Choosing a Scuba Diving Course in Utila
One of my favourite things in Honduras was doing a scuba diving course in Utila. Visitors flock to this tiny island, attracted by the cheap prices, beautiful underwater landscapes, and laid-back lifestyle. Here’s a guide to choosing your scuba diving course in Utila.
Why Do Your Scuba Diving Course in Utila?
One of the main reasons people choose to do their scuba diving course in Utila is the price. The island is one of the cheapest places in the world to get certified as a diver, and courses start from as little as US$240.
Not only are the courses cheap, but Utila is a great location to spend a week or two diving. The waters surrounding the island contain endless beautiful reefs, teeming with wildlife including sharks, turtles, colourful schools of fish, and, at times, some massive whale sharks!
Add in some sunshine, warm water, and a fun, chilled out vibe, and Utila is the perfect place for scuba diving.
Finding a Diving Course in Utila
The main street on the island contains a large number of scuba diving schools, and it can be tough to narrow down your options. But the island is small, and you can shop around at every school before making a decision.
Almost every course offers similar perks, including free or discounted accommodation, free fun dives, and free use of snorkelling equipment throughout your stay. Ask about exactly what is included. Some schools may offer a discounted dorm bed for a night or two, while others offer a free private room for several nights.
The north side of the island is where you can possibly see the massive whale sharks. While far from guaranteed, it’s worth taking a chance! So ask if your course will include a trip to the north side of Utila.
Before booking a course, ask to see the equipment room. The scuba gear should look reasonably new and well taken care of.
Not every school in Utila pays the reef tax. This may increase the cost of your course, but it’s worth paying extra for, as the money goes towards ensuring the protection of the reef.
Types of Course Available
You can do almost every type of scuba diving course in Utila, from a two-day open water course to a dive master certification. I met several people here who came for a week and stayed for months, taken in by the island’s charm and deciding to hang around and train to become a scuba instructor.
The courses on the island are PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors). However, the schools do recognise other qualifications. We were able to do our PADI advanced course despite having an SDI open water certification.
Paying for a Diving Course in Utila
Diving schools in Utila are cash-only. Prices are quoted in US dollars, and, while the schools also accept Honduran lempiras, many offer poor rates, so check which currency is better for you.
There are a couple of ATMs on the island, but they only accept a limited range of cards. I met many people who had issues with accessing their money (one of whom was giving up and returning to the mainland early). So bring the money you need with you and try not to rely on these terrible ATMs!
Other Things to Do in Utila
There isn’t that much to do in Utila after your diving ends, other than relaxing in a hammock or lying on a beach. Seafront bars open late and these are a great place to meet people and try some local spirits.
There are a string of beaches to the south of the island, which are a nice place to relax and soak up some sun. Head a little further south and you’ll reach Coral View, an amazing snorkelling spot, where you can head out along the reef and see endless schools of fish, barracudas, and possibly even sharks and turtles.
To read about my experience doing my advanced scuba diving course in Utila, click here. Happy diving!