My sister, who is currently living in the Honduran capital city of Tegucigalpa, was holding her wedding on the island of Utila the first weekend of 2014. While Jennifer and I were both coming off a nearly year-long break from diving, having gotten more into triathlon the past year (and not yet figuring out how to balance swimming, biking, running, *and* diving…), this seemed like the PERFECT opportunity to get back under the water. We dusted off the scuba gear, sent the regulators and drysuits out for needed maintenance, and started making plans to get in a some diving during our wedding vacation.
We flew out late at night from Los Angeles, and after stops in five airports (LAX -> IAH -> SAP -> LCE -> UII), we were finally in Utila a day later. We were splitting a gorgeous rental house with my mother and two of my sister's friends.
We did all of our diving with Coral View (http://www.coralviewutila.com/). They are located west of the main town center (near the entrance to Oyster Bed Lagoon). It’s a lovely property, sitting right on the water, and appeared to be the only dive shop in / near town with its own house reef. They arranged for us to be picked up each morning and dropped off each afternoon at our place in countryside (free of charge).
The shop splits up groups and boats based on diver interest and ability. We were able to dive with the same DM (Chris) and three other guests each day. Boats were limited to 12 divers (including DMs), but most days it was just our group of six. Usually Coral View does two tanks in the morning and one in the afternoon (with night dives scheduled when interest arises). We missed the morning boat our first full day on the island (having to return to the Utila “airport” to wait for some luggage that had yet to make it over to the island from La Ceiba). Instead, later that morning, we did a shakedown shore dive off the Coral View house reef, which was a great gateway for us back into diving. The site was easy to navigate, offered a great reef wall with plenty to see between 10-80’, all without the pressure of any real schedule. After lunch, we jumped on a boat for an afternoon dive. That night we rang in the new year on Chepes beach watching fireworks across the water above La Ceiba.
Since no one seemed to want to make two early morning dives that next morning, the shop instead decided to do two boat dives that afternoon, which was just fine by us. The third day had us doing three dives total, two in the morning (including a trip to the north side of the island) and hitting the Halliburton wreck in the afternoon. We finished up our fourth and final day of diving with two morning dives, before having to run to make the wedding rehearsal luncheon. With wedding and family obligations, we just were not able to get in more diving. Still, it was a great foray back into the underwater realm. Highlights for us included the lush hard corals, finding a pair of seahorses, swimming with wild dolphins (during one of our surface intervals), and seeing Caribbean reef squid, moray eels, and vast numbers of fish. In all, we dived the following sites:
House Reef, Coral View
Black Coral Wall
Jack Neal Point
Little Little Bight
Apart from the Halliburton wreck (due to its depth), *every* dive was at least an hour long, with several pushing 70-75 minutes. The reefs all lend themselves to multi-level profiles and we were basically allowed as much time as we wanted to spent exploring the shallows at the end of each dive (usually in 15-25’ of water). Our DM did a wonderful job of searching out interesting critters to share with us, but also being hands-off enough to let us enjoy our own moments. We never felt rushed, which was nice since every team of divers had a photographer. Really happy with our decision to dive with Coral View.
While not diving, we enjoyed hanging out in or by the pool at our rental house, walking the main drag in town and trying the various restaurants and cafes, going for early morning runs, and mostly spending time with friends and family we often otherwise do not get to see.
Some photos we shot:
More photos at our website: utila diving « these days