Frequently Asked Questions
These are the most commonly asked questions that our divers have (not neccessarily in this order). If you have a question not on this list and can’t find the answer on our website, please feel free to e-mail or call us.
- How do I become a PADI Scuba Diving Instructor?
- If I am a certified Divemaster can I DM before my IDC in order to get more experience?
- How much are monthly living expenses on Utila?
- I’ve no diving experience, can I still enrol on a training program?
- Is it possible to find work as an Instructor after my Instructor course and exams are completed?
- How and how much do you pay an instructor for his/her work at your club?
- What are the tourist seasons in the Bay Islands?
- Do I need a work permit to take my internship and train?
- When is the rainy season?
- Are you affected by hurricanes?
- What do I do about accommodation?
- Is equipment rental included in the price?
- How do I reach Utila from the mainland?
1. How do I become a PADI Scuba Diving Instructor?
In order to enroll in the PADI Instructor Development Course, you need to have been certified as a diver for at least 6 months, have 60 dives and CPR/1st aid training within the last 24 months, and be in good medical health. In addition to being certified as an Open Water Diver, you will also need to hold the following certifications;
PADI Advanced Open Water Diver or a qualifying certification
PADI Rescue Diver or a qualifying certification
Emergency First Response CPR/1st Aid training (valid in the last 24 months)
PADI Divemaster certification or a qualifying professional rating
Once you are certified as a PADI Divemaster, then you can enroll in the PADI Instructor course. If you hold one of the above recreational certifications, you can also read more on our ‘Career Packages’.
After completing the PADI IDC, you can then attend the Instructor Exams. Unless you have taken your training in a PADI Career Development Center like UDC, you will need 100 dives to attend the IE. At Utila Dive Centre, we offer complete training packages and you can start any day all year round because we have monthly Instructor courses scheduled!
2. If I am a certified Divemaster, can I DM before my IDC in order to get more experience?
We do allow certified Divemasters who are taking their IDC with us to work in return for dives and experience. We will also place you on a ‘free’ IDC preparation program in return for assisting us. This is an excellent opportunity for you to spend time on Utila prior to your IDC, gain more diving experience, learn about the local dive sites and refresh your Divemaster theory and water skills by sitting in on our Instructor’s classes again, from Open Water to Divemaster. Please note that these pre-IDC internships are limited spaces and we have to give priority to those candidates who book in advance for their IDC.
3. How much are monthly living expenses on Utila?
On average, most of our trainees budget between $800-1000 per month (including rent) on food, drinks and miscellaneous expenses. There are 2 supermarkets on the island and groceries are very affordable, though you’ll often find yourself eating out in cafes and restaurants with other trainees and divers. To give you an idea, a regular meal costs $4-6, a soft drink $0.75 and a beer $2. Utila is the least expensive of the Bay Islands, with more affordable options and great choices, as well as having access to some of the best diving in the Caribbean – you’ll have a great standard of living.
4. I’ve no diving experience, can I still enroll on a training program?
We provide training of all levels, from beginner to Instructor. In fact, we specialise in customised programs, regardless of your certification level or experience. If you contact us and let us know if you want to become a PADI Divemaster or Instructor and approximately how many dives you have, your certification level (if any) and what dates you would be looking to take your training, then we will get right back to you with specific information. You can start any course at any time with us, with the exception of the PADI Instructor course and MSDT program, (these are on scheduled dates, though for maximum flexibility and convenience
they are offered on a monthly basis). The PADI Divemaster course starts every Monday. We will time your training so the courses flow and any additional time you have can be used to gain additional experience and log more dives.
5. Is it possible to find work as an Instructor after my Instructor course and exams are completed?
As for work opportunities at our dive operation, we never guarantee or promise anything in advance – it wouldn’t be fair (you should always be wary of such operators that do without having met you!) We do have a full time staff of Instructors, and vacancies arrive from time to time. However, there are many times when we do need additional staff, in which case we prefer to use candidates from our recent IDC’s. In the last year we trained over 60 Instructors, all with a 1st time IE 100% pass rate, and we have helped everyone who stayed in the local area secure employment on Utila and Roatan (and with our 15 year global placement service in Santorini, Nicaragua, Galapagos, the Cook Islands, and Salvador)! After your IE, whilst you are looking for employment, we can allow you to mentor with our experienced Instructors under our MSDT scheme. This allows you to earn up to 15-25 certifications, get real world teaching experience, advance your teaching status credentials, gain valuable hands on experience and earn a valuable reference from our facility.
6. How much do Instructors get paid in the region?
Instructors on Utila average $50-$55 per certification they issue. When you consider that the average class size in low season is 4 students, and in high season 8 students, this means that Instructors can make a good income even in quiet months. Obviously, this will vary depending on the dive operation you work for, as there is a big difference in the standards between schools. At UDC our Instructors average around $800-$1000 per month in low season and as much as $2000-3000 in the busiest months of the year. There are other regions, for example the Caymans and in Turks/Caicos, where dive staff are paid on fixed salaries with basic commissions.
7. What are the tourist seasons in the Bay Islands?
The best months are December/January, April, and June to September. These months often see the island full and Instructors busy. In high season months an average beginner’s class size can be 8 students (as allowed by standards, though in order to ensure quality we always place more staff in the water). Outside of these months, though, Instructors still get consistent work – but the class sizes are smaller.
