Utila is part of the bay islands in Honduras. It is one of the obligatory passages of travelers to central america, a relaxed place where we party a lot! The diving in Utila is especially famous for being the place the cheapest caribbean to make scuba diving course (from PADI open water to instructor). However, this is not the destination I would recommend for a diving trip to Honduras, Roatan next door is much better for that.

Context : I went to Utila in September 2015 to pass my IDC (become a diving instructor). I stayed 2 months, I was able to do 20 dives and so I had time to see life on the island.

ARTICLE GUIDELINES
# Overview
# Presentation
# Diving with
# Diving course # Open water # Divemaster # Instructor
# Dive sites
# Seasons and conditions 
# Diving schools
# Price of dives and courses 
# Accommodation
# How to get there
# My diving review

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UTILA DIVING INFO

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  • Best diving season Utila : March to December.
  • Best Utila dive sites : The maze, Spotted bay, Black hills and the wreck of the Haliburton.
  • Common Marine Life : classic fish from Indonesia.
  • Possible species : eagle ray, nurse shark, grouper.
  • Visibility : 20 - 30 m.
  • Utila French-speaking diving club : no
  • Access : ferry from Ceiba or Roatan.
Logo-plongeur-baroudeurRecommendations by category of divers:

> New diver : the least in the Caribbean to spend their open water but not the best quality.
> Confirmed : great dives for the Caribbean, but Roatan is much better.
> Experienced : not recommended, prefer Roatan next door.
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PRESENTATION OF UTILA

Where is Utila located?

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  • Utila is found in Honduras.
  • It is an island which is part of Bay Islands (Islands of the Bay), I let you read a more complete presentation of Bay Islands in this article.
  • She is right next to Roatan, which is much larger and known.

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Festive atmosphere in Utila

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  • Utila is a small island in the festive atmosphere, similar to Gili Trawangan in Indonesia (but different from Cancun or Playa del Carmen), very cheap, known for learning to dive.
  • Here, no hotels at 100$ per night or 3-star restaurants. Youth hostels, bars and diving centers give life to the island!
  • Utila is a place very famous with the fighters, it is often a must during their trip to Latin America.
  • It is is a small island, very young, where we come meet the world, to party and to do his "PADI" (ie pass level 1 dive), because it's not expensive, and it's true!

Apart from partying and diving, there is not much else to do ...

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  • Then, besides partying and spending his open water, there is not much to do in Utila.
  • Everything is focused on Utila townthere is no no beaches (a very small one after the Rehab bar) and there is no road (so impossible to explore the island).

The coolest bars in Utila

  • We often start with Skid Row where the Rehabcasual atmosphere.
  • Then we go to Tranquila bar, at Coco Loco or to Treetanic to finish the evening!
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UTILA DIVING NOTICE

All species of the Caribbean are at the rendezvous

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  • Utila is a marine park, so the reef is preserved and healthy (it's way better than Isla Mujeres in Mexico for example, but not at the level of Roatan or Cozumel).
  • All the common species of the Caribbean are at the rendezvous (angel fish, butterfly fish, parrot fish, sergeant majors, surgeon fish, lobster, cleaning shrimp, arrow crabs ...), but also eagle rays and stingrays, barracudas, snappers and sometimes requine nurses.

Dive in Utila, the second largest barrier reef?

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  • It always makes me laugh how the centers (or others) are always trying to "Divert" the reality to make you come to them!
  • So yes, the Meso-American barrier reef (the 2nd largest in the world after Australia) is not far away, but she is not in Utila, it is rather in front of Belize!

Whale shark Utila in Honduras

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  • So, I'll start right away with the "at Utila, we see whale sharks", and not really!
  • That's typically the kind of info it's good to check...
  • One of the reasons why I chose Utila to become an instructor, it was in particular to have the chance to see whale sharks, I stayed 2 months, and at the right time, not seen a whale shark…
  • I stayed in touch with instructor friends, and they must have seen 10 in 1 year… so do not go to Utila to see whale sharksyou will be disappointed!

You have other places in the world for that where it's guaranteed: all destinations here!

No big pelagics, no macro in Utila

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  • Do not expect to see large pelagics in Utila…
  • You may come across if you are lucky one skate eagle, a barracuda, a grouper or one nurse shark but that's all !
  • No macro : in 20 dives, with flamingos tongue, I have not seen a single nudibranch or seahorse, like the majority of the Caribbean, this is not the right place!

Diving in Utila, not for an experienced diver

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  • If you are a diver who already has a lot of dives (> 100) and dive in different places like Asia or the Red Sea for example and you want to do a week of diving, Utila is not for you!
  • All Utila clubs are dedicated to teaching, lessons and lessons ! From the open water, to the divemaster and instructor. Sorry about the language, but basically they do not care about certified divers ...
  • If you want to do a week of diving in the Caribbean, I would advise you to go to Roatan, Cozumel or Bonaire.

