As mentioned in my first post about Roatán, the chief purpose of our visit to this particular island was for the snorkeling. Having a 6 year old daughter who loves to snorkel too, it was important to find a destination that provided the convenience of good snorkeling right from the shore. Although we really enjoyed the experience of snorkeling in Samana earlier this year, nothing really prepared us for the awe-inspiring underwater spectacle that the West Bay area of Roatán has to offer.
We chose to stay at the Mayan Princess Beach and Dive Resort partly due to the close proximity to the reef. As mentioned, the beach is pretty amazing – soft white sand, very warm crystal clear water – can’t ask for much more. After a short walk past the water taxi pier to the left of the resort, you have access to one of the most beautiful snorkeling areas in the world. You literally only have to swim out 20 yards or so, and you reach the edge of a very vibrant and active reef ecosystem. Numerous fish and crustaceans, elaborate coral structures, caves and caverns, sudden deep drop offs to white sandy floors – simply incredible!
You have to excuse me, but I need to get on my soapbox for a moment. One of the most sad and disheartening things I frequently experience when visiting various snorkeling sites is the utter lack of respect shown by some tourists. Coral is a living being – a very fragile living being at that. From people standing on the reef or breaking off pieces of coral for souvenirs, this type of behaviour will ensure that our children and our children’s children will not have the opportunity to experience the beauty and breathtaking images of a healthy and vibrant reef.
Damage can be seen in numerous areas on the West Bay reef, especially in the shallower sections. If you are not a strong swimmer, you should not be venturing out wearing flippers and then constantly having to stand and trample the delicate reef. Part of me feels like Roatan should charge a small admission fee to use the reef. Even a few dollars – it might discourage the potentially destructive hoard of snorkel-and-dash cruise ship visitors and the money could be used to increase awareness and maintain the vitality of the reef. Just my two sense. Please respect the reef and its inhabitants!
Now back to more positive things – the wonderful West Bay reef! I feel like I may be over-sharing here like a proud new Dad showing pictures of his newborn – but it was hard to narrow down just a few select images. There is just so much colour, textures and interesting marine life to experience here. On our second to last day, I caught a little grief for stretching what was supposed to be a solo 90 minute snorkeling venture into almost 3 hours on the reef. Visions of a shark gobbling me up or the tide pulling me out to sea danced through my wife’s head I guess. My pecs felt like they were being torn from the bone the next day, but it was totally worth it.
Its just so easy to lose track of time when you have so much beauty to explore. This has to be as close as you can get to experiencing life on another planet without actually leaving Earth. I can’t recommend snorkeling in West Bay Roatán enough. Based on some great feedback provided from a visitor to our blog, we definitely want to return in the early summer months. I hope you enjoy our pictures – I do apologize that the quality in no way does justice to seeing the reef in all its splendour first hand. Our Nikon CoolPix AW100 takes decent shots, but can’t rival what you see with your own eye when the sun shines through and lights up this underwater world. For now. back to the cage.