But when it comes to beach destinations, I can't help but to feel a bit cheated when the reality doesn't match that perfect image from the ad.
Well, guess what? My quest is over. I've arrived. The place is called West Bay Beach and it's located on the island of Roatan in Honduras. And here's the proof:
I loved Roatan and I think you would too! And here's why:
Have I mentioned the beautiful beach?
Don't waste your time at other places, West Bay is the best beach on the island. The sand is white, the water is crystal clear, the very healthy coral reef in some areas is so close to the beach that it is easily accessible even by those who can't swim. You can pretty much just put your mask on and WALK around the coral.
The Mesoamerican Barrier Reef - second largest in the world - is no question the main attraction on the island. The majority of people who come to Roatan spend all their time either underwater or floating above it.
If you've never been diving before, it is easy to arrange learning sessions with one of many dive shops along the beach. You can even get PADI certified in as little as two and a half days!
But what's great about Roatan is that you don't need to learn scuba diving to fully enjoy the reef. I did both and can testify that snorkelers can have as much fun and see as many fish and corals as the scuba divers. Again, it's solely because of such proximity of the reef to the shore and clear water that allows great visibility. On our first day while snorkelling we ran into a tiny squid, a huge lobster, and a spotted moray eel that totally looked like a white snake. But I've never encountered any of those during the actual dives.
Roatan is a much smaller island comparing to Dominican Republic, Cuba, or Jamaica. So there is less development in terms of large international all inclusive chains. In fact, there are none of them on the island. The hotels are smaller and homier; there is not so much night entertainment and drinking until 4 am; women don't put on pumps for dinner; and no one dresses like it's their prom night. It was so nice and relaxing, I didn't even want to take pictures - weird!