My wife, 15 year-old daughter and I stopped in Roatan on a Carnival Cruise. I dislike cruise excursions (overcrowded, overpriced and you are stuck with their itinerary). There are obvious advantages to booking a cruise excursion, not the least of which is making it back to the ship on time ;) I simply prefer doing my own homework, checking out TA forums (always such good advice) so we can pretty much do our own thing. That said, we decided to go snorkeling in Roatan at West Bay Beach.
Having done my "due diligence" I knew we could hire a cab outside Mahogany Bay (Carnival's Cruise Port. The other cruise lines dock in the town of Coxen Hole where cabs are abundantly available). As for us, I was forewarned of "the hill" outside of the Carnival terminal but had no idea that it was more of a mountain then a hill. WOW! Thank goodness it was down-hill and not up!! The hill was lined with cabbies and I knew ahead of time that, as they are not regulated in Roatan and if you choose to go this route, haggle and negotiate BEFORE you hire someone. We hired a GREAT cabbie named Silbie. He not only took us to West Bay acting as tour guide (about a 30-minute mountainous ride), but met us back there at a prearranged time.
It's hard to put into words the beauty of West Bay but I can safely say that it is among the prettiest I have ever seen. The bay itself is probably about a mile long. Its waters are crystal clear, calm and ideal for swimming and snorkeling. While researching Roatan, I discovered that the Bay Islands sit on the second largest barrier reef in the world. At the left end of the bay (as you face the water) this coral reef comes to within a few yards of the shore and is an excellent area for snorkeling. My daughter and I only had to snorkel out about 100-150 yards or so where we discovered 20-foot walls of coral reef .... we saw sea turtles, parrot fish, barracuda (or at least something that looked like them) huge schools of fish, conch shells on the sea floor, etc. etc. The water is so clear that visibility is pretty much unlimited. We did not want to leave and I want to go back just thinking about West Bay!!!
We probably snorkeled for 3 hours. If you go, a reference as to where WE were is to the far left (facing the water) just past a condo development called Infinity Bay. Just beyond that development I gave the guy tending the beach there 5-bucks to pull us up some lounge chairs. After snorkeling we went to Infinity Bay which has a bar. I talked to the guard on the beach for this development who was very accommodating. He let us use the facilities by the pool which included a shower and rest room. We then sat at a table by the bar, ate lunch and drank a couple of "Monkey LaLa's". (if you like a libation, be sure to order one of these while on Roatan).
Finally it was time to go and we met up again with Silbie who was waiting for us. From West Bay he took us to an extremely laid back area called West End (not a lot there but some cool shops and small dining establishments). We walked around for about an hour while Silbie waited for us (I believe he went and had a cerveza!) From there he made sure we were back at the ship on time charging us a mere $30 for the whole day (I gave him $60 because we had so much fun with him).
On a scale of 1-10, I give West Bay, Roatan a enthusiastic "10" for the sheer beauty as well as the snorkeling. We absolutely loved it and can't wait to return!
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