Roatan, the largest of Honduras’ Bay Islands is home to the second largest barrier reef in the world. It is said that in Roatan you can see 90% of all the Caribbean’s marine life.
That, coupled with crystal clear Carribean water, there are few places in the world that offer the snorkeling opportunities found in Roatan.
Snorkeling in Roatan couldn’t be easier. At some snorkeling sites it’s just a matter of stepping off the sand and into the sea. For a little more adventure, you can easily hire a boat to take you to one of the many well-known offshore snorkeling spots. Here’s our list of the best snorkeling sites in Roatan:
Best Snorkeling Sites in Roatan
West Bay Beach – The most popular beach in Roatan is also one of the best places to snorkel. Walk past the restaurants and resorts to the far end of the beach. Step into the water and you’ll find an expanse of beautiful coral reef. Search the shallow waters for the sight of a sea turtle and then swim out 200 feet or so to see the coral wall drop deep into the ocean below you.
Half Moon Bay – Located in the heart of popular West End backpacker area, this bay was once above water and still shows signs of it’s prehistoric past. Grab some lunch at a nearby restaurant and swim right into the bay. This is popular tourist area so watch out for speeding boats and water taxis.
Valley of the Kings – Along Roatan’s central coast and within easy reach by boat, the varying depth of this underwater valley makes for an adventurous snorkel site. Step off the boat and swim beyond the shallow waters for a look at the deep vertical walls extending hundreds of feet into the reef below where Moray eels are often seen.
Parrot Tree – This snorkel site turned resort is a perfect day trip or cruise excursion. Enjoy world class snorkeling and the comforts of the Parrot Tree Plantation. The reef extends from 5 – 130 feet deep and is home to many shallow water sea creatures including sea horses and shrimp. Arrange for lunch at the resort after your swim.
Pigeon Cay – This picturesque, uninhabited island about an hour boat ride away from Roatan is simply extraordinary. One side of the tiny island provides a beautiful white-sand beach and on the other side coconut trees offer shade and shelter. The reef starts about 15 feet from the beach. Spend a day here. Relax, snorkel and take some time to enjoy your own secluded island. Day trips can be arranged through the Paya Bay Resort or enquire with a boat driver in West Bay.
Renting Snorkeling Gear in Roatan
To rent snorkel gear on the island, head to the Roatan Marine Park Eco Store in West End. The cost is just $5 for 24 hours and proceeds go to helping maintain marine conservation efforts on the island. Alternatively, your resort or boat driver should also be able to rent snorkel gear.
Protecting Roatan’s reef
The entire barrier reef surrounding Roatan is a protected area so be sure not to sit, stand on or touch the coral reef. Try to use “reef safe” sun block and apply bug spray (which is a necessity in Roatan) only after your swim to avoid unnecessary damage to the reef.