Roatan Bay Islands, Honduras:
Airports: (Airport Code SAP): The main International Airport in Honduras is San Pedro Sula. International flights to/from Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula operate daily to/from USA airports of Miami (American Airlines) and Houston (Continental Airlines) To avoid complications in connecting flights, international visitors to Utila tend to fly to San Pedro Sula and then take the connecting flight via La Ceiba to Utila.
Roatan Island Airport (RTB) has direct flights from several US locations
Currency: The official currency of Honduras is the Lempira. U.S. Dollar banknotes can be used in place of the Lempira, with the local stores and businesses usually giving exchange rates at the same (or sometimes better) than the local Honduran banks, and without charging exchange commissions.
Climate: The average annual temperature is 85°F (29°C), and ranges from the upper 80′s during the Summer months and the low 80′s during the Winter months (November – February).
Water Temperature: The off-shore sea temperatures surrounding the tropical islands of Utila and Roatan normally vary between 27°C – 31°C (81°F – 88°F), providing a very pleasant all year-round swimming, snorkelling and scuba diving environment.
Language: Roatán and Utila offer convenient tourism services and are attracting many North American and European expatriates. Spanish may be the official language of Honduras and English might be rarely spoken in inland Honduras, but on Bay Islands you will have no problem getting by with English.
Popular Dive Sites at Roatan Honduras:
|Calvin’s Crack||A plateau atop a shallow reef facing a wall, Calvin’s Crack runs through the reef along narrows, widening to an exit along the outer wall.
|Spooky Channel||This diving site is a little deeper, a former river valley formed this channel which opens to the barrier reef at 100 feet with a cathedral-like scenario. The side walls of the channel rise up to almost touch each other but still allow light to illuminate your way.
|Barbareta Wall||3 miles offshore from Roatan, the uninhabited, hilly island of Barbareta offers undiscovered reefs replete with coral gardens, a dramatic mile-long wall, while the island is framed by white sandy beaches and coves; the wall is a continuous drop-off that usually offers great pelagic encounters.
|West End Wall||A spectacular precipice borders a deep blue abyss, with pillar corals, Azure Vase Sponges and barrel sponges, while in the deeper water divers are likely to find themselves among schools of pelagics and Eagle Rays.
|Enchanted Forest and Insidious Reef||West of Romeo’s Resort, these two dives are part of a larger reef associated with an offshore bank. The drop-off begins from a series of rolling reefs that drop to 70′ – 80′, with Creole Wrasse and groupers in abundance among the diverse sponge and coral growth.
|Connie’s Dream||3-min from Romeo’s Resort, this sloping drop-off provides tube and vase sponges among both red and purple tube sponges, while a seemingly endless system of tall coral heads and deep sand channels fall into the abyss.
|Doc’s Elbow||Directly in front of the entrance channel to Brick Bay Resort, this popular night dive provides divers with a variety of life, including octopus, reef crabs and lobsters. A short swim leads divers to the wall.
|Mary’s Place||Perhaps one of the most popular dive sites off Roatan, the dive starts at a permanent mooring buoy on the reef shelf, along a vertical crevice that drops from 40′, with a huge section of the wall broken away from the main section to form a wide slit. Many smaller crevices invite exploration among bouquets of Rope and Tube Sponges, deepwater seafans and Black Coral. A sand shelf drops from 140′ to 200′, offering a magnificent underwater view.
|Trunk Turtle Bay Beach||On Barbareta Island, great for snorkeling and shallow dives
|Pigeon Cays||Three islets off Barbareta’s south coast, with undiscovered dive sites.
|Wreck Diving – “Prince Albert”||140′ tanker|
|Wreck Diving – “El Aguila”||210′ cargo boat perfectly sunk at 100 feet of water on a sandy bottom full of Deep Garden Eels. It has been adapted for penetration diving so you can descend onto open large compartments where you can surprise a number of fish in their homes. Adjacent to the boat runs the wall to finish off the dive among the shallow water tropical fish.
Utila has something wonderful to offer every diver, be they beginners doing their certification course, or divers with hundreds of dives and years of experience. Every year divers have the opportunity to dive and snorkel with dolphins, whalesharks, eagle rays, moray eels, turtles, frogfish, seahorses and many, many other spectacular creatures.
Utila has on record over 220 species of reef fish and 50 species of coral, as well as an untold number of reef invertebrates.
