On the northwest shore of Roatan just east of West Bay, the snorkeling at Tabyanna's Beach is a popular snorkeling site with locals, although there is plenty of sea grass to cross. This is a shallower snorkeling dive site. From the beach, there is about 350 feet of sea grass over sand flats with an occasional coral head. About 300 feet from shore, there is a very acti...
On the northwest shore of Roatan just east of West Bay, the snorkeling at Tabyanna's Beach is a popular snorkeling site with locals, although there is plenty of sea grass to cross. This is a shallower snorkeling dive site. From the beach, there is about 350 feet of sea grass over sand flats with an occasional coral head. About 300 feet from shore, there is a very active water taxi boat crossing that is marked by white markers about 50 feet across. Beyond the water taxi route, the water clarity increases and there are large coral reef formations as the water deepens. If you plan to snorkel through and beyond the water taxi route, a diver-down flag is highly recommended. Alternately, the coral reefs can be explored as a boat-accessed snorkeling dive site, which further out some locals call Sea Quest.
While snorkeling off Tabyanna Beach, you may encounter starfish, queen conch, green moray eels, spotted sea snakes, peacock flounder, feather duster worms, yellow grunts, hawksbill turtles and the occasional southern stingray. The habitat starts with sea grass and then transitions to brain coral, fire coral, lettuce coral, pillar coral, sea whips, sea fans and barrel sponges.
The snorkeling off Roatan is known to be truly world class. Roatan is located northeast of Tegucigalpa about 35 miles off the Honduran coast. Isla de Roatan is about 32 miles long and ranges from 1 mile to 4 miles wide. The reefs around Roatan are known to have about 25% live coral, which is actually relatively healthy compared to other reefs found in the Caribbean. The average water temperature around Roatan varies little from summer (82F) to winter (78F). The best visibility can be found during the driest months of February through May, which can be up to 100 feet. During November and December, the visibility is typically 30 feet or under due to the heavy rain runoff. By the way, there are dozens of so-called dive shops around the island, however, most of them are just fronts for guided scuba dives. The dive shops rarely have any gear for sale, and the rental snorkel gear is old and very basic. Make sure to bring everything you may need, even mask drops.
The waters surrounding the West Bay and West End are protected as the Roatan Marine Park. The Roatan Marine Park has installed over 60 mooring buoys at major dive sites to protect the reefs from anchors. There is an annual $10 USD fee to snorkel in the Roatan Marine Park that is payable at the local dive shops. Note, while snorkeling in the marine park, watch out for boat traffic from water taxis, glass bottom boats and dive charters; they all short-cut through the marked marine park boundaries and rarely use the designated entry channel. A diver-down flag would certainly make you feel safer.
After a long day of snorkeling at Tabyanna Beach, you might want to grab a drink in West Bay to cool off at Beachers Bar, the Thirsty Parrot at Bananarama Resort or the Palapa Bar at Infinity Bay Resort.
To reach the snorkeling in the Bay Islands by air, fly into Ramon Villeda Morales International Airport (SAP) in San Pedro Sula. Then, you will need to transfer to an inter-island flight to the Bay Islands. Alternately, if you are coming from the US, you may be able to find a direct flight to Roatan into Juan Manuel Galvez International Airport (RTB) from Miami or Houston. A passport valid for at least 6 months past the departure date is required for entry, and there is a $40USD departure tax. Note: when preparing to fly off the island, make sure to give yourself plenty of time a the airport with a minimum of two hours - there are five long steps to the departure process and the planes do not typically wait even if you are confirmed checked-in. Also, the land-line phones on the island are very unreliable, so make sure to come with a complete list of the mobile phone numbers you may need such as dive shops, hotel, restaurants and rental car agency.
The Jumping Jack snorkeling dive site is located southwest of the airport and just northeast of the West Bay Beach.
To reach the snorkeling at Tabyanna's Beach from the airport near Coxen Hole, turn left out of the airport towards Coxen Hole. At the first intersection with Petro Sun Gas Station, turn left to Coxen Hole. Continue straight to next intersection with Sarita Ice Cream Shop on corner, veer right to Gravel Bay / Flowers Bay. Continue straight through Gravel Bay to next intersection, turn right toward West Bay / West End. Continue straight to next intersection, turn left towards West Bay. About 1,000 feet before the West Bay Mall, there is a dirt road leading down to Tabyanna's Beach. It may be signed for Gumbalimba Park (but there are many sites with the same name).
Overall, Tabyanna Beach is the 10th most popular snorkel dive spot of all 17 snorkeling dives in Roatan. Several of the better snorkeling spots are nearby Tabyanna Beach including West Bay Beach, Herbies Place and Jumping Jack / Las Rocas.
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