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

Should you visit Roatan or Santa Elena?

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 Santa Elena. 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 Santa Elena?


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.

Santa Elena

Santa Elena is a cute town, and the closest to the Monteverde Cloud Forest. It's one of the most popular destinations in Costa Rica, and is a great place to experience the cloud forest and see some of country's unique wildlife.

In the Monteverde Cloud Forest you have a good chance of seeing rare quetzals which are the national bird of Costa Rica. Other common animals include white-faced capuchin monkeys, howler monkeys, orange-kneed tarantulas, any of 8-9 species of hummingbirds, and sloth.

Santa Elena is about 1,400 meters above sea level and has a humid and damp environment. The average yearly temperature is 64 degrees Fahrenheit and the average rainfall is 3,000 millimetres. Humidity can be anywhere between 74% and 97%.

For some great organized tour ideas, see The Best Adventure Tours to Honduras, The Best Adventure Tours to Honduras, The Best G Adventures Tours to Costa Rica, and The Best One Week (7-Day) Tours in Costa Rica.

Which place is cheaper, Santa Elena 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 Santa Elena is $91. 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 Santa Elena in more detail.

  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Roatan $11
    Santa Elena $54
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Roatan $22
    Santa Elena $108
Compare Hotels in Roatan and Santa Elena

Looking for a hotel in Roatan or Santa Elena? 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 Santa Elena

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.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Roatan $19
    Santa Elena $11
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:

  • Roatan Island Buggy Adventure plus Transfer: $217
  • Roatan Buggy Adventure, Snorkeling, Beach Pass plus Private Transfer: $207
  • Roatan Buggy Adventure, Monkey & Sloth Park, Beach Pass plus Private Transfer: $207
  • North Side Blue Channel & Starfish Snorkeling, 20min JetSki, Transfer Included: $165
  • Private Transfer from Honduras Roatan Airport (RTB) to Roatan Hotels: $142
  • East Sightseeing, Mangrove Tunnel Snorkel, Hole in the Wall, with Transfer: $130
  • Horseback Riding, Beach with Palapa and Transfer: $130
  • King Kong Extreme Zipline, City Tour and Transfer: $130
  • Roatan Zipline, Monkey, Macaws & Sloths Eco Park, Snorkeling, Transfer: $128
  • South Side Horseback Riding, Beach Break & Roundway Transfer: $120
  • Roatan Special Catamaran for Cruise Ship Passengers plus Transfer: $113
  • Roatan East End Cultural Experience, Island Lunch & Private Transfer: $99

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Santa Elena

Also for Santa Elena, here are a few examples of actual transportation services:

  • Shuttle Transfer Lake crossing from Monteverde To Arenal: $27
  • Peñas Blancas to Liberia Airport (LIR) Departure Private Transfer: $38
  • Direct transfer from Monteverde to San Jose, English Speaking Driver: $182
  • Private Transfer Lake crossing from Monteverde To Arenal From 1 to 6 passengers: $249
  • One Way Private Transfer from Monteverde to Samara : $269
  • Private Transfer From Monteverde To La Fortuna From 1 to 6 passengers: $270
  • One-Way Private Transfer: Monteverde to Quepos and Manuel Antonio: $276
  • One Way Private Transfer from Monteverde - Liberia: $276

Is it cheaper to fly into Roatan or Santa Elena?

Prices for flights to both Santa Elena 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 $9.40
    Santa Elena $23

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Roatan

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

  • Private Roundtrip Transfer to West End for Dinner and Nightlife : $70
  • Tiki Boat Sunset Cruise in Roatan with Snorkeling and Dinner : $100
  • Cooking classes from a Local!: $200

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Santa Elena

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

  • Night Walk in Monteverde with Dinner Included: $55

  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Roatan $27
    Santa Elena $30

Tours and Activities in Roatan

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

  • Private Tour: Chocolate Factory Rum cake Factory, Sightseeing and Beach Tour: $45
  • Roatan Island Tour & Daniel Johnson's Monkey and Sloth Hangout Tour: $70
  • Sloths Sanctuary/Monkeys Play + Dune Buggy/ATV Adventure & Private Beach Resort: $139
  • 4-Hour East Side Roatan Private Guided Tour with Canoe Ride: $120
  • 4-to-5 Hour Cruise Ship Tour, Monkeys/Sloths & West Bay Resort: $48
  • ATV Adventure on the East End of Roatan: $135
  • ATV Safari and Horseback Adventure at Mahogany Bay: $99
  • Adventures of Roatan ATV Pineapple beach break: $120
  • Animal Sightings and Walking Tour at Gumbalimba Park with Addons: $90
  • Atv Island Tour: $85
  • Beer and Food Tasting Experience at Roatan Island Brewing Company: $100
  • Best of ATV Adventure or BUGGY BLAST(Add Sloths + Beach @ Xtra/Optional): $90

Tours and Activities in Santa Elena

Also, here are some specific examples of entertainment, tickets, and activities for Santa Elena.

  • Admission Ticket to Las Pumas Rescue Center : $20
  • Selvatura Park: Herpetarium Tour in Monteverde: $22
  • Monteverde Cloud Forest Tour: $25
  • Wildlife Tour in Curicancha : $25
  • The Quetzal Tour In Monteverde : $26
  • Monteverde Butterfly Gardens Tour: $26
  • Adventure Day - Outdoor activities for Family and Friends Special Package.: $29
  • Night Adventures in Monteverde: $30
  • Kinkajou Night Walk Tour: $30
  • Monteverde: Kinkajou Forest Night Walking Tour: $30
  • Cloud Forest hanging bridges with a local naturalist tour guide: $32
  • CuriCancha Reserve Admission Ticket: $33

  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Roatan $7.06
    Santa Elena $6.16

Sample the Local Flavors in Roatan

Some specific costs for nightlife related activities in Roatan:

  • Bar Crawl Tour in West End Village by Pedibike- Let the Good Times Roll: $80

When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Roatan and Santa Elena, we can see that Santa Elena 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 Santa Elena would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in Santa Elena 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 Santa Elena Expensive?.