So after our travels through Belize and our heart pounding boat ride from Honduras, we finally were able to settle down and relax on the Island of Utila.
Neighbor to Roatan, the larger, more developed and popular with tourists island of Honduras, Utila is known on the backpacker circuit as a cheap place to get your divers certification, people come to Utila for one thing and one thing only.
Dave and I were no exception. We had been diving for a year in Canada. And were already certified rescue divers. We had logged our hours and were ready to finish our Dive Masters in the warm clear waters of Honduras.
We settled in at Freddy's Place, a fabulous place to relax. Located right on the water, hammocks hang on the veranda and it is far away from the main area, so it is quiet and relaxing. For less than $20 you can have a clean room with fan, hot water and shared kitchen. Perfect for long-term stay.
Utila is cheap and you can stay for as little as a couple of dollars per night. A word of advice, bring a lot of bug spray with you to Utila, you will need it. The island is infested with Sand Fleas and beach time was not an option for us.
Poor Dave, the sand fleas just loved his blood, but he wasn’t as bad as some of the other people we had seen. From the knees down, we saw people covered in welts and big red bites all over their calves and ankles. At least at Freddy’s we had a breeze off of the water, so they weren’t too bad there.
When searching for a dive shop, you have to be very careful. Your life is in their hands and you want to make sure that they are safe, established and reliable. A good way to find one is through guidebook recommendations, travel forums and word of mouth.
We had read warnings about some of the dive shops on the island, so we wanted to make sure to dive with a safe and reputable company. We talked to other divers and had done some research before leaving Canada. We ended up diving with Deep Blue Divers and they were a fantastic shop.
The next two weeks were filled with stress free diving enjoying the reefs around the Bay Islands. We saw everything you can think of wanting to see while diving. But nothing compared to the day that we spotted a whale shark.
One minute we were relaxing on the boat heading to the next location for our second dive and the next, the captain was turning the boat around yelling at us to get ready because he spotted a whale shark. There wasn’t any time think and we jumped in with our masks and snorkels witnessing this rare and spectacular moment.
That was more than enough to give us great stories when we returned home, but during another dive, we spotted a pod of dolphins. We jumped in the water and swam with them in the middle of the sea. They swam under Dave’s legs, and gave him a little nudge.
It was magical. After all that, we really felt that we had seen it all. Seahorses, Barracuda’s, sea turtles, nurse sharks, trumpet fish, starfish, and stingrays. We really saw it all when it came to marine life in Central America.
We ended up not pursuing our Dive Masters. I was not feeling well during our time in Central America and found out that I had an overactive thyroid upon our return home. It explained my reasons for sucking back a lot of oxygen during dives and for anxiety that built up each time I got in the water.
I have since been cured and am no longer on thyroid medication or have any symptoms whatsoever, so maybe one day soon we will get back in the water and fulfill another of our lifelong dreams, to dive the Great Barrier Reef.
To end this post I have to say that I am the luckiest woman in the world. I was at an emotional breaking point during our time in Mexico, Belize, Honduras and Guatemala. I didn’t realize I was ill, so it was even more baffling to understand why my moods were up and down so much, why I was losing weight and why I was constantly exhausted. Dave took everything is stride and in his laidback, chillaxin’ way, he put up with me.
When I was finally diagnosed, he said, “I knew there had to be some reason.” I am a lucky lady.
If you would like to find out more about diving the Bay Islands in Honduras, this is a great book from Lonely Planet to use as a reference D & S Honduras Bay Islands