Unlocking West Bay Roatan, Honduras: Your Ultimate Guide Before You Dive In!

I have a secret destination… and this destination has been gaining traction slowly and I wish it wouldn’t. It’s West Bay, on the island of Roatán in the Bay Islands of Honduras.

Roatan, Honduras, is renowned for its stunning natural beauty, vibrant marine life, and rich cultural heritage. Roatan boasts some of the best diving and snorkelling spots in the world. The Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System, the second-largest coral reef system globally, surrounds the island, providing an incredible underwater ecosystem teeming with colourful corals, tropical fish, and other marine creatures.

Roatan is home to breathtaking beaches with powdery white sands and crystal-clear turquoise waters. Visitors can relax, sunbathe, and partake in water sports such as kayaking, paddleboarding, and sailing along the island’s picturesque coastline.

West Bay is a highlight of Roatan, renowned for its stunning stretch of beach and vibrant underwater world. Located on the western coast of the island, West Bay boasts one of the most beautiful beaches in the Caribbean, with powdery white sands and crystalline turquoise waters. This idyllic setting provides the perfect backdrop for sunbathing, swimming, and enjoying water sports like snorkelling and paddleboarding.

Beneath the surface, the coral reef near West Bay offers exceptional snorkelling and diving opportunities, allowing visitors to encounter a kaleidoscope of marine life, including colourful fish, sea turtles, and even dolphins. Along the shoreline, visitors can find a variety of beachfront bars, restaurants, and shops, creating a lively and inviting atmosphere.

Whether you’re seeking relaxation, adventure, or simply a day of beachside bliss, West Bay is sure to captivate with its natural beauty and vibrant charm. Here’s what you need to know about the area of West Bay Roatan Honduras if you are considering a trip there.

locals in West Bay playing and jumping off the pier in Roatan, Honduras

 

Where is West Bay, Roatan, Honduras?

West Bay is located on the western coast of the island of Roatan, which is part of the Bay Islands department of Honduras. It is situated towards the northern end of Roatan, adjacent to another popular tourist area called West End. West Bay is known for its stunning beach, vibrant marine life, and an array of accommodations, restaurants, and activities for visitors to enjoy.

Roatán is an island in the western Caribbean, about 65 kilometres off the northern coast of the country of Honduras. It is located between the islands of Útila and Guanaja and is the largest of the Bay Islands of Honduras.

Honduras borders Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua.

How To Get To West Bay Roatan, Honduras

If you are departing from Toronto or Montreal, the only airlines that fly direct to Roatán are Sunwing and Air Transat and they are seasonal.

From USA cities, American Airlines flies to Roatán from Miami and Dallas. Delta Airlines flies to Roatán from Atlanta and United Airlines flies there from Houston.  Alternatively, you could fly to the mainland of Honduras and then take a charter to the island.

To get to West Bay Roatan, Honduras, you have a few options depending on your starting point:

  1. From Roatan’s Airport (Juan Manuel Gálvez International Airport): Upon arriving at the airport, you can take a taxi or arrange for a shuttle service to West Bay. Taxis are readily available outside the airport terminal, and the journey to West Bay typically takes around 20-30 minutes, depending on traffic conditions.
  2. From Coxen Hole (Roatan’s Main Town): If you’re staying in Coxen Hole or arriving at the ferry terminal from the Honduran mainland, you can take a taxi or a public bus to West Bay. Taxis are the most convenient option and can be found throughout the town. The ride to West Bay from Coxen Hole takes approximately 15-20 minutes by taxi.
  3. From West End: If you’re already staying in West End, another popular tourist area on the island located adjacent to West Bay, you can simply walk to West Bay. The two areas are connected by a scenic beachfront pathway known as the West Bay Beach Walk. The walk takes around 20-30 minutes and offers beautiful views along the way.
  4. Water Taxi: During certain times of the day, you may also find water taxis operating between West End and West Bay. This can be a convenient and scenic way to travel between the two destinations, especially if you prefer to enjoy the coastal views from the water.

Regardless of which option you choose, transportation to West Bay is relatively straightforward, and once you arrive, you’ll be greeted by the stunning beach and vibrant atmosphere that make it one of the top destinations in Roatan.

Iconic wreck in Roatan's Mahogany Bay

What’s So Special About Roatan?

The island of Roatán is steeped in hundreds of years of pirate lore, buried gold, slaves, and settlers from Spain and England. Both Spanish and English are the main languages spoken on the island. Tourism is the main industry in Roatán and scuba diving is world-renowned.

