Utila is an island on the Caribbean side of Honduras, packed with diving backpackers. Many of them come and stay for a while to study for a diving licence or a dive master certificate et.c. And they party. Hard.
First impression of the little island is a bit overwhelming. Dive shops everywhere. And hostels everywhere. Backpackers everywhere. Taxi drivers that wants to help you find a room and drive you there.
The main thing that I really want to recommend, is the absolutely amazing snorkeling opportunities right from the shore here. It is just fantastic. Snorkeling from shore means that you don’t have a boat waiting for you, chasing after you just as you found something interesting to explore. With all the dive shops around it is easy to find the snorkeling gear.
The best snorkeling spots
- Coral View Beach Resort
This resort is located half an hour walk from the center and as far as I know this is the best snorkeling sport on the island. You walk past Utila’s tiny beach, and just keep following the road along the water, until you find the resort signs. You need to pass through the resort to access the snorkeling spot. From the dock with a bar you can go into the sea, and the reef wall drops right outside after about only 20 metres. Here I saw amazing things like a huge porcupine fish, squids and baby box fish! You don’t have to stay at the resort to enjoy the snorkeling, but if you have the possibility, that would be an amazing option. Check out availability and prices here!
- From the docks
When I stayed at Parrots I snorkeled a lot from the docks and saw pygmy sea horses every time. There can be octopuses as well, but not when I was looking. Borrow a torch and go night snorkeling! Also lots of different funny fish hang around here, like needlefish. Just watch out for the dive boats.
Diving in Utila
The diving in Utila is really good, and there are dive shops all over Utila town. I went diving with two of the dive shops – Parrots and Captain Morgan’s. I started with Parrots because they gave me a good deal combining accommodation and diving. They are training a lot of divers here in all levels, so it is a very busy and social place. On the dive we had really confused dive masters (in training or just finished with their training), which is why I changed to a more competent dive shop. Captain Morgan’s was a lot more professional, just a little more expensive. Totally worth it as the equipment, boat and dive masters had a much higher standard.
I did not see much more on the dives than I did while snorkeling on my own, but I recommend diving in Utila anyway, as the dive spots are beautiful with a lot of creatures. If you are lucky you will come across my all time favorite – the whale shark – which is passing through in the area regularly.
The worlds biggest fish is mysterious in many ways. We don’t know much of where they live there life because they go very deep and they are not so many. Seeing a whaleshark in the wild is an amazing experience, I have written about it here. On Utila there actually is a whale shark research center. I think it would be awesome to do a dive master program or internship/volunteer thing there… If you are better at planning your trip than I am, you might want to check it out before heading for Utila since you need to sign up in advance! Much cool.
Where to stay
Stay where you want to dive, as all places offers package deals. If you can stay with Coral View Beach Resort you will get the best snorkeling and sunset every day. Here is also an overview of other accommodation possibilities at booking.com.