Under water fun

Utila Travel Blog

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Tree Tanic in all its glory

And finally I get to go under water again.  After a 9 (yes 9) year hiatus I finally donned some fins, a fetching wetsuit and threw myself back into underwater discovery. 

Utila and Roatan are the two most well known destinations in Honduras.  The mainland a notoriously dangerous and volatile place, hardly affect the Bay Islands which are a little slice of America and England, Australia, New Zealand and any other country you care to name.  It's here that one of the largest and most unspoilt reefs in the world exist and it's a prime location for diving.  I arrived on the island having finally met up with Nati and Jo from Guatemala.  I'd spent a rather uneventful night in La Ceiba, the town where the ferry leaves for the islands.

Utila living
  The main strip is awash with bars and clubs where unaware and flash tourists go to splash their cash.  Fortunately the islands are more chilled.

I took off in the Utila princess (nothing royal about the boat at all!) for a turbulant one hour crossing.  Make no bones, this is everything I hate about being on the water.  It's bone curdling, stomach churning jumping rather than sailing through the waters.  Amusing for say 5 mins, until the vommiting starts and not necessarily your own. Needless to say when we arrived at Utila we all sported a brand new shade of green under the glow of our tans.  Dry land was a welcome sight.  We were met by UDC reps, the largest and most well known dive school on the island.

Late night fun with Ginge
  We managed to get a free night's accommodation at the Mango Inn (lovely!) and went down to the shop to see what they had to offer.  It's an impressive set up.  More expensive than some of the other places but their professionalism is not to be denied.  However, we decided to shop around and decided the Underwater Vision was much more our scene.  more personal, friendly and fun than the other places we signed up for our dives and got free accommodation for one night and cheap accommodation ($5 per night) for a small 4 bed dorm that Jo, Nati and I could share with whichever lucky soul go to share with us.

Utila is legendary for a few things.  Diving I've covered off.  The other two are nightlife and sand flies.  The latter being evident as soon as we stepped onto the island and witnessed girls (and mainly girls) legs savaged by bites, scars and unsighltly scabs.

  Seems the mozzies and sandflies here are hungry. I lathered in the magic soap from Colombia and avoided going out at dusk and remained largely unaffected.  A huge suprise.  The islands are said to carry 5 strains of malaria although i never once heard any of the locals mention it or worry about it. Either way it's worth taking precauations, the mozzies don't bite here, they feast.

The island is comprised of two main roads with the dive shops, supermarkets and restaurants lined along them.  it's a tranquilo way of life.  Until the lights go down.

The diving here was spectacular and i was particulalrly lucky to meet my dive master Ginge.  A wonderful Northern lass with a great sense of humour, a stash of liquor and cooking skills to boot.

  We hit it off immediately and she calmed my nerves, reminded me how to set up my dive gear and was generally an all round good egg.  My first dive down was incredible.  I felt calm and relaxed and we managed to see some incredible marine life.  A morino eel and other weird and wonderful fish and finally i got to swim with a turtle for longer than 30 seconds.  It was magical.  The diving blew my mind and even when i couldn't face the morning start, i hauled my ass out of bed and did 2 duives each day I was there and each dive was special.  The north side of the island is well known and much publised but the rewality is you see incredible things on both sides of the island and the choppy waters aren't worth the hassle of going to the northside when great diving exists off shore.
Team turtle

I also met up with an old friend from Colombia, Ben and we had a great time exploring the nightlife.  Beach raves, the infamous Tree Tanic bar and everything in between.  I might have cracked out the running man once or twice. The ethos on the island is work easy, play hard.  Diving is possibly the only reason I didn't have a hangover on a daily basis and Ginge is the only reason I ever made it out of bed in the mornings.  What a dive master, gets you pissed, wakes you up and then buddies with you on brilliant dives.  I might never leave!

It was with a heavy heart that I left the sunshine and easy going life of the island and my new found friends.  With time against me i had to stay true to my desire to see some of Nicaragua, another traveller favourite.  With days slipping away I bid farewell and head over to San Juan del Sur for a night before taking the bus directly to Leon in Nicaragua.  A note of caution to anyone that does the same - THE TAXI DRIVERS ARE THIEVES.  I was ripped off left right and centre with very little recourse to do anything.  One of the most dangerous cities in the world for good reason no one here would help and when i refused to pay the taxi driver he stopped and tried to push me out the taxi in the middle of the night.  If you have any other way of going to the place you're going take it.  Do not stay here unless you have to.

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Tree Tanic in all its glory
Tree Tanic in all its glory
Utila living
Utila living
Late night fun with Ginge
Late night fun with Ginge
Team turtle
Team turtle
Utila Hotels & Accommodations review
The dive school here was fab! The dive masters were laid back and cool and we had some amazing dives. Not as big as UDC but you're not a number here… read entire review
Utila
photo by: Yoshu