Diving in Utila was as cheap as the rumors lead us to believe. We did 12 dives each (six days) and the total for all the dives was about $530, around $25 for a two tank dive! The diving in Utila was amazing for the variety of colorful coral, visibility, warm Caribbean water and diversity of small sea life that flourished on the island. But it was disappointing if you are looking for large fish schools and sharks. The reefs here have been overfished and we did not see any large schools of big fish or sharks like we have seen at other dive sites, but at least the coral is still alive which is more than I can say for many other dive spots we have visited.
Overfishing is happening all over the world, not just in Honduras. I started diving when I was 23 years old, and it seems every time I dive I see less sharks and large fish. It makes me really sad and scared about the future of our oceans. However, I am grateful I got to spend six days exploring the underwater world of the Bay Islands and was reminded at how amazing diving is and how much I love it.
My favorite moments of our underwater exploration were turtles on every dive (it was nuts, even our dive masters said they hardly ever see them), the whale sharks (one of the most intense and beautiful moments of my life), eagle rays, deep wall dives, Pinnacles dive site, The Aquarium dive site, sea horses and huge moray eels. I also loved the colorful coral and schools of tropical blue fishes.
Also, just for the record, it is really hard to take underwater pictures with a small point and shoot camera with a small flash. Sam took our little Nikon Coolpix on all our dives (that did not go below 60 feet the camera’s max depth). And even though most pictures are a little monochromatic (blue…) I hope it captures a bit of the underwater worlds of Honduras.
Whale shark experience
I was not really sure how we were going to swim with the whale shark, I thought that we would be swimming around on the reefs and get lucky if one swam by us. That was not the case at all. Whale sharks are huge, up to sixty feet and are filter feeders. They swim in the warm, plankton rich waters off Utila in the deep ocean channels. Our boat captain had to head out to the open sea and look for areas where the water was “boiling” with fish and birds. This meant that there were large schools of small fish and if we got lucky there would also be whale sharks. If there was whale sharks we would jump in the water with them with our snorkel gear on, not our dive gear.
Our captain quickly found a boil and told us to get all our gear on. As the boat passed we jumped out and right next to us was an almost 30 foot long whale shark. It was so huge. I thought I might be scared, but instead I was just enthralled by this graceful gentle giant. Both Sam and I were swimming as fast as we could to get closer to the animal (trying to avoid its mammoth tail) and holding our breath underwater much longer than I ever thought I could, adrenaline is an amazing thing. We swam four times with whale sharks and it was an experience I will never forget.