A Travel Price Comparison for Families, Couples, and Backpackers Roatan vs. San Jose for Vacations, Tours, and Honeymoons

Should you visit Roatan or San Jose?

Which is cheaper to visit? Which is more expensive for vacation?

Which city should you visit? Read on to compare the activities as well as the prices of travel for Roatan and San Jose. We'll break down costs for accommodation, food, transportation and more to help you learn more about these two destinations. Then, you can figure out if either of these two places are accessible based on your travel budget, schedule, and interests. So, let's dig into it.

Where Should I go: Roatan or San Jose?


Your next great vacation lies just thirty miles off the north coast of Honduras. Right above the world's largest coral reef is the island of Roatan. As a popular tourist attraction and standard cruise destination, it's not uncommon to see tons of Americans during your trip. In fact, the cruising industry has had huge impact on the island's culture. While ships are in port, traffic will be heavier and prices may go up. Because of the growth of tourism, most locals speak both Spanish and English.

San Jose

San Jose is the capital city of Costa Rica and is likely to be your first and last stop in a visit to the country. The city is situated in the Central Valley and is surrounded by beautiful mountains and valleys, making for a beautiful flight in. The city has an elevation of 1200 meters and sits on a plateau with a beautiful backdrop of lush green forest. Half of the people in Costa Rica reside in the country's capital city. You are likely to stay only a day or two, but there are a handful of things to do and see including museums and markets. You will also find many embassies, as well as the University of Costa Rica in San Jose.

For some great organized tour ideas, see The Best Adventure Tours to Honduras, The Best Adventure Tours to Honduras, The Best Budget Tours to Costa Rica, and The Best Tours for Seniors to Costa Rica.

Which place is cheaper, San Jose or Roatan?

These are the overall average travel costs for the two destinations.

The average daily cost (per person) in Roatan is $38, while the average daily cost in San Jose is $90. These costs include accommodation (assuming double occupancy, so the traveler is sharing the room), food, transportation, and entertainment. While every person is different, these costs are an average of past travelers in each destination. What follows is a categorical breakdown of travel costs for Roatan and San Jose in more detail.

  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Roatan $11
    San Jose $49
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Roatan $22
    San Jose $98
Compare Hotels in Roatan and San Jose

Looking for a hotel in Roatan or San Jose? Prices vary by location, date, season, and the level of luxury. See below for options and compare which is best for your budget and travel style.

Hotels in Roatan

Hotels in San Jose

Kayak helps you find the best prices for hotels, flights, and rental cars for destinations around the world. Compare prices for multiple destinations when planning your next trip.

Our Analysis
We've analyzed the average and typical hotel prices based on guest reviews, star ratings, and hotel amenities here: Roatan Hotel Prices and San Jose Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Roatan $19
    San Jose $19
Typical Local Transportation Prices in Roatan

Some typical examples of transportation costs in Roatan are as follows:

  • Water Taxi

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Roatan

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Roatan:

  • West Bay Beach, Chocolate, & Rum Factory & Transfer: $67
  • West Bay Aquarium Snorkeling, Chocolate & Rum Factory, City Tour plus Transfer: $91
  • Transfers, Zip Line and Monkey Park: $110
  • Transfers to West End by night from hotels in West Bay or Sandy Bay: $15
  • South Side Horseback Riding, Beach Break & Roundway Transfer: $120
  • Scuba Dive in the West End of Roatan with Private Transfer: $125
  • Round trip transfers from airport or ferry to hotel: $40
  • Roatan to Mahogany Bay Cruise Port - Departure Private Transfer: $38
  • Roatan Special Catamaran for Cruise Ship Passengers plus Transfer: $113
  • Roatan Private Transfers: Airport, Cruise Port or Hotel : $107
  • Roatan Private Sloths, Monkeys, Birds Encounters, City Tour and Transfer: $60
  • Roatan Private Catamaran Shipwreck, Blue Channel and Starfish with Transfer: $90

Typical Local Transportation Prices in San Jose

Some typical examples of transportation costs in San Jose are as follows:

  • Taxi from SJO
  • Local Bus

Hired Cars and Shuttles in San Jose

Also for San Jose, here are a few examples of actual transportation services:

  • Juan Santamaria Intl. Airport (SJO) to San Jose – Arrival Private Transfer: $32
  • San Jose to Juan Santamaria Intl. Airport (SJO) – Departure Private Transfer: $32
  • Transfer in Private Vehicle from SanJose Juan Santamaría Airport to SanJose City: $39
  • Transfer in Private Vehicle from SanJose City to SanJose Juan Santamaría Airport: $39
  • Private One-way Juan Santamaria Airport Transfer to from San Jose: $40
  • Private Airport and Hotel Transfer: Alajuela and San Jose: $45
  • Transfer SJO Airport to Hotels nearby or Vice versa Private 6 PAX: $45
  • Private Transfer from San Jose Airport (SJO) to Puntarenas Port: $50
  • Private Transfer from San Jose Airport One Way: $56
  • Private transfer from San Jose-Heredia-Alajuela Hotels to International Airport: $60
  • Juan Santamaria Intl. Airport (SJO) to San Jose – Round-Trip Private Transfer: $63
  • Private transfer from SJO Intl Airport to downtown Hotels: $65

Is it cheaper to fly into Roatan or San Jose?

