The plane will disembark outside on the tarmac, and then you'll walk over to go inside to immigration, so be prepared for the blast of tropical heat!
Once you get inside, you'll go in a line to clear immigration. If the line is long and you've got to wait for awhile, there is free wifi in the airport, but sometimes doesn't work so well. The immigration procedure includes fingerprint scanning, so it takes awhile when there's a big plane (or several planes at the same time), but it has improved a lot over the last couple years, with many additional agents to speed up the process. Immigration can grant you up to a 90 day stay, but that is at their discretion, so they might just stamp you for a 30 day stay. If you are planning on a longer stay, make sure to ask for 90 days.
After immigration, you'll collect your bags. There are free carts to use, and there are also baggage handler guys that work for tips, if you want help. Once you've collected your bags, you'll need to put them through a bag scan along with your hand luggage. Why, when you've already gone through all the security before your flight? Who knows, that's just the way it goes.
Once you exit the secured baggage claim area, be prepared to be assailed with all sorts of offers for transportation. There are posted rates inside the airport for taxis (to Sandy Bay, the rate is $20, for example). If you want a pick up arranged to the hostel, we have a taxi driver that does this for $15 for 1-2 people, and can include a grocery store stop on the way. If you don't have much to carry and can dodge and weave through all the persistent taxi drivers, leave the airport, walk out to the main road and cross the street, then you can flag a shared taxi passing along the street for a cheaper rate (around 100 lemp per person to Sandy Bay), but there are no street addresses on the island, so make sure you've written down directions to where you're going.
Inside the airport, there are no money change facilities. Don't bother to bring down Canadian dollars, you can't exchange them here. If you're flying in from Belize, make sure you've changed any Belizean dollars before you leave Belize, as you can't exchange those either. The only currencies that you can exchange on the island are US dollars (and these are accepted around the island, so no need to go line up at a bank to exchange any), and a few banks also exchange euros. Banks have some strange rules with currency exchanges though, so you might end up frustrated. If you need an ATM before leaving the airport, there's one that dispenses in lempira and one that dispenses in US$. Occasionally these machines have been tampered with and have a card skimmer attached to steal your banking info, so you might want to wait and go to an actual bank to use their ATM.
If you need a bite to eat or something to drink before you leave the airport, there's a coffee shop, Espresso Americano, as well as a bar.
Time to fly out of Roatan? If you're on an international flight, you should plan to arrive at least 2 hours ahead of your departure time (and an hour for domestic flights). You'll need to line up at the airline's counter to check in and check your bags. It's not legal to take shells, sea fans etc, so be prepared to have them removed from your bag if you were trying to take some home. International departure tax is now included in the pricing for pretty much all the airlines that fly out of Roatan, as far as I know (it used to be paid separately, but I think only Spirit Airlines doesn't include it yet, and they don't fly in/out of Roatan, just San Pedro Sula).
Once you've checked in, you'll need to pass through immigration (and the fingerprint scanning again), and then through the secure area where your carry on items are scanned. Shoes need to be removed and put through the x-ray, as well as watches and any other metal items (belts with buckles, for example). They've stopped having people remove shoes in airports that I've been to in Canada and the US, but here, they still require this.
When you've gotten through to the secured area, there are some purified water dispensers, so it's worth bringing an empty water bottle with you. There's only 1 place to get anything to eat in the secured area (they have sandwiches and chips, not all that much selection), so you might want to bring some snacks with you to the airport.
Have a question about flying in or out? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, we're happy to help!