After a bus trip from San Pedro Sula airport and an overnight stop off in La Ceiba, I was on the ferry to the island of Utila off the east coast of Honduras.
A friend of mine, Aaron, met me at the ferry and, as he had already done the task of sussing out all the dive shops for the best deals, took me to Utila Dive Center to sign up for an open water course starting later that afternoon!
I completed my open water, meeting some great people, and moved into an apartment just off the main road which meant cheap rent and homemade meals. I was settling in.
We had a few nights out at places such as Tranquila, (tequila Tuesdays!), BBQ night at UDC, and my most favourite bar, Treetanic – it is truly incredible.
I was about to do the advanced open water course until I found out (whilst attending a great yoga class with Yoga Utila), that there was ‘free diving’ on the island! Of course I had to sign up.
Free diving was great fun and I learnt the basics from the beginner course and subsequently the advanced course followed.! I loved it and, ironically, felt so free diving down relying only on my one breath.
I managed to get down to about 35m, and on one of the dives I closed my eyes (so I wasn’t chasing depth), and I opened them just as I hit the sandy bottom with my head!! That same day I had a turtle cruise past and swim down to the bottom with me – awesome!
I did a couple of ‘fun’ free dives and on my last morning, we went down and through the Haliburton shipwreck! Now this was cool swimming through the wheelhouse of the shipwreck and as I didn’t have any bubbles, I could sneak up behind the fish and they weren’t scared of me. Amazing.!
As well as free diving, I also did a few ‘fun’ dives with the scuba tank which were great fun as I enjoyed diving down with my mates and exploring different sites, especially airport caves. I was lucky enough to get some great snaps as well as my mates both had GoPros.!
We were lucky enough to get the ‘call’ one morning, whilst out on the dive boats, to say there had been whale sharks spotted nearby. Captain Ryan got us in a great spot and once we heard the ‘get in’, we slid in the water as stealthily as we could and started swimming after the majestic mammal. Little to our surprise it turned around and swum directly towards us!!!! We could hear everyone on the boat next to us squealing in amazement as he then continued to swim right next to us. Incredible.
Over the next few days, a group of us hired a golf buggy (which sat six people) and a few scooters and quad bikes and rode around the island. We had a great time, finding ‘off-road’ tracks and little beaches for swimming. Such a great day although we got shaken back to reality when the golf buggy crashed into an oncoming truck. Luckily it was not at high speeds and no one was hurt. It all added to the Utila experience!!
A great group of us organised a trip to ‘Water Cays’ which was a boat trip away and such an incredible island paradise!! There was nothing on the small island other than trees and sand. We spent the entire afternoon in the water and witnessed the most epic storm I have ever experienced that evening. We all woke up and walked out of the apartments to check it out and ended up running around in the pouring rain. The dark night sky was continuously lit up with huge bolts of dramatic lightening followed by the loudest thunder I have ever heard.
Myself and another kiwi boy, Iliya, got our bake on and made various cakes including, mango and coconut cake, pineapple cake, carrot cake and finally finishing up with banana cake. These cakes ended up being tripled in mixture as we had such a large baking tray and they never lasted more than two days. The cakes depended on what was in at the shops as, being an island, supplies were limited and we had to wait until the fresh produce arrived.!
A few of us were all interested in heading to Guatemala next so we thought we may as well all go together. We started looking into the ferry and bus combination until we saw a poster up at the dive shop which advertised a sailing trip to Guatemala on a catamaran. Now this sounded cool. We emailed the captain and arranged to meet with him and check out the boat. Captain Guy took us to his catamaran and chatted to us about the trip, stopping off at Livingstone for immigration and continuing on, up the river, to Rio Dulce. The journey is for two nights and three days. We were sold.
I had such a cruisy and relaxed time in Utila and I knew I was going to travel slow, but not this slow!! One place for five weeks now and I could easily stay longer but it was time for us to head off.
Finally we had a date in which we were leaving! We did a few last dives, and even managed to swim with some more whale sharks on our final days before saying our goodbyes..
It was now time to sail away, and to another country..!