When you think of the idyllic Caribbean beach bar, you're thinking of Sundowners.
There's nothing quite like Sundowners. THE watering hole for West End, this is where town's eclectic mix of tourists, dive instructors, locals, expats, and street dogs come together to toast the sunset with a cold beer or a glass of rum and pineapple.
It's called Sundowners for a reason: located directly on the white sands of Half Moon Bay, this site is privy to exquisite sunsets for most of the year. The popularity of sunset-watching is only eclipsed by the weekly game of "Chase the Ace," where every Wednesday each drink buys you a chance to win a growing pot of money. When the pot gets full and the odds are good of winning, nearly the entire town will turn out for their chance to draw the Ace of Spades (the winning card). Hilariously, the crowd will cheer when you lose-- it means another chance for them to Chase the Ace next week!
If you're only in town for a few hours or just simply want a place to chill for the afternoon, Sundowners has immediate shore access to the shallows of Half Moon Bay. Wade in with a beer and beat the heat-- just don't be surprised if one of the bar's friendly Rottweilers decides to join you! If getting salty isn't your thing, Sundowners also offers beach chairs for sunbathing and a shaded lounge deck.
So the location is unbeatable and your relaxation options are great, but what about the bar itself? Drink-wise, Sundowners offers all the Honduran beers (all four of them, all equally terrible-- Salva Vida is the most drinkable in my opinion), basic well drinks, and a few blended concoctions. If you're new to Roatan, you have to try the Monkey La La, a delicious yet deceptively potent frozen drink (careful! it will sneak up on you!). Personally, I prefer sipping on rum and pineapple juice with a lime wedge; with enough rum and vitamin C to fight off scurvy, it's the pirate's choice.
Sundowners' food is mostly good but a bit uninspired. The hamburger, nacho cheese chicken sandwich, and any of the chicken wraps earn high marks from me. Food delivery is usually reasonable (especially for "island time"), though it can become a bit of a wait if the bar is busy. Rarely do I crave Sundowners' food; it's more often that I find myself several rums deep and realize that I have yet to eat dinner!
The staff is friendly and, more importantly, long-term. Unlike most of the bars in West End, Sundowners staff has been around for a while. Not only does this make the bar run more effectively, it means that tourists can learn insider tips by simply sitting down and chatting. A personal shout-out goes to Paul, the (sometimes) afro-sporting cousin of the owner who is a killer bartender and really cool guy. Also: TIP YOUR BARTENDER! Trust me, it goes a long way to getting even better service.
Prices are reasonable across the board. While the drink prices are a fraction higher than other bars in West End, they're still less than the overpriced West Bay bars and in a range that most tourists will find acceptable. Locals and expats typically find the marginally higher prices a bit of a turn-off (and are vocal about it), but that doesn't keep them from gathering together for the daily sunset. Backpackers, sorry, but you're in for a shock: Roatan is not mainland Honduras, and the prices are significantly higher... but then again, Sundowner's isn't some trashy mainland hole or sulfur-reeking shanty on Utila.
One other thing to note: Sundowners is the "early" bar on Roatan. It's usually closed between 9 and 10 pm. If you're looking to carry on with your evening elsewhere, just follow the crowd on the nightly West End "drift dive" to the next hot spot.
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