One day in March, I’m laying on my couch, sicker than a dog, thinking about what was I doing here. A flu bug was sweeping its way through the restaurant where I worked sending co-workers home in waves. That day it chose two other people and me.
I am thankful for that flu bug. It is not something you hear people say often. Now, you may think I’m crazy, right? But hey, look where that flu bug prompted me to go. West Bay on Roatan!
That day in March I found myself a new opportunity on the island of Roatan off the coast of Honduras in the Caribbean. Three weeks later, I was on a plane winging my way to island paradise for a solid month. Sometimes good things come in small packages. Thank you, flu bug.
My favorite place to relax during my time on Roatan was West Bay. This little village offers a drop dead gorgeous beach with crystal clear water.
For me to reach West Bay from where I was staying in Sandy Bay, I took a bus, then a water taxi from West End. Sounds complicated and long but really it wasn’t. You can take a regular taxi the whole way, but it is a little more pricey. The water taxi is only $3 USD. Plus the view is magnificent. I’d much rather travel with the wind whipping through my hair and sunshine on my face. Taking a water taxi was a new experience for me. In West End, they have a specific pier for pick up. Once in West Bay, the drivers will pick up and drop off pretty much anywhere, usually at one of the piers but if they are hanging out, anchored to the beach, they invite you to jump right in. These drivers will not pass up the opportunity for extra passengers and dollars. Every driver I encountered was so friendly and helpful, especially with getting in and out of the boat.
The first time I went to West Bay, I stood on the pier simply gazing at the water and white sand beach. Stupified that I had found island heaven.
West Bay beach is perfection on Earth.
The love affair almost came to an abrupt end when I discovered to utilize one of the many beach lounge chairs in front of the resorts and most restaurants cost a daily fee. Chiding myself to stop being such a cheapskate, I paid the $10 USD fee at Paradise Beach Resort. That fee included a few perks, along with the chair. Some of those perks include armed guards that parole the area (more on that in a minute). You get use of the enormous private pool with waterfall feature and a hot tub as well as the bathrooms and shower house. The bartenders will give you the wifi password which is fast free wifi.
I fell in love with Paradise. It is gorgeous. They have the best lounge chairs on the beach strip. How do I know? I scoped them all out before choosing. Paradise Resort offered thick-padded chairs. Oh, yeah. Nice and comfy.
The resort guards really watch your stuff. Being a solo traveler, I felt completely safe leaving my belongings on my chair while I went into the ocean. Granted I never took more with me than I felt ok with possibly losing to a thief. However, I still did not want to lose what I did bring with me. In all the times I hung out there, I never had anyone mess with my stuff.
West Bay is an excellent place to snorkel if you are into that sport. Actually, Roatan is well known as a Dive Capital of the World along with Australia. It has the second best reef in the world. People flock here to dive and snorkel. You can do both anywhere around the island. My fellow hostel guests raved about the reef and the fish they saw every Sunday when they went to West Bay.
Even if you are a scary cat like me, give it a try. I did and will never regret the time I spent swimming with the fish. What a different world it is under the ocean. The fish swim right up to you. Some glow and stand out. Some blend in and surprise you. Thank goodness no sharks surprised me. Sharks are why I don’t swim in the ocean. Roatan is the only place I have ventured farther than my knees. The reassurance provided by the extremely clear water allowed me for a change to enjoy the pleasantness of the water that most people don’t think twice about.
If you decide to snorkel, it is not necessary to lug all that gear with you on the plane or cruise ship. There are several places you can rent or borrow equipment. If you are into diving, there are also numerous dive shops where you can get certification and/or take daily dives.
Whenever I went to West Bay, I stayed all day. On my last day on the island, my friend and I almost missed the last water taxi. We were so enjoying the refreshing pool after baking in the sun all day that we paid no attention to the time. The beach was practically deserted. The resort workers were waiting for us to leave. There was only one water taxi tied up to the beach. Oops, our mistake. Sorry workers.
Roatan is a popular spot for cruise ships to port. If you happen to take a ship bound for Roatan, make sure to sign up for the West Bay excursion. You will not regret the experience. Sundays are a huge cruise ship day. Most of the resorts have areas roped off especially for cruise ship passengers in order to keep them together and on schedule as I learned from chatting with a lovely group of women travelers.
If you are a non-cruise ship visitor, take your chances with visiting West Bay on Sundays. Yes, it is crowded; however, the chairs are free. No rental fee. The cruise ship passengers are only there for a short amount of time. So, go early. Stake out your chair. Enjoy watching the people show. Then relax with a deserted beach after they leave.
After a month on Roatan, my word of advice for you is visit this lovely little gem if you get the chance. Use caution as you would in any foreign country; however, forgo the majority of warnings you may hear about Honduras. Roatan is very different than mainland Honduras. Many Hondurans I spoke to left the mainland for the safety and beauty of the islands.
Go and visit!