Roatan is part of the Bay Islands, which are located in the Caribbean Sea off the coast of Honduras. This island quickly became one of our favorite places in the world to unwind. From Washington, D.C., it’s a quick flight to Miami and then another quick flight directly to Roatan. A 25 minute and $25 dollar taxi ride takes you from the airport to either of the two most popular spots on the island for vacationers, divers and snorkelers: West Bay and West End. We’ll break down everything you need to know about both spots.
This is the most popular spot on the island. You’ll find a few resorts on a small white sand beach with world-class snorkeling and diving right from the shore.
Snorkeling: the warm and calm bath-like water is lovely and the coral can be explored just a few yards from the beach. The best snorkeling is by the wall at Grand Roatan resort. Update: The best snorkeling is actually a little swim out in front of Infinity Bay. Phenomenal!
Accommodations: Bananarama offers no-frills accommodations for a good price, as well as larger villas and bungalows. It also has a lively bar and a good breakfast.
Grand Roatán is supposed to be luxurious, but we found it to be unimpressive for the price. Infinity Bay has a nice pool and a range of accommodations from studios to full condos—we prefer this to Grand Roatan.
Dining: Argentinian Grill is our favorite spot for delicious seafood and steak dinners and a hearty breakfast, nice island ambiance and great service. The Vintage Pearl is hit or miss, but when it’s good it’s great—especially for the seafood and wine selection. The Thirsty Turtle at Bananarama and the beach bar at Infinity Bay have great lunch options. There’s also an excellent wood-fire pizza place at Bananarama.
The downside to West Bay:
It’s touristy and expensive. When the cruise ships come in, the beach gets super crowded with vendors and tourists. There are some cheaper bars, however, on the walk to Gumbalimba.
The bottom line: if you want to be right on the beach, steps away from amazing snorkeling, and have lots of stuff to do, this is a great option.
We love both spots but prefer West End. It has way less beach but is still on the water and has a happy little hippy vibe. There are plenty of shops, bars, restaurants and dive shops. Your money will go way further here than at West Bay.
Snorkeling: Half Moon Bay at West End offers extraordinary snorkeling right from the shore. Some people like it better than West Bay and others don’t like it as much—either way though, it’s awesome. The water is deeper and there’s more swimming involved in Half Moon Bay than at West Bay. At first we thought there were less fish, but after exploring a bit, we found the place where they all hang out. The coral here is also outstanding.
Accommodations: there are several low-cost options here. Mr. Tucan’s has affordable rooms in a perfect location for snorkeling. Splash Inn is also close by and has excellent customer service. We rent a spacious condo operated by Splash Inn which is in a little community at the end of the road (West End is basically just one road that takes 15 min to walk one way). It has a community pool and includes daily breakfast and one snorkeling excursion in the price of the rental unit and costs way less than a basic unit at Infinity Bay or Grand Roatan at West Bay.
Dining: One of our favorite spots, the Landing, is on the second floor at the Beach House (yellow building). The place has gorgeous views and delicious food (the beet, feta, avocado salad is a must).
There’s also an Argentinian Grill that’s equally as good as the one on West Bay. The Sundowner is a great place for cheap happy hour drinks and amazing sunset views from the second floor. Also, the Thai Blue Elephant is really good and has lovely views of the water. You have to try one of the chicken places for cheap local Caribbean/Honduran dishes. You cannot leave without trying baleadas!
The downside of West End: There’s not much beach and not as many accommodations have pools. So if you’re looking for an infinity pool overlooking the beach, you’ll probably prefer West Bay.
The bottom line: If you want a less crowded and touristy feel but still a laid-back vacation vibe and great snorkeling and diving, West End is your spot.
The Good News
If you can’t decide between West Bay and West End, just pick one and take the $10 water taxi back and forth (it’s $3 per person or $10 for the whole boat). It’s about a 10 minute boat ride and the taxis run all day and night. If you stay at West End, you can go over to West Bay and rent lockers and have access to showers and beach chairs at Bananarama for cheap. We like to spend a few nights at West Bay and then make our way over to the West End. There are other parts of the island to explore, but these are the most popular spots … for a reason.
If you’re into snorkeling, diving or just relaxing, you really can’t go wrong.