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Dive Review of Laguna Beach Resort in

April, 2005, an Instant Reader Report by Rick Cavanaugh, MD, USA
Report Number 1651
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
251-500 dives
Where else diving
Belize, Bonaire, Little Cayman, Grand Turk, Provo, Salt Cay, BVI, St.
Vincent, Bequia, Tobago Cays, St. Martin, Cozumel, Domonica, St Croix,
Florida, North Carolina
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

sunny, windy, cloudy, dry  
Water Temp
76   to 78    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
50   to 75    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
130 feet max, no reverse profiles. 60 minutes maximum dive.  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
1 or 2 
Whale Sharks
> 2 
1 or 2 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  1 stars
Tropical Fish
1 stars  
Small Critters
  4 stars
Large Fish
1 stars  
Large Pelagics
  4 stars
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
2 stars  
Boat Facilities
2 stars
Overall rating for UWP's  
3 stars  
Shore Facilities  
3 stars  
Good for macro,  lots of dead coral rubble for critters.  Saw 100's of
cryptic tear drop crabs and at least 2 different varieties of neck crabs. 

Each boat has a camera rinse tank, but no real good place to change film,
lenes etc.  There is a table in the stern that is used by everyone to store
whatever, and is quite wet.  Each boat has a large rinse tank dedicated to
cameras on the dock. No film processing.

Good Whale shark photos are nearly impossible to get due to the boat
advancing on the shark rapidly.  Whale sharks would dive. Average time with
whale shark is 15 seconds. No Scuba diving with Whale sharks.
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
4 stars
4 stars
Service and Attitude
5 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
Dive Operation
4 stars  
Shore Diving  
2 stars  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
5 stars   
2 stars    
Airline schedules don't exist, I think the plane leaves when they have
enough people to fill it.  Our plane out of San Pedro Sula left at about 4
pm (over 2 hours late which was good for us!).  No weight restritions that
I am aware of.

The Resort.
Laguna beach resort is located a short boat ride from the main town in
Utila.  The resort is very nice.  The management goes overboard to make
sure your visit is very pleasant.  There is a nice beach on the Caribbean
side.  The air conditioned cottages are located on the lagoon side with
private docks for watching sunsets or anything but boarding a boat(the
water is about 12 inches deep).  Meals are served according to the scuba
boat schedule.  Meals are varied and excellently prepared on the Caribbean
scale. Bugs were only a problem on one windless night otherwise there were
no problems with insects. (I would still bring DEET).  There is no
nightlife unless you make it and no shopping.  Most night I closed up the
honor bar at about 9 pm.  

The Town
You can visit the town by taking a short boat ride to the other side of the
lagoon.  The town is a short 1 mile walk.  Bicycles are available.  A taxi
ride is about $3 US.  The town is full of hippies. Many young Americans and
Europeans tour this area with backpacks since it is so cheap.  Overnight
rooms are as cheap as $4.  If you go to town, check out the Jade Seahorse. 
It is hard to describe, but quite interesting.  The best way to describe
the Jade Seahorse is an artist with too my time on his hands.

Scuba Diving
Very Disappointing.  The reef has sustained substantial damage over the
years.  This is not the type of damage that has occurred overnight.  I am
troubled by so many reports of the diving as being excellent. It is not. I
talked to some repeat visitors and asked them how the reef has changed over
the years.  The told me "it has not changed at all, that is why they
keep coming back!"  This resort has many repeat visitors who are quite

The majority of the coral is dead, bleached or diseased.  I saw white band
and black band disease and significant bleaching.  There is significant
algae growth.  There are some patches of vibrantly colored healthy coral.

There are very few large fishes on the reef.  There where plenty of small
gobies, damsel fishes and a few angels.  I only saw 1 small grouper, no
reef shark, no nurse sharks, no large southern sting rays (saw a couple of
small yellow sting rays).  I would attribute the lack of fish to the
condition of the reef.

There were large patches of coral rubble on many of the sites.  It appears
to have been there for quite some time.  Many have said that the damage is
from hurricane Mitch.  I would say it is from agricultural run off from the
main land.  Honduras has significant farming of pineapples and other

Most of the dive masters went too fast to see the macro life that is quite
abundant.  I literally saw hundreds of cryptic tear drop crabs.  Almost
every sponge contained one.  I saw 2 different varieties of neck crabs. 
There was a good amount of macro life to be seen if you would go slow

Nitrox is available but it is an extra $8 per dive!  There is no longer a
one week discount.  Most of the diving is very shallow and easy.  There is
a maximum of 1 hour bottom time so nitrox is not a huge advantage.  Few
used nitrox due to the price. 

The better dives were the wreck of the Haliburton and the sea mounds
located off shore.

Whale Sharks.
Each encounter would last about15 seconds before the shark was out of site.

The captains were excellent in finding whale sharks.  You are not allowed
to use scuba gear with the whale sharks.  We saw whale sharks on at least 3
different days and some days we saw 4 different whale sharks.

We got to snorkel with dolphins 1 time as well.

The area with the whale sharks was crowded with up to 4 other boats.  It as
a bit of a zoo as the different boats put their craft into position for
their snorkelers to jump in.  I found it to be a little dangerous to
snorkel with that many boats trying to get to the shark.  I surfaced one
time to be facing a bow of a boat headed right at me that was 20 feet

The whale shark encounter should be between the 1st and 2nd dive of the
days surface interval.  On some days, many on the boat wanted to skip the
second dive to go whale shark hunting.  Expect good sunburns and seasick
occupants when this happens as you sit on a slow moving boat always on the
ready (you usually only have 2 minutes or less to get ready) for 2 to 3
hours.  The resorts policy is that if one person wants to dive, the whole
boat dives.  If this is you, expect pressure from everyone else on the

If you really want to see whale sharks, I would do a private charter during
the lunch hours when there are no boats on the water.  I think this was
around $75 an hour for a small boat.  Split that 6 ways and it is quite

If you want to see Whale sharks with some scuba diving, this is the place
to go.  

If you want beautiful pristine diving on a healthy reef, go elsewhere.
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