There are plenty of dive sites to choose from around the world, and each has its own unique set of offerings when it comes to reef dives, cave dives, wreck dives, and more. But few places in the world compare to the island of Utila, which is truly a paradise on land and an even more spectacular paradise beneath the waves.
Divers from all over the world flock to Utila, the third smallest island of the Honduras Bay Islands, to dive the second largest reef system in the world. The reef is also known as the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System. The waters surrounding Utila are home to over 50 species of coral and over 220 species of fish, as well as innumerable invertebrates.
Photo Credit: Scubaben
So Many Diverse Dive Sites to Choose From
Utila is a perfect diving location for all levels of scuba divers, from the beginner to the experienced. With more than 90 different dive sites, this little island is perfect for anyone looking for the adventures of a wreck dive, the thrill of a cave dive, or the exquisite beauty of a reef dive.
Before you even arrive in Utila, give yourself ample amounts of time for your trip to provide you with enough opportunity to decide upon what dive sites you want to tackle. But be aware that, with so many to choose from, it can certainly be difficult to narrow down the choices. If you are not able to choose, there are many dive centers on Utila that can help you and can take you on some epic dives.
The north side of the island is where you want to focus your attention if you are looking to dive the second largest barrier reef on the planet. Here, you will experience colorful fish and reef creatures, along with awe-inspiring walls that will drop to over 1,000 meters deep.
The south side, on the other hand, offers shallower dives that are great for beginner level divers. But here, too, you can experience the astonishing beauty of the natural coral reefs and the myriad fish species and invertebrates that call it home.
Some of the Most Spectacular Utila Dive Sites
Halliburton 211 – For more experienced divers, the Halliburton 211 is a thrilling wreck dive. This massive boat is now home to a new ecosystem that contains corals and fish, which naturally developed upon it after it sank. You will find multiple dive centers in Utila that can take you to this famous wreck.
Turtle Harbor – Again, if you are an experienced diver in Utila, Turtle Harbor is another spot you can enjoy swimming with larger species of fish, such as barracuda, nurse sharks, groupers, and much more. There are also sheer wall South East Sites – There are a variety of shallower dive sites in the South East end of Utila, making this a great spot for less experienced divers who want to enjoy the reefs and marine animals up close.
Photo Credit: Max Kueng
Whale Shark Spotting is Easy in Utila
In Utila, as in all of Honduras, the majestic whale shark is actually a protected species. So if you want to be in the water at the same time as the largest fish in the world, Utila is the diving destination you want to book for your next trip. Whale sharks are found swimming throughout the waters of this pristine island throughout the entire year, so you can rest assured that you can book your trip during any month and you will still be able to swim next to these massive creatures.
Other Marine Animals Found in Utila
The whale shark is not the only marine animal you will find in Utila. Of course, you will encounter myriad fish species, from schools of tiny fish to those that are larger in size and even more colorful, as well as the many small animals that make their homes within the complex reef system, such as seahorses and invertebrates. And the corals that thrive along the reef system are also brilliantly colorful and fully alive, so take care as you dive, as the reef has been maintained as pristine as possible and you do not want to accidentally cause any damage or harm to this extremely delicate ecosystem.
Divers in Utila can also expect to swim alongside manta rays, sea turtles, moray eels, eagle rays, and dolphins on a regular basis. These tropical waters are home to so many marine mammals and fish that you are guaranteed to see something that takes your breath away.
Rutger Thole is an avid scuba diver and loves to travel, dive and write about scuba diving. Based in Amsterdam he runs bookyourdive.com and at least twice a year he plans a dive trip of the beaten track.Continue Reading »
The beaches of Honduras continuously draw countless numbers of visitors each year. The ideal climate conditions experienced in Honduras throughout much of the year inspires people to visit the country’s seaside locations to enjoy a variety of outdoor activities while basking in the warm sunshine. Some of the most noteworthy beaches are located on the country’s Bay Islands. Travelers who choose to spend a holiday in Honduras and wish to explore the local beaches can easily arrange a car hire. These five beaches are among the best in Honduras:
West Bay Beach
Located on the island of Roatán, this beach is famous for its white sand and radiant turquoise-blue seawater. Many visitors come to this beach to enjoy activities like snorkeling, diving and sunbathing. The beach also features several different restaurants, bars and shops as an added convenience for visitors.
