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Why Diving in Utila is the Best in the World

whale shark - scuba diving in Utila Honduras - best diving in the world

Utila is one of the best places in the world for scuba diving.  You may not have heard of this little island off the coast of Honduras, but if you want to learn to dive, or to dive in in one of the best locations for scuba diving, you had better learn more about Utila!  I took my PADI diving course in Utila, and here’s why I think diving in Utila is the best in the world :

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READ MORE: Learning to Dive in Honduras with Utila Dive Center

Honduras is Awesome

Honduras has a dodgy reputation, there is no denying it.  In cities like Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula, crime rates are high, and it is certainly not the kind of place you want to walk around alone at night.  However, in smaller towns and villages, I found Honduras to be safe, friendly and welcoming. 

In the two weeks I spent in Honduras, I visited Copan, a beautiful little town with incredible Mayan ruins, La Ceiba, a stop off point en route to the Bay Islands, Utila, and the stunning Cayos Cochinos.  I was blown away by the natural beauty along the coast of Honduras.  I didn’t have time to visit any of the national parks like Pico Bonito or Lago de Yojoa, but would love to go back and explore more.

Cayos Cochinos in Honduras - Why Utila is one of the best places for diving in Central America
Cayos Cochinos in Honduras – Why Utila is one of the best places for diving in Central America

Diving in Utila is Cheap!

Utila is legendary among backpackers and divers for being one of the cheapest destinations in the world to take PADI dive courses, as well as having ideal diving conditions. 

The basic PADI Openwater dive course costs around $350 USD in Utila for the 4 days course, including 5 nights’ accommodation, and two fun dives at the end of the course, compared to $565 in Belize PLUS accommodation and $450 USD in Thailand for example, meaning the cost of diving in Honduras is very low, yet for a very high standard of safety, and high quality of dives.

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Utila Honduras is a safe little town
Utila Honduras is a safe little town

Utila Is a Cool Place

Utila is a small island off the north coast of Honduras, one of three islands known as the The Bay Islands, alongside Roatan and Guanaja.  The largest reef in the world stretches along the coastline, and clear blue water stretches as far as the eye can see.  Utila itself is a chilled island, with a mixture of locals, expats and divers. 

It definitely has a backpacker vibe, with the scuba diving courses in Roatan being more geared towards cruise passengers instead of backpackers.  There are plenty of bars and restaurants, and it is safe to walk around alone, even at night.  The Island is only an hour from the mainland, so you can easily explore the rest of Honduras after diving here.

Making our way back to the Utila Dive Center Boat after a dive
Making our way back to the Utila Dive Center Boat after a dive. photo credit Rachael Dufour

The Quality of Dive Schools is Excellent

There are several different dive schools offering packages for diving courses and fun dives, which usually include accommodation.  I chose Utila Dive Center to do my Dive Course, and was impressed with their safety standards, and the quality of the instruction. 

In our group of 6 learning divers, we had one lead instructor, two additional qualified instructors on work placements, and two trainee instructors.  The equipment was in excellent condition, and I would definitely recommend Utila Dive Centre to anyone looking for a dive school in Utila.

All our Scuba Gear Ready for our First Dive with Utila Dive Center
All our Scuba Gear Ready for our First Dive with Utila Dive Center

There are Over 100 Dive Sites in Utila

There is a vast array of different dive sites in Utila, suitable for beginners through to advanced divers.  Some dive spots have sandy bottoms perfect for training, others have spectacular reefs, shipwrecks, and caves.  The most popular dive sites are on the south side of Utila, as they are closer to the docks, and the seas are calmer on this side of the Island.

YOU MAY ALSO LIKE: Top 10 Dive Sites in the World

Me diving in Utila, signalling that everything is cool
Me diving in Utila, signalling that everything is cool. photo credit Rachael Dufour

A Huge Variety of Sealife

With the reef comes a mind-boggling variety of fish and sea creatures.  Green turtles and hawksbills are common here, as are spotted eagle rays, stingrays, and moray eels.  The reef system is home to more than 500 species of fish, 350 species of molluscs, and 65 species of stony coral. 

Many of the species that live here are endangered or under some degree of protection, so here is a perfect place to get up close with animals you may not see elsewhere.  Dolphins are also common here, and if you’re lucky you’ll get to snorkel with these fabulous fun creatures between dives!

whale shark - scuba diving in Utila Honduras - best diving in the world
A magnificent whale shark. Photo credit: Flickr via Christian Steen

The Chance to Snorkel with Whale Sharks

Whale Sharks are the world’s largest fish frequent the waters around Utila all year round, but are more commonly sighted from March to May, and August to September.   Although they aren’t the easiest creatures to find, between dives the boat captains are on the lookout for these gentle giants. 

