West End Village on Roatán
Roatán is one of the Honduras Bay Islands in the Caribbean Sea.
The island is located near the largest barrier reef in the Caribbean Sea and the second largest worldwide after Australia's Great Barrier Reef. It has become an important cruise ship and scuba diving destination in Honduras.
For many years the island was a hidden gem, with some of the most beautiful white beaches and the best snorkel and diving spots in the Caribbean, but it was 'discovered' around 2005 by cruise ships and hotel developers.
Tourists used to be mainly divers but the islands beaches have attracted additional package tourists and cruise ships. In recent years, several new cruise ship ports have been opened, causing a significant influx of traditional cruise ship tourists to the island. You'll know when the cruise ships are in port because suddenly there are several thousand additional tourists on the beaches and in towns. It is best to avoid buying anything when cruise ships are docked, the prices of food, goods, and services generally double to quadruple to accommodate the higher expendable incomes of cruise ship passengers.
There are three types of traveling experiences in Roatan. First would be the typical Caribbean resort-oriented beach vacation experience which can be found at any number of islands in the region. This type of vacationing is still developing on Roatan, however, in the past few years it has become a bit more common and the island offers many resorts and activities that would appeal to those who prefer this type of setting. Alternatively, Roatan can still be experienced through the back door and more rustic accommodations are abundant. If you are looking to sleep under a mosquito net with little to no view of any other human, you can certainly experience this on Roatan. The final type of traveling experience on Roatan is the cruise ship, these visitors are generally in town for short bursts of time and come in huge numbers, it's not unusual for you to wake up and have West Bay suddenly be covered with several thousand cruise ship passengers rubbing shoulders to find a small patch of available beach to soak up the sun in. Several cruise ships have ports in Roatan, but some dock only in the exclusive private towns and beaches owned by the resort, and you will hardly notice them except for the large ships on the horizon.
Luckily there are still parts of the island that harken to past times when Roatan was more of a remote destination. Although development is spreading to all parts of the island, one can still find more rustic settings and establishments east of French Harbor. Keep in mind that traveling to the far eastern end of the island can take time due to road conditions. Those staying around the West End of the island should expect at least an hour of travel time to reach Camp Bay in a car.
- West End-West Bay - has some good restaurants and places to stay, and several large resorts have been built on the beach. If you don't mind the resorts and larger hotels, it's a beautiful stretch of beach. It is recommended to spend beach time in the West Bay and bar time in the West End. It definitely the most fun town on the island. There are bars, restaurants, live music, right on the Caribbean. This is also where the best sunsets are, with maybe the exception of West Bay. The reef is a short swim away for excellent snorkeling, especially around the southern point of Half Moon Bay.
- French Harbor - has some good restaurants and resorts and most tourists do not venture further east than French Harbour, which is at roughly the mid point of the island. Past this point are a few newer beach resorts, resort communities, and some private towns with beaches and resorts catering exclusively to cruise ship passengers. Many of the restaurants and bars on this part of the island are frequented more by locals and expats than tourists. One point of interest would be Jonesville and the infamous Hole in the Wall restaurant reached by taking a small water taxi from Jonesville to reach it.
- Coxen Hole - a pit but after you get used to it, there are most of life's necessities there.
- Oak Ridge-Punta Gorda - shortly after the fork in the road to Oak Ridge, the paved road ends and you can continue to Port Royal which was originally founded by English pirates. Past this there lies a few small villages and a handful of homes mostly occupied by expatriates.
- Camp Bay - is a further on from Oak Ridge and about the furthest you can go in a car. Past Camp Bay are the mangroves which are quite beautiful when navigated by boat. There are many tours through the mangroves which can be chartered from various points on the island.
Juan Manuel Gálvez International Airport (Aeropuerto Internacional Juan Manuel Gálvez) (IATA: RTB, ICAO: MHRO) is on the island of Roatán.
Several US airlines offer non-stop flights to Roatan on weekends.
- Continental Airlines, offers direct flights from Houston (Daily during high season, less often other times), and from Newark (weekend).
- Delta Airlines, flies non-stop from Atlanta (Saturdays only).
American, Delta and Continental offer flights to San Pedro Sula's's Ramón Villeda Morales International Airport (Aeropuerto Internacional Ramón Villeda Morales) (IATA:SAP, ICAO:MHLM), also known as La Mesa International Airport situated on the mainland, from which you can then get connecting services to Roatan.
TACA, a group of five regional airlines, offers service from Miami, Orlando, Chicago, Dallas, Toronto, Houston, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington DC with connecting service to Roatan, including mid-week flights.