This beach was unofficially named Coca-Cola Beach due to its proximity to the famous soft drink’s depot located in Puerto Cortes. Many locals come to this beach during the weekends to enjoy the cool seaside breezes and fun beachside activities. Due to its immense popularity, visitors who arrange a car hire should have no trouble finding this seaside fun spot.
Visitors can find this beach along the waterfront of Guanaja Island. People who would like to enjoy a calmer and more secluded experience will find this beach to be particularly ideal. Lush tropical forestry adds to the beauty of the beach. Visitors can also hike slightly further inland through the forest to find the spectacular Big Gully waterfall. People also have the option of partaking in horseback riding and boating excursions while visiting this tropical paradise. Cabins along the beachfront are additionally open to accommodate guests.
The unnamed beaches along these coral islands provide a wonderland for avid snorkelers. People can take snorkeling tours to see the exquisite underwater reef formations. Snorkelers are also likely to see numerous species of tropical fish and other forms of fascinating marine life. Exciting boating tours can also be arranged around these islands.
La Ceiba Beach
Known for its vibrant atmosphere, this beach attracts many families and individuals who are looking for some excitement. Some of the best restaurants, shops and nightclubs in Honduras can be found in the vicinity. Visitors can also take in the impressive views of the mountain known as Pico Bonito. There are also several banana plantations located near the beach.
This was a guest blog entry from Skedaddle Car Hire, if you’d like to know more about travelling by car to beautiful beaches, head to their site.Continue Reading »
The Lenca Trail, is one of the most beautiful tours in Honduras. Is is a 76-mile route spanning from Santa Rosa de Copán to La Esperanza in the western highlands. Throughout this trail you will visit the most charming towns, you will be able to see a many colonial style architecture, churches, historical forts, a Lenca museum and Farmers Markets where the Lenca people sell their vegetables and pottery. Please read our post about the Lenca and their pottery for more information.
Also, the route provides a wonderful scenery with green hills and mountains. On the trail you have the opportunity to visit the National Park “Celaque”, which means “Box of Water” in the lenca language. Celaque is a rain forest where you will find over 230 plant species, 45 species of mammals, and 269 species of birds. The national park is located 9km from downtown Gracias, in the Celaque Mountain. After arriving to the visitor center, the walk in the park is rather pleasant where you will ascend an extra 1,400 to 2,500 meters, where all the flora and fauna typical from a rain forest can be found.
This is an excelent touristic route where you can find living culture, natural scenery, and colonial architecture. Please visit Colosuca for more information about this wonderful trip.Continue Reading »
I have posted this great video, that describes some of the most typical handmade crafts in Honduras, and where you can find them. There is a great variety of handmade crafts such as hard-carved wooden boxes, woven chairs, indigenous pottery, jewelry and hammocks in Honduras and each city has its own special selection. This video explores some of the options of where you can find authentic and quality crafts in Honduras.
Valle de Ángeles, a small town located near Tegucigalpa, is known for its leather, carved wooden boxes, weavings and clay roosters. The distinctive pottery made by the indigenous Lenca people is a unique option – one that is only made in Honduras. And Bay Islands, recognized for their handmade jewelry and hammocks.
Pico Bonito National Park is located near La Ceiba, one of the main cities in Honduras. Pico bonito es the second largest national park, with an extension of 1073 km2. This national park is very beautiful since it is one of the most diverse parks of the county, here you will have the opportunity to observe jaguars, armadillos, wild pigs, tepescuintles, squirrels, monkeys, toucans, white tailed deer, mountain lions, river otters, motmots and many more species. Another highlight of Pico Bonito is that it has areas of lowland dry forest which are scarce in Honduras, making it a great location to observe the more endangered and endemic birds and plants.
