On the northwest side of Roatan just off the of West End, the snorkeling in Half Moon Bay is known for its seagrass, starfish, conch and occasional coral heads. The best snorkeling in Half Moon Bay can be found on the western edge from the designated beach offshore to Lighthouse Point. The water depths vary from surface to six feet deep, and the clarity is usually around 30 feet year-round. During a Half Moon Bay snorkel, you may encounter sergeant majors, butterflyfish, parrotfish, filefish, queen angelfish, blue chromic, tangs, grunts, barracuda, grouper eagle rays and hawksbill sea turtles. The marine life can be found around the seagrass, elkhorn coral formations, brain coral heads, pillar coral, barrel sponges and sea fans.
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 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 in Half Moon Bay, you might want to grab a drink in West End to cool off at Eagle Rays, Booty Bar or Sundowner Bar (Half Moon Bay).
To reach the snorkeling in Roatan 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 Half Moon Bay snorkeling dive site is located west of the airport, and just off the main intersection of West End town.
To reach the snorkeling in the West End area 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 right towards West End and this road ends in West End at Half Moon Bay. If you turn left on the waterfront road, about 2,000 feet down on the left, there is a signed parking lot behind the mini-mart.
Overall, Half Moon Bay is the 6th most popular snorkel dive spot of all 16 snorkeling dives in Roatan.