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.