The island features lush rainforests, mangrove swamps, and diverse wildlife habitats, making it a haven for ecotourism enthusiasts. Visitors can explore nature reserves, zip-line through the canopy, hike scenic trails, and observe unique flora and fauna, including exotic birds and butterflies.

I have been fortunate enough to fall asleep on the beach daily in West Bay and also pass my Open Water scuba diver certification. Mega props to the guys at TGI Roatán (it is an SSD dive shop, although it used to be PADI when I was certified) and to Ruben – the instructor who was so patient with me. The team at TGI Roatan was top notch and I highly recommend them for your diving needs. The dive masters were fun and interested in everyone else having a good time and diving safely.

Pro-tip for travellers looking to do diving certifications – do all your classroom lessons at home and save the open water work for the destination. Trust me when I tell you that you don’t want to spend any time in a classroom when you could be experiencing paradise.

Learning to scuba dive with TGI in Roatan, photo by Mike Pelosi

The coral reef around Roatán is the second largest in the world behind the Great Barrier Reef. It also keeps sharks out of the swimming area. According to scubageek.com: “Roatan’s reef is home to an amazingly diverse population of aquatic life. The island has a fringing reef system: the coral reef extends directly from the shoreline. As a diver or snorkeler, this means that all the best sites are mere minutes from the shore.” And I will attest as a novice, that it was the perfect environment to get my certification – everything felt so safe.

This is the same coral reef that you would access from areas of the country, Belize.

What Is The History of West Bay?

The history of West Bay in Roatan, Honduras, is intertwined with the broader history of the island and the region. Before European colonization, Roatan was inhabited by indigenous peoples, including the Paya, Pech, and Tawahka tribes. These indigenous communities lived off the land and engaged in fishing, agriculture, and trade along the coast.

Along came European Colonization. In the early 16th century, Spanish conquistadors arrived in the Caribbean and claimed Roatan as part of the Spanish Empire. However, due to its rugged terrain and lack of valuable resources, the island was largely neglected by the Spanish colonizers, and indigenous resistance prevented large-scale settlement.

During the 17th and 18th centuries, Roatan became a haven for English and French pirates who used its secluded coves and hidden bays as bases for launching raids on Spanish galleons carrying treasure from the New World. Legends suggest that pirates may have hidden their loot in caves along the island’s coastline, adding to its mystique.

In the late 18th century, Roatan became home to Garifuna communities, descendants of West African slaves and indigenous Caribbeans who were exiled from the island of St. Vincent by the British. The Garifuna settled along the northern coast of Roatan, where they established villages and maintained their unique culture, language, and traditions.

West Bay, like much of Roatan, underwent significant development in the late 20th and early 21st centuries, driven by tourism and investment from both domestic and international sources. The construction of resorts, hotels, restaurants, and recreational facilities transformed West Bay into one of the premier tourist destinations in the Caribbean, known for its stunning beaches, world-class diving, and vibrant atmosphere.

Today, West Bay continues to attract visitors from around the world seeking sun, sand, and adventure, while also preserving elements of its diverse cultural and historical heritage. Its history reflects the resilience and adaptability of the people who have called Roatan home over the centuries, from indigenous tribes and pirates to Garifuna communities and modern-day tourists.

sunset at Henry Morgan Courtyard beach in West Bay in Roatan, Honduras

Where To Stay In West Bay, Roatan

In West Bay, Roatan, you’ll find a variety of accommodations ranging from luxury resorts to cozy boutique hotels and beachfront villas. Here are some of the best places to stay in West Bay:

Infinity Bay Spa & Beach Resort: This upscale resort offers luxurious suites and villas surrounded by lush tropical gardens and overlooking the turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea. Guests can enjoy amenities such as a beachfront infinity pool, spa services, water sports, and on-site dining options.

Grand Roatan Caribbean Resort: Nestled on a secluded stretch of beach, Grand Roatan Caribbean Resort offers spacious suites and private villas with stunning ocean views. The resort features a beachfront infinity pool, dive center, restaurant, and bar, making it ideal for a relaxing getaway.

Las Rocas Resort & Dive Center: Situated on a picturesque cliff overlooking the Caribbean Sea, Las Rocas Resort offers charming bungalows and rooms with panoramic ocean views. Guests can enjoy amenities such as a private beach, infinity pool, dive center, and restaurant serving fresh seafood and international cuisine.

Mayan Princess Beach & Dive Resort: This beachfront resort offers spacious suites and villas surrounded by lush gardens and overlooking the azure waters of West Bay Beach. Guests can relax by the pool, enjoy water sports activities, dine at the on-site restaurant, and indulge in spa treatments.