Utila diving video

Utila dive photos

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UTILA DIVING COURSE

Utila is an island for diving lessons!

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  • So it's simple, you can do all PADI diving courses in Utila!
  • It's the 2nd place in number of PADI certifications in the world (after Koh Tao in Thailand):
    • Discover diving by doing a first dive in Utila
    • Learn to dive by the way PADI open water certification.
    • Continue to improve by doing your Advanced or your Rescue.
    • Utila is also a very well-known place for a divemaster.

PASS YOUR OPEN WATER PADI AT UTILA

Utila, the least to spend your PADI open water

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  • Utila is one of Caribbean's best known places to pass PADI open water certification, because it's cheap !
  • On average: 300 to 350 $ + accommodation + 2 dives (more info in the price section)
  • The Care pretty good for learning (good visibility, warm sea, simple dives, not too much current ...), the reef is in good health and all the common Caribbean fish are there.

Utila is not the place I recommend for open water

  • On the other hand, this is not necessarily the place I would recommend
  • The open water courses in Utila are really the factory, you can find yourself in groups of 8 to 10 people (I've seen up to 16…), that's too much!
  • You will wait 3/4 of the time underwater while the others are doing their exercises, so less time to really train!
Logo-plongeur-baroudeurIf the quality of training is your priority, I recommend you rather Roatan if you want to do your open water diving certification.
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PASS YOUR PADI DIVEMASTER AT UTILA

Utila, very popular to pass its PADI divemaster

  • Utila is also a very famous place to spend your divemaster.
  • All dive centers offer divemaster training.
  • You can start whenever you want, they do this all year round.

Utila is not the place I recommend for a divemaster

  • Like open water, it is in "money machine" mode that the centers offer the divemaster in Utila.
  • They will make you pass your divemaster in 3 weeks ! It's too fast to become a real good divemaster !!
  • So yes, you will do all the PADI prerequisites and you will have a good time with all the other apprentices divemasters, but you wouldn't become a good divemaster in 3 weeks, It is not possible !
Logo-plongeur-baroudeurI you advise rather find a place where you can do your divemaster in internship for 2 or 3 months, like it is often offered in Asia or to Roatan the island next door.
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BECOME A PADI INSTRUCTOR AT UTILA

Pass your PADI IDC in Utila

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  • Utila is undoubtedly the place where there is the most training for new PADI instructors in the Caribbean.
  • There are PADI IDC sessions (Instructor Development Course, basically training to become a diving instructor) every month, which is very rare in the world.
  • All centers offer IDCs.

Good quality IDC PADI training in Utila

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  • I can really tell you about it, it was in Utila that I became a diving instructor!
  • My opinion on instructor training is different from that of divemaster.
  • IDC PADI training is exactly the same all over the world, it's really very formatted.
  • The most important is the experience of the Course director (the one who makes you pass the IDC). AT Utila they do this all year, every month, they are run in like musical paper!
  • The quality of IDC PADI training is therefore good in Utila!
  • Like all other PADI courses, it's cheaper in Utila because they offer you accommodation (in a dormitory with 4 beds).

Is Utila a good place to become a PADI instructor?

  • I do not you recommended not become a PADI instructor in Utila for a good and simple reason: you will not be able to work as a diving instructor in Utila !
  • If you already have an instructor job waiting for you somewhere, this part does not concern you.
  • Becoming an instructor is ultimately easy, but finding a job is not the same story! One of the best solutions is to become an instructor in a place with job opportunities afterwards.
  • There are so many new instructors every month in Utila and so few centers in the end (a dozen that really work) that finding work afterwards is almost mission impossible.
  • Mostly that they won't hire you if you're simple 'instructor', no, you will have to become MSDT (ie being able to teach 5 specialties in addition), which you will have to pay even more of course!
Logo-plongeur-baroudeurIf you want to do your IDC in the Caribbean, I recommend that you do it at Roatan or to Cozumel.
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BEST DIVING SITES UTILA

Map of Utila dive sites

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What are the best dive sites in Utila?

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  • There are a lot of sites listed at Utila but the most beautiful are rather north side.
  • All diving centers can be found in Utila town, south side. As they are all dedicated to the PADI course, ils don't really need to go north, do not hesitate to insist!
  • Utila sites north side: The maze and Spotted bay
  • Utila sites south side: Black hills (a pinnacle in the open sea, filled with life) and the wreck of Haliburton.
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BEST TIME TO DIVE IN UTILA

You can almost dive all year round in Utila but the best diving season is from March to November.

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When to dive in Utila?

  • Avoid the rainy season in Utila from December to February.
  • The whale shark season in Utila: March to April and October to December.

Diving conditions Utila :

  • Visibility in Utila : 20 to 30 m.
  • Utila water temperature : 27 to 29 °.
  • Current Utila : there are very few current sites in Utila.
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UTILA DIVING CLUB

Utila diving school

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  • There are a dozen diving schools on the island.
  • They almost all have the same mode of operation: diving center + cheap accommodation.
  • There is only one dive resort, the Coconut view resort.

