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Dive Review of Deep Blue Utila in
Honduras/Utila

Deep Blue Utila, Dec, 2010,

by Samuel B Johnson, NC, US (Sr. Reviewer Sr. Reviewer 10 reports with 2 Helpful votes). Report 5903.

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 Cozumel.
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, windy, rainy, cloudy Seas choppy
Water Temp 77 to 79 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 30 to 50 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions None
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

Sharks 1 or 2 Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles None Whales None
Corals 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 N/A Boat Facilities N/A
Overall rating for UWP's N/A Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments [None]

Ratings and Overall Comments 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Accommodations 4 stars Food 4 stars
Service and Attitude 4 stars Environmental Sensitivity 2 stars
Dive Operation 1 stars Shore Diving 1 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 2 stars
Beginners 3 stars
Advanced 1 stars
Comments 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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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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