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Dive Review of Deep Blue Utila in

December, 2010, an Instant Reader Report by Samuel B Johnson, NC, US
Sr. Reviewer   (8 reports)
Report Number 5903
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
251-500 dives
Where else diving
Other than a few California dives, a single North Carolina dive, and a
single Mediterranean dive, all my experience is Caribbean, including
Caymans, Roatan, Bonaire, Curacao, Dominica, Turks & Caicos, and
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

sunny, windy, rainy, cloudy  
Water Temp
77   to 79    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
30   to 50    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
1 or 2 
Whale Sharks
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  2 stars
Tropical Fish
2 stars  
Small Critters
  1 stars
Large Fish
1 stars  
Large Pelagics
  1 stars
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
Boat Facilities
Overall rating for UWP's  
Shore Facilities  
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
4 stars
4 stars
Service and Attitude
4 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
2 stars
Dive Operation
1 stars  
Shore Diving  
1 stars  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
2 stars    
3 stars   
1 stars    
	The buildings and set-up at Deep Blue resort are very attractive, even
photogenic. The rooms are very simple, e.g., no TV, and no telephone, but
with AC. In my room the shower had hot water most of the time, although the
basin had only cold water. The porch overlooked the beach and had its own
hammock, although the inevitable bug problem of Roatan made using the
hammock risky. Take lots of DEET, no matter where you go on Utila, and
expect to be bitten anyway.
	The operation is owned and nominally run by David with the assistance of
(i) his wife, Susan, who is in charge of the kitchen and, it seems, of
anything that needs to be fixed or taken care of on the landside, (ii) his
mother, Shirley, who takes care of billing and who coordinates transfers to
and from the resort, and (iii) current dive master Marlo. David is a
stereotypical ex-pat Brit who may be working hard behind the scenes doing
something, but as far as I could tell he reminds one of the male lion in a
pride who does nothing but sit around trying to look noble while the women
do all the work. In the case of David, he spends his time telling tales and
stories, which I found boring enough and self-impressed enough to drive me
out of the room, but others seemed to enjoy him. One should be careful not
to rely on any information he sends in advance, e.g., whether the ferry
between Utila and the mainland runs on a given day, because his info is
unreliable. Also, I will not return to Deep Blue because David added a fee
to my bill at the end of my visit about which fee he did not tell me at the
time he gave me the "total" figure for my trip when I booked it
by e-mail. His later justification was that the fee was mentioned on some
pages of the web-site, which seemed irrelevant to me, since I booked using
e-mail correspondence with him, not through his web-site. (To Shirley's
credit, she thought the surprise fee should have been waived.)
	The food is quite good. The breakfast bar is much the same every morning
but has a good selection and some variety. The lunch bar offers one or two
choices for main dish plus various sides. The evening meal is ordered in
the morning from usually three or four choices, and the results are quite
good. Susan clearly puts effort and skill into preparing the meals,
especially the evening meals, and they are delicious. Susan is generally
very impressive at making sure that guests' desires are met. 
	Unfortunately, the dive operation is less than satisfactory. Marlo is
relatively inexperienced as a divemaster. She originally trained in
Thailand a few years ago, and she is newly arrived in Utila. I believe she
is Canadian, but her style is 100 percent "valley girl." She
doesn't communicate well. One superficial example is that she makes
surprising English mistakes for a native speaker, e.g.,
"reciprocate" used to mean "turn around" and "back
at the boat for 40 minutes" used to mean "back at the boat in 40
minutes," both being typical of the many mistakes she made daily. Her
dive briefings were identical for every dive site and reminded one of a
Barbie doll with a string in her back which one pulls to hear the set
speech. Her responses to questions about the dive site or any aspect of the
dive had a packaged quality and sounded like generic speeches memorized
while being trained. E.g., "Have you ever seen X at this dive
site?" elicits, "It's a big ocean, so I can't tell you what you
may see here." 
	The equipment storage shed is roomy, secure and adequate. Each morning
resort staff set up one's equipment on tanks on the dive boat before guests
even arrive at the dock. At the end of one's dive day one rinses one's own
wet suit, and the staff rinse whatever is put into the resort provided
string bag.
	The dive boat is the bare minimum. No head. Exit by metal ladder, which is
put down once one is at the mooring. The boat captain, Swin, is a local,
somewhat quiet but pleasant and quite competent as far as I could judge.
	The house shore dive has no convenient entry point. It would not seem hard
for the resort management to clear out and mark an entry point and a path
to waist deep water. Nor is there any clear route for returning from the
wall. The collection of coral channels and coral heads between the shore
and the wall provide interesting exploration especially at night, e.g., I
saw octopuses on both night explorations, but navigating among them is very
tricky. The wall, when one reaches it, is unremarkable. (I found it
somewhat more interesting going west.) The management did not object to
solo diving of the house reef, which is consistent with safety, since there
was no current or anything else to make the dive tricky. Staff was happy to
use a wheelbarrow to transport one's gear for one to and from the dock and
equipment shed across the property to the front shore where the house reef
has its entry point.
	The diving in Utila is generally disappointing. I did not happen to see a
single whale shark, although I did see whale sharks on a previous Utila
visit. (Different resort, but I believe the likelihood of seeing whale
sharks is generally independent of the resort and dive operation.) Blue
bell tunicates were everywhere, and I spotted an unusual number of giant
tunicates and painted tunicates. We saw schools of squid several times. On
two occasions everyone was excited by seeing a sleeping nurse shark. I saw
my first ever upside down jellyfish. As I browse my dive diary, I am struck
by how few interesting sightings I noted, and what I did note were examples
of fish and creatures that mostly are classed as "abundant" or
"common" by Humann. There are essentially no large fish,
presumably due to heavy subsistence fishing. Whether the small fish and
critter population has been affected by the omnipresent lionfish is for the
biologists to tell us, but the variety and number of the smaller reef fish
does seem dramatically down.
	Due to illness, Marlo was replaced for 24 hours by British dive master
Matt Awty, who was excellent. If Deep Blue (a) hired a skilled dive master
and (b) had an owner who blustered less and who didn't create last minute
charges for your bill, then one might recommend the place.
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