Mahogany Bay Cruise Port Tips
The cruise port at Mahogany Bay on the Honduran island of Roatan is a quiet oasis for western Caribbean visitors.
It is an oasis because this privately owned port has nothing nearby. Likewise, Carnival Cruise Lines, which built the port, does it best to keep cruise visitors from thinking about going anywhere else.
Mahogany Bay has all of the most common things to do at a small cruise port in the Caribbean: shopping, dining, a beach, water sports and shore excursions.
- Mahogany Bay has a nice beach within quick walking distance of the cruise docks.
- Shopping and dining are limited because the port is small.
- The best time to go is March and April.
Passengers in their cabins who hear the cruise ship engines shudder to a stop can walk out on the decks and immediately see almost everything Mahogany Bay has to offer. On a good day, that includes plenty of warmth and sunshine.
On the left, they will see a sunken ship in the Dixon Cove harbor that adds both some character to the place and a decent photo opportunity. On the right, they will see the docks, the duty-free shop at the dock and the tops of the cruise village shops and restaurants a short distance away.
More dramatically, they will see both the bridge and the “Magical Flying Chair” that connect the cruise village with Mahogany Bay Beach.
Passengers will disembark on the docks and take a four-minute walk through the Dufry duty-free shop and up a slight hill to the village. From there, they can take another four-minute walk -- or a flying chair -- to the beach.
Mahogany Bay Beach
Visitors who walk to the beach will take a brief wandering “nature trail” that takes them over the bridge and onto the beach. Anyone who wants to take the chair lift has to pay $14 (the price is subject to change) for an all-day pass.
The beach is small compared to most Caribbean beaches, but the sand is white and the views are relaxing.
There are hundreds of chaise lounges lining the sand. Visitors should note that Mahogany Bay can accommodate two cruise ships with up to 8,000 passengers from the Carnival flagship brand along with Princess Cruises and Holland America. This fact matters greatly for anyone who wants to get a chaise lounge because people may grab all of them quickly on days when two ships are in port. So get to the beach early.
The beach also has an open-air restaurant and bar as well as access to water sports.
Shopping and Dining
As someone who has visited every major port in the Caribbean, I can say that Mahogany Bay has a decent selection of local arts and crafts as well as some major international brands. But the selection is modest compared to other larger ports.
The village has 22 shops in total, so hard-core shoppers will need plenty of time to see everything. Prices were reasonable, although shopkeepers didn’t seem interested in haggling, unlike some other ports.
Anyone who isn’t willing to take a brief walk back to the ship for lunch can eat at one of six locations in the village and on the beach.
The most substantial food is at Fat Tuesday’s Bar in the village at the top of Monkey Hill -- with nice views of the area -- and Playa Tortugas Chill ‘n’ Grill on the beach.
Despite the presence of Mahogany Bay Beach within walking distance of the docks, cruise visitors can go to other beaches plus a variety of additional shore excursions. The beach excursions usually offer extra amenities such as open bars or fancy eating for about $100 per person with discounts for children.
Dolphin lovers can swim and snorkel with them at the Institute for Marine Science at Anthony’s Key Resort. Prices average about $150 per person.
Roatan has the Extreme Adventure Park with ziplines, suspension bridges and other high-adrenaline activities. Prices also average about $100 per person.
Otherwise, shore excursions include many types that are common to Caribbean cruise ports including horseback rides, ATV rides, catamaran sailing, snorkeling and scuba diving.
Mahogany Bay visitors can strike out on their own to see more of Roatan island, which is about 48 miles long and only five miles wide.
Coxen Hole, the island’s capital, is only 20 minutes away. It is a small city of about 5,000 people with more shopping and dining.
Nature lovers may like Gumbalimba Park, an animal preserve with monkeys, parrots, iguanas and other creatures. It also has kayaking, snuba and scuba diving, a zipline canopy tour, botanical gardens, a sandy beach for swimming, and the Jolly Roger Sail. It’s available as a shore excursion. Prices vary with the activities.
Carambola Botanical Gardens and Trails across the road from Anthony’s Key Resort (the location of the dolphin swim) has 40 acres of hiking, scenic tours and wildlife viewing including monkeys and iguanas.
Other than excursion buses, the only way to get around the island from Mahogany Bay is a taxi or rental car. Only one rental car company serves the port.
The Mahogany Bay Taxi Association has divided the island into seven zones with fixed rates for each zone. For example, Coxen Hole costs $20 one way. Visitors may want to rent a car instead.
Weather / Best Times to Visit
Western Caribbean cruises are popular from December through April for a good reason. Caribbean weather is better during those months than other months of the year. Mahogany Bay is no different.
Daytime temperatures usually range between the low and mid 80s during most of this peak season. The risk of rain is quite low with about two inches of rain and fewer than 10 days of rain each month.
Temperatures begin to rise into the upper 80s Fahrenheit in May and eventually reaching around 90 during the day in the summer months. But the risk of rain rises as well to about five to six inches of rain each month.
The best months to visit Roatan and Mahogany Bay for warm temperatures and low risk of rain are March and April. The worst months to visit are September and October when the region gets as much as 10 inches of rain each month.
Where is Mahogany Bay?
Mahogany Bay on the island of Roatan, Honduras, is 139 miles southeast of Belize City, Belize, and 407 miles southwest of Grand Cayman.
© 2019 Scott S Bateman