There are also local airlines such as SOSA, CM Airlines, and Isleña (part of TACA's regional service) connecting the island with La Ceiba, San Pedro Sula, and Tegucigalpa. Prices are all over the map due to fuel costs and inflation, but usually average in at about US$200 for a flight from Tegucigalpa-Toncontin to Roatan
Airlines and destinations
The island is visited by some cruise lines, such as Princess, Royal Caribbean, and Norwegian Cruise Lines.
A new cruise ship stop named Mahogany Bay opened up recently outside of French Harbor. The beach is nice and the setting amazingly surreal, with 2 rusting shipwrecks within view. Cruises also port in Coxen Hole.
The Galaxy Wave  is a new ferry that travels to/from La Ceiba on the Honduras Mainland. The ferry is clean, comfortable, and very reliable. It departs from La Ceiba twice daily, once in the morning at 9:30AM and once in the afternoon at 4:30PM. Departure times from Roatan are 7AM and 2PMs. It costs about US$28 US (524 lempira) for a 1 way trip. Prices have risen significantly recently.
A catamaran operates a direct daily ferry service between West End, Roatan and Utila leaving Utila at 6:30AM, arriving West End around 11AM. Departing Roatan at 1PM it arrives in Utila around 5PM. Contact Captain Vern, ([email protected]), ☎ +504 3346-2600, ☎ +504 9910-8040.
Other options are to island hop traveling on The Galaxy Wave between Roatan and La Ceiba and then The Utila Princess between La Ceiba and Utila.
Afternoon boats can be more rough due to stronger winds. Make sure to take some travelsickness pils if you are unsurehow you will react.
Another option is to charter a boat from one of the locals. Normally the best way to go about this is to approach one of the dive schools as they normally aren't using their boats in the afternoons. Find other travelers who want to do the same and go in a group of 4 or 6.
Roatán has a system of paved roads connecting the most important communities of the Island. From the Western End of the Island, at the community of West Bay, the road leads through West End, Sandy Bay, Coxen Hole, Brick Bay, Mount Pleasant, French Harbour and Oakridge - Punta Gorda after which it becomes a dirt road and continues east for a distance, to the area of Paya Bay, Camp Bay, Port Royal, and other eastern communities.
Buses run every 15 min between Coxan Hole and West End during the day. They depart from opposite the market in Coxan Hole. Buses run every hour to Oak Ridge, stopping at the new ferry terminal and passing through French Harbour, Polly Tilly Bight, and Punta Gorda on the way. These buses leave from opposite the HB Warren supermarket in Coxen Hole.
There are hundreds of taxis and they can be bargained with. But ask the price in advance and if it seems high, ask another. Prices from the airport are fixed during the day and negotiable at night. A cab from the airport to West Bay is US$10. Tipping is not expected by drivers.
There are water taxis during daylight that link West Bay and West End for US$3 per person 1 way.
Renting scooters is a very economical and fun way to see the island. The asphalt road is reasonably well maintained and there is lots to see on Roatan besides the West End so hire a scooter and start exploring. The rental agencies will happily provide you with detailed maps and explanations on how to best see the island. Scooter rentals are abundant in West End.
English, Spanish, Garifuna.
English is widely spoken, especially in the West End and West Bay communities and is the native language of Roatanians of British and African descent (except for the Garifuna). Spanish is spoken natively by all residents who have come from mainland Honduras and is the second language of many of the native English speakers. Spanish is the official language of Honduras and as such is the primary language of the school system. Garifuna is spoken by the Garifuna people who are descendants of the Kalipuna peoples of St. Vincent. There is also 'Island Talk' spoken by the native Caribbean people.
Most individuals living on Roatan are bilingual (English/Spanish).
- Cameo Factory in Coxen Hole
- Caves of Helen, explore the caves.
- Dolphin show, at Anthony's Key Resort.
- East end, if you are up for an adventure, visit the east end of the island past Oak Ridge. The road changes from a somewhat dodgey pavement to an even more precariously rutted dirt/gravel mix and continues on to Punta Blanca and Camp Bay. A 4x4 vehicle is recommended for the journey although you'll see many locals driving compact cars over the partially washed out and bumpy road. This end of the island is home to many locals and some expats. Electricity has not reached the far end of the island but it is slowly moving towards Camp Bay. There are a few interesting stops such as the Windsong Cafe & Bar offering good views of the island) as well as Marble Hill Farms where wonderful local jams & jellies are made. Asylum bar & grill is on a palapa literally over the calm waters in Camp Bay which can sometimes feel like the restaurant at the end of the universe after the long journey of getting there. Luckily there is always beer on ice and grilled food which makes the trip worth it. If you're looking to get off the beaten path and out of the tourist ridden West End, this is it.