Prices for flights to both San Jose and Roatan change regularly based on dates and travel demand. We suggest you find the best prices for your next trip on Kayak, because you can compare the cost of flights across multiple airlines for your prefered dates.

  • Food Meals for one day
    Roatan $9.43
    San Jose $18

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Roatan

Also, here are some specific examples of food and dining related activities in Roatan.

  • Cooking classes from a Local!: $200

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in San Jose

For San Jose, here are some samples of tours and activities related to meals and dining experiences:

  • Bites and Sights: Walking Food Tour in San Jose : $34
  • Tropical Cooking Classes: $52
  • San Jose By Night Tour: Farm to Table Dinner & Cocktails Classes: $57
  • San Jose Bites and Sights Walking Food Tour and visit Gold Museum : $60
  • Half-Day San Jose Evening Bus Tour with Dinner and Pickup: $76
  • Explore San Jose By Night: Food and Culture Tour with Local Dinner: $80
  • Arenal Volcano Full-Day Combo Tour with Lunch and Dinner: $179

  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Roatan $27
    San Jose $21

Tours and Activities in Roatan

Some specific costs of activities, tours, and entrance tickets for Roatan are as follows:

  • Mangrove cruise garífuna Culture sightseeing and Lunch : $89
  • Sloths Sanctuary/Monkeys Play + Dune Buggy/ATV Adventure & Private Beach Resort: $139
  • 2 Hour Zip Lining Private Tour in Mahogany Bay: $65
  • 4-Hour East Side Roatan Private Guided Tour with Canoe Ride: $120
  • ATV Safari and Horseback Adventure at Mahogany Bay: $110
  • Adventures of Roatan ATV Pineapple beach break: $120
  • Animal Sightings and Walking Tour at Gumbalimba Park with Addons: $90
  • Atv Island Tour: $85
  • Cruise Excursion – 2 Scuba Dives with transport (for certified divers): $175
  • Cruise Ship Combo: Sloths, Chocolate Factory, City Tour, Beach, Private Shuttle: $75
  • Cruise Ship Family Sloth & Monkeys, West Tour, Beach plus Private Vehicle: $75
  • Cruise Ship Multiple Snorkeling, Snacks, Music & Private Vehicle: $110

Tours and Activities in San Jose

For San Jose, here are a few prices for actual activities, tours, and tickets provided by various companies:

  • Entrance Ticket to the Farm of Hacienda Orosi: $11
  • Entrance ticket to the Hacienda Orosi: $21
  • Hiking Experience in El Quetzal Private Reserve: $26
  • Visit a Butterfly Chapel, Gardens, Coffee Tour with Typical Lunch: $30
  • Private Roasting and Cupping Coffee Experience: $30
  • Hacienda Alsacia Starbucks Coffe Tour: $31
  • 2-Hour Downtown San Jose Walking Tour: $33
  • Private Custom Guided Tour in San Jose: $33
  • 2-Hour Orosi Nocturnal Tour: $33
  • San Jose Walking Nature Tour: Sloths, Birds and Trees: $33
  • San Jose ART Walking Tour - small groups, creative experience: $35
  • Historical Tour and Old Houses by Dota: $35

  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Roatan $7.07
    San Jose $17

Sample the Local Flavors in Roatan

Some specific costs for nightlife related activities in Roatan:

  • Half-Day Tour in Roatan With Brewery, Rum and Chocolate Factories visit: $46
  • Bar Crawl Tour in West End Village by Pedibike- Let the Good Times Roll: $80

Sample the Local Flavors in San Jose

Some specific costs for nightlife related activities in San Jose:

  • Bar Crawl in Downtown San Jose: $38
  • Wine Tour and Tasting: $85
  • Bar Crawl in San Jose in a Deluxe Party Bus: $100

When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Roatan and San Jose, we can see that San Jose is more expensive. And not only is Roatan much less expensive, but it is actually a significantly cheaper destination. So, traveling to Roatan would let you spend less money overall. Or, you could decide to spend more money in Roatan and be able to afford a more luxurious travel style by staying in nicer hotels, eating at more expensive restaurants, taking tours, and experiencing more activities. The same level of travel in San Jose would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in San Jose than you might in Roatan.

If you're trying to decide if either of these two destinations are within your price range, also see Is Roatan Expensive? and Is San Jose Expensive?.

Which is Bigger, Roatan or San Jose?

San Jose has a larger population, and is about 40 times larger than the population of Roatan. When comparing the sizes of Roatan and San Jose, keep in mind that a larger population does not always imply the destination has more attractions or better activities. So, always research the type of place that you want to visit along with the activities and attractions that interest you.