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Roatan

Best Roatan Beaches Near the Cruise Ports

West Bay Beach
West Bay Beach is one of the most popular beaches on Roatan. Credit: Wikimedia Creative Commons license

The best beaches near the Roatan cruise ports depend on whether ships visit Coxen Hole or Mahogany Bay.

Visitors to Coxen Hole will need to drive about 25 minutes to get to a good beach. Visitors to Mahogany Bay will have to walk less than 10 minutes.

Coxen Hole, capital of this small Honduran island in the western Caribbean, is the most active cruise port. Mahogany Bay is a fairly new port built by Carnival Cruise Lines.

Roatan, the largest of the Bay Islands off the coast of Honduras, is home to one of the better beaches in the Caribbean.

The world’s second largest coral reef surrounds the island and houses the largest amount of marine life in the Caribbean. The reef and marine life make the island ideal for snorkeling and scuba diving.

West Bay, Tabyana Beaches

The most popular beaches line along what is known as the West End of Roatan. They include West Bay, Tabyana and Half Moon Bay.

West Bay is the largest and most famous. It also is the most active thanks to the hotels, resorts and restaurants that line it. Cruise visitors who disembark at Coxen Hole are most likely to go to West Bay as part of a shore excursion. Unfortunately, it is not that near the Coxen Hole cruise port. It is a 25 minute drive away.

An example shore excursion to West Bay Beach will take about four to five hours depending on the tour operator, amenities, sail date and other factors. So plan on spending at least three hours at the beach.

Prices start at about $40 and go higher if lunch or other amenities are included.

Shore excursion operators offer packages that may include more than the beach. They may also go to beaches other than West Bay. One operator offers some sightseeing in addition to beach time for prices starting at $49. The tour lasts up to five hours.

Another shore excursion operator offered a beach and snorkel combination with prices starting at $60 per person. The price includes snacks, refreshments and transportation.

Tabyana Beach, which lies near West Bay, is not as popular as West Bay but often regarded as the best in Roatan. With alluring, postcard scenery, the beach offers easy access to the coral reefs for snorkelers and divers. It also is about 25 minutes from the Coxen Hole cruise port.

Tabyana separates itself in that the beach is almost completely untouched. Apart from a tranquil, relaxing day at the beach, Tabyana offers a trip complete with live Caribbean music, fresh beach fare and tropical drinks.

Shore excursion operators offer excursions to Tabyana even though it is 30 minutes from the Coxen Hole cruise port and 45 minutes from Carnival’s Mahogany Bay.

Mahogany Bay

Mahogany Bay Beach. © 2021 Scott S. Bateman

Unlike Tabyana and the West End beaches, Mahogany Beach is a “manufactured” playground. In other words, the natural landscape has been greatly impacted by major developments and thus offers a different experience.

In fact, Mahogany Bay is a beach, shopping and dining complex. The area caters to tourists with accommodations, restaurants, etc. The beach is small but pretty and offers nice views with a white sandy beach for relaxation.

Mahogany Bay is the nearest beach to any Roatan cruise port. The beach is less than a 10-minute walk from the pier.

Because Mahogany Bay is farther from West Bay than Coxen Hole, cruise visitors are more likely to lounge at the Mahogany Bay Beach. Besides, it won’t cost anything because it is part of the Carnival package.

Cruise visitors will find that Mahogany Beach is small, but it offers plenty of amenities including free lounge chairs. Shade under a handful of trees is first-come, first-serve.

West End and Half Moon Bay

Half Moon Bay is another option and available from shore excursion operators. The West End and Half Moon Bay beaches are connected by water taxis and as such share an important relationship.

These beaches are the swimming, kayaking and water playground hotspots in Roatan. Visitors can rent diving and snorkeling equipment. They also have their choice of restaurants, pubs and shops located adjacent to the West End Beach.

Young and inexperienced diving and snorkeling enthusiasts will find safe sites right off the shore.

Palmetto Bay Beach, Roatan.=
Palmetto Bay Beach, Roatan.

Palmetto Bay

Palmetto Bay northeast of the cruise ports is mostly known for two resorts: the Palmetto Bay Plantation and The Resort at Palmetto Bay.

Cruise visitors who disembark at the main Coxen Hole cruise port will have about a 25-minute drive by taxi or excursion bus to reach it. Carnival Cruise passengers who get off their ship at Mahogany Bay will have a 15-minute drive.

Scott S. Bateman is a professional journalist who has traveled widely throughout the Caribbean and the Americas. He is the author of four books about cruising in the Caribbean, Alaska and Mexican Riviera.
August 10, 2023

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