When travelling to Roatan you may come across some names that seem similar but actually signify very different places. When it comes to analogous names on the Bay Island of Roatan, the ones most people are familiar with are West Bay and West End. Although they are both on the western side of the island, they are, in fact, different places. This article has been written to relieve some of the confusion surrounding the two similarly named places.
The Quick Explanation
To put it in the most simple terms, West End Village has a paved road that’s lined with several types of shops and small hotels. West Bay, on the other hand, is a much larger area that encompasses West Bay Beach with its numerous hotels and full scale resorts. It is also has a number of surrounding neighbourhoods where you’ll find private properties that are rented out to tourists and travellers looking for vacation rentals properties for their Roatan accommodations. To boil it down to the most basic of descriptions, West Bay has the tourist beach while West End has the strip.
West End, Roatan In Detail
West End is on the northwestern coast of Roatan and is comprised of a mile long paved road that features a multitude of restaurants, bars, lounges, dive shops, souvenir stores, convenience stores, and small hotels. West End Village is a 20 minute drive from the airport and Port of Roatan cruise ship terminals. It is about 35 minutes from Mahogany Bay which is home to the Carnival cruise ship terminal.
The area is considered more bohemian than West Bay. Half of West End Village stands behind the area’s largest expanse of beach, Half Moon Bay. Named because of its moon-like crescent shape, the beach is lined with palm trees and acts as a easy entry point for snorkelers.
As you enter the Village you’ll encounter dozens of wooden piers that reach out into the ocean allowing people to access the boats and water taxis that transport divers and other travelers. The heart of the Village houses most of the restaurants and bars as well as fishing charters and scuba diving outfitters. The nightlife is quite active here and you’ll find drink specials, live bands, dancing and DJs.
West Bay, Roatan In Detail
The most popular part of West Bay, West Bay Beach has many of the island’s resorts and hotels. These will range from all inclusive, high end resorts to bed and breakfast houses and everything in between. Many of these Roatan accommodations are located right on West Bay Beach. Because the reef is easily accessible from the shore, most of the resorts have in-house dive shops. You’ll also find several independent shops and outfitters in the area. There’s a wide choice of water-based activities off West Bay Beach such as parasailing, jet skiing and boat tours. The beach also includes designated swimming zones to keep swimmers safe from motorized watercraft.
West Bay Beach is about a 30 minute drive from the airport and Port of Roatan cruise ship terminals. It is about 45 minutes from Mahogany Bay and the Carnival cruise ship terminal.
If you choose to rent a vacation home in West Bay, rather than stay in a hotel, you’ll likely end up at the tip of the island in the neighbourhoods of Lighthouse or Turtle Crossing. There are also other neighbourhoods in West Bay where you’ll be able to find vacation rentals.
West Bay Beach itself is known for its white sand and clear waters and is therefore a popular destination for cruise ship travelers who have a few hours onshore. However, most of the cruise ship activity is based close to the resorts while West Bay Beach stretches for a considerable distance allowing anyone to find some peace and quiet.
The nightlife in West Bay in nowhere near as raucous as in West End Village. The area is more family friendly and has a mellower atmosphere than found in West End. However there are still plenty of restaurants that offer all types of fare as well as bars and lounges for those looking for something to drink.
West End Versus West Bay
When asked which is better; West Bay or West End, it really depends on what you’re looking for. If you want to swim to the reef, relax on the beach, stay in a luxury resort and have quiet, relaxing evenings, West Bay is probably your best bet. If you’re looking for somewhere with a hopping nightlife and bohemian atmosphere, you’d probably enjoy West End. However, the two areas are only a 10 minute drive away from each other and also accessible by water taxi during the day, so it’s easy to have the best of both worlds.
About the Author: Karen K. has a passion for scuba diving and loves to explore new corners of the world along with their waters and write blogs along the way.