Snorkeling Roatán Honduras

By -

As mentioned in my first post about Roatán, the chief purpose of our visit to this particular island was for the snorkeling. Having a 6 year old daughter who loves to snorkel too, it was important to find a destination that provided the convenience of good snorkeling right from the shore. Although we really enjoyed the experience of snorkeling in Samana earlier this year, nothing really prepared us for the awe-inspiring underwater spectacle that the West Bay area of Roatán has to offer.


We chose to stay at the Mayan Princess Beach and Dive Resort partly due to the close proximity to the reef. As mentioned, the beach is pretty amazing – soft white sand, very warm crystal clear water – can’t ask for much more. After a short walk past the water taxi pier to the left of the resort, you have access to one of the most beautiful snorkeling areas in the world. You literally only have to swim out 20 yards or so, and you reach the edge of a very vibrant and active reef ecosystem. Numerous fish and crustaceans, elaborate coral structures, caves and caverns, sudden deep drop offs to white sandy floors – simply incredible!

You have to excuse me, but I need to get on my soapbox for a moment. One of the most sad and disheartening things I frequently experience when visiting various snorkeling sites is the utter lack of respect shown by some tourists. Coral is a living being – a very fragile living being at that. From people standing on the reef or breaking off pieces of coral for souvenirs, this type of behaviour will ensure that our children and our children’s children will not have the opportunity to experience the beauty and breathtaking images of a healthy and vibrant reef.


Damage can be seen in numerous areas on the West Bay reef, especially in the shallower sections. If you are not a strong swimmer, you should not be venturing out wearing flippers and then constantly having to stand and trample the delicate reef. Part of me feels like Roatan should charge a small admission fee to use the reef. Even a few dollars – it might discourage the potentially destructive hoard of snorkel-and-dash cruise ship visitors and the money could be used to increase awareness and maintain the vitality of the reef. Just my two sense. Please respect the reef and its inhabitants!


Now back to more positive things – the wonderful West Bay reef! I feel like I may be over-sharing here like a proud new Dad showing pictures of his newborn – but it was hard to narrow down just a few select images. There is just so much colour, textures and interesting marine life to experience here. On our second to last day, I caught a little grief for stretching what was supposed to be a solo 90 minute snorkeling venture into almost 3 hours on the reef. Visions of a shark gobbling me up or the tide pulling me out to sea danced through my wife’s head I guess. My pecs felt like they were being torn from the bone the next day, but it was totally worth it.

Its just so easy to lose track of time when you have so much beauty to explore. This has to be as close as you can get to experiencing life on another planet without actually leaving Earth. I can’t recommend snorkeling in West Bay Roatán enough. Based on some great feedback provided from a visitor to our blog, we definitely want to return in the early summer months. I hope you enjoy our pictures – I do apologize that the quality in no way does justice to seeing the reef in all its splendour first hand. Our Nikon CoolPix AW100 takes decent shots, but can’t rival what you see with your own eye when the sun shines through and lights up this underwater world. For now. back to the cage.

  • Tiff

    Great photos Chris! I’m glad to see that you had such a wonderful vacation! I look forward to seeing the rest of the vacation shots.

    • Chris Dugas

      Thanks Tiffany! Photos turned out pretty well with our little Nikon if I do say so myself. We really enjoyed Roatan – highly receommended. Especially for the snorkeling.
      Hope to see you soon!

  • Sheri

    I am so jealous, the photos are amazing. Glad you had a great time and a well deserved vacation.

    • Chris Dugas

      Thanks Sheri! It was a wonderful trip. Can’t recommend Roatan and Mayan Princess any stronger – especially if you are looking for some excellent snorkeling.

  • Shelly Leit

    Your photos are amazing! We were there only a few days before your photos were taken, and we stayed on the same beach. You’re right, they should charge admission, there is some coral damage and I even saw people standing on it. Some people think of coral as rocks and they don’t even know what it is. When I was there 5 days though the beach was quite empty so that gave me hope that it’s not being trampled every day. I don’t remember the water being quite that clear though, you really got lucky.

    • Chris Dugas

      Thanks Shelly! We did feel pretty fortunate that we had a few days of sunshine and calm water for a few days out of the week we were in Roatan. Speaking with the locals, they mentioned by March, the water is like a sheet of glass with no waves at all – crystal clear too. We definitely want to go back in the spring sometime. Best snorkeling from the beach we have ever experienced – by far. All the best!

  • Jennette

    About a year ago I was trying to decide where I wanted to go on vacation. I had been thinking of Roatan for a while but couldn’t find as much info as I was hoping. I considered Samana (el Portillo) and for the price I thought Roatan would be better. Lo and behold once I decided that Roatan was the winning destination, it was past season since Sunwing only flies there until April. So a year later I am looking forward to my trip the first week of April 2014, staying at Paradise Beach Resort. I am an newbie snorkeler and want a great snorkeling experience. I am also a solo traveler and want to be able to shore-snorkel (yes, by myself…I will wear a flotation jacket). Imagine how happy I was to read about your experience. It is obvious you have been to a nice variety of places for snorkeling and to hear you rave about West Bay has just confirmed what I had already concluded…this is going to be a great destination for me. As well, since making this decision based on the snorkeling I have done a lot of online research and am now equally excited about exploring the island, about the scenery, culture and the people of Roatan. Thanks very much.

    • ZOOKeeperChris

      You are so welcome Jennette! I am very happy you found our post on Roatan helpful. You are visiting at the perfect time. We were there late November, and although the snorkeling was fabulous, many locals mentioned we should come back in March/April when the water is super calm and clear. You are going to love it! And the people and scenery are fantastic too. Enjoy your trip!