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Dive Review of Altons in

June, 2003, an Instant Reader Report by Bill Mashek, Ca, usa
Report Number 1130
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
501-1000 dives
Where else diving
Caribean, Mexico (East coast and West coast), Hawaii,Florida, California,
Washington (San Juan is)South Pacific, Thailand, Central America
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

Water Temp
78   to 80    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
60   to 100    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
Once the Dive staff got to know you, most of the time you could dive your
own profile.  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
1 or 2 
Whale Sharks
1 or 2 
> 2 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  4 stars
Tropical Fish
4 stars  
Small Critters
  4 stars
Large Fish
3 stars  
Large Pelagics
  2 stars
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
3 stars  
Boat Facilities
2 stars
Overall rating for UWP's  
Shore Facilities  
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
3 stars
3 stars
Service and Attitude
3 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
Dive Operation
3 stars  
Shore Diving  
1 stars  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
5 stars   
4 stars    
Honduras is a wonderfully diverse country and an excellent travel location
for "multi-sport" adventures.  As stated in the Lonely Planet:
Honduras is the original banana republic. It is a democracy with a
developing economy.  The national language is Spanish.  However, English is
dominant on the Bay Islands. It is a cheap easy place to travel and an
excellent location for the "multi-sport" and eco traveler. 
Honduras has incredible natural resources including, world class
whitewater boating and some of the best (and cheapest) diving in the
Caribbean.  I combined diving with, Spanish school, whitewater boating and
some mainland travel.

Utila is the smallest and flattest of the three major Bay Islands, and is
the closest to the mainland. The island is 9.5 miles long and 3 miles wide.
Land transportation on Utila is limited to a few pickup trucks, a couple
unreliable taxis and a ton of old mountain bikes.. Utila is not only renown
as one of the best diving locations in the caribbean it is also known as
the cheapest.  From mid February through March one can almost be guaranteed
a whale shark experience.  Subsequently, the streets are lined with dive
shops.  Because certifications are so cheap, many shops have reputations as
dive master factories.  For as little as $500. (Including lodging) One
can spend a month on the island completing a dive master course.  My 12
dives cost me $160., which included all gear and wet suit.  

I dived with Altons, primarily, because it was recommended by the school.
Altons is a PADI facility. The dive masters were young, mostly
inexperienced but competent and all were friendly. My friend did her
certification course through Altons, they were able to work around her
school schedule and she felt her instruction was proficient.  I have heard
very good reports about Deep Blue Divers.
 The best diving in Utila is in the morning.  This is when most dive boats
go to the north side.  Also morning offers the best conditions.    There
are no bad dive sites on Utila.  

During my 12 dives, I encountered the largest lobster I have seen in the
ocean (20-25 pounds), a whale shark encounter, several barracuda, jaw fish,
octopus, spotted drums, sea turtles, moray,  scorpion fish, crabs, hog fish
lizard fish, large sting ray, eagle rays, corals, sea fans, turtles,
sponges and much much more.  The dive sites included a spectacular seamount
at Black Hills, Rons Wreck,: unimpressive as a wreck dive but lots of sea
life- saw the green moray here.  Airport reef,(a good night dive) Blue
Bayou, where I saw 2 turtles, barracuda and the giant lobsters.  Black
coral wall (2 deep dives here-good), Jack Neil, Big Rock, and Cabanas.  The
visibility ranged from 60-100 ft.  Though I did a couple of deep dives (36
miters) the best diving is between 12-20 miters.   

Lodging and food in Utila are as cheap as Thailand.  We stayed at the
Colibri Hotel, a new hotel with the first pool in Utila. We had a large
room with 2 queen size beds and hot water for $25. Per night.  Most meals
are under $3.00.  A fancy diner will cost about twice that.   For non
divers,  activities include, excursions to Water Caye, (a small white sand
island with palm trees and no sand flys)  snorkeling,  hiking to Pumpkin
Hill and visiting the Iguana Farm.  There is also horseback riding,
shopping and people watching.  But be prepared, the bay islands are renown
for some of the most aggressive no seeums anywhere.  Bring lots of
repellent.  Traveler checks can be exchanged at Hendersons Market.  At
this writing there were no ATMs on Utila. The only credit card accepted
was Visa. 

If you travel with Taca Airlines be prepared to have your luggage delayed. 
This is a common event of this airline.  It was nice to have Rafael (the
School Master) as an advocate to hasten the process of getting our luggage
to La Ceiba.   The cultural experience of not only, getting to know, but
become friends with the Honduran people I met was exceptional.  In addition
we  made many international friends with other students.  The entire
experience was extraordinary and highly recommended..
Website links

Altons Diving:                                  [ link]
Central American Spanish School     [ link]
Jungle River Tours:                           [ link]
Deep Blue Divers                              [ link]

Bill Mashek
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Note: The information here was reported by the author above, but has NOT been reviewed nor edited by Undercurrent prior to posting on our website. Please report any major problems by writing to us and referencing the report number above.

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