This national park is famous for having the highest peak of the country, 2436 meters high. The peak is a challenge to climb and climbing equipment is required in order to reach the top. Usually the hike might take about 10 days. The densely covered lands makes the park hard to access, and visitors usually explore the lower regions of the park near the Zacate and Cangrejal Rivers, where some eco-tourism activities can be done such as white water rafting and canopy tours.
Image via Wikipedia
The National Park has a selection of different habitats, and the rough terrain subsequently means that Pico Bonito is one of the least explored national parks in Honduras, leaving the park in its natural condition with only a handful of trails. The vegetation commences with tropical rainforest and broad leaf forests, which turns into cloud forest the higher you get. Rainforests usually are hot and moist and are perfect habitat for a wide variety of animals. The slopes of Pico Bonito are extremely inclined thus forming numerous waterfalls throughout the park. At daybreak you can view the vast mountain range from La Ceiba and try and comprehend what it is that you are about to explore. The numerous trails can be walked independently. One of the routes, the Zacate River Trail, is approximately 1.5 km long and follows the path of the river Zacate. On route there are several swimming holes along the path.
Copán Ruinas is one of the most visited places in Honduras. It is a calm and beatiful small town where you can enjoy ancient culture and sublime nature nestled in the foothills of western Honduras. For years, Copán has been renowned for its magnificent Maya Ruins, a designated World Heritage Site believed by archeologists to be the cultural center, the Paris, of the Maya world. Copan Ruinas is located 7 miles from the Guatemala border, so it is easy for people that visit Mayan Ruins in Guatemala to come to Copan.
Copan was the governmental and ceremonial center of the Mayan civilization, known for its remarkable series of stelae, which are sculpted rocks, usually representing ancient rulers of Copan. The stelae are located in the central plaza, which is next to the acropolis ( a large complex of overlapping step-pyramids, plazas and palaces).
These are some of the places that you cannot miss if you visit the ruins:
- Campo de pelota: a court where the Mayans played a ball game, with their elbows, head and knees.
- Escalinata de los jeroglificos: A huge stairway made of stone, that has the history of the Mayans sculpted in its steps.
- Templo de Rosalila: a temple constructed in 571 a.d. which was used for religious ceremonies and at present time it is located under one of the pyramids in Copan.
Besides visiting the ruins, you can do a lot of activities. If you want to study spanish in a small town, Copan might be the right place for you, there are a lot of spanish schools in town. Also, you can go horsebackriding, birdwatching, go on Canopy Tours, Take a Hike to Rarely Seen Ruins and Hidden Waterfalls, Go Birdwatching, Soak in a Thermal Hot Springs, Explore Mysterious Caves, Camp in Remote National Parks, Go Kayaking or Tubing on the Copán River, Visit an Aquatic Park, Walk along the Scenic Copán River to the Ruins of Los Sapos, Go Mountain Biking, Visit Beautiful & Historic Colonial Towns in the Mountains, Tour a Coffee Farm, and Bring Home a Sample, and See Local Artisans Practice Their Craft.
Image by Adal-Honduras via Flickr
As you can see, you will never get bored in Copan. Just one final hint, one of the best restaurants to eat in Copan is Restaurante Carnitas N’ia Lola, where you can taste typical Honduran food. They are known for serving large portions of grilled and barbacued meat and vegetarian dishes at reasonable prices. Some of the recommended dishes are: Alambritos (Steak with melted cheese, bacon, onion, sweet pepper, with sides of salsa and pickled veggies) and the Plato Tipico (6 ounces of grilled steak, chicken or pork, sunny side up eggs, refried beans, cheese, rice and pickled veggies). Carnitas N’ia Lola is located 2 blocks south of the city museum.
It is a really nice small and peacfull town in Honduras, don’t miss it.
Image by ESPaul via FlickrContinue Reading »