Why Choose Utila, in the Amazing Caribbean Bay Islands of Honduras, Central America?
Students choose to go to Harvard or Oxford University mainly for the education, training and network support they will receive long after their course is over. Many of our interns travel from all over the world to Utila to take their training with Utila Dive Centre, as we are proud to be one of the top PADI Career Development Centers in the world. We have often been compared to a top university, but for professional scuba instruction in one of the most idyllic locations in the Caribbean and Central/Latin America, with the most diverse range of diving and training options, from PADI courses, Intenrational Yacht Training programs, IAHD-Americas adaptive teaching, and rebreather/sidemount/tec diving, all in one great convenient location and dive center.
It’s this low key development and affordable cost of living that also attracts tourists and backpackers from all over Central America, North America and Europe to visit Utila for PADI dive certification as they travel in the region. As a dive professional, this will benefit you during your training and internship as you will have a variety of courses to assist on and real students to work with, which will accelerate your professional development and provide you with real world teaching experience. As Utila Dive Centre is the most referred dive centre in the Bay Islands for dive training, with the most classes scheduled, you’ll accumulate a wealth of experience in 1 month with our staff and facility which could take 6 months elsewhere. Whereas other facilities can offer a certification, Utila Dive Centre is in a unique position to offer real-world training and experience to go with your certification, we’re a real dive center, not a concession in a resort chain and the most convenient location for diving, training and living. When compared to the Yucatan of Mexico and other Caribbean islands we have escaped the mass/up-scale tourism development and you won’t be overcharged on cruise ship days, or need taxis and cars to move around, and our facility has everything in one location just a a few minutes from your accommodation. Our staff have the most experience in the region. Just like you would choose a university whose teachers had the best educational and experienced backgrounds, or you would choose a busier restaurant over a empty restaurant as a better sign of customer satisfaction.
There are approximately 80 buoyed dive sites around the island, ranging from a 5 minute – 40 minute boat ride. Often on these journeys we encounter schools of dolphins, whale sharks and other aquatic life. Try discovering that in a shore dive location, or when the boat rides are too close to the shoreline! The dive site topography around the island is extremely diverse. Paul Humann and Ned Deloach, who author the reef series books, have claimed that Utila has one of the highest biodiversity of species in the Caribbean. Many islands, particularly in Asia and the South Pacific/Indian Ocean, have a ‘one kind’ sloping gradual topography, and although Utila has a similar sloping, fringing reef with beautiful coral gardens on its south shores, you’ll find that on the north side of the island there are drop offs and sheer walls that go to depths of 1000 meters/3000feet. It’s in these deeper waters that we find the whale sharks. There are some exhilarating dive sites, swim-throughs and canyons in this part of the island that appeal to both recreational and technical divers. Also around the island we have several offshore sea mounts, underwater banks/hills that creep up to within 12-30 meters/40-100ft from the surface. These sea mounts are covered in corals and attract hundreds of different fish types. For an independent view on the diving and sites around Utila, please read this photo-journal article from Scott Bennett, a travel writer for X-Ray dive magazine. For divers with an interest in conservation we have our own dedicated and Government licensed Coral Nursery and can offer educational, training and marine conservation experience, and we run the University of Queenslands CoralWatch monitoring program on our reefs in conjunction with our Divemaster course.
Utila, however, also appeals as a destination for dive training with favourable dive conditions that allow diving and training all year round. Even though November to January are the wettest months of the year, this does not adversely affect diving conditions because have no rivers on Utila. Though visibility may drop a little and the water gets a bit colder, the best place to be on Utila when it rains is actually on a dive! Utila is actually very unique (aside from the Caymans) in the regard that it is a flat island formed on lava rock. If you compare Utila to most other Caribbean islands which are more mountainous, you’ll see that we get very little run off and have no hillside development. That is the main reason why visibility drops in rainy season, because the water runs off hillsides, especially on islands that have been deforested and developed, clouding 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, when it rains, as the fresh water wells fill up on the island, discharging fresh water onto the reef, interesting haloclines to swim through are created. Fish feeding behaviour changes too.
In addition to world class diving, with great visibility and no current, Utila has a stable temperature range all year round, with comfortable diving and teaching conditions. Utila is also a very affordable destination to live, whether just visiting for 1 week, interning for 3-4 months, or working as a dive professional. Utila is one of the most affordable and best value destinations in the Caribbean. We are fortunate to have escaped the mass development seen in other local areas – you won’t need to spend time in taxis/shuttles to get around on Utila. A month’s rent in a shared apartment can cost $150-250 per person, or you can find your own apartment for $300-450 per month. A week’s living expenses are approximately $120. When you can eat out in a good restaurant and have fresh food for as little as $5 a meal, it can be just as affordable to eat out as cooking at home. Utila is less commercial than the other Bay Islands and most islands in the Caribbean. You won’t find deludes of cruise ships, motor traffic, condominium developers or mass tourism. Instead, the island is reminiscent of the traditional Caribbean way of living. Whilst there is not an international airport on the island, this has protected the island from – over development and allowed it to retain its natural charm and beauty – and Utila is still within easy reach of the mainland.
With a passionate dive community and great diving and coral reefs, you’ll also find Utila is a great destination to learn more about environmental conservation. With CoralWatch, our coral reef surveying program with the University of Queensland and Project Aware, you’ll improve your understanding of coral reefs. We choose to train and educate others and make learning about the environment part of our profession. As a result of a healthy diving industry on the island and in the Caribbean/Central America region, there are plenty of employment prospects. With hundreds of dive centers throughout the Caribbean and Central America, it doesn’t take long before a vacancy arises. We will do our best to help you with resume preparation, placements and a reference. Through our placement service we have also secured positions for our Instructors in the Caymans, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Panama, El Salvador, the Cook Islands (South Pacific), Santorini (Mediteranean) and Mozambique.
We hope this gives you an idea of what makes Utila and Utila Dive Centre the premier choice for professional scuba instruction locally and worldwide and how you’ll benefit from our great diving, affordable living, specialist training and ongoing support in a rewarding and social experience.