You'll be close to most of the shopping that folks see when visiting on Roatan.
Your quest becomes problematic when you put in "locally made items", as there really isn't much that falls into that category. You will see the largest volume of material is that of Guatemalan import.
When on Roatan, looking for gifts to take home? Things such as Honduran coffee, hot sauce, and real-deal vanilla extract make great (and very reasonable) gifts. These are available almost anywhere, but you'll get better pricing in the main town of Coxen Hole at the grocery.
As far as Honduran made items, concentrate on wooden objects- from small boxes, animal carvings, all the way to chairs, doors, and furniture. Honduras is well known for its wood varieties, and the woodworking ranges from simplistic primitive to exquisite. Alas, there are also commonly found wooden boxes that are "branded" with a Roatan stamp. Look for some place with wood chips out back.
Other things to look for are the famous woven rag hammocks. You need a lot of room to hang one back home, but they will be an excellent reminder of your happy visit ! Notice also the hand embroidery offered on a small scale. This can be anything from a simple design on a white cotton cover-up, possibly a flour sack shirt with intricate stitching, maybe even a table covering or bed spread worth many hundreds of dollars.
The Honduran Cigars are well regarded here in the United States, but they are generally not any sort of bargain. Many people mis-identify the origin of the Nicaraguan Flor-de-Cana Rum as Honduran, but few people complain when you bring this home. The inexpensive end is passable, the older is said to be fabulous.
You would be better for shopping to hit West End, I agree that most "locally made"items are made of wood (which are beautiful) and the hammocks. There are come nice paintings from local artists as well. On the West Bay side there is the Rum Cake Factory (By South Shore Zip Line)...amazing Rum Cakes and specialized Rum as well - We had the mango rum a couple of months ago - FANtastic!!
A mentioned, There are few locally made products, even the majority of wood products are from the Mainland and beyond, Plenty of folks have branding irons so they can buy things like bamboo backscratchers for 2 dollars a dozen , "brand / burn " Roatan on them and sell them for $5 a piece Most Hammocks are are from Guatemala, The best Honduran Hammocks are the ones made of not so soft nylon in various colors, Not the softest but very durable, they should cost about $15 dollars but on West bay are likely more like $40. The Rum Cake is pretty much the same as the rum cakes in Cayman, Antigua, Bahamas, etc., good and tasty but hardly a local product as it is an expat owned company that has only been on the Island for a few years, Kind of like buying "local" at the Mahogany Bay Harley Davidson. A Walk through the Coxen Hole Mercado will find some true local items, there is also a place at Alba plaza in Sandy Bay selling local things made from recycled garbage, welded fish type stuff made from old cans and things
30 minutes drive( aprox) from Paradise resort but worth the drive , I think , you should take a taxi to the store called "Made on Roatan"
the artists are from the island and appreciate the shopping you could do as all funds go to the artists them selves They have a good web site for you to view mostly jewelry and décor items but Im sure if you asked they could relate you to connect with many other items of interest that are made by local residents
Yes Dee, I agree they are Yummy and while Roatan does have somewhat of an Identity crisis when it comes to history, I 'figgered" when peopled looked for local they did not mean just because it was baked there, and were looking for a bit more tradition , as lacking as it may be, Heck, if not there is a Wendy's in French Harbor serving authentic Wendy's burgers "made on Roatan"Edited: 02 October 2013, 22:10
The rum cakes are good - but the big boxes hide small cakes at big prices...
Made in Roatan - prices high, and there is a discrepancy between what we are told about the profits going back to the "artists" and what local folks tell us really happens. A visit to the place the items are made will change your view on the altruistic nature of the business.
There are two places to get truly Roatan-made art that are convenient to the West Bay area.
Cathy already mentioned Karla. That is Karla and Marco of Karma Jewelry. They design and make their amazing jewelry, including polishing stones and amazing amounts of handwork. For example, the supple bracelets made of hundreds of silver links - those links are each individually made from silver wire. Lots of things with ocean themes... earrings and pendants of rays and starfish - the drumfish are striking in silver. Some large necklaces with shells wrapped in silver.
You'll find Karla with a small booth set up most mornings at the end of Emerald Beach Club road, just east of Henry Morgan resort. This is not cheap souvenier stuff - this is real artisan jewelry - but she also does macrame resulting in some very inexpensive bracelets / ankle bracelets with real pearls, stones, etc.
It is worth going here every day just for Karla's smile. She is an amazing woman with beauty that starts within and radiates to the world. Karla was born on the island. Marco came from Argentina to dive and found he had to keep coming back for "the diving" until Karla let him stay!
(While you are at Karma, you can walk back to Casa de Paradise... the pink buildings a hundred feet back from the shore... and buy some Cafe Buenos Diaz where it is roasted. The American owners (Ron and Myra) have a coffee finca on the mainland and bring the beans back to Roatan and roast them right there. If you are lucky you'll visit on a roasting day - what a smell! The woman who clean and maintain the rentals can sell you coffee, beans or ground... and it has been $1 a pound cheaper there than at the grocery stores in Coxen Hole. Good coffee and makes a great gift. The grocery store also carries another island-roast coffee that is very good... name escapes me right now.)
The other local artist that everydone should visit is the philosopher-king, Melvin Bodden. Around the island you'll see lots of wood carvings ranging from small to monumental... mostly carved by Melvin. There is no store... you stop by the outdoor motorcycle repair place where there are some carvings along the road in the western end of Sandy Bay and walk into the yard and see if Melvin is around. Once we found him sitting in a hammock carving a turtle from a chunk of wood with his machete. His grandson was hanging around with him.
If you are going to be around for a week or so, stop early and you can do a custom order. Melvin will carve something special for you. DO NOT make the mistake we made - we gave him a drawing and he carved us a bird - but he decided to use a larger piece than we agreed upon and it wouldn't fit in our checked luggage - and the gate folks refused to let us take it on the plane. We had to have friends ship it - and the shipping cost twice what we paid Melvin to carve it! (including a nasty fee the American customs assigned for "researching" the wood.) Make sure he knows it has to fit inside your available dimensions!
Melvin is an island character. He's worth a visit even if you don't want a piece of his folk art. He regaled us with philosophy and mystic dreams. I have no knowledge of what has altered his consciousness - perhaps herbal applications, perhaps the island air... whatever the case, his smile is also worth the trip there!
Great info, thank you everyone!
Also, the Bananarama gift shop has some "locally made" arts & crafts style items. *Some of the proceeds go towards local charities. Cute/ simple things like jewelry, hair barrettes, ornaments, etc. ( fun to check out ).
I'll def. be visiting Karla again( much to my husbands dismay ), as well as the coffee spot! :)