We've been to Roatan 4 times, last time about a month ago. Carnival has built a new docking /shopping area called Mahogany Bay. It's a little distance from the old dock, which I personally liked better.
Someone mentioned West End--that's an interesting place right now. Has shops, some bars, restaurants, etc. The road is dirt but from what I understand from talking to a local guy who runs a shop there they're talking about paving it, which in my opinion, will basically ruin it.
The waters normally very clear and beautiful.Most of the dive shops are at West End.
Re/ Mahogany Bay, everything's new, dock, buildings, beach area, etc. Just seemed sort of artificial to me. There's a chair lift that you can catch right in the shopping area that will take you to the beach area. It's only about a 10 minute ride or so or you can easily walk on pavement if you'd rather. We rode the chair lift --didn't even get off--just rode it over , circled around and back, just for the view and to see the beach.
Re/ renting a vehicle and going off on your own, I'm sure you'd be safe but
I would suggest you be sure of where you're going, don't try to drive onto a beach--you may end up stuck.
When we were there when it came time to sail, John Heald, the C.D. kept paging this one couple over and over--they weren't aboard and the Capt. waited about 15 minutes past sailing time. Finally John came on and said they were sorry to have to leave someone but it was time to go so away we went without them. He later came over the inter-com and announced that the couple had rented a jeep, went to a beach, got stuck and long story short, missed the ship and had to fly on to the next port , compliments of their own pocketbook---so be careful if you do go out on your own.
Roatan right now is a good port but I fear "progress " will turn it into a so-so port in the next couple years.
Go and enjoy while you can.