Diving Utila

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Utila, Honduras

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Country: Honduras  Area: Honduras

Water Temp: 25 - 29°C (77 - 84°F)

Visibility: 10 - 30m (33 - 98 ft)

Depth Range: 10 - 40m (33 - 131 ft)

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The smallest of Honduras’ Bay Islands but most famous for its frequent sightings of the largest fish in the World, the Whale Shark!

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Utila is part of a group of islands called the Bay Islands located off the north coast of Honduras. These islands have easily the best diving in the area with coral reefs, sharks and regular Whale Shark sightings.

The Meso American Barrier Reef also known as the Great Western Reef is the second largest barrier reef in the world after the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. This runs alongside most of Central America from Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula down to Panama. Honduras and the Bay Islands are one of the most popular spots to dive this and it provides many excellent dive sites and an abundance of marine life for divers on Utila.

Blue Fishes, Credit

Utila’s reef environments are so interesting and full of diverse marine life due to their location at the edge of a continental shelf where there is a sudden transition from shallow to deep water. This brings up the nutrient rich water from the deep, which is great for reef life and plankton feeders such as the Whale Shark.

Bando Beach, Utila, Credit

Climate & Sea Conditions

The climate of the Bay Islands is a typical Caribbean tropical climate and so is very humid all year round. There a few rainy periods throughout the year, usually with some short rains during June and July and then the main rainy season from November to the end of February, with peak rainfall being during January and February.

Throughout this season it’s still great to dive with most rainfall being a brief spell of 15-30mins and if anything you welcome the refreshing cool down. There may be some strong winds during the peak rains in January and February so the temperature is cooler than the rest of the year, but do bear in mind that the average air temperature will still be 27C!

Utila fishes, Credit

The water temperature around Utila is warm year round and ranges between its lowest of 25C in the winter months to its warmest in the summer of 29C.

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Utila’s diving has sheer walls, drop offs and sea mounts but also shallower gently sloping reefs, so there is something for everyone and all levels. These sites are mainly reached by short boat trips but can also be dived on a liveaboard holiday leaving from Utila.

One lucky day, Credit

Whale Sharks are by far Utila’s most famous attraction among divers. This is a unique area for these giants due to the fact that sightings are recorded throughout the year and are not entirely seasonal. There are times of the year that there are more numbers and therefore more chance of sightings, these are the months of March to May and August to October. Some of the sharks in Utila’s waters are common visitors and known to the locals, one of which is estimated to be over 15m long! Lots of operators on Utila arrange specific Whale Shark trips targeted on finding and snorkelling with these magnificent creatures.

Divers in Utila, Credit

There is much, much more to see and explore in Utila’s underwater world than just the majestic Whale shark, with a choice of over a hundred dive sites. One excellent site is CJ’s Point which is a dramatic wall dropping off into the abyss below. This dive is great for spotting large pelagic species in the blue, and once you have shallowed up towards the end of the dive Nurse Sharks can be spotted hiding under ledges and Sea Turtles chomping on the reef.

Rich & Colorful Reef, Credit

Other sites to enjoy are Little Bight which is great for macro lovers, Black Coral Wall which is a great spot for Turtles and the rare Toadfish, or an offshore seamount called Black Hills where you can see a huge amount of fish life and a good Whale Shark spot.

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How to Get There

Honduras is easy to reach from the US with regular flights arriving into the mainland or the neighbouring island of Roatan. You can then take a domestic flight across from La Ceiba or Roatan to Utila.

Helicoper lowers a flight medic, Utila, Credit

Perfect! Credit

Another option is to from both of these departure points is to take a ferry. Even though this island is so close to the US and relatively easy to get to seems to have escaped the mass tourist development and retained a lot of its character, culture and has natural un built up landscapes.


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Other Activities

Utila is a beautiful, as yet un-commercialised island with a laid back atmosphere and very popular with backpackers on a budget but also some all inclusive resort holidaymakers. It provides visitors with a great choice of activities other than diving such as kayaking around its beautiful coastline, horse riding to the tops of the hills for spectacular views or simply relaxing in a hammock on a quiet un touched beach.

Iguana in Utila, Credit

So, depending on whether you want to spend all your time in the water or combine it with out of the water activities, Utila is a great choice.

Scuba diving in Utila, Credit

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Best locations for Whale Shark Diving Globally???

Dear Dive Community;

It is my mission this year to dive and see these giants of the ocean. So far we have tried, Maldives, Thailand, Malaysia, Egypt with no luck.

Please can people send their ideas of where to try this year that does not involve a live aboard (my other half does not like diving...)

The options seems to be Tofo, Utila (Although some security concerns?), Bahamas. So i wondered what people would recommend?

Many thanks in advance folks,

Showing 3 of 5 comments. Show all

Nick T. Morrison

0 votes

I would recommend Utila, it's where I've seen Whale Sharks plus beautiful island and no need for a liveaboard.

Mehdi Ben Mouloud

0 votes

Whale sharks are getting rare on every year unfortunately. Just back from Tofo with no whale sharks

Eirin Fonda

0 votes

If you are keen to see Whale Sharks = Have a look at Philippines: Oslob. Might also be a great experience for your "non- diving partner.

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