Look up Roatan in TripAdvisor's discussion forum and you will invariably find someone asking for advice on whether it's better to stay in West End or West Bay. The answer, of course, depends on your point of view and what you're looking for in your next Roatan vacation. While both locations are on the Western end of the island, they are quite different.
West Bay Roatan
Roatan's West Bay is effectively a collection of resorts along Roatan's most beautiful stretch of beach with a perfect sunset view. The vibe is pure vacation, with tourists packing the beach and ringing each resort's community pool and mandatory palapa bar. Dining and nightlife are largely provided by the resorts that call West Bay home. There are relatively few shops and little to see/do outside of the resorts.
West End Roatan
Roatan's West End, on the other hand, is a working village. Half the village is situated along Half Moon Bay beach, while the other half stretches Southwest along the water toward West Bay, and as it's name implies, all of West End provides beautiful sunset views. There is a wide variety of restaurants, bars, dive shops, souvenir stands and stores in West End. Most are independent businesses not associated with any resort, although West End has a few of those, too. Because a fairly large number of locals work and live in West End, there is more energy and activity around the clock and throughout the year.
Which Location is Best for You?
Depending on what you want out of your vacation, either location might be ideal. And given their relative proximity to one another (water taxis run between the two all day - about a five minute ride), it is easy to experience one location while staying at the other. It is very easy (and common) for people staying in West End to do a day on West Bay beach. Similarly, many people staying in West Bay come up to West End for dinner and drinks one or more nights of their vacation.
So, the debate comes down to what matters most to you on your Roatan vacation. Are you part of an extended family or large group of friends? If so, you might put activity/variety at the top of your list and be happier in West End than West Bay. Are you a couple looking to enjoy the water and beach but not as interested in shopping/bar hopping? If so, you might be happier in West Bay. Finally, if you are just looking for some peace and quiet, maybe a little golf or tennis, you probably won't find either West End or West Bay ideal. Instead, you should consider Pristine Bay Resort on Roatan's Northern shore.