Roatan, the largest of the Bay Islands of Honduras, is noted for its pristine coral reefs, beautiful beaches, lush tropical foliage, and friendly people. Christopher Columbus discovered the islands in 1502 while on his fourth voyage and over the years it has been controlled by both the British and Spanish, as well as pirates and traders. The first permanent population of Roatan originated from the Cayman Islands, arriving in the 1830s shortly after the end of slavery in British colonies. Today, the population is about 30,000. The main town and capital of the municipality is Coxen Hole. Roatan is a long, narrow island measuring 37 miles in length, located about 30 miles from the northern Honduran mainland. The island has a mountainous backbone that provides for some excellent hiking opportunities, panoramas and lush scenery. Surrounded by warm Caribbean waters, this hilly island (frequented by diving enthusiasts) is picturesque, unspoiled and can take claim to being one of the region's fastest developing destinations.