8. Do I need a work permit to take my internship and train?
Most international visitors get an initial 90 days when they first enter Honduras and then another month extension for $20. This is not a working visa. However, right now the Honduran government is very relaxed about foreigners working in the tourism diving industry, as they do not have the local labour to meet market demands (though things may change in the future). After 4 months, you have to leave the country for 48 hours and then return. Most people use this as a vacation opportunity after 4 months of living on a small island and take off to either Guatemala or Costa Rica.
9. When is the rainy season?
November to January are the wettest months of the year, though this does not adversely affect diving conditions because we have no rivers on Utila. Visibility may drop a little and the water gets a bit colder, but the best place to be on Utila when it rains is actually on a dive! In other places visibility drops during the rainy season because water runs off hillsides, especially on islands that have been deforested and developed, and clouds the water with mud and silt. Compared to the other Bay Islands and most other Caribbean Islands, Utila is flat and has no rivers, so the water visibility still remains good. In fact, we as the fresh water wells fill up on the island, and this discharges fresh water onto the reef which makes interesting haloclines to swim through, and fish feeding behaviour changes. There are still nice sunsets and good weather periods from November to January, it’s just more cloudy and overcast – which can be a nice reprieve from the heat of the Summer months! When compared to most other dive environments worldwide, Utila has great conditions.
10. Are the Bay Islands affected by hurricanes?
The traditional hurricane season runs from August to November, but Utila has only really been affected seriously by a hurricane once in the last 30 years. If you look at the trajectory of most hurricanes, they tend to go over Cuba, Caymans and Jamaica. The Caribbean is a huge area and we are tucked in against a mountain range on the North of Honduras. If hurricanes ever come close to us, it tends to be later in the season during October/November, when there is cooler air blowing down from the USA. Even then they tend to be closer to Belize or Mexico than Honduras. We only suffer from rainfall and water surge, which means we may just have our dive trips cancelled for a day or two as the storm passes, but this is rarely an occurrence after October.
11. What do I do about accommodation?
When you reserve your course or package with us, we will book you a complimentary arrival stay into our hotel, the Mango Inn, on Utila. Then our staff will be able to give you specific advice on accommodation, living options and availability, with regards to your preferences and budget. The majority of our trainees, Divemasters and Instructors, stay in shared accommodation. A modern 2 bedroom apartment with kitchen, living room, and bathroom costs between $350-$550 per month, depending upon its location. It is also possible to find 1 bedroom apartments from $300-$450 per month. Apartments are very easy to arrange once on Utila, and there are always openings in shared apartments. It doesn’t take long before something suitable shows up. If your complimentary stay in the Mango Inn ends and you are still looking for accommodation, then we can extend (subject to availability) at our regular rates.
Here a couple of links we recommend;
Sandstone apartments; E-mail email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org, $500-650 per month, 10 minutes from UDC and ocean location. Website www.sandstoneutila.com
Caribbean Dream apartments; E-mail email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org, $400-500 per month, 5 minutes from UDC and main street location.
Tropical Sunset apartments; E-mail email@example.com, $450-600 per month, 5 minute walk from UDC and bay view location. Website www.seaeye-resort.com
12. Is equipment rental included in the price?
We can provide rental equipment (except for watches, dive computers, compasses and signalling devices) at no extra charge. We have Scubapro equipment, in good condition and serviced on a regular basis by our authorised equipment technician. We do recommend that you have your own mask/snorkel, fins (close foot) and wet suit (3mm March-Sept/5mm Oct-Feb) for comfort as well as hygiene reasons (though again, our equipment is always available). For trainees who are going on to complete their PADI Instructor Development course and want to work in the dive industry, we highly recommend that you invest in your own set of scuba equipment. As a professional, this is both your uniform and work tools and as a diver, your safety and leisure equipment. Most dive centers and resorts will not hire a professional who does not have their own gear, or at the very least will expect you to invest in a set of equipment as a condition of employment. At Utila Dive Centre we have a special equipment package that will kit you out from head to toe, with accessories and carry bag, at an incredible price. This offer is for all candidates who are taking their Instructor training with us. Please enquire for more information.
13. How do I reach Utila from the mainland?
Most people fly into San Pedro Sula, Honduras, then take a shuttle flight to Utila via the coastal town of La Ceiba. However, you need to arrive on a Monday, Wednesday or Friday by 1pm in order to get the 2.30pm flight all the way to Utila. Otherwise, the flight only goes as far as La Ceiba on the other days. In that case, you would go as far as La Ceiba, and take a taxi from the airport to the ferry terminal and take the 4pm ferry to Utila. The only problem if you switch to the ferry is if you get delayed, then you’ll need to spend the night in La Ceiba and come over the next day on the 9.30 am ferry. If you do fly into San Pedro Sula and can’t connect for the 2.30pm flight, there is a 1st class bus service that leaves San Pedro at 4pm, takes 2½ hours and costs $30, and goes to La Ceiba, the company is called Hedman Alas, and you can get more information on www.hedmanalas.com. If you fly into San Pedro Sula on a Monday, Wednesday or Friday and arrives by 1pm, he can get the 2.30pm shuttle flight to Utila, via a town of La Ceiba. You should contact firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange the reservation, or call him on + (504) 425 3161 (Honduras) +(504) 425 3166 (Honduras) +(786) 623 4167 (Florida USA). Another option is to fly into Roatan on a Saturday, and then take the flight with Atlantic Airlines over to Utila.
E-mail us at email@example.com, or call our US Broadband number on 1-305-4205959. (If we’re underwater, then leave a voice mail and we’ll get right back to you!)