The last two weeks has been an eye opener for knowledgeable tourists thinking of traveling to Roatan. A cruise line employee was gunned down near the port. The bloody death was widely reported in the local newspapers which published gruesome photographs of the dead crew member.

As a result, a major cruise line temporarily pulled out of Roatan. A major excursion company also canceled all tours of the island expressing concerns for the safety of cruise passengers.

The story revealed some disturbing information about the island.  A number of tourists, some arriving by cruise ship and some by air going to dive, have been robbed at gun point and machete point this year. 

Hundreds of people have left comments on our website and Facebook pages about what they think of Roatan Honduras Murder CruiseRoatan. Many islanders and expatriates who bought homes and invested in businesses in Roatan swear that the beautiful island is perfectly safe. Others have stated that it is a dangerous place, with corrupt and/or incompetent/indifferent policemen, where crimes are covered up.

I have received a wide range of responses to my articles, including curses and threats from those who feel an obligation to protect the island’s reputation, whether it be for sincere, patriotic reasons or in the calculated defense of their financial investments. I have also received comments from expatriates who have fled the island in fear, or who are stuck with their debt on the island, saying you-have-no-idea-how-bad-it-is-here. 

The most expressive of expatriates in Roatan have informed me of the dangers they perceive presented by what they describe as the thugs in gangs or crack-heads desperate to feed their drug habits. These types intimidate the good people in the community who are afraid to swear out complaints to the police out of fear of retribution. There is animosity between the islanders and the people from the mainland where murders are so frequent as to earn Honduras the infamous designation of having the highest murder rate in the world since 2010. Honduras and the Bahamas are the only cruise destinations in the Caribbean with critical crime warnings from the U.S. State Department.     

Some defenders of Roatan argue that things will get better and justice is possible in Roatan, pointing out that the police quickly apprehended the man who shot and killed the cruise line employee. (Photo above) But others point out that police work really didn’t solve the murder. Rather, the mayor’s $5,000 reward led to the alleged murderer’s friends shooting him in the leg and then calling the cops for the reward money. Some people has posed the question to me – do you want to live in a place where a ship employee will be gunned down for a $250 cell phone and the crime will be solved only when the murderer’s friends commit another crime by shooting him for a $5,000 reward?

It is with this backdrop that I read an article today in the Huffington Post entitled "Your Next Trip Should Be to Roatan, Honduras. Here’s Why."

It’s what I call a "puff-piece" by a travel writer, extolling the quiet "authentic island charm" and the "warm and friendly" people. There is no mention of murder or robbery or crime in the article – only images of the beautiful blue waters, the white sandy beaches, and the thick green forests of the "paradise island of Roatan." 

The article has seemingly been liked and re-tweeted by virtually every resort, dive shop, and bar on Roatan Honduras CrimeRoatan.

Is Roatan the "paradise" portrayed by the article? The article mentioned several resorts and tourist attractions. Did the travel writer pay for her stay on the island or was this a quid-pro-quo great review for a free vacation?      

Some people have warned me that if I travel to Roatan to check things out for myself, not to take a taxi or rent a car.  Some of the tourists and locals have been held up by the taxi drivers. Tourists renting cars have been ambushed when they leave the main roads (photo right). If you complain to the police, I am told, there is an even chance the police will do nothing or, worse, they will be in cahoots with the crooks.

I have written before about travel writers ignoring crime and violence and painting a false and misleading image of travel destinations: Travel Writers and the Ethics of Reporting Cruise News.

As I said before, travel writers who ignore the murders and violence in the Caribbean ports are not doing anyone a favor. And they are providing a grave disservice to the next unsuspecting family who travels to Roatan blindly looking for paradise.  

April 21 2014 Update: Top 10 Most Dangerous Cruise Destinations in the World 


Read: Crime, What Crime? – Bay Village Voice January 2006  

Photo Credit: Cruise Critic (bottom) 

  • Paul hartsel

    Has the author of this ever been to Roatan?

  • Luis

    “As I said before, travel writers who ignore the murders and violence in the Caribbean ports are not doing anyone a favor. And they are providing a grave disservice to the next unsuspecting family who travels to Roatan blindly looking for paradise”
    Really? You do realize that writers who write without a proper information, are not doing a favor to future tourist. Im sorry for the crew member, but you know it’s being in the wrong place at the wrong time. I think you over exaggerated your article. A bad article whether its ignoring the violence or exaggerating it, its bad for us travelers.

