West End, Roatan
By Jeff Blackburn
Half Moon Bay, West End
If the heart of the Bay Islands is Roatan, then that heart beat is
felt strongest in West End. With flights from mainland Honduras arriving
almost every hour it is a breeze to travel to Roatan's West End. Located
about nine kilometers from the airport, West End is a quick and beautiful
ten-minute taxi ride away. West End is small in size but huge in every
other way. It is truly a one-stop shop for fun and sun.
Getting around on Roatan is made easy by the many choices of transportation
offered. The traveller in a hurry can take a taxi. The smart traveller
will remember to ask what the price will be for the ride before getting
in the taxi. Taxis run from early in the morning until late at night
but the prices go up as the sun goes down so plan accordingly. The
bus is a cheap alternative to the taxi, but can get hot and crowded.
Buses run from sun up to sun down Monday through Saturday. A favorite
mode of travel especially for getting around West End is to walk.
One can walk from the famous Half Moon Bay at the far East edge of
West End to where West Bay Beach starts on the west edge of West End,
in less than an hour.
West End also offers many choices in lodgings. For the budget traveler
or backpacker there are many clean single rooms with shared kitchen
and bath, starting at under $10 a night. Most rooms come with a fan
and mosquito net. As with the taxi it is smart to ask what is included
before one pays. For the vacationer who wants a few more creature
comforts, West End offers a variety of moderate hotels as well. Many
of these have kitchens, private bathrooms, hot water and air-conditioning
and range up to $90 per night. Most places can be rented both short
and long term. Reservations are advised at all times especially if
traveling in high season, which is between December and March or during
West End is chock full of activities. Island tours, fishing, diving,
snorkeling and shopping top the list of favorite vacation pastimes.
West End has about ten PADI dive shops. These dive shops offer everything
from Intro to SCUBA to Dive Master courses. The dive community here
is international which allows courses to be taught in a variety of
languages. The competition between so many dive shops in such a small
area keeps the prices competitive. In fact Honduras and the Bay Island
are known for some of the most beautiful and least expensive diving
in the world. Fun dives are offered from $20 per dive, with open watercourses
starting at $140 per diver. Prices vary a little from dive shop to
dive shop so shop around.
Sunset in West End
Diving is not all there is to do. There are boat tours, fishing tours,
guided island tours or you can rent bicycles or mopeds or even a car
and explore the island by yourself. Snorkeling is also very popular.
The reef is very close to the beach in West End, especially in Half
Moon Bay. This makes it very easy to spend a relaxing few hours gliding
over beautiful reef and watching amazing, colorful and sometimes bizarre
sea life. Octopi, the majestic eagle ray and sometimes even, dolphins
can be seen just off the beach within easy reach for the casual snorkeler.
When snorkeling, please remember to stay out of the boat taxi lanes.
Snorkel gear can be rented in many places in West End --prices start
at $5 per day per set.
There are also many gift shops, a few food stores and Internet Cafes.
West End has no bank and most places do not take credit cards. So
bring money or travelers checks. If you don't you will have to make
a trip to one of the banks in Coxen Hole.
In West End, the pulse goes up as the sun goes down. Restaurants
offer food at prices from $2 or $3 to $20 for a main course. There
is plenty of fresh seafood and fresh Honduran beef. The food ranges
in style from Argentinean and Uragayan to Italian, American and French.
The weary travelers can sit by the ocean and sip a beer while watching
a spectacular sunset and listening to the music of the beach. On the
other hand, more active travelers can dance the night away to the
red-hot beat of the Caribbean at several bars and nightspots.
West End has something for everyone. Whether you are old or young,
a big spender or a penny pincher, a great time can be had by all.
By Jeff Blackburn
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