French diving club in Utila 

  • There are not to my knowledge of French speaking diving club in Utila.
  • On the other hand, the centers all have instructors who come from all over the world so I'm sure you will find an instructor in one of the centers!

The diving schools in Utila that I recommend

I stayed 2 months on Utila to pass my IDC (instructor diploma), I mainly dived with my center trainer (Underwater vision), but also with Bay Island college of diving. I also on "gleaned" information right to left!

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  • Underwater vision Utila :
    • Unbeatable price for open water (299$ + accommodation + 2 fun dives), very good atmosphere, a huge space with bar integrated, billiards, hammocks and beach volleyball court.
    • They are the ones who have the largest space "outside diving", and I admit it's quite pleasant! Top organization, highly qualified staff and impeccable equipment.
    • However, this can be a little open water factory sometimes...
    • Also, their boat being slow, departures in the morning are also quite early (7am).
    • In the same genre you have Captain Morgan, Parrots and UDC (Utila Dive Center, the best known but in the end, I will not recommend it, the factory too).
  • Bay islands college of diving Utila :
    • I dived 2 times with them.
    • Very professional, large premises, large, fast and comfortable boats, the only ones to have a pool for classes, cheap accommodation in dormitory but also individual rooms.
    • They also have a local divemaster (and once is not custom, he was super competent, top security, impeccable briefing, perfect English, "bionic" eyes underwater ...).
    • They are also the ones who own the only hyperbaric chamber of the island. They are against a little more expensive than the others (whatever, to check ...)

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  • Alton's Utila :
    • I did not dive with them, but they had a very good reputation, in the “less factory” sense (taking fewer students per course or per dive…).
    • A bit more expensive for open water (350$) than Underwater vision.

The clubs I recommend

  • To make your open water : Underwater vision for ambiance and budget or Alton's to be sure to have fewer people with you or Bay Islands college of diving if you want a little more comfort and more budget.
  • Diving in fighter mode : Bay Islands College of Diving or Alton's.
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UTILA PRICE DIVING

What are the prices of diving courses in Utila?

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  • The price of the Advanced PADI course at Utila is about 200 $
  • The price of the PADI Rescue course at Utila is approximately 300 $
  • The price of the PADI Divemaster course at Utila is approximately 650 $

What are the prices of dives in Utila?

  • The price of a single dive at Utila is approximately 35 $ (including equipment)
  • Dive package 10 days Utila : about 300 $.
  • The price of a diving baptism in Utila is on average 110 $.

Utila Open Water Diving Certification Course Price

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  • Utila is the cheapest place to spend your open water in the Caribbean.
  • Basically, the centers have roughly the same mode of operation:
    • The PADI open water course for 3 days.
    • + free accommodation for 4 nights (in a dormitory)
    • + 2 free dives (fun dive) after the open watet (or a reduction to do the advanced)
    • For a total of 300 to 350$ depending on the centers.
  • Sure, it's a good package, it's the first time I see 2 free dives after an open water!
  • It really rivals the Asian prices (Koh Tao in Thailand or the Gili Islands in Indonesia), but there accommodation is not included.
  • Comparatively, prices in Mexico are rather 350-400$ without accommodation and without dives offered.
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HOTEL PLONGEE UTILA

Utila diving accommodation

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HOW TO GO TO UTILA

The best way to get to Utila is by ferry from La Ceiba or Roatan.

Getting to La Ceiba in Honduras

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The unused runway at Utila
  • Utila has no airport (in fact there is an airstrip but it is not in operation).
  • The easiest way is by ferry from La Ceiba.
  • Bus journey to La Ceiba: jadvise you to take the buses transports Cristina, super safe, fast, not too expensive (serve from San Pedro Sula, Tegucigalpa, Copan, Guatemala City and Antigua).
  • Travel to La Ceiba by plane: La ceiba has an airport which is accessible from most cities in Honduras, including Tegucigalpa and San pedro sula

La Ceiba to Utila ferry route

  • La Ceiba to Utila ferry : 2 departures day, 9 a.m. and 4.30 p.m., 45 min.
  • Price: € 46 return.
  • All timetables and prices on Utiladream.

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Roatan route to Utila by ferry

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MY OPINION ABOUT DIVING IN UTILA

So Utila, it really depends on what state of mind we are in. In backpacker fashion on a trip to Latin America, yes, either for pass his open water, either to do a few dives and to party for a short week. For a experienced diver who wants to go on a diving trip, it's not the right address, it is better to go to Roatan next door, which offer much more varied dives. Professional side, if it is for make a divemaster, no, because they do it too quickly. If it is for do your IDC in Utila and become an instructor, Yes it's one of the cheapest in the world !

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