  • Vernon Albert

    My admiration of Roatan and comments are sincere. You are focusing on the negatives and as all progressive thinker know that is not good. Investments on this Island have nothing to do with my love of it. I know the people and I love them. I do great humanitarian work on Roatan that I adore like cleaning estuaries, Recharging aquifers and creating marine life. I am a positive thinker and I am not afraid and should not be afraid of Roatan. Do not listen to this uneducated individual who wrote this article, he has no real numbers for Roatan. Your chances of having a problem on Roatan are near 0%

  • Edward du Monceaux

    I can’t quite figure out your angle. Your articles, while factually correct, are continually focused on a very small part of the whole picture. Take a photograph and put it under a microscope. What do you see? One tiny portion of the picture. Is it accurate? Of course. Does it give the person at the other end of the microscope an entire picture of that photograph? Of course not. Could that person, not having seen the original photograph tell you what the picture was? Extremely unlikely. It would only be a wild guess. Yet that is what you are attempting to do here. The whole picture is much, much larger than what you present to the public and does a huge disservice to your readership and the the places you highlight. Of course there is crime on Roatan. Just like everywhere else in the world. Most is petty theft. Occasionally there is something worse. Nobody denies any of that. But everything the travel writers say about the island is also true. The island is beautiful. The people are extraordinarily warm and inviting. Nobody here spends their hours, days and weeks quaking in fear, locked in their homes. We live pretty much idyllic lives for the most part. Perfect? No, of course not. It is still a Third World location and stuff goes wrong. I know all the ex-pats who have left. It is hardly a flood. In the vast majority of cases they were nice people that the island just wasn’t the right place for. It was just too different that what they were used to and they couldn’t adapt. Those differences are what keeps the rest of us here. The feeling of concern for their safety would have been only one factor that drove them away. The travel writers and all the people who write glowing reports on the island have been here and experienced the island. They see the big picture, a picture that in its entirety completely overwhelms the negatives one could pick away at. Stop gazing at the lint in your navel, raise your head (and your standards) and see the whole picture. It is amazingly beautiful.

  • Cesar A. Gonzalez

    Your marketing strategy has really made some people here on Roatan very upset and some are afraid that your authoritative articles shall eventually bring the tourism business down to how it was 10 years ago.

    The irony of the case is that since you stated a series of posts on Roatan on the month of April 2014 new records on port calls, airplane arrivals and visitor headcount has been established.

    You and I know that in our profession sometimes we need to stir up things to keep the client flow to our offices, while balancing for ´the irresponsibility of travel writers´.

    Honduras as well as the Philippines have many nationals as crewmembers in cruisers, tankers, cargo boats and oil rigs. In this case you specialize in cruiseship related events. Others like you stir up things for other segments of the transport industry.

    Life goes on, don’t stop the Carnival.

  • César

    Terrible article! Not even close to reality. Please take your time to travel to the island and then write about it, and please interview the cruise ship tourist. And hear what they really think of Roatan.

  • Arturo Vallé

    consider your dont knows Roatan. should do it and realize that is wrong. or are you people just look at the black dot on the white canvas. Roatan, like everywhere in the world, things happen outside of the law on a smaller scale. or tell you if a heavenly place in their country do not happen like. with your comment meeting is taking many honest, hardworking people who care amicably tourists either domestic or foreign. Please reconsider in your comments. regards

  • Fabian Vallejo

    Hello, I have been reading your comments about the the events that have happened in Roatan. If we could talk about irresponsability we first have to ask how you can assure you have the truth about the reality of living in Roatan and how this small island is different from the insecurity lived all around the world, the US and EU included. I would question the comments from someone who brings out only the bad from a community and who probably has not set a foot in that place. It takes irresponsability to try to destroy the honorability of a hard working and peacefull population. The picture of the killer that you have in this article doesn’t reflect the welcoming people of this beautiful island, is not the face of a psychopath which we can find anywhere in the world. I would ask of you to be a little more respectful with the people that live in Roatan. Thank you

  • Scott Chamberlain

    Mr. Walker.

