• Courtney E Hanlon

West Bay, Roatan: A Snorkeling Experience Like No Other

/ via Courtney Hanlon

If you've never been to Roatan - an island in the Caribbean Sea belonging to Honduras - I have one word of advice: GO!

It was our first stop on my most recent cruise I took with my family. We went to Tabyana Beach in West Bay as the second portion of our excursion. I've been to Caribbean beaches before, but this place was really really cool.

#FunFact: the reef at West Bay is a part of the Belize Barrier Reef (which is then a part of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef), the second largest barrier reef system in the world.

/ via Coral Triangle Adventures

Because of this, West Bay is a popular destination for snorkeling. At Tabyana Beach, an excursion you can choose on your cruise (available depending on the cruise line), a couple of the staff members offered to take you out to the edge of the reef and if you enjoyed the experience, all it cost you was a tip. My recommendation? DO IT. It's completely safe. Before going out, our guide assured me that we would not run into any sharks, my main concern. He also towed my dad and I out there on a bright orange kayak so we could be seen by boats. My dad and I hung onto either side of the kayak as our guide pulled us in front so we can enjoy the beautiful views the reef had to offer.

There were three depths to the reef: 9 ft, 25 ft, and 95 ft (see the aerial view below. The 95 ft drop off begins where the coral ends. We snorkeled all the way out there!) The 25 ft drop off was cool because the coral grew to the height of the 9 ft depth and you could still see the hundreds of ocean critters within the maze of coral.

The 95 ft drop off was...kinda scary 😅 I have never seen anything like this before. I felt like Marlin from Finding Nemo ("The drop off? You're going to the drop off?!"). However, I remember feeling amazed. We didn't go too far out though, thankfully. Our guide stopped us right at the edge. The water was of the deepest blue. You barely see the bottom of the ocean floor. Then our guide started feeding the fish!

Schools of Sergeant Major (a cute yellow-striped fish!) and Bermuda Chub swarmed us. The experience was absolutely awesome and magical. They had followed us out to the drop off, too, knowing our guide was going to give them food. So if you were asking if you were going to see any fish, the answer is yes, you will see A TON!

We saw also a school of Atlantic Blue Tang, a grouper of some sort, and a group of squid! I have never seen squid in the wild before and it was absolutely amazing. It inspired me to invest in an underwater camera for experiences like this.

The species of squid we encountered during our snorkeling adventure! / via www.kellogg.northwestern.edu

We spent somewhere between a half hour to an hour out there. I can't tell you how long the trip actually took and to be honest, I didn't care. I was having so much fun and this was truly a once in a life time experience as someone who snorkeled maybe on other time in her life.

West Bay is a tourist haven and has many 5-Star / All Inclusive resorts. Ask me about planning your next trip to Roatan!


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