- Garifuna Village Tour, in Punta Gorda
- Iguana Farm, near French Harbor.
- Marine Science Museum, at Anthony's Key Resort.
- Micro brewery, Roatan makes beer.
- Oak Ridge, is a small village on the eastern end of the island. On arrival, you'll be offered water-taxi tours to the Hole-in-the-Wall restaurant, neighbouring communities, and around the harbour, but it's also pleasant to walk through the village, which has many brightly colored the wooden houses on stilts along the shore.
- Pigeon Cayes, visit the deserted islands.
- Punta Gorda, renting a scooter and driving to Punta Gorda takes about 1 hr each way, and goes through some beautiful countryside. It can be nice to get away from the touristy areas and get back into places that look and feel like Honduras. The town of Punta Gorda is friendly and you may run into a beach party if you are lucky.
- Whites Beach, is supposed to be beautiful.
- Spanish Lessons, West End (Main Street), ☎ 0050497269133. Spanish and English Lesson with Certified Teachers, wonderful time and extra activities in the Islands, [email protected]
Snorkeling, diving and fishing
The fishing is good just off the reef in Roatan. Marlin, Barricuda, Tuna, Wahoo, Mahi Mahi, and much more can be caught in these waters.
There is great snorkeling and diving to be found here and many dive shops to go out with and some people like to dive with the Dolphins at Anthony's Key
If you are a good swimmer, and keep an eye out for motorboats, you can swim straight out from west end towards the white buoys for about 200 m, you will arrive at a 10-30 ft deep reef that is great for snorkeling and freediving. Slightly further out the reef gets much deeper and you hit the wall.
- Bahia Watersports, West End (between ronnies and luna beach), ☎ +504 9994-5308 (), . 42' Hatteras Sportfish for charter. Deep sea fishing, diving, snorkeling, or take a trip to a nearby island like Utila or Cayos Cochinos. This boat has good penn reels and fighting chairs and the interior is fitted with couches, flat screen TV, dvd player, kitchen, bathroom. Also available for overnight charters.
- Coconut Tree Divers (Coconut Tree), West End Roatan Honduras (Take taxi to West End, first shop on the left at the entrance to town.), ☎ +504 2445-4081 (, [email protected]), . 8AM-5PM. The only PADI Career Development Center in Roatan. The shop offers 4 daily dives: the morning boat leaves at 9AM for 2 dives and returns at around 12:30PM. The afternoon dives go out at 1PM and 2.30PM respectively. Night dives are available every Tues & Thurs. The shop's 2nd boat, Wish-U- Were-Here, is dedicated for cruise ship visitors on various cruise ship schedules. 1 day experience program, PADI Discover Scuba Diving, for those who want to try scuba diving for the first time; inc. basic theory in the classroom, a short session in shallow confined water, followed by a 45-60 min dive in the afternoon. Friendly, experienced staff. Nitrox and Trimix are available. Snorkelers welcome. ~US$30/dive.
- Cool Running Tours, . Local fisherman providing fishing charter, snorkeling, or an island tour by boat
- Fly-Fish. with Pescado Roatan, bonefish and permit on the fly 
- Stanley Submarines, ☎ +504 3359-2887 ("[email protected]"url="www.stanleysubmarines.com"). Karl Stanley has been designing, building, and piloting deep sea submersibles for over 20 years. He has logged over 1,300 dives and can take you to depths of 2,000 feet. Strives to provide cost-effective, direct access to the deep water for anyone who wishes to explore those depths. Tours from 1,000 feet to 2,000 feet for 1.5-4 hr. His operation is the cheapest submersible tourist operation in the world. You can visit the website for more details on trips and prices. $400-1,500.
- Tyll's Dive (Tyll's Dive Shop), West End (When you enter into West End turn left and we are across the street from The Blue Marlin (formley known as Purple Turtle)), ☎ +504 9698 0416, . 9AM-5PM. Scuba divers with a small family atmosphere. Caters to small groups of 8 or less. Offers 3 dives a day starting at 9AM, 11AM. and 2PM, six days a week, Sundays and night dives upon request. Prices include all dive rental equipment. Small dive classes are offered from Open Water to Dive Master. 1 on 1 dive instruction available, Crowd free diving, multi-lingual staff, well maintained dive equipment and an on hand technician. All the dive Instructors are PADI Certified as well as emergency first aid responders. From $25 per dive.