    Please write me an article about Miami. I would sincerely like to gauge your biased opinions based on somewhere you have been. I have never been to Miami, and as a buffalo bills fan probably never will, however, I am quite sure I could write some awful things about it by simply focusing on the negative. I truly hope you are more open minded at home and work. what you have written here is extremely one sided.

  • Mike

    No one has mentioned the fellow who had his head cut off a couple of weeks before a couple of blocks form this secene. The bad guy’s threw the head in the dump and left the body. ??? another half dozen incidents since this one.

  • Roatan Mongoose

    Well said Mr. Walker! Some people can’t handle the truth. Your article describes the facts of life in Roatan. However, visitors, Islanders, and expats have been victims of senseless crimes for years, the shame is that it has only been an “eye-opener” in the past two weeks. Unsuspecting visitors must be informed when they visit Roatan, that they should have their affairs in order back home before travel. This is a third world Country, they should expect that there is corruption throughout the Country. Some may argue that crime happens everywhere,and yes, crime does happen everywhere. The difference is that if you should become a victim of crime in a first world Country, you can expect to receive help from the Police, Prosecutors and Judges. Most crimes are solved in North America and Europe. That unfortunately is not the reality in Honduras, and folks seem to forget that Roatan is part of Honduras. There is no functioning system in Honduras therefore, murders, robberies, and burglaries go unsolved and unpunished. The Police are involved in many of the crimes, the Judges and the Prosecutors are paid off by the criminals so the wheels of the unjust go round and round. If it is such a carefree easy lifestyle in Roatan, why do most people have bars on their windows and doors? Why is every bank and business have armed guards? I have lost count of the people I personally knew that have been murdered in Roatan. The folks that talk about how safe Roatan is, are the folks that have some self serving interest that place $$ over human life. Thank you Mr. Walker for shedding light on the dangers of Roatan. The media here can’t bring these issues to light for fear of retaliation.

  • John Braun

    Given the choice between a relatively peaceful Roatan and the roiling cesspool of crime and mayhem that is Miami, I will choose the former, thank you. If Mr. Walker is eager to warn travelers away from peril, he would do well to warn tourists away from the third-world metropolis that is his own backyard.

    John Braun

  • Kristoffer
  • dean busch

    I and my family were in Roatan when the cruise ship member was murdered. My brother and I, who are both in law enforcement, personally know the Director of municipal Policia in Roatan, he is a good man. Here is part of the problem, the municipal police provide security in Coxen Hole. They have one truck for 18 officers, the U.S. embassy donated a vehicle to the federal police. Also communication is an issue. Maybe the cruise ship industry who make lots of money could, I don’t know, help out, be a partner in security. Help establish partnerships with local enforcement. I know the cruise ship industry has security people, with lots of contacts.

  • Frank M.

    Mr. Walker, you’re absolutely right. It’s interesting to see that all the unfavourable comments left on this page are by the very real estate people who would do anything to present an impeccable but fictitious image of the island in order to keep selling properties. Cruise ship tourists are their target market! I have first-hand knowledge of this for having lived there.

  • John Braun:

    Yes of course Miami has problems. Our press covers the crime stories pretty well and the articles are easily accessible. The good news I suppose is that Miami cops are serious and effective, and our legal system puts most of the bad guys away. Roatan is far different. Crime is covered up and the press is intimidated, The Honduran police force is a farce, and the banditos are brazen and terrorize the residents.

    You can read about Miami’s troubles as you point out, but you won’t read about the armed robberies and muggings of tourists on Roatan because no one writes about them. Afraid of reprisals I am told. Are the police on the victims’s side or are they friends of or frightened by the criminals?

    I have written about tourists robbed at gunpoint and women assaulted by machete point in Roatan. You can read the articles here. I suppose it’s weird that a maritime lawyer in the U.S. has to warn cruise passengers and tourists to Roatan about what you and other expatriates are frantically trying to hide.

    Your LinkedIn profile says you worked for 4 years “building solar, off-grid homes for tourism on the island of Roatan.”

    Your blog explains that you invested in a “little island in the Caribbean – Roatan, the jewel of the bay islands, 40 miles from Honduras.”

    Ah the real estate connection. You are one of many with financial ties to the island who are angry the true word is getting out.

