West Bay

A white sandy beach, palm trees and colorful boats on a crystal sea – West Bay is an enchantment. But the spectacle is at its finest under the water: multi-colored coral cascading in the deep blue water, parrotfish in abundance, shoals of Atlantic blue tang and several species of angelfish, and all in exceptional visibility. West Bay is a must for snorkeling in Roatan, and certainly one of the most beautiful spots in the Caribbean.
How to get there?

At the far west of the island, a 30-minute drive from the airport ($25 by taxi), West Bay is the main seaside resort in Roatan, where most of the luxury hotels are concentrated. If you are not staying there, it can be tricky to park for free and to find a way leading to the beach. Since the road is set back from the beach, only a few footpaths between the hotels give you access to it. If you are staying in West End, the easiest thing to do is to take a taxi boat (departures from the jetty opposite the Splash Inn Dive Resort, well signposted). $3/60L per person one-way, with the boats setting off when at least three people are on board. Once you have reached the water’s edge, walk towards the west (to the left as you are facing the sea) as far as the end of the beach, which is “closed off” by a barrier of black rocks. .

Water entrance

You can enter the water anywhere along the beach, but we recommend (because of the absence of boats and the proximity to the most beautiful reefs) choosing the far west of the beach, shown by a barrier of black rock. Most snorkelers leave their things on the rocks and get into the water here.

Aerial view


The area to explore is vast, covering the space between the beach and the northern limit of the reef, about 150 to 250 yards away. Make sure you take note of the position of the many dive boats before getting into the water.

As soon as you are in the water, you will be greeted by dozens of sergeant major fish and sea chubs (↕2-4ft/0.5-1m), which are apparently used to being fed. Carry on moving out to sea. Around ten meters from the beach, the first coral clusters appear and grow denser as you move away from the shore (↕4-9ft/1-3m). A large number of parrotfish, surgeonfish and butterflyfish live in these areas.

As you move even further from the beach, you will soon come across the particularly spectacular reef drop-off (↕12-32ft/4-10m). The reef is covered with sea fans, and plunges abruptly down toward an immaculate sandy seabed. A number of parrotfish species are abundant on the drop-off, as are butterflyfish, always seen in couples. You might also come across grey and French angelfish or the sublime queen angelfish, which is more timid however.

Snorkeling Report West Bay Roatan
Coral reef at West Bay

Swim closer to the small rocky islet and the small black rock cliff that marks the western limit of the beach. In this zone, known to divers as “West End Wall”, you will have the best chance of spotting a sea turtle. Among the dozens of species that you could see in this spot are the barred hamlet, royal gramma or the elegant midnight parrotfish.

Here the sea is generally very calm, with a total absence of waves. Visibility is also exceptional. As the spot is extensive and particularly pleasant, you should protect yourself from the sun since you are likely to spend longer in the water than you first planned. On the reef front, there are sometimes dive boats, so be careful.

Snorkeling excursions (2 to 4 spots, $15 to $45 per person) are organized, taking you to the spot by boat, even though it is only a few meters from the beach, which might make you think you have wasted your money. Discuss with the excursion organizer which spots you want to visit beforehand.

Restaurants & accommodation

There are many upmarket hotels on the beach, with restaurants open to non-clients, and a number of snack bars and supermarkets nearby, set back from the sea, around the main road.

Snorkeling Report gives the most precise tips possible about the snorkeling spots and potential dangers, but each one of us is responsible for our own safety in the water. For more information, take a look at the snorkeling safety page. If you want to add extra information or make any corrections to the spot descriptions, please contact us.

Spot’s weather forecasts (°C)

Spot tips

  • Type of spot
  • Level of difficulty
  • Maximum depth
    10ft (3m) on the reef flat, 32ft (10m) on the reef drop-off
  • Water entrance
    Easy, from a sandy beach
  • Potential Dangers
    Dive boats
  • Lifeguard
  • Visitor numbers
  • Access costs
  • Restaurants nearby
    Yes, inexpensive
  • Public toilets & showers

Spot map

Spot photos

Underwater spot photos

Species you may spot while snorkeling West Bay

Common name Scientific name Abundance Fishbase Wikipedia
Green sea turtle
Chelonia mydas
Queen angelfish
Holacanthus ciliaris
French angelfish
Pomacanthus paru
Gray angelfish
Pomacanthus arcuatus
Southern stingray
Dasyatis americana
Midnight parrotfish 
Scarus coelestinus
Stoplight parrotfish
Sparisoma viride
Greenblotch parrotfish
Sparisoma atomarium
Atlantic blue tang
Acanthurus coeruleus
Doctorfish tang
Acanthurus chirurgus
Foureye butterflyfish
Chaetodon capistratus
Banded butterflyfish
Chaetodon striatus
Spotfin butterflyfish
Chaetodon ocellatus
Sergeant major
Abudefduf saxatilis
Bluehead wrasse
Thalassoma bifasciatum
Bermuda chub
Kyphosus sectatrix
Indigo hamlet
Hypoplectrus indigo
Royal gramma
Gramma loreto
Bluestriped grunt
Haemulon sciurus
Show all species
You encountered a specie at this spot that is not listed here?
  • Shelly Mom

    How does West End compare? We are visiting in May and trying to decide where to stay for the best snorkeling

    • Guillaume

      Hey! Many travelers choose to stay in West End, with more budget accommodation and friendly atmosphere than West Bay. Snorkeling is good in West End, especially in Half Moon Bay, with nice drop-off, but honestly, West Bay is unrivaled!

      • Shelly Mom

        We are in West end now headed to West Bay, thank you!

    • Discover Roatan™

      West End is more quaint and as Guillaume mentioned, nice to snorkel in Half Moon Bay. Our Snorkel excursions can be both shore and boat guided snorkel trip. Typically starting at West Bay and moving on to the Blue Channel. Here’s a glimpse of West Bay!

  • Guillaume

    Many travelers choose to stay in West End, with more budget accommodation and friendly atmosphere than West Bay. Snorkeling is good in West End, especially in Half Moon Bay, with nice drop-off, but honestly, West Bay is unrivaled!

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  • mommy marsha

    What is the best way to get to Half moon bay from the Coxen cruise port? Also is Half moon bay appropriate for snorkeling from the beach for kids?

    • Mikael Blomdahl

      This bay is an amazing place to snorkeling at. You can start to snorkel immediately from the shore! And there are so many different and beautiful species to see.
      But when we were there a sea snake suddenly showed up maybe a meter or two beside of me!! It was perhaps a meter long, white and brown(?).
      It scared me.. But it didn’t come closer.
      Be careful.
      Do anyone know more about what kind of sea snake this is and what it is called?
      Otherwise it’s a wonderful bay, the Half moon, to snorkeling in!
      Mikael, Sweden