Diving in the Bay Islands

A string of beautiful islands of white sandy beaches, coconut palms and gentle sea breezes, off the northern coast of Honduras, the Bay Islands (Islas de la Bahía) are the country’s most popular tourist attraction. The rich and extensive underwater environment is one of the main attractions; reefs surround the islands, often within swimming distance of the shore. The warm, clear Caribbean waters provide excellent diving, which is some of the cheapest in the Caribbean. Equally enjoyable are the magnificent beaches, tropical sunsets and the relaxed atmosphere which positively encourages you to take to your hammock, lie back and relax. The three main islands are Utila, Guanaja and Roatán.




Utila's Dive Sites


There are currently around 50 dive sites around Utila, where permanent moorings have been established to minimize damage to the coral reef. Although the reef is colourful and varied, there are not a lot of fish, and lobster have almost disappeared. The dive sites are close to shore at about 20 m depth but they are all boat dives. Diving off the north coast is more spectacular, with drop-offs, canyons and caves. Fish are more numerous, helped by the establishment of the Turtle Harbour Marine Reserve and Wildlife Refuge.




Diving


Dive with care for yourself and the reef at all times; www.roatanet.com has of information about Utila and its dive sites. Utila is a very popular dive training centre. Learning to dive is cheaper here than anywhere else in the Caribbean, especially if you include the low living expenses. 


Instructors Choose an instructor who you get on with, and one who has small classes and cares about safety; follow the rules on alcohol/drug abuse and pay attention to the dive tables. Check that equipment looks in good condition and well maintained. Boats vary; you may find it difficult to climb into a dory if there are waves. While a dive shop has a responsibility to set standards of safety, you also have a responsibility to know about diving times. If you don’t, or are a beginner, ask.


Price There is broad price agreement across dive shops in Utila. Out of the revenues the Utila Dive Supporters’ Association can budget for spending, facilities and eventually conservation. Whatever you may think of the idea, one benefit, is greater safety and better organized protection of the reef. Whether this works remains to be seen, but the price of saving a few dollars could end up costing lives. Dive insurance is compulsory and is available from the BICA office. It covers air ambulance to Roatán and the recompression chamber. Treat any cuts from the coral seriously, they do not heal easily.


PADI courses You can work your way up through the courses with a PADI Open Water course, an Advanced course, rescue diver, and dive master. The Open Water usually comes with two free fun dives. Competition is fierce with over 15 dive shops looking for business, so you can pick and choose. Dive shops offer free basic accommodation with packages. Most schools offer instruction in English or German; French and Spanish are usually available somewhere, while tuition handbooks are provided in numerous languages including Japanese. A variety of courses is available up to instructor level. If planning to do a diving course, it is helpful but not essential to take passport-sized photographs with you for the PADI card. Many dive shops have affiliated hotels or hostels where they may offer discounts or all-inclusive packages if you decide to take a course.


Our Honduras handbook is available now: 






This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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