    Your blog says that you used solar panels because the utility/power company in Roatan is, in your words, a “corrupt entity if ever there was one.”

    I’m sorry that you are finding that the corrupt little jewel you invested in is not the paradise that you hoped for.

  • Dean Busch:

    These are excellent ideas. The cruise industry collects over $35 billion dollars and pay no U.S. income tax. They should be investing in the ports like Roatan and make certain that the police have adequate funding to hire well trained police officers to protect the passengers and crew as well as protect the local residents who provide services to the tourists. Unfortunately the cruise lines don’t have a history of acting like this. Some cruise lines with private resorts and beaches promote themselves as safer behind the walls of their private ports compared to other lines who don’t have the walls and guards . . .

    The port government needs to make better deals at the front end. The Caribbean islands need to band together to negotiate better investments from the cruise lines.

  • dean

    I and my family were on the Island of Roatan from Canada just a couple of weeks ago in fact we were in Coxen Hole two days before the homicide of the NCL crew member. I and My brother are both law enforcement officers, and we personally know the director of the municipal policia in Roatan, he is a good man.
    The problem there is not the worse I’ve seen security wise in fact it is very fixable. I asked the Police director what he would like if he had a choice and he stated more vehicles and better communications. You see he has the same old truck they have had for years, and he said if he could get scooters or ATV’s his officers could patrol with greater ease, rather than on foot. His staffs at present uses cell phones for communications, in some cases their personal phones and he wished they had a radio repeater, so he had radio coverage for the island.
    Now there are federal police on the island, but they too are under resourced, the U.S. Embassy donated a side by side ATV for them to use. So you see security could be greatly improved if the island enforcement agencies had more resources. The sad thing that I noticed was that the private security firms were actually better equipped than the local Police.
    I also know that the cruise line companies have very competent and well trained security maybe some cross departmental assistance on all levels could be mustered. I just feel that if one stake holder takes the lead the rest will follow or will be encouraged to follow. A few AVTs and maybe a 3500.oo, dollar repeater may not be the total answer but it’s a good start. I know in my 20+ year career I’ve had to sometimes make do with what I’ve got, but it’s hard to make do, when you have nothing to make do with.
    The bottom line is the cruise lines hold the cards here. It’s their ball and if they decide to take it and go home there’s not a lot anyone can do. The loss of the life of the crew member was a terrible disgusting thing and should not have happened, but this tragedy should be now taken as an opportunity to change things for the better.
    With sincerity
    D. Busch

  • Fred

    Kudos to Mr Walker for all his excellent, truthful and UNBIASED articles about Roatan. Sad to see though, how some people value profit more than peoples lives by trying to sugar coat what’s going on. You can only call an Apple an Orange for so long…

    Funny how none of the “expats/real estate agents” mention the West End restaurant owner that was forced to leave the island after he was forced to kill an intruder in a botched attempt to rob his place. What about the increasing numbers of armed robberies into expats homes when the homeowners are present? The stabbing death of Nedenia Post Dye around xmas of last year… The murder of Patrick Zyngg, the expat owner of Subway watersports in late 2012? Or the police roadblocks around the island? If it is as safe as some portray, then why the roadblocks? Or why an armed guard is needed both inside AND outside the Ace Hardware store?

    It used to be mostly petty crimes but holdups and armed robberies are getting more and more common. Murder actually ROSE by 25% from 2012 to 2013. 9 as compared to 12 in the first 8 months of the years mentioned.

    Educating the public/tourist about the reality of present day Roatan is a necessity. How else can they take additional precautions to avoid being a victim themselves? Sugar coating, on the other hand, might make them over confident and put them in situations that they could have otherwise avoided. By doing this, the business owners/real estate agents are thinking about their bottom line, and understandably so, but also doing themselves a disservice since this will only work on a short term basis. In the long run the word will get out, that is inevitable, and they will be the ones mostly affected.

    People and businesses need to change their attitude from, “let’s pretend it didn’t happen” and be more proactive in trying to solve the crime situation. Ignoring it or criticizing the writer of this article won’t make it go away.

