West End’s main attractions are in plain view: beaches, 28°C (82°F) bright-blue water, and, a couple hundred meters offshore, the coral reef, marked by a chain of buoys. The waters around West End are kept very clean, and visitors can jump in pretty much wherever it’s convenient.
The best beach in town is Half Moon Bay, a swath of palm-lined sand right at the entrance to West End, bordered by points of iron shore (fossilized, raised coral) on either side forming the namesake shape. A good spot to lay down a towel is in the stretch in front of the Posada Arco Iris hotel. Another good place to swim and sunbathe is off the docks at the far south end of town, just after the road ends.
Both of these spots happen to be near two good snorkeling sites off West End. The reef passes right across the mouth of Half Moon Bay, an easy swim from shore, with better reef near the more southern of the two points. Sea turtles and rays are often seen in the sand flats and shallower sections of reef here.
One of the buoys in front of the south end of the town beach marks the entrance to Blue Channel, a dramatic channel cutting through the reef. It’s a bit of a swim for snorkelers, so take your time heading out to conserve energy for exploring the reef and the trip back.
There are several other sites on the reef off West End, but in looking for them beware of boat traffic. Snorkel gear can be rented from many of the dive shops for US$7, or a bit less from stores in town, like the gift shop at the Roatan Marine Park office (US$5 for 24 hours), as well as at the Sea Breeze Inn (US$5 for 4 hours). A passport or US$10–15 deposit is usually required.
© Chris Humphrey and Amy E. Robertson from Moon Honduras, 5th Edition