n the summer of 2004, I flew to Honduras in a romantic attempt to win back an ex-girlfriend. Though our eventual reunion only lasted a year, the adventures that I’ve been able to go on since because of the PADI scuba diving certification I earned during our vacation have continued on for years. Since learning to scuba dive in Honduras, I’ve been lucky enough to go diving in California, the US Virgin Islands, the Galapagos Islands, Fiji, and even in the cold waters of Seattle and Vancouver.
Honduras’s Bay Islands are a well-known scuba diving destination, but most people visit Roatán because of its better infrastructure and easier access (direct flights go to Roatán from some US cities including Houston, Miami, and Atlanta). Útila, on the other hand, is hard to get to (ferries leave from the Honduran town of La Ceiba and propeller plane flights to the island only originate from Honduran cities) and doesn’t have any fancy resorts. But, the island has small island charm, a down-to-earth backpacker community, beautiful surrounding dive sites, and some of the most inexpensive PADI dive certification programs in the world. I earned my Open Water certification at Útila Dive Center, one of two schools on the island that have received the highest PADI rating (the other is the Bay Islands College of Diving). It has a good safety record, friendly instructors, and excellent prices — about half the price of comparable classes in the US. You won’t find diving instruction this good, at these prices, anywhere in the developed world. WB
Útila, Bay Islands 34201, Honduras. +504 24253326. firstname.lastname@example.org. www.utiladivecenter.com.
To read the whole story of the trip on which I discovered Útila Dive Center, read: How to win your ex-girlfriend back (in Honduras) — A Central American love story.