PADI Diving in Honduras
As dive prices in Belize and Cozumel
move up, thanks to their steadily increasing popularity
with tourists, Utila, in the Bay of Honduras, remains an
affordable option for diving in the same reef system.
Rick Reno, a dive instructor at Utila
Lodge, advised against pushing the budget limit too much: When
they get down to $125 they have to be cutting corners somewhere. The
important thing is to see how dive shops run their outfit:
the condition of the equipment and the attitude of the divemasters,
most of whom are globetrotters who support their underwater
travels by signing on for a spell. Do they adhere strictly
to the PADI guidelines?
In the end we agreed that cutting corners
might not be worth it and opted to dive with one of the
two 5-star PADI shops, the Bay Islands College of Diving.
(Dive shops earn ratings after annual reviews by PADI.)
As this was the low season, we had our own dive instructor
for the duration of the 4-day course.
Places to stay were also inexpensive
and easy to come by: we ended up paying $5 a day per person,
with fans and cable TV, right next door to the dive shop.
Several places offer long-term rentals as well. Utila still
lacks the plush all-inclusive resorts that are the norm
in Belize and Mexico.
Other than diving and snorkeling, there
is little else to do in Utila but eat. The food is wonderful
and affordable. Seafood plates are around $5. Baleadas (tortillas
with black beans, marinated onions, and cheese) and pastelitos
(deep-fried meat pockets) are available in the street for
The most direct way to reach the island
is to fly into Honduras and take a short flight from San
Pedro Sula or Tegucigalpa. For
those with a little more time, the bus system is reliable
and far cheaper. For example, the bus from San Pedro to
La Ceiba is just over $3 and the $10 ferry to the island
departs every morning. Utila is also a good week-long trip
from Guatemala. You can take a bus either through Puerto
Barrios or Copán.
For More Info
Shops in Utila: Bay Islands College of Diving.
Check the website for the various options with
costs depending on the duration of our visit, and
starting at $300 for 2-3 days of diving with
lodging, up to $1500 for 10 days with lodging in
order to become a "PADI Master Scuba Diver," which
opens up endless job possibilities overseas.
KEVIN REVOLINSKI is
a sometimes teacher, sometimes writer who has taught
English in Turkey, Panama, Italy, and Guatemala.