Bananarama Dive and Beach Resort: Located right on the beach, Banana Beach Resort offers comfortable rooms and suites with ocean or garden views. Guests can relax in hammocks on the beach, swim in the pool, dine at the beachfront restaurant, and enjoy complimentary kayaks and paddleboards.

Foster’s West Bay: This boutique hotel offers cozy rooms and suites just steps away from the white sands of West Bay Beach. Guests can enjoy amenities such as a rooftop terrace with ocean views, a swimming pool, a restaurant, and a bar serving tropical cocktails.

The Beach House Roatan: Situated directly on West Bay Beach, The Beach House Roatan offers luxury beachfront villas with private pools and stunning ocean views. Guests can enjoy personalized service, gourmet dining, and access to a variety of water sports and activities.

Hotel Henry Morgan All Inclusive West Bay Roatan Honduras Room interior

Both times I have travelled to Roatan, I have stayed at the Henry Morgan Resort in West Bay. The Resort is all-inclusive. There is a beach bar area that serves buffet lunches which is pretty much the same thing every day. There is a restaurant inside which is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner at specific times. The staff is very friendly and will go out of their way to serve/assist you or even just smile and say hello.

Henry Morgan Courtyard grounds in West Bay Roatan, Honduras

Next time I return, I would like very much to try the Mayan Princess Resort next door to the Henry Morgan Resort or swing around to the Sandy Bay area and try Anthony’s Key. The Henry Morgan Resort and Mayan Princess Resort are located in the perfect location on the beach to walk either way for shops, bars, more beach, more diving, great swimming, fantastic water, everything. You cannot beat the location.

sunset on the beach at Henry Morgan Resort, Roatan, Honduras

If you would rather do a more self-catering type stay in West Bay, a quick search brings up the following locations on the beach: Coconut Tree West Bay and Bananarama Dive and Beach Resort.

These are just a few of the best places to stay in West Bay, Roatan. Whether you’re looking for a luxury resort, a cozy boutique hotel, or a beachfront villa, you’re sure to find the perfect accommodation for your tropical getaway.

Want to know some of my thoughts on staying in all-inclusive resorts? Check out this article linked here.

double hammocks on a balcony at Henry Morgan Courtyard grounds in West Bay in Roatan, Honduras

Where To Eat in West Bay (and West End), Roatan

In West Bay, Roatan, you’ll find a variety of restaurants offering diverse cuisines to suit different tastes and preferences. Here are some of the best places to eat in West Bay:

  1. Beach Grill at Infinity Bay: Located right on the beach, this restaurant offers a relaxed atmosphere and delicious dishes, including fresh seafood, grilled meats, salads, and sandwiches. Enjoy your meal with stunning views of the Caribbean Sea.
  2. Thirsty Turtle Bar and Grill: Situated at Bananarama Dive & Beach Resort, Thirsty Turtle offers a casual dining experience with a diverse menu featuring seafood, burgers, wraps, and tacos. Don’t miss their happy hour specials and live music events.
  3. Vintage Pearl Restaurant and Wine Cellar: For a more upscale dining experience, head to Vintage Pearl, known for its elegant ambiance and gourmet cuisine. Enjoy a fine selection of wines paired with delectable dishes crafted from locally sourced ingredients.
  4. Bite on the Beach: This cozy beachfront restaurant serves up a fusion of international flavours with a Caribbean twist. From seafood ceviche to Thai curry, Bite on the Beach offers a diverse menu to satisfy every palate.
  5. The Hangover Hut: If you’re craving comfort food or a hearty breakfast, The Hangover Hut is the place to go. Indulge in classics like pancakes, omelets, and breakfast burritos, as well as burgers, sandwiches, and salads for lunch.
  6. Roatan Oasis: Located at Las Rocas Resort, Roatan Oasis offers a unique dining experience with its overwater deck overlooking the Caribbean Sea. Enjoy a variety of seafood dishes, international cuisine, and signature cocktails in a picturesque setting.
  7. Beach Club San Simon: This beachfront restaurant offers a laid-back atmosphere and a menu featuring seafood specialties, grilled meats, and traditional Honduran dishes. Relax with a cold drink in hand and soak up the sun while enjoying panoramic ocean views.

sandy main street in West Bay Roatan, Honduras

West End is located on the western end of Roatan, while West Bay is situated slightly to the northwest, adjacent to West End. Both areas are coastal and offer easy access to the Caribbean Sea.

