Pelagian Caribbean bliss in Utila

Pelagian Caribbean bliss in Utila

Utila is the smallest of the three major islands in the Bay Islands group in the west Caribbean Sea off the northern coast of Honduras. The island's heavenly tropical beauty and relaxed vibe makes it the most popular backpacker destination in Honduras, and obviously the country's diving mecca. Plenty of freediving sites can be found over reefs, in underwater caverns and pinnacles. Marine life is abundant, and encounters with whale sharks and dolphins are not uncommon. White sandy beaches are dotted around the island however the best are found on the cays, tiny coral islands just off the southern coast. Utila is quite small with only a few roads, so the best mode of transport is by bike or on your own two feet.

Destination Highlights

  • Bountiful pelagic life including rays and whale sharks
  • Dive the Halliburton wreck cargo ship 
  • Beautiful reefs and deep dives through caverns or on pinnacles
  • Depths of over 50m within 200m distance from the beach
  • Off the beaten track destination

    How to get there

    • Airport: Roatan (RTB) or San Pedro Sula (SAP)
    • Flight: Local airlines and charters that offer domestic flights from San Pedro Sula, Roatan, La Ceiba and Tegucigalpa (30 min from each airport) 
    • Ferry: Take a bus from San Pedro Sula to La Ceiba (3-5hrs) and then embark on ferry (1hr)

     

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    Freediving Centre

    • Freedive Utila is right next to the beach facing a protected bay on the south eastern coast of the island. Static training can be done in an onsite pool or in the shallow water nearby, and depths reach over 50m with a 200m range from the shore. It is well equipped and offers freediving student and instructor courses.
    • Owner: Mark "Tex" Rogers is the founder and owner of Freedive Utila. He is an Apnea Total Instructor Trainer, an AIDA International Judge and Instructor, a YA yoga instructor and PADI Staff Instructor. He is supported a team of 4 resident instructors certified by Apnea Total, AIDA, SSI and PADI. 
    • Languages: English, Spanish, German, French.
    • Seasonality: All year round.
    • Equipment: Complete range of freediving equipment for rent.
    • Recreational activity: Wide choice of freediving on well preserved reefs, underwater caves and shiprecks. Freediving excursions are available. 
    • Educational activity: AIDA, PADI, SSI and Apnea Total freediving courses are available from Level 1 to Instructor course. 
    • Support Boat: A 75hp speedboat (16 passengers), and a 85hp speedboat (12 passengers).

    Freediving workshops

    Bi-fins, breathing techniques, depth, equalisation, mono-fin and static workshops are available upon request.

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        Halliburton Shipwreck (Depth: 20m-30m; Duration: 3hrs): This cargo ship is 35m long and sits at 30m depth. It was purposefully sunk in the harbour of Utila in 1998 in order to create an artificial reef. Since then, marine life has flourished around it and the wreck has become a perfect site for training and recreational freediving.

        Airport Caves (Depth: 10m-20m; Duration: 2hrs): Located on the east side of the island right in front of the old airstrip of Utila, are the aptly named Airport Caves. The site is great fun for its for its swim throughs, caves and caverns. There is a beautiful shallow reef at 10m and then a deeper one at 30m. Come here to enjoy sights of Garden Eels, Stingrays, Pipefish, Barracuda, Black Durgeon and Angelfishes.

        The Pinnacle (Depth: 30+m; Duration: 4hrs): This dive spot is situated on the North side of the island close Turtle Harbour. It is well known its dramatic wall and pinnacle with a deep swim through cavern. You may encounter Eagle Rays, Turtles, Lionfish, Angelfish and Groupers.

        Black Hills (Depth: 20m-30m; Duration: 3hrs): The Black Hills seamount is a few miles out at sea and often offers the most prolific marine life, including schools of horse-eyed jacks, Atlantic Spade fish and Creole wrasses. The rich presence of well preserved coral makes it a beautiful and colourful dive.

        Moon Hole (Depth: 0m-10m; Duration: 2hrs): This picturesque site only 20min from Utopia village is an oval of sand surrounded by a prosperous shallow reef. To some it reminds a giant moon crater, hence the name. The maximum depth to the sand is approx. 10m, and the surrounding coral provides food and shelter for a large variety of anemones, crustaceans and octopus.

        Whale Shark and Dolphin Safari (Depth: 10m-20m; Duration: 2hrs): Utila is home to numerous giant whale sharks. Most often they are found in the deep waters near the northern tip of the island. It is one of the few places in the world where whale sharks can be observed all year round. The main season runs from the end of March to April, and from October to December. The excursion is aboard scuba diving boats which search for these wonderful species and stop for dives when possible.

        Other activities: 

        • Yoga
        • Relaxation and meditation
        • Snorkelling
        • Master and Instructor training

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        Freedive Utila has onsite accommodation offering five private rooms and seven beds in a shared dormitory. The hammocks on the balcony overlooking the sea provide the best chill out space after a good freediving session!

        In the neighbourhood, there is a good choice of hotels and bungalows with different prices and facilities. Rubi's Inn offers good budget accommodation, Sea Eye is mid-range and The Lighthouse is for those who want to splash out!