You can walk along the beach to West Bay from West End in about 45 min, and can take a water taxi back if you like. They seem to stop running around sunset unfortunately, so make sure to catch them before it is too late.
- Shirkey's Barrio Dorcas Ranch,  Horseback riding on the beach at West End.
- Kayak trips around the Island and through the mangroves on the east end of the island.
- Mini-Golf in Sandy Bay, cold drinks & burgers.
- Zipline, Roatan has 4 zipline jungle canopy tour adventures
The US dollar (US$) is generally accepted all over the island, however, your change is mostly given in Honduran lempiras. This method of money exchange is not recommended generally but if you're only stopping for the day from a cruise ship, it's an easier option to changing money that you may not use up.
Prices of everything skyrocket when cruise ships are in town, if you are looking to purchase anything, including food, it is best to wait until they have left port.
Local handicrafts abound and can be had for very little money. Look for Central American arts and crafts, brightly-painted pottery, wood carvings, costume jewelry, tee-shirts, cigars and clothing. Remember that the asking price should only be considered a jumping-off point for some downward haggling. It's expected and if you have the stomach for it, you'll likely end up with a final price somewhere around 40-50% lower.
- Woody's Grocery Store. Buy up and have a cookout.
The restaurants you will find along the West End beach are slightly more expensive than similar restaurants on the mainland but the food is of a very high standard. Seafood abounds and you can find top quality lobster for dinner for around US$10 US. Argentinian steaks are also popular.
There is a small food caravan located on the main road hosted by an ex-pat Aussie. The food is cheap, and he is open late which is perfect for when you return home from one of the West Ends night spots.
- Asylum (La Sirena), Camp Bay Beach (Far northeastern end of the island past the main paved road), ☎ +504 3320-6004 ([email protected]), . 9AM-9PM or whenever the drinking stops. A Beach Bar on the end of a 40 ft dock stretching into the waters. Offer fishing trips on the Cayuca boat. Reef snorkel a few hundred meters from the dock, bring your own snorkeling gear, or rent a package for $5 a day. Camp on the beaches of Asylum for free with your own equipment or rent a camping package for $5 a night. Local residents of Roatan can utilize the camping packages for free. Asylum's Mermaid Grill will cook any fish you catch and prepare a meal for you. moderate.
- The Beach Club San Simon, West Bay, Roatan (Between La Sirenas + Mayan Princess), ☎ +504 445 5140, . 10AM-10PM. Lounge style feel with changing rooms, showers, and beach beds. Free wifi. Moderate.
- Gio's, French Harbor. One of the nicer dining experiences on the island. It's a longtime mainstay for expats and islanders who can afford to dine out. Seafood is the specialty of course.
- Hole in the Wall, via Jonestown (You must take a small water taxi from Jonestown). All-you-can-eat lobster and steak on Sun and Wed.
- Ooloonthoo Restaurant, Mangrove Bight (Main road outside West End), ☎ +504 9936-5223, . 6-9PM. The only Indian restaurant in Honduras. World class progressive Indian cuisine. A/C dining and year round sunset views. Reservations required. $40.
- Rendezvous Sushi Grill (Roatan Sushi), Main Road, West Bay, ☎ +504 9936-2594, . 6:30AM-11PM. Sushi. Quiet, romantic and away from the 'boom, boom, boom' of the beach. Reservations recommended. (16.273537182604112,-86.59729827081681)
- Windsong"", Punta Blanca. Meals, good view
Roatan boasts a wide array of experiences for night life depending on your taste. Since the arrival of cruise ships, prices have risen somewhat and restaurants and bars cater to cruise passengers as well as North American and European tourists. These types of establishments are relatively easy to find as they are mostly located in and around the West End. Prices here are generally higher than in most other places on the island.
The best part about drinking in the west end is the pub crawl that occurs almost every night without exception. Its virtually mandatory to start at Sundowners and enjoy drinks whilst watching the sun go down over the beautiful bay in front. When Sundowners shuts at 10PM the whole bar shifts about 50 m down the street to kick on at the Purple Turtle where you can enjoy live music out the back. The Purple Turtle closes at midnight and from here most people continue on to the Nova Bar or the Twisted Toucan's will be the joint to party at and where you will meet most of the locals in the region this being a favorite haunt. Most people go home from here but if you really are feeling like an adventure grab a group of friends and head down the beach to FuBar, formerly Black Pearl and before that Loafers. On Friday's, the best place to go is Foster's, complete with DJ and occasionally a lot of laughs.
