no intentions of leaving the island and headed to a friend’s cabana (on higher ground). The wait began, checking CNN’s live coverage as Alex slammed into one Island and then the next! As it got closer to Roatan, it really looked like we were getting hit pretty hard too. But we weren’t! We never lost power and it never got windy; there wasn’t even a gentle breeze—let alone hurricane-force winds. Heck, the cable didn’t even go out! In utter fascination, we watched reports on CNN declaring that Roatan was in dire straits!
I was getting emails and phone calls from family and friends in Canada, convinced they wouldn’t get in-touch with me because I was riding out the storm in an emergency shelter somewhere on Roatan… and I was on my neighbour’s porch playing Mexican Dominoes!
Most recently, Tropical Storm Mathew was the concern. Just over a week ago it was coming our way. But it turned out to be no issue on Roatan for the majority of the population. There were reports after the fact of storm surge causing some flooding in a few areas. But for the rest of us, it barely rained for a few hours. Now I’m not saying we didn’t get prepared—just in case, and I found out that we do have an Municipal Emergency Committee, which offers some comfort in knowing that they are preparing on a larger scale.
It turned out again that there was much ado about nothing. As one person so eloquently posted on Trip Advisor, “The storm affected Roatan for what… maybe four hours… and we’ve kept this post going for four days!”
So again my point is that no matter where you are in the world—unpredictable, crappy weather happens!
Even Toronto, Ontario, Canada (an hour’s drive from my hometown) got hit hard by Hurricane Hazel. Now mind you that was in 1954.
The funny part of this whole thing is that the day after Tropical Storm Mathew wandered by, we had a couple of the hottest, most humid days I’ve ever felt here! And then a storm rolled in and dumped buckets of rain, the airport was closed at times, and the temperature dropped enough that I said, “Brrr, I’m cold.”
For those unfortunate visitors who have been on Roatan this past week, they have had less of a tropical experience—I’m so sorry! There was no way of knowing this was going to happen. And you sure as heck wouldn’t have seen anything about it on CNN.