    As I said before, you can only call an Apple an Orange for so long…

  • John

    There is crime on Roatan, but it is still a fun and safe place to be. It is important for people to know that, but let’s not so quick to forget about all of the amazing things that bring people here in the first place. There have been some crimes against tourists. The numbers are actually quite small when compared to the number of tourists that come here each week. Thousands of people each week have a wonderful time here and many of them return every year. Everyone needs to also have a look at the news in their own home towns. The small town in Oklahoma that I am from has more violent crime every week than Roatan does. The crime is on the rise in many places, not just Roatan. When people travel, they should employ the same safety as they would at home or anywhere else.

  • matt howell

    hmmmmm, how do you know so much about roatan, is it possible that you have a vested interest in bashing the island?

  • Harold Green

    You, sir, are a douche canoe. Where is it safe in the world? Goggle corrupt cops in Miami, see what comes up. Please come here to Roatan. Also, there are good and bad lawyers. You are pretending to do a public service, this is a farce. I bet you haven’t been laid in a month full of Sundays……

  • Kristoffer
  • Harold J. Green Jr. – “Owner at Roatan Harry’s Island Tours” in Roatan. You’re trash talking out of both sides of your mouth. You’re priority is your business, not the safety of tourists . . .

  • jon fritz

    we all have agendas and the truth is hard to disseminate with so many opinions out there…after living on Roatan recently for several months, i came away with the “opinion” that for the most part and for most people, it’s safe to visit and/or live there…i did, however, have to be constantly aware of my surroundings…this “vigilance” was developed over years of traveling & living abroad, yet something i usually never have to think about here in the states…in my opinion, that’s the key difference between living in Roatan and living stateside

  • Stir Fry

    Dear shills:

    How dare you intentionally encourage people to be in harm’s way obviously for their MONEY the love of which is the root of all evil.

    Just remember that should unsuspecting persons actually believe your distorted and untrue postings, their blood will be on your hands for which you will be held accountable.

  • I recently fled the island of Roatan due to the corruption and the escalating crime . I have written a book that may be of interest to you and your readers .It is called CORRUPTION IN PARADISE ” FROM DREAMS TO NIGHTMARES ON GOATAN ISLAND ” AND IS AVAILABLE AT THIS LINK

  • Honest Truth

    Your Roatan bashing and untransparent, marketing gimmick is to only to attract increased business for Jim Walker (cha cha-cha ching)

    Has the times gotten so tough for your US based maritime firm??? Clearly these internet snipped photos you have are evidence of your marketing budget. Your pointing fingers at real estate investors that are vested for their own interest. What are yours? You just woke up and suddenly cared about a tiny little island named Roatan…I doubt it!

    At the end of the day you are like the investors and cruise ships collecting money and benefiting from Roatan’s one sided stories. You didn’t go to business school but you do know that:

    maritime expert blogger
    bashing roatan
    $$$ & leads for your firm

    Jimmy and Fred- life is no fairy tale. period. point blank. For every news headline there is a misunderstood evil twist like Maleficent. Surely you can be fist feed that an heiress just turns up dead on a beautiful island. Just as sure as the trees sway and the ocean wind breeze blows so did she. I happen to have been there during her funeral, watching from land adjacent that I own. I wished her soul peace. No one is perfect and even those that choose to live twisted lives deserve peace. The same sympathy felt for the late NCL crew member who was killed outside of a business I own. Too close for comfort and the reason I closed and relocated. Not because innocent people where being victimized but because drugs and prostitution lure so much trashy criminals and their customers. If it is not a scum pimp it is the men who fuel the dirty trade or women who employ the drug dealers.

    BTW-before you get all excited and say I am benefiting, I am MAN enough to say I AM. Life is a gamble invest in a poor undeveloped country and expect to suffer the growing pains. My suggestion to you is to pursue criminal law most of the people who have fell victim were NOT in the wrong place at the wrong time!


  • Tim

    God Bless

  • Tim:

    Disgraceful that you would see fit to send this comment at this time, when Roatan has not caught the murderer of Luis Alfredo Garcia a/k/a “Destiny” nor has your island even buried his body.

  • badmally

    I went to Roatan yesterday and not even 2 minutes off the port I was ask if I wanted to get it on with and obviously underage girl. I work on a cruise ship and I swear I’ll never take shore-leave in Roatan again!

