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Dive Review of Laguna Beach Resort in

March, 2008, an Instant Reader Report by Laura Austin, VA, USA
Sr. Reviewer   (9 reports)
Report Number 3955
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
101-250 dives
Where else diving
Bonaire, Roatan, Cayman Brac, Florida Keys, Belize
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

sunny, windy, rainy, cloudy  
Water Temp
78   to 82    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
30   to 60    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
Our boat included some newbies, so we tended to stay fairly shallow and to
be back at the boat after 45 minutes. We were allowed to stay underwater in
the general area for the complete hour, however. Never went back to the
boat with less that 1000 psi.   
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
Whale Sharks
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  2 stars
Tropical Fish
3 stars  
Small Critters
  4 stars
Large Fish
2 stars  
Large Pelagics
  2 stars
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
4 stars  
Boat Facilities
3 stars
Overall rating for UWP's  
3 stars  
Shore Facilities  
3 stars  
Table and tanks for cameras on boat. Rinse tanks on shore. 

Lots of opportunities for good macro photography. 
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
3 stars
3 stars
Service and Attitude
4 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
Dive Operation
4 stars  
Shore Diving  
2 stars  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
4 stars   
2 stars    
How a diver feels about Utila, I think, depends entirely whether or not
they saw a whale shark. We did not. Well, a few in the group reported
seeing the outline and spots before the creature took off for the depths.
But, still, it was a whale-shark free trip and I can't think of any reason
to go to Utila other than to see--and swim with--the whale shark. 

We not only didn't see the whale shark, we weren't even able to go looking
for them, due to high winds most of the week. We only made the trip out to
the North shore one day--and the diving is definitely better there.
Unfortunately, the resort makes you spend your first day diving locally and
then attending a whale shark information session that evening before being
allowed to go look for them. I appreciate the necessity and educational
value of the information session; I just wish they had given it to us the
night we arrived, as that first day we spent on the local sites was a
gorgeous and fairly flat day--perhaps the day we could have seen the
elusive whale shark if we had been allowed to go to the North. 

In any case, we were mostly on the South side and East & West End.
Sadly, these reefs are in serious trouble. At some sites, we saw up to 80%
dead coral. Not a lot of fish and even fewer of a good size. (Utila is not
a preserve.) It was quite depressing. 

The DMS were very good about pointing out unusual or hard-to-spot species.
We saw numerous seahorses, pipefishes, even a pipehorse! Other divers
reported seeing a short-nosed batfish. I found a juvenile trunkfish (tiny
pumpkin!) and various other interesting juveniles. (The indigo hamlets are
a treat!) To tell the truth, I preferred rooting around in the sea beds
than doing the usual back-and-forth on nearly-dead and nearly-empty reefs.
We decided to concentrate on quality rather than quantity--really, what
other choice did we have? 

The resort itself is rustic and charming. Simple cabins with plenty of room
to spread out your stuff and very hot showers. Each has a porch for
admiring the lagoon whilst rocking in your hammock. The food is simple and
home-style and a bit lacking in variety. A bunch of people got some sort of
turista bug toward the end of the stay--my teenager was particularly sick,
with a fever, and missed two whole days of diving. The weather had turned
cloudy and drizzly by this point, so it wasn't that hard for him to stay in
bed and sleep it off. 

The dive shop is well run. Nice staff. Valet service.  

The resort takes its guests into town on Friday afternoon (it's a
Saturday-to-Saturday deal) Utila is, simply put, a dump. Dirty and filthy
with trash everywhere and lots of poverty. But it is cheap. We met at a bar
in town where the toilet was directly over the water. Of course, all the
sewage on the island goes directly into the water, so why should I be

The sewage problem and over-fishing has obviously had a terrible impact on
the reefs of Utila--I'm not sure anything can be done at this point. There
were divers in our group who had been there the year or two before and were
shocked at the deteriorating conditions. It seems the coral reefs are in a
downward spiral. But the fisherman have to work and feed their families,
and I don't suppose the Honduran government has a lot of money to spend on
sewage treatment plants and the like. 

The trip was not a total disaster--we had some good times and enjoyed some
of the diving. We liked the staff and the resort. But  I'm sorry to say
that I won't be recommending Utila to my diving friends. 
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