The sweet island of Roatan is characterized by its elongated shape, so, more than any other place, it has well defined and separated its east and west ends. Please, don’t ask us which is more beautiful because we could not answer… both places have different beauties and attractions. For being easier reachable, more developed and known since many years, we will start by talking about West End, an old fishing village that has become the tourist heart of Roatan.
West End develops close to the sea along a road (Calle Principal) that divides the sea shore to houses and buildings. The walk along the village is very pleasant, with the alternation of bars, restaurants, souvenir shops and pulperias (little convenient groceries), it makes the visit definitely varied and relaxing.
The road was for a long time a dirt road that gave the West End that slightly Hippy and Easy Going aspect, where walking barefoot was normal and where the cars did not always have easy access (especially after a heavy rain). In 2014 the road was paved giving the village a more orderly and cleaner appearance, but at the same time increasing the traffic of cars and people, it makes travel a little slower and sometimes stressful.
West End has two beaches on both ends of the village. On the northernmost side, as soon as you enter the village from the main road, you are enraptured by the sight of the beautiful Half Moon Bay Beach, mostly frequented by local people (especially on weekends), but also by tourists who have the possibility to rent sunbeds or simply hang a towel on the fine sand with access to the calm crystal clear water shallow enough to be suitable for everyone, especially children.
The proximity of the coral reef, only a few strokes from the shore and the protection offered by the two points of the “half moon”, makes the waters calm and facilitates access for snorkelers who wish to venture into underwater exploration.
From the small pier, water taxis leave at all hours to West Bay, as well as deep-sea fishing boats and even the glass bottom boat, specially developed for those who want to discover the underwater wonders without getting wet, comfortably seated at 6 feet deep.
Due to its position, Half Moon Bay is the core of the western side, with easy access to hotels, cafes, restaurants, bars and activities and stuff to do all day long. The most beautiful moment to enjoy if you are in Hal Moon Bay is definitely the sunset, which never fails to amaze: with friends and family, over a cold and refreshing local beer or a refreshing cocktail.
The other beach, less busy and popular but not less beautiful, is the one that is located in the southern part of the West End, where the asphalt road ends and the dirt road starts again. The location and the quiet environment around it is perfect for a beach volley competition or chill with friends. From here, if you continue walking along the sea shore, you can easily get to West Bay in 40 minutes (it is necessary, however, to wear shoes or wear comfortable slippers to overcome some rocky points along the way).
During the day you can see how life goes on without frenzy, with the typical Caribbean rhythm. It starts early: the shops all open between 7:00 and 9:00 am and it is easy to be tempted to stop and enjoy a cup of hot coffee in front of a “typical desayuno”, a dessert or a baleada, before going to work.
Soon tourists will go to the beach, they will start with activities and excursions and everyone will be busy doing something. It’s nice to witness all the dynamics: it’s not surprising to see a diving instructor walking with his equipment on his shoulder ready to take his students to practice in shallow water, or divemasters or captains carrying cylinders back and forth from boats to the compressor.
Taxi and private drivers leave tourists at the entrance to do their activities, local minibuses stop and transport children to the school, and adults to their respective destinations. At lunchtime the restaurants fill up and people enjoy a pleasant meal before returning to their activities.
And then there is the moment I think is everyone’s favorite, Happy Hour, a routine that few give up. After 5:00 pm it is very easy to meet local faces and tourists mixing, chatting, listening to live music, in the characteristic bars with tables and chairs directly facing the sea or on the beach. It is there where people talk about of how their day went while the sun goes down, the boats of divers or fishermen and tours return from their activities, cheerful children play on the beach after school and dogs chase each other on the shore.
At night West End transformed: With the varied offer of restaurants, bars, clubs, the choice of fun is really for everyone. For those who decide to spend a pleasant evening at the restaurant, there is a great variety for all budgets and good quality of food: typical local, Mexican, Thai, Italian, grill, vegetarian food.
For those who love the after dinner, there are bars that are open with live music or theme nights (trivial, cinema on the beach, karaoke to name a few).
And finally, for dance lovers, you cannot miss two jumps in the different outdoor clubs located along the promenade. In the evening the traffic of cars is very limited and especially the weekend practically closed, this makes getting around the village easier and more comfortable, almost like on a boulevard. Obviously your night cannot miss a stop on the beach with bare feet to admire the stars before returning to your homes or accommodations.