Lighthouse Reef Snorkeling
The 13th most popular snorkel dive spot in Roatan.
Thursday 4 August 2016 06:48 GMT
On the northwest side of Roatan near Half Moon Bay, the snorkeling off Lighthouse Reef is a surprisingly good dive site located right offshore of the West End. Located at the end of the western point of Half Moon Bay, the Lighthouse Reef is off of an iron shore, so the water clarity tends to be exceptional. The water depths range from 5 to 15 feet deep, and the habitat is rich with brain coral, elk horn coral, lettuce coral and sea fans. During a Lighthouse Reef snorkel, you may encounter filefish, queen angelfish, blue chromis, sergeant majors, butterflyfish, parrotfish tangs, grunts, barracuda, grouper eagle rays and hawksbill sea turtles.
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 at Lighthouse Reef, 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 Lighthouse Reef snorkeling dive site is located west of the airport and northwest of West End town. A good starting point is the western beach in Half Moon Bay. Snorkel offshore along the western shoreline to the rocky point.
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, Lighthouse Reef is the 13th most popular snorkel dive spot of all 16 snorkeling dives in Roatan. Several of the better snorkeling spots are nearby Lighthouse Reef including Turtle Reef, Divemasters Choice, The Wife / Hole-In-The-Wall, Half Moon Bay, Schoolhouse Reef, Spanish Bay Reef and Lighthouse Reef.