Do you feel like an enjoyable and original snorkeling experience? Set off to see the superb Caribbean cushion stars covering the seabed in their dozens at Starfish Alley, in less than 3 feet of water. A number of spots in Roatan have the same name and many tour organizers offer excursions to visit them. This particular one is between West End and West Bay and has the advantage of being easily accessible from the beach.

Starfish Alley snorkeling, Roatan

How to get there?

Starfish Alley is between West End and West Bay, the heart of Roatan’s tourist area. You can get there by car from anywhere on the island by following the signs to West Bay. Once you’re on West Bay Road and about 0.5 mile before the Infinity Bay Resort, turn right on Kai Linda Way. Carry on to the end of the road and park near the “Bite on the Beach” restaurant. Once on the beach, walk for less than 5 minutes towards the east (to the right as you are facing the sea). If you are staying in West End, it’s easier to take a taxi boat (they leave from the landing stage facing the Splash Inn Dive Resort, which is well signposted). The price is $3/60L per person one-way, with boats setting off when there are at least three people on board. Ask them to drop you off at the site (it is very well known). From the eastern tip of West Bay beach, visitors in good physical shape can swim to the spot (follow the coastline for about 15 minutes).

Water entrance

The snorkeling spot stretches along a line of white buoys, at right angles to the beach, around 150 yards east of the “Bite on the Beach” restaurant. At the end of the line of buoys, two marker buoys show the boat lane, so don’t stay in this area and be careful when crossing it.

Starfish Alley Roatan snorkeling map

Exploration

There are many cushion stars all over the area between the beach and the end of the line of buoys (↕2-4ft/0,5-1m). They like the dense sea grass covering the seabed only a few yards from the beach. By crisscrossing the area and keeping a good eye out (they are sometimes hard to see, and are hidden in the grass), you will soon spot them. Although their colors range from red to beige, via yellow, orange and even green, they all belong to the same species. Cushion stars are completely inoffensive and you can pick them up for the traditional souvenir photo, before carefully putting them back in the water.

Red cushion sea star at Starfish Alley, Roatan

You won’t come across many other forms of marine life in the area. If you go beyond the buoys and the sea lane, you will come to a reef area, dominated by sea fans, and with few fish. But you should encounter some butterflyfish, surgeonfish or bluehead wrasses.

Don’t walk on the sea grass because there are sea urchins lurking here and there. Be particularly careful about boats sailing nearby when you are inside or near the marked-out areas.

Red cushion sea star at Starfish Alley, Roatan

Restaurants & accommodation

The “Bite on the Beach” restaurant bar is near the spot. You can also find all the facilities (accommodation, supermarkets, etc.) you need at West Bay, a few minutes away by car or boat.



Species you may spot while snorkeling Starfish Alley
COMMON NAME SCIENTIFIC NAME ABUNDANCE FISHBASE WIKIPEDIA
Cushion sea star Oreaster reticulatus  
Spotfin butterflyfish Chaetodon ocellatus  
Foureye butterflyfish Chaetodon capistratus  
Stoplight parrotfish Sparisoma viride  
Purple sea fan Gorgonia ventalina  

 

  • Level required Beginner
  • Protected areaSandy Bay-West End Marine Reserve
  • Maximum depth8ft/2.5m
  • Water entranceEasy, from a sandy beach
  • Potential DangersUrchins, boats
  • LifeguardNo
  • Visitor numbersLow
  • Access costsFree
  • Restaurants nearbyYes
  • Public toilets & showersNo

MAP Spot

These snorkeling spots are accessible to beginners and kids. You will enter the water gradually from a beach, or in a less than 3ft. deep area. The sea is generally calm, shallow, with almost no waves or currents. These spots are usually located in marked and/or monitored swimming areas. It is not necessary to swim long distances to discover the sea life.

This level only apply when the spot experiences optimal sea and/or weather conditions. It is not applicable if the sea and/or weather conditions deteriorate, in particular in the presence of rough sea, rain, strong wind, unusual current, large tides, waves and/or swell. You can find more details about the definition of our snorkeling levels on our snorkeling safety page.