When we left for this trip we debated wether to pack our dive gear since it takes up a lot of space and diving in many places can quickly bust even a generous travel budget. Since the XP has so much storage, we found that after we packed all the must have gear we still had space in the back storage container for our dive equipment, so we brought it and have used it often for snorkeling.
We considered diving in Belize, but most of the best diving was far from the islands and pricey. We were tempted to dive in Cozumel since we had done stunning drift dives there a few years ago. But the average two tank dive in Cozumel is around $100 a person and we would have to pay for the XP ferry ride to the island.
After research, we decided diving in Honduras was our best option for central america and our budget. The Bay Islands off the Caribbean coast of Honduras share the second largest reef in the world with the Yucatan and Belize, and are known for having some of the cheapest diving on the planet. The two islands where all the diving is done are Roatan and Utila.
Utila is the smaller island and a haunt of young backpackers getting cheap PADI certification. Roatan is larger, has beaches and much more amenities. We went back and forth and finally decided on Utila for one reason, there are whale sharks swimming off the coast of Utila through May and swimming with whale sharks is a dream I have had since I started diving.
We caught the one hour ferry to Utila from La Ceiba and found a dive shop and hotel that were a good fit for us. For diving we chose Utila Dive Center . We felt they were very professional, had dive masters that had been on the island for over two years and they focused on small groups of six or less on the dive boats. They also separated out the newly certified on separate boats which is nice for more experienced divers.
For our hotel we splurged and stayed at one of the most magical places we have ever stayed, The Lighthouse Hotel. It is on a pier (so no pesky sand flies to bother us) and we always had a cool breeze, stunning views over the water and we were a two minute walk to the dive shop. We watched sting rays and trigger fish swim below us and sailboats cruise by at sunset as we drank rum and cokes. The hotel was super clean, had a kitchen and wonderful bathroom with hot water (such a luxury to us!) and was super mellow and away from the backpacker scene.
We spent a week on Utila and had a hard time leaving. The next post will be just all pictures and videos from our dives!