- La Sirena, Camp Bay Beach (In Asylum). Sunday barbecue with cold beer. A palapa bar/restaurant built over the water, good if you are on the less populated east end of the island.
- FuBar, formerly Black Pearl and before that Loafers. Until late.
- Foster's. Until late. DJ. Good on Fridays.
- Nova Bar. Until late. Haunt of locals who stay out late.
- Purple Turtle. Until midnight. Look out the back for live music.
- Sundowners. Until 10PM. Good place to start the night.
- Twisted Toucan. Until late.
There are excellent accommodations ranging from US$4-$400 per night. Condos are available as are beach cabanas. There is an old farm where they have great accommodation for a decent price at West End.
- Anthony's Key Resort, Carretera Pavimentada Principal, Sandy Bay, Honduras, (toll free: 1 800 227-3483, [email protected]), . Private cabanas on the palm studded hillside and lagoon. Serene and peaceful with views of the ocean.
- Bananarama , Clean bungalows on a beautiful beach, free use of kayaks, restaurant, breakfast is included.
- Coconut Tree Hotel, . Great accommodations for travelers on a budget. All cabins have A/C and a refrigerator. Cabins in Westend and Westbay. Dorms available to Coconut Tree Divers  customers.
- Fantasy Island Beach Resort, ☎ 1 800-676-2826, . Resort with A/C rooms, satelliteTV, refrigerator, telephone and tennis courts.
- Infinity Bay Spa & Beach Resort, ☎ +866 369-1977, . Luxury Roatan Resort & vacation villas by Roatan's white sandy beaches.
- Mango Creek Lodge, Port Royal (In Roatan's East End and accessible only by water), ☎ +504 9723-1424, . Eco lodge offering diving, fly-fishing and eco adventures. The lodge has access to some of Roatan's healthiest reef. Great base for exploring the caves of Helene, hiking the island of Morat and visiting the pristine Pigeon Cayes. Accommodation is in over-the-water cabanas each with a private dock, swim ladder and hammock.
- Marble Hill Farms, East End (""Head), ☎ US:+1 970 688-4120, . Rustic eco-lodge, small casitas with kitchenettes, bunk lodging and package pricing including diving and lodging. New fishing and diving boats, numerous activities; diving and kite boarding, strolling through the gardens, and tasting homemade jams and jellies. Includes the Crow's Nest restaurant. Backpacker dorms with bunk beds and common bathrooms. Casitas – cabin style rooms with double beds and private bathrooms. Condo style rooms with double beds and private bathrooms. Dorm from US$20, rooms from US$55. Dives from US$25. Many packages available.
- Mayan Princess Beach Resort & Spa, ☎ +504 445-5050, . 1-2 bedroom villas with kitchens, 250 ft swimming pool and a diver center.
- Villas del Playa, West End (down west end road past fosters between Ronnies Barfeet and Luna Beach), ☎ +504 9994-5308 (, [email protected]), . Luxury condos located right on the beach facing the sunset on the Caribbean Sea. 2 bedroom, 2 baths. 3 bedroom, 3 baths. 3 bedroom, 3 bath penthouse with 1,900 sq ft rooftop that has full kitchen, BBQ pit and private pool. Each condo has full stainless steel granite counter-top kitchen, central A/C, U/V water filtration, comfortable living room with couch that folds into bed, flat screen TVs with cable in every room, washer/dryer, free wifi, and beach side swimming pool. Wheel chair accessible with elevator.
- West Bay B & B, . Clean, quiet, and affordable rooms located just one block from the west bay beach. A/C, TV, DVDs to borrow, beach gear to rent, internet cafe. The owner Glen is fantastic and very accommodating, he also cooks breakfast every morning.
- Blenny house, West end, Roatan (North-east side of West End, ask taxi driver), ☎ +50433032328, . Jenny offers remote cabins for two people and a full family house for 6, but possibly more people. the accomodation is on the quiet end of West End on Roatan. So the noise from nightlife is far away. The location is beautiful. The cabins offer a double bed, private bathroom, porch with ocean view and outisde kitchen. The family house has two nicely decorated bedrooms with bathroom in each. Upstairs is a huge living area and surreal ocean view terrace. It has a super equiped kitchen, with oven, microwave, cooking facilities, dishwasher, etc. Jenny is a good host and she will make your stay is comfortable. $50 to $60 for cabin, $1000-$1500/week for house. (16.30943076424597,-86.59419536590576)
- Bay Islands are in the Caribbean Sea, venture forth from Roatan and visit the 2 other larger islands in the group