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 :
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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!
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.
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