  • Catracho305

    My family is from “Tegu” and I went to military school their from 1991-1993. Yes it Was a beautiful and charming place to live. Now 20 odd years later my grandmother wouldn’t go back to bury her own daughter because it has gotten so bad. If my grandmother won’t go neither should anyone. If the Honduran Government can’t handle keeping their own people safety why so I risk my life for some business owners pocket. Invest in making the streets safe then ok but till then I tell all my friends, family and any all my people on social media to Stay away from that death Trap.

  • Mark

    I live in Denver, Colorado and there are people here that rob cell phones on a regular basis. And over the weekend tgere was 4 cold blooded murders in 12 hours. So what’s the difference?? Violet crimes happen all over the world. That was a bad thing that happen to the crew member but that can happen anywhere….

  • robert murray

    Mr walker,
    I thing you probably can’t pay you’r self a vacation
    in Roatan ,before to listen the horror story,ho the majority it’s in there dream or wish, you should come and see by your’self,of course it’s you’r buseness to right stuff like that,,,,,,

  • Col.

    We live in roatan, from Se Oklahoma and we love it, there bad in every town. if your looking for trouble you can find it any where.



    John What part of Okla you from ??

  • Skywalker

    THe truth of the matter, yes everywhere you go in the world you may experience crime;however, nowhere is crime hidden more like Honduras. 2017 and police officers are involved in crime, judges and lawyers. The judges use selected lawyers as puppets to get money from Americans and rich locals or people just moved to Honduras or islands. In San Pedro Sula people are terrified to go dancing places because there is hardly any choices since all are control by gangs MS18, 8 Francisco Escobar-Orellana and other gangs. People are in costant fear in both cities Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula. Notice all the citizens know the WAR TAX, means you pay taxes to the gangters if you have a business. Depends where you leave you pay the amount that corresponds to the Gang or MARA 18 or 8 or whichever controls the area. I know of many who had been killed for not paying the war tax.

    In Roatan who control the Gang or MARA are all the judges along with franco lombardi, Richard Koliski (El TIO), Kevin Wesley, David Dashner Owners of Grand Roatan resort, some members of the Magna family and others who are controlled by them like some lawyers like Melvin Rosales (el oso feo), Gustavo Amaya who are members along with other lawyers. In addition, the brothers Kork Anderson and Antonio Oscarealis Wrist Lucas, who come from Roatan, the main enclave of the Bay Islands. “Israel intelligence unit mentioned the island is going from bad to worse since at night the bad guys steal in the houses and properties and in the days the national police take away the licenses of US, Canada drivers licences to get money from tourist.” In the island many crimes and murders are hidden by the media in fear of the economy of Roatan since tourist is the main source of the island economy.

    The island is a beautiful paradise in the Caribean and has the must beautiful mountains and coral reef in the planet. The only solution to the problem in cities like Tegus and Sand pedro Sula is to find honest hard working people who would not corrupt the system. There was toys put in many places in parts of Honduras to see if local kids would take them for posession or steal them. They found must all toys was stolen from all locations. The problem we can learn in Honduras is very alarming. We believe honesty and morals need to be tought in schools and at home to slow the house of corruption in Honduras.

    Rosa Danelia Hendrix, president of the Federation of Bay Islands Village Councils (Patronatos), told them in the islands were “inundated” with crime and corruption and “spiritually lost.” She called for better pay for police, judges and prosecutors and for police who are committed to and understand the community and the few who fear and love God. If you would like report info with evidence email them at

  • Ciara Roots

    My friend and I both married men from the Bay Islands. I was married to my ex for 11 years. He was born and raised in Roatán, and I visited several times, so I do know something about the place. While I loved Roatán, I exercised caution at all times, as instructed by my ex. I won’t go into all the details here, but let just me say that anyone who is an outsider should be extremely careful. Because of my family relationship, I heard about much of the crime among Roatán natives that many tourists and even ex-pats are unaware of. Roatán is beautiful, most of the people are friendly and honest, and there is much to do there. Just know that sometimes behind a friendly smile lurks someone who may intend to relieve you of your valuables. I don’t understand why some people are in denial about the realities of the island. If you spend any time there, or have family that has been there for generations, you know what it’s like and you shouldn’t sugar-coat it. And yes, I know that there are places in the US that are just as dangerous. This post isn’t about other places–it’s about Roatán.