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Dive Review of Altons in
Honduras/Utila

Altons, Jun, 2003,

by Bill Mashek, Ca, usa . Report 1130.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 501-1000 dives
Where else diving Caribean, Mexico (East coast and West coast), Hawaii, Florida, California, Washington (San Juan is)South Pacific, Thailand, Central America
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather Seas
Water Temp 78 to 80 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 60 to 100 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile ?
Enforced diving restrictions Once the Dive staff got to know you, most of the time you could dive your own profile.
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

Sharks 1 or 2 Mantas None
Dolphins Schools Whale Sharks 1 or 2
Turtles > 2 Whales None
Corals 4 stars Tropical Fish 4 stars
Small Critters 4 stars Large Fish 3 stars
Large Pelagics 2 stars

Underwater Photography 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Subject Matter 3 stars Boat Facilities 2 stars
Overall rating for UWP's N/A Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments [None]

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

Accommodations 3 stars Food 3 stars
Service and Attitude 3 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 3 stars Shore Diving 1 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ N/A
Beginners 5 stars
Advanced 4 stars
Comments Utila
Honduras is a wonderfully diverse country and an excellent travel location for "multi-sport" adventures. As stated in the Lonely Planet: Honduras is the original banana republic. It is a democracy with a developing economy. The national language is Spanish. However, English is dominant on the Bay Islands. It is a cheap easy place to travel and an excellent location for the "multi-sport" and eco traveler. Honduras has incredible natural resources including, world class whitewater boating and some of the best (and cheapest) diving in the Caribbean. I combined diving with, Spanish school, whitewater boating and some mainland travel.

Utila is the smallest and flattest of the three major Bay Islands, and is the closest to the mainland. The island is 9.5 miles long and 3 miles wide. Land transportation on Utila is limited to a few pickup trucks, a couple unreliable taxis and a ton of old mountain bikes.. Utila is not only renown as one of the best diving locations in the caribbean it is also known as the cheapest. From mid February through March one can almost be guaranteed a whale shark experience. Subsequently, the streets are lined with dive shops. Because certifications are so cheap, many shops have reputations as dive master factories. For as little as $500. (Including lodging) One can spend a month on the island completing a dive master course. My 12 dives cost me $160., which included all gear and wet suit.

I dived with Altons, primarily, because it was recommended by the school. Altons is a PADI facility. The dive masters were young, mostly inexperienced but competent and all were friendly. My friend did her certification course through Altons, they were able to work around her school schedule and she felt her instruction was proficient. I have heard very good reports about Deep Blue Divers.
The best diving in Utila is in the morning. This is when most dive boats go to the north side. Also morning offers the best conditions. There are no bad dive sites on Utila.

During my 12 dives, I encountered the largest lobster I have seen in the ocean (20-25 pounds), a whale shark encounter, several barracuda, jaw fish, octopus, spotted drums, sea turtles, moray, scorpion fish, crabs, hog fish lizard fish, large sting ray, eagle rays, corals, sea fans, turtles, sponges and much much more. The dive sites included a spectacular seamount at Black Hills, Rons Wreck,: unimpressive as a wreck dive but lots of sea life- saw the green moray here. Airport reef,(a good night dive) Blue Bayou, where I saw 2 turtles, barracuda and the giant lobsters. Black coral wall (2 deep dives here-good), Jack Neil, Big Rock, and Cabanas. The visibility ranged from 60-100 ft. Though I did a couple of deep dives (36 miters) the best diving is between 12-20 miters.

Lodging and food in Utila are as cheap as Thailand. We stayed at the Colibri Hotel, a new hotel with the first pool in Utila. We had a large room with 2 queen size beds and hot water for $25. Per night. Most meals are under $3.00. A fancy diner will cost about twice that. For non divers, activities include, excursions to Water Caye, (a small white sand island with palm trees and no sand flys) snorkeling, hiking to Pumpkin Hill and visiting the Iguana Farm. There is also horseback riding, shopping and people watching. But be prepared, the bay islands are renown for some of the most aggressive no seeums anywhere. Bring lots of repellent. Traveler checks can be exchanged at Hendersons Market. At this writing there were no ATMs on Utila. The only credit card accepted was Visa.

If you travel with Taca Airlines be prepared to have your luggage delayed. This is a common event of this airline. It was nice to have Rafael (the School Master) as an advocate to hasten the process of getting our luggage to La Ceiba. The cultural experience of not only, getting to know, but become friends with the Honduran people I met was exceptional. In addition we made many international friends with other students. The entire experience was extraordinary and highly recommended..
Website links

Altons Diving: [divealtons.com link] /> Central American Spanish School [ca-spanish.com link] /> Jungle River Tours: [hondurasjungletours.net
/> Deep Blue Divers
[deepblueutila.com
/>

Bill Mashek
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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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