There are companies who specifically arrange tours to go out and snorkel with the whale sharks, including the Whale Shark & Oceanic Research Center, but of course, as with all nature, there is no guarantee you will spot one of these beasts.

Overall, Utila is an excellent choice for scuba diving in Central America, and one of the best places in the world for diving!

Have you been scuba diving in Utila?  Share your experiences in the comments below.

If you’re looking for travel insurance for your trip to Honduras, get a quote now from World Nomads.

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Arguably, scuba diving in Utila is the best in the world; with amazing sealife, the chance to snorkel with whale sharks and great value for money, it is certainly one of the best if not the top slot! Read on to see why I think Utila is the best place for diving. #Utila #Honduras #CentralAmerica #ScubaDiving #Diving #PADI

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Last updated: June 19, 2020

13 thoughts on “Why Diving in Utila is the Best in the World

  1. Nomad Joseph says:

    Me & My girlfriend got our OWD and AOWD in Utila. We chose Paradise divers and we were happy with our choice. It was cheap and good value for our money. Thanks for your article!

    Did you do something else besides diving in Utila? Maybe climbed the Pumpkin hill or hiked to the lost airplane in the jungles?

    • Claire says:

      I didn’t know there was a lost airplane in the jungle! I did go to the iguana sanctuary but we didn’t get much free time during the week of the PADI course so I didn’t make it to Pumpkin hill – maybe next time! Thanks for checking out the article 🙂

  2. Angela Lok says:

    your article brings back so many memories from my visit to Utila! I went there last year and I left a piece of my heart there – the landscapes, the people, the food, everything was simply outstanding. I especially loved diving at the Black Coral Wall, those corals were out of this world.
    Utila is a little bit of paradise, and I am so happy you have done it justice through your writing. thank you!

  3. Aria says:

    The main reason I love scuba diving is for the adventure, you don’t know what it may happen or what you may found below the water surface. The second reason is because of the beautiful and unique underwater landscape. In the past years I’ve taken a lot of pictures of the marine life.

  4. Michelle says:

    That’s a great whale shark shot! Diving in Honduras sounds awesome. I have a diving package for Roatan bought at a charity auction but at the rates things are going, I don’t think I’ll be able to get to Honduras before it expires 🙁

  5. Megan Jerrard says:

    I’m so glad to hear that you found Honduras to be safe – I’m actually looking for a great spot to take my PADI course, so it’s good to know that Utila is one of the cheapest places in the world – might have to plan for a trip! Utila definitely sounds like a cool place, and it’s very good to know that safety and quality of the schools is top notch – you never do know when you’re traveling to a foreign place!

    Over 100 dive sites is immense – you’re not wrong that it would be an amazing place to learn! And I’m actually dying to swim with whale sharks, whether that involves snorkeling or diving, so I’m sold!

  6. Iuliana Marchian says:

    I must admit that you’ve convinced me that Utila is a very good spot to dive. However, it’s a bit too far from Romania and I think that I’ll have to include it into a longer trip. How many active dives you need to have in order to be able to get a serious one?

  7. Ozzy says:

    Wow! What a lovely place to dive. Would really like to visit atleast a few of the dive sites in Utila.

    Have always been fascinated by Central America; can’t wait to go diving with whale sharks 🙂

    Saved post for later reference.

  8. Anne says:

    I dived in Routan and was disappointed. Sadly places that fifteen years ago were amazing for diving are slowly being ruined by coral bleaching, el ninos and general climate change. I haven’t dived Utila but if there’s a chance I’m going to see whale sharks I’m in

  9. Sandy N Vyjay says:

    So many reasons to choose Utila for diving. The place seems to be an idyllic location to view the fascinating underwater world. Professional guidance is so important and Utila seems to have that in abundance.

  10. Aleah says:

    I’ve been certified years ago, but never had the chance to dive a lot. My last dive was in the Maldives last week, where we saw so many huge manta rays! I highly recommend it too. That said, I’m sold when you say diving in Utila is safe and cheap. I would love to get my advanced certification there.

  11. Ryan Biddulph says:

    Hi Claire,

    I have not been scuba diving or to Honduras but wow it looks great to see a different side of this tiny little country in Central America.

    9 of 10 times the land is painted in a negative, crime-ridden light. Good to see the headlines about the country as a whole are untrue.

    Sure it has some rough spots, but so do all nations.

    The wildlife looks awesome, nature, inspired, and seeing that little sleepy town street reminds me of places I visited in Costa Rica and Nicaragua.

    Thanks for sharing Claire.


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