alton's dive center

Utila | Honduras


Ryan and I decided to take a holiday to the Bay Island of Utila in Honduras. We had some time available between Christmas and New Years and about three months ago started doing mini planning. I have wanted to learn how to scuba dive for a long time, I just kept putting it off. Each spring would come around, the ice would thaw and I would tell myself ‘This is the year you will get Padi certified!’ .. and it didn't happen for many, not very good, reasons. I have travelled to the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Florida Keys, Australia - all places where I could have dived but wasn’t trained.

Utila came on our radar because it is a island, almost completely catered to scuba diving, in Central America and different than the normally ‘down south’ holiday locations we have taken in the past. As well as it’s big sister island, Roatan, the Bay Islands are part of the Mesoamerican Reef system, only 2nd largest to the Great Barrier. From Cozumel down to Honduras .. there are miles and miles of beautiful reefs, fish, mammals and life. The training was done over 3 full days at Alton’s Dive Center, whom I was very, very happy with. I’m not a quick learner but my instructor did not rush, was patient and wanted to make sure I understood and was confident and clear.

I barely took out my camera. I packed my gear lightly, only brought one body and my 70-200. I left the 300 at home but brought my extender. After several flights and a ferry, we arrived on Sunday night. Monday was our only real free day as we went with a charter on Tuesday, Christmas Day to Water Cay, which is a cay off of Utial in the southwest part of the island. We stayed the whole day with a group of people and snorkelled, picnic, swam, slept and a few drinks. I did my training all day Wednesday through Friday and then did two fun dives on the Saturday .. then we left Sunday morning. We do have a GoPro but didn’t bring it in the end as I wanted to focus on my diving and not be worried about the camera, so I have no underwater photos but I can tell you there were plentiful and beautiful and I even go to snorkel with a pod of bottlenose dolphins for a couple of minutes. It was so moving I cried in my mask. True story. My favourite fish to watch was the male and female Stoplight Parrotfish, which I was able to identify later in a book. As I know nearly nothing about fish, I will need to get some kind of identifying slate next time I dive.

Sometimes I regret not capturing EVERYTHING but not this time. The diving makes you quite tired and in my down time I just wanted to relax on our oceanfront rental and sway in the wind on the hammock.

There are many dogs that roam freely, almost all have collars so perhaps some are pets that roam? There is a shelter being built on the island for the organization Jasper’s Animal Shelter. I unfortunately didn’t get a chance to visit while there but very thankful there is a community of people caring for the dogs and cats. There is no vet on the island but there is a vet tech who I believe is going to be trained in veterinary medicine and return to the island.

We saw countless iguanas and anoles and there is also a conservation group, Iguana Station, for an endemic species of Iguana on the island called the Utila spiny tailed swamper Iguana.

We will definitely be heading back to Utila .. it’s just our speed and a nice mix of backpackers and vacationers with no chains, cruise ships or resorts. We stayed off Old Airport Road, which is a 10 minute walk to the main shops but away from the more noisy, younger crowd.

I hope you enjoy some of the few photos I took on Monday afternoon of dogs, iguanas, birds and some cats. :)