Now More Than Great Diving, Roatan is a Sexy Island in Central America
That Now Offers Golf and An Affordable Way to Own in the Caribbean
Until very recently, the second home market on Roatan was almost exclusively aimed at avid scuba divers. Now golfers have a good reason to look at this quiet Caribbean Island as a destination for that dream Caribbean home away from home.
Roatan is more than 30 miles off the mainland coast of Honduras, but the island has always marched to its own tune – even during the recent military coup in the capital, life here went on in totally normal fashion, which is to say, another day in paradise – cocktails, diving, boats trips and laying in the sun. Almost all tourism infrastructure, from dive shops to restaurants, is owned, managed or staffed by ex-pats from other countries or lifelong Roatan natives, who consider themselves part of the Caribbean rather than Central America, and the result is the best you will find in Honduras.
The Scuba diving is widely considered among the very best on earth, with easy access to the world’s second largest barrier reef and warm, clear waters teeming with marine life. Diving is why people have come since the 1960s, and the sleepy, easy going lifestyle is why they have often stayed or made second homes here. It is also inexpensive, both for real estate and cost of living, and half a million dollars will buy you an impressive and spacious beachfront home of 3-4,000 square feet, with a big focus on outdoor living and plenty of decks and patios. On Roatan you get more bang for your buck than on almost any comparable Caribbean real estate, and property taxes are extremely low, with no sales or income taxes whatsoever, though buyers should be aware. Since outdoor living is taken for granted as part of the lifestyle, decks are often included in square footage totals for home listings, not the norm elsewhere.
With a very high profile golf community that is the island’s first, and a new $62 million cruise ship facility, Roatan is on the verge of awakening from its off-the-radar slumber. Two years ago the island saw a quarter million cruise visitors, 2010 has brought about three quarters of a million, and next year they are predicting a million, an impressive fourfold increase in just 36 months. The number of direct flights from the US has exploded in the past few years, with easy non-stop service from Houston, Miami, Newark and Atlanta. Its location outside the hurricane belt is another positive factor, attracting buyers scared by the risk of damage from the big Caribbean storms.
A large new marina now under construction at the Pristine Bay community should attract more non-cruise boaters – and Pristine Bay is already attracting golf fans. Right now, for buyers who do not want individual homes and are looking for a planned, amenitized community, this is Roatan’s and the islands 800-pound real estate gorilla, home to the Black Pearl, a dramatic new 7,257-yard Pete Dye designed golf course, half opened with the remaining nine debuting in early 2011. Fourteen of the holes feature ocean views. The 405-acre development is located on the central North shore, the island’s new hub of development, and will soon include a hotel, beach club, the marina and an adjacent village center with shops and restaurants. Two-bedroom villas start at $600,000 while the 4-bedroom models are just over a million, and to-be-built condos will sell for $350-$700,000. Lots for custom homes start just over $200,000.