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A white sandy beach, palm trees and colorful boats on a crystal sea – West Bay is enchanting! But the Bay is at its finest underwater: multi-colored coral cascading in the deep blue water, parrotfish in abundance, shoals of tang and several species of angelfish, and all in waters of exceptional visibility. West Bay is a must for snorkeling in Roatan and certainly one of the most beautiful snorkeling locations in the Caribbean.

West Bay Beach
West Bay beach, with West End wall in the distance.

How to go snorkeling at West Bay

At the far west of the island, and just a 30-minute drive from the airport, West Bay is the main seaside resort in Roatan. Most of the luxury hotels are concentrated here.

If you stay in West Bay, the snorkeling area is accessible from the beach. The easiest way to reach the spot is to take a taxi boat with departures from the jetty opposite the Splash Inn Dive Resort. There are lots of signs, so you can’t miss it. Once you have reached the beach, walk south, which is left as you are facing the sea, to the water entrance points (see below).

West Bay, Roatan snorkeling map

Water entrance for snorkeling West Bay

Snorkeling from shore is restricted to the southern part of the bay, and there are two easy access points. Entry point 1 is directly in front of the Grand Roatan Resort. There are several buoys in place to mark the safest route to enter.  Entry point 2 is just to the left of the jetty, when you are facing the sea, in front of the Infinity Bay Spa and Beach Resort.

All areas to the north of the jetty are subject to heavy vessel traffic all day. It would be unsafe to venture into this area, unless in marked swimming areas.

Bermuda chubs and sergeant majors in West Bay
Large schools of sergeant majors and Bermuda chub can be seen in the shallow rocky areas facing the beach.

West Bay snorkeling tips and recommendations

West Bay is located at the western end of the island and is in a north-to-south orientation.  A coral reef stretches over the length of the bay but the reef is closest to shore in the southern part of the bay.  The reef edge is between 100 and 200 yards from shore in the most accessible areas.

As soon as you are in the water, you will be greeted by dozens of sergeant major and Bermuda chub (↕2-4ft/0.5-1m), which seem to be used to being fed. As you move out to sea, at about ten yards 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.

A spotted scorpionfish in West Bay seagrass beds
A spotted scorpionfish noted in West Bay seagrass beds.

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 it plunges abruptly down toward an immaculate sandy seabed.

A number of parrotfish species are abundant on the drop-off, as are butterflyfish, which are always seen in couples. You might also come across gray angelfish and French angelfish or the sublime queen angelfish, which tends to be more timid.

School of blue tang in West Bay, Roatan
The reef areas, particularly to the south of the bay, are very shallow and care has to be taken if you try to swim through or across them. Despite this, you will be rewarded with areas teeming with life, including numerous shoals of fish, such as this group of doctorfish tang, ocean surgeonfish, and blue tang.

Next, 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 your best chance of spotting a sea turtle. Among the dozens of species that you could see in this spot are the barred hamlet, the royal gramma, or the elegant midnight parrotfish.

The sea is generally very calm here, with a total absence of waves. Visibility is also exceptional. This spot is extensive and pleasant to be in, so it will be important to protect yourself from the sun. You will probably spend longer in the water than you first anticipated. On the reef front, there are sometimes dive boats, so watch out for them.

Queen angelfish in West Bay
The Queen angelfish, often seen in couples, is probably the most beautiful fish you’ll see when snorkeling West Bay.

If you prefer a snorkeling tour, (2 to 4 spots, $15 to $45 per person) there are operators that will take you to the spots by boat. Discuss with the excursion organizer which spots you want to visit beforehand. There is something to be said for going by boat, but many snorkelers prefer to save the money as the spots are so accessible from shore.

Live close encounters with West Bay’s hawksbill sea turtles and stingrays in these two videos 👇 shared by SciTech!

Restaurants & accommodation nearby

Two resorts are located immediately adjacent this stretch of beach; The Grand Roatan and The Infinity Bay Spa and Beach Resort.


  • Level required Beginner
  • Protected areaSandy Bay-West End Marine Reserve
  • Maximum depth10ft/3m on the reef flat, 30ft/10m on the reef drop-off
  • Water entranceEasy, from a sandy beach
  • Potential DangersDive boats
  • LifeguardNo
  • Visitor numbersHigh
  • 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.