Enjoy the Best of the Caribbean on West Bay Beach, Roatán

Clear, turquoise water rolls gently onto a white-sand beach. The sea is calm here thanks to the reefs just off shore.

Small boats (water taxis and dive boats, mostly) are anchored here and there, bobbing in the swell. Vacationers float in the water, kids frolic on the shore, and every once in a while you’ll spot a snorkeler’s splashing fin.

But you just relax in one of the chairs shaded by umbrellas or palm trees, and take it all in.

You’re on West Bay beach, on the western tip of Roatán, a glittering jewel in the Caribbean. Here the weather is warm year-round (with the sea breeze cooling things off)…the cost of living is low…the real estate is a bargain for what you get…and, thanks to its history as a British colony, everyone here speaks English.

At 48 miles long and five miles at its widest point, there are plenty of coves, bays, and isolated seashores on Roatán. But the most popular beach for visitors is West Bay. It’s no isolated, undiscovered beach, that’s for sure. But when you want fun in the sun—it’s the place to be.

Hotels and small resorts line the beachfront, interspersed with beach bars and restaurants where you can enjoy a great seafood meal and a couple Salvavidas (the local beer) for under $10. Camp out in one of the shaded lounge chairs and a server will bring food and beverages to you. It’s the ultimate in laidback luxury in the Caribbean.

If you’re a scuba diver or snorkeler, you’re in the ideal location. The reef is just a two-minute swim from the sand, and it’s the perfect place to gaze at dozens of different species of tropical fish. You could hire a dive boat or just follow the buoys that mark a snorkeling trail. Renting a mask, snorkel, and fins will set you back $15.

The beach does draw the cruise ship crowd in the winter months—just find out what day the ships are in and head elsewhere. But it’s not all vacationers. Expats—full timers and snowbirds—from Canada and the U.S. have taken up residence in the homes and condos in this area. For something on the beach…you’ll pay more than other locations on the island’s inland. But for under $200,000 for a luxury condo right on the beach, you can’t go wrong. Head up into the hills above the shore, where you get panoramic views, and you’ll pay about $100,000 for a lot, and $350,000 for a ready-to-move-in high-end home.

It all adds up to the ideal Caribbean destination.

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