In West End, Roatan, you’ll find a diverse range of dining options, from casual beachfront eateries to upscale restaurants offering international and local cuisine. Here are some of the best places to eat in West End:

  1. Sundowners Beach Bar: Located right on the beach, Sundowners Beach Bar offers a laid-back atmosphere and stunning views of the Caribbean Sea. Enjoy a variety of dishes, including seafood, burgers, tacos, and salads, along with refreshing cocktails and cold beers.
  2. Lands End Cafe: This cozy cafe is a favourite among locals and visitors alike for its delicious breakfast and lunch offerings. Enjoy freshly brewed coffee, homemade pastries, hearty breakfast burritos, and sandwiches in a relaxed setting.
  3. Argentinian Grill at Blue Marlin: For mouthwatering steaks, grilled meats, and Argentine specialties, head to the Argentinian Grill at Blue Marlin. This restaurant offers a cozy atmosphere and a menu featuring flavorful dishes cooked to perfection on the grill.
  4. Creole’s Rotisserie Chicken: If you’re craving authentic Caribbean flavours, Creole’s Rotisserie Chicken is the place to go. Indulge in juicy rotisserie chicken served with traditional sides like rice and beans, plantains, and coleslaw.
  5. The Blue Parrot: Situated on the waterfront, The Blue Parrot offers a diverse menu with a focus on fresh seafood and international cuisine. Enjoy dishes like grilled fish, seafood pasta, burgers, and salads while taking in panoramic views of the ocean.
  6. Celeste’s Island Cuisine: This family-owned restaurant serves up delicious island-inspired dishes made with fresh, locally sourced ingredients. Enjoy specialties like conch fritters, coconut shrimp, seafood stew, and traditional Honduran fare.
  7. Roatan Oasis at Splash Inn Dive Resort: Located at Splash Inn Dive Resort, Roatan Oasis offers a unique dining experience with its overwater deck overlooking Half Moon Bay. Enjoy a variety of seafood dishes, international cuisine, and signature cocktails in a picturesque setting.

These are just a few options to tantalize your taste buds in West Bay and West End. West End has a more laid-back and bohemian vibe compared to West Bay. It’s known for its narrow streets lined with colourful buildings, dive shops, restaurants, bars, and souvenir shops. The atmosphere is lively and eclectic, with a mix of locals, expatriates, and tourists.

Whether you’re craving fresh seafood, international cuisine, or local flavours, you’re sure to find something delicious to enjoy during your visit.

Sundowners in West End, Roatan Honduras

What Else Is There To Do On Roatan?

Aside from diving all the amazing shipwrecks and walls, swimming, snorkelling over the coral reef, sleeping on the beach and eating, there is an Iguana Farm to visit, zip-lining and dune buggies to rent on the island. You can also charter boats to hang out on and also take a glass bottom tour.

Roatan offers a wide range of adventure activities for thrill-seekers. From zip-lining and horseback riding to ATV tours and deep-sea fishing, there are plenty of exciting experiences to enjoy both on land and at sea.

Roatan has a rich history shaped by indigenous peoples, European colonization, and African heritage. Visitors can explore historical sites such as pirate caves, ancient ruins, and colonial-era architecture, providing insight into the island’s intriguing past.

Compared to other Caribbean destinations, Roatan maintains a more laid-back and authentic atmosphere, with fewer crowds and a slower pace of life. This makes it an ideal destination for travellers seeking relaxation, tranquillity, and a genuine island experience.

Iguana Farm in roatan honduars

As my disclaimer, neither time I visited the island with my children. I was not looking for family-friendly activities or things for kids to do.

The currency used in Honduras is called lempira. US dollars are widely accepted if you can bring it with you when you travel there. If you use an ATM (of which there are NOT many – there are only 2 ATMs in West Bay, one is in the lobby of the Mayan Princess and there are 3 in the West End), they will give you lempira.

As with any destination you visit, you need to mind your personal safety. Take proper precautions to ensure your identification, money and credit cards are safe. Do not hitchhike or walk alone at night.

Both times I visited, the trips were a week long. The end of the week made me sad to depart, but I am always happy to get home.

Over view to West Bay Roatan Honduras #WestEnd #MahoganyBay #CoxenHole #ScubaDiving #AdventureTravel #divingvacations #BayIslands #Snorkeling #BudgetTravel #childfreetravel #allinclusivetravel #CaribbeanBeach

 

KathrynAnywhere is a participant in the Stay22 affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees upon guests booking reservations at the accommodations listed.

10 thoughts on “Unlocking West Bay Roatan, Honduras: Your Ultimate Guide Before You Dive In!

    • kathrynanywhere says:

      Awesome! Way back in 2009 when I was going there for my first visit, I purposely looked for somewhere I had never heard of before!

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  2. Linda Manns Linneman says:

    This sounds like a wonderful time. How awesome to be able to go for a walk along the beach. I love browsing little shops. Thank you so much for sharing this place. God Bless

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