Road to Honduras
After traveling through Guatemala for almost a month I starting heading towards Honduras where I was recommended to visit the Caribbean Islands and to do a Scuba Diving (Open Water) Course in Utila. So I travelled from Flores in the north of Guatemala down to the far south-east border of the country next to Puerto Barrios.
Here’s a little tip for you travelers out there, you better make sure where you end up your journeys especially when you don’t know the country you’re going to. So I ended up in a town called San Pedro Sula, it was late and I decided to stay there for the night. I never heard about this place, only knew it was a huge town and I guessed it was a good place to stay and rest before I reached the islands. Turns out San Pedro Sula is one of the most dangerous cities in the world! Now I don’t recommend you walk along the main road at night, specially if you’re carrying a 30kg bag and wearing your coolest clothes. This town was scary shit, garbage everywhere, prostitutes trying to push me in a dark alley way, drunk guys talking to me in a strange language, rats, more dirt, and all this in minimum light conditions.
After spending the night in a nasty hostel in San Pedro Sula I took a bus to La Ceiba, the nearest town to the Caribbean islands. I was told this was a party town so I was hoping to enjoy a nice time there and forget about San Pedro’s nightmare. Now it was definitely far better than San Pedro but still disappointingly chaotic. I managed to get a discount for a room in Hotel Iberia, owned by an old Spanish dude, bought me a jumbo pizza hut and called it and early night.
How to get to Utila
Next morning I woke up early and took a taxi to the dock, 15min ride from the town centre. And from there I was able to buy a ticket to Utila for about 500HNL or 20€. The boat is called Utila Princess and you can find the timetable and prices here.
Choosing a Scuba Diving School in Utila
On the boat ride to Utila I met the director of one of the many scuba-diving schools in the island. She actually owned the school that I’d been recommended, a very nice place called Parrots. Utila has to be one of the world’s top cheapest locations to get a certificate in scuba-diving. Here’s what any of the schools offer you when you get there:
- First night free so you can choose the school you prefer.
- 5 extra nights for free in the nearest hostel to the school.
- 4 training dives.
- 2 extra open water dives.
- The school had a kitchen and wifi.
- A certification by Padi, with which you can dive anywhere in the world.
- A free scuba-diving manual.
- And all this cost 259USD, pretty awesome right?
Parrots was a really cool place, the instructors were very friendly and you could choose to be taught in English, French or Spanish.
What to do in Utila
I stayed in the island for a week and it was truly a beautiful spot in the middle of the sea to relax, enjoy the beach, and to start my “diving-career”. The island is pretty small and you can walk around it in less than an hour. It has a main street where all the diving schools, restaurants, and shops are. Here’s a map of the island.
It takes about 15min to walk to the beach from the dock. And in the opposite direction from the dock you can find very nice places to eat, and you can even find a little cinema 10min from the dock. In this direction you’ll find a budget place to eat called Mermelad’s and if you walk a little further there are two nice restaurant where you can eat some really good fish or meat, Bubalo on the right hand side and RJ’s BBQ on the left hand side a little further down.
The scuba diving experience
Learning to scuba dive was a whole new experience for me. I’ve always loved to free dive in the sea with my snorkel kit, but diving with the scuba equipment opens up a whole new world.
As I was describing the experience to my parents on skype when I finished the course, it is the closest I’ve been to experience flying. It really felt like I was flying underwater. And it’s great how you learn to control your breath and to balance yourself underwater with just the air you inhale and exhale.
The underwater landscape in Utila is not the richest in the world, but the spots we found in the north coast of the island were great. We got to see a green murray (which by the way almost bit me as I was happily enjoying my ride), a beautiful Hawksbill turtle, and some even got to sea a small shark (happy I didn’t see that cause I would have freaked out).
Here’s a little clip with what has been one of the sweetest weeks in my trip through Central America so far.
Diving in Utila