One of the most attractive aspects of diving on Utila is the wide variety. The island is circumnavigated by over 80 buoyed dive sites. These range from sheer wall dives like the ‘Great Wall’ to sandy-bottomed shallow reefs like ‘Little Bight’; from deep wrecks like the ‘Halliburton 211′ to sloping fringing reef like ‘Airport Caves’. Wherever our boats take you, there is one thing to be assured – you are not going to see the same thing twice!
To better understand the different types of diving on Utila, please see the breakdown below. We have divided the island into five sections. These sections have been determined by the type of diving you will do there. There is also a list of some key sites in each area.
North Side – Turtle Harbour
Key sites include: Pinnacle; Great Wall/Duppy Waters; CJ’s Drop Off; The Maze; Willy’s hole; Blackish point.
For many people this is the highlight of diving in Utila. Turtle Harbour is a nationally protected marine reserve and is home to some of the most awe-inspiring of Utilas dive sites. It is located on the far North side of the island and is a 45 minute boat ride. Part of the attraction here is the sheer depth of many of the wall dives. The reef drops off from 15-20ft/5-6m and rapidly reaching recreational limits. For this reason this part of the island is best for the more experienced diver. These sites are great for seeing many of the bigger fish such as Groupers, Barracuda, Nurse Sharks and the beautiful Midnight Parrotfish. It is not uncommon to see large schools of Snappers and Spadefish at these sites too. Certain sites in the harbour are also perfect for seeing invertebrates such as sea slugs. Take a closer look at the shallow reef on CJ’s drop off – you’ll be surprised how much you see!
North Side – West End
Key sites include: Raggedy Cay; Spotted Bay; West End.
Also on the North side of the island, stretching from the Utila Cays towards Turtle Harbour, are the Northwest group of dive sites, a 25-30 minute boat ride away. This part of the reef is particularly noteworthy because of the abundance and range of healthy hard and soft corals. The sites start at around 20-25ft/6-8m and slope off (sometimes gradually, sometimes steeply) beyond recreational limits. For many people, the sheer diversity of life on these sites make them must-dives for many of Utila’s experienced divers. Some special species to look out for here are the beautiful Flamingo tongues and the shy Harlequin pipefish, but don’t forget to look out into the blue occasionally – you don’t want to miss the Eagle Rays ‘flying’ by!
Key sites include: Little Bight; Black Coral Wall; Silvergardens; Cabanas; Stingray point; Labyrinth; Jack Neal Cove; Big Rock.
The Southwest side of the island is the biggest area we have chosen and also the one with the widest variety of different sites. Boat times to these sites vary from 10-25 minutes. The fringing reef here starts at the edge of East Harbour and runs all the way to the Utila Cays (around 5 km). In this area you will find all types of sites, from shallow banking reefs to smaller wall dives. Fish life is wide and varied throughout these sites but divers often like to explore the labyrinthine spur and groove formations that make up the shallows of many of these sites. Here you have a good chance of finding a sleeping Nurse Shark or a peaceful Green Moray. With the reefs on these sites starting as shallow as 3ft/1m, there is plenty to see for everyone. Some of the best snorkeling on Utila can also be found at these sites.
Key sites include: Airport Caves; Ted’s Point; Moonhole; Halliburton 211; Lighthouse reef.
The South East end of the island is attractive because of the quality of diving and the easy access. With boat rides between 2 and 10 minutes many divers choose these sites for their afternoon trips. This section of the reef boasts 3 wrecks and limitless swim-throughs and caves. The reef here starts very shallow (5ft/2m) and has a maximum depth of between 50ft/15m and depths beyond recreational limits. The lure here really is the chance to explore and find those nooks and crannies bustling with Glassy Sweepers and Dog Snappers. Common sightings on this part of the reef are Seahorses and Eagle Rays.
Key sites include: Black Hills; Pretty Bush Mound; Captains delight
Whilst Utila’s fringing reef has plenty to offer, sometimes it’s nice to take a break from the islands’ sites and explore offshore! With outstanding diving available on the many banks that surround Utila, this is a must for everyone exploring the island. A particular favorite for many of Utila’s resident dive pros, Black Hills offers an unbeatable volume of schooling fish including Atlantic Spadefish, Creole Wrasse and Horse-eyed Jacks. Other banks off the South West side offer incredible views of soft corals unequalled anywhere else on the island. These banks tend to be a little deeper than the fringing reef starting at around 35-40ft/10-12m. Boat times to the banks vary from 10-30 minutes.