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Dive Review of Laguna Beach Resort in
Honduras/Utila

Laguna Beach Resort, Mar, 2008,

by Laura Austin, VA, USA (Sr. Reviewer Sr. Reviewer 9 reports). Report 3955.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 101-250 dives
Where else diving Bonaire, Roatan, Cayman Brac, Florida Keys, Belize
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, windy, rainy, cloudy Seas choppy
Water Temp 78 to 82 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 30 to 60 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile no
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.
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

Sharks None Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles None Whales None
Corals 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
UW Photo Comments 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):

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

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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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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