A country filled with natural and manmade wonders like nature reserves and Maya ruins, yet Honduras is most visited for diving. World class diving in Honduras is found in the Bay Islands. The reefs around these islands are part of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef. As the world’s second largest barrier reef, the Mesoamerican starts in Mexico, running all the way down to Honduras.
Situated closest to the mainland is the small and slow-paced island of Utila. A friendly place, where visitors smoothly mingle with locals, Utila has a wide choice of dive centers that specialize in dive training. With over 80 dive sites surrounding the small island, Utila diving has plenty to offer experienced and novice diver alike. Prices are slightly lower than on Roatán, and Utila has a good nightlife, which ensures many backpackers visiting the island.
The largest of the Bay Islands, Roatán, is approximately 50 km long and 2-4 km wide and surrounded by pristine reef. There is plenty of space to explore on Roatán, both above and below the surface. Diving in Roatán offers coral walls, fringing reefs, wrecks, and tropical coral gardens.
Guanaja is the most eastern of the Bay Islands. This small island is almost entirely covered in gorgeous pine forest and encircled by pristine coral reef. Compared to Utila and Roatán, diving in Guanaja is the least developed, with only a handful of dive operators and resorts, but with over 35 dive sites to explore.
La Ceiba is the gateway to the Bay Islands, with direct flights to Roatán, Utila and Guanaja, and ferries to Roatán and Utila. The ferry to Guanaja leaves from Trujillo. The comfortable, tropical waters of the Bay Islands can be dived 12 months in the year, with water temperatures between 24 and 29 degrees Celsius. October to January is the storm season, and although storms are rare, this time of year can have stronger winds and showers.
Situated on the world’s second largest barrier reef, the Bay Islands is not only home to the best diving in Honduras, but some of the best diving in the world as well. Diving the Bay Islands offers a wide variation of dive sites, ranging from steep walls to wrecks and coral gardens. Each island has its own dive sites within just a short boat ride’s reach.
Surrounded by over 80 dive sites of all sorts, diving in Utila offers an amazing variety, from steep walls to shallow coral gardens and wrecks. Turtle harbor, on the north side of Utila, is the highlight of Utila diving for many divers. A national marine park, Turtle harbor boasts several awe-inspiring wall dives, like ‘the Great Wall’ with depths reaching way past recreational diving limits. Bigger fish are common at these Utila wall dives, like snapper, grouper, barracuda and reef sharks. Southwest of Utila harbors an abundance of dive sites, including shallow reefs and small wall dives, like Little Bight and Black Coral Wall. The grooves and spurs that make up these dive sites are worth exploring for sleeping nurse sharks or friendly green moray eels.
Roatan dive sites include caves, walls, wrecks, fringing reefs and coral gardens. West End Wall is an intermediate wall dive, often done as a drift. The reef houses many smaller creatures, like seahorses, whereas the drop off attract larger fish like barracuda, tarpon, eagle rays and turtles. Roatán wreck dive El Aguila lies in about 28 meter deep water and is broken in several pieces, allowing divers to look inside. The wreck is home to an array of interesting creatures, including moray eels and tons of tropical fish. Just beside El Aguila lies a reef, which allows divers to combine reef and wreck in one dive.
Small and with little development, Guanaja still sports over 35 dive sites. Black Rock Canyon, a Guanaja dive site, was created by volcanic activity that formed a maze of caves and trenches. Small schooling fish are abundant here, and barracuda and groupers are permanent residents. A dive light is recommended to explore all the nooks and crannies. The Jado Trader wreck is an intermediate dive, with options of penetration for properly trained divers. Grouper and yellowtail can be found in great numbers, due to fish feeding at this site. Moray eels, horse-eyed jacks and the occasional shark can be sighted here too.
The Bay Islands boast a tremendous amount of dive schools. Utila and Roatan are well known for excellent and affordable dive training with superb dive sites within minutes’ reach. Guanaja is the lesser-dived island, but has some nice dive resorts that take divers to the plentiful Guanaja dive sites.
Utila Dive Center is a multiple award-winning PADI career development center that specializes in dive training from entry level to professional level. Established in 1991, Utila Dive Center has been recognized for its excellence in diver education as well as its green practices, and offers both recreational and technical dive training. The family-run 5 star Padi IDC center Underwater Vision is a friendly dive center with great online reviews. Specializing in dive training, fun diving and snorkeling, Underwater Vision offers dive packages and accommodation in one of their three waterfront hotels.
Nestled on a hillside between plants and trees in the Sandy Bay area on Roatán is Tranquilseas, an eco lodge and dive center. This hidden gem gets excellent online reviews and offers dive training, dive trips, bungalow accommodation, a good restaurant and other island activities. Also located on Roatan, Barefoot Divers is a 5 star PADI IDC center located in the luxurious Barefoot Cay resort. Focusing on small groups, personalized service and longer possible bottom times, Barefoot Divers caters to all Roatán diving needs with a history of excellent customer service.
The Nautilus Dive resort and Dunbar Rock Village are located on small rocky island in Sandy Bay. Quiet and serene, this Honduras dive resort on Guanaja is as close as it gets to your dive site without being on a liveaboard. They have a simple and lean dive boat that takes small groups of divers out to explore the best Bay Island diving around Guanaja. The prices at Nautilus are very economical and they offer recommended tours to the Maya ruin of Copan.
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I dove with Subway Watersports while on vacation at Turquoise Bay Resort from 18th of July 2015 to the 25th of July 2015. Diving with Subway was enjoyable and safe. I look forward to returning to Roatan and with Subway again.