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I flew in this morning from Utila and figured that I should post this before I forget to do it.
I had the opportunity to go diving this past week some what unexpectedly so I did not have a lot of time to book travel arrangements. I was interested in Utila and sent of several e-mails to places down there and recieved a quick repsonse from Deep Blue Resort which ended up being the place that I stayed. I have to say that this was one of the best trips that I have been on in the Carib. The resort is fairly new and is in a beautiful setting on the beach. My room had a private balcony overlooking the ocean with palm trees swaying right outside. Very nice accomodations, ultra clean and comfortable. The resort is set up in three buildings, two of them for lodging and one for the restruant bar and lounging area. Steve and Jasmine the owners are great people, they go out of their way to make you feel comfortable. Jasmine does the cooking and makes wonderful meals with a good selection. Unlike some AI resports the food here was never boring and was always fresh.
Each morning we would meet for breakfast and then down to the private dock where we would head out to the first dive site of the morning. If possible and depending on the weather we would go for the more remote sites on the other side of the island. Every dive was a bit different from the ones before. The dive master that was on board with us during our stay, Ian, new each and every dive site and gave excellent briefings before we jumped in. The dive op is very professional and takes great care to make sure that you have a good experience. They set up your gear for you each day and take it down each evening, washing it off and putting it away in lockers.
The hight light of the trip was the Whale Sharks. Each day we would do our morning dive and then during our surface interval we would go looking for Whale Sharks. On Monday we hit the jack pot. We sighted several sharks and had the opportunity to swim with a couple. One of them so close that we could have reached out and touched it, of course touching is not allowed and all of our group were very respectful of that. What an amazing experience to swim with these gentle giants.
On of the things that impressed me about this operation is there genuine respect for the reef and the animals. They make sure that everyone on their boats are careful and are more then willing to work one on one with any diver that needs a little tuning on bouyancy etc.
On Friday we went into town for a little tour. Although very small, Utila has a quaint charm that reminds me of the old caribbean before all the commercialism and growth that has over developed so many of the islands.
Although Deep Blue is a higher end resort especially compared to most of the accomodations on the island, their pricing structure is very reasonable for what you get, the personal service and quality of diving is worth every penny.
All in all this was one of my best trips and I would highly recommend Deep Blue. I am already making my plans for a return trip during Whale Shark season next year. If this sounds like an advertisement for the resort, forgive me. I really do not have any connection with them other than being a satisified customer. However I do believe in letting people know when there is an exceptional operation out there that deserves the attention of the dive community.
Thanks for the report, parrotman. Less than 8 weeks before my wife & I head to Utila for the first time. Lots of questions. Other than the whale shark experience, which must have been incredible, what were other dive highlights? Did you do any shore dives? I assume there's not much to do in Utila other than dive - which is fine by me. We plan on 3 - 4 dives per day. As far as a wet suit did you go with a full 3 ml or shorty? Can't wait for our trip and with a bit of luck maybe a whale shark or two will still be hanging out in May.
It's hard to pinpoint highlights of any one dive. They were all so different. We saw a lot of cool stuff but mostly the typical carribean sea life. Some pretty big eels, one dive there was a turtle perched on a rock like he was posing for pictures, rays, etc. On the Black Hills site there were tons of schooling fish. On Rons wreck, which is a small wreck of a private boat, there were toad fish that we could hear but could not find. It was interesting to hear them underwater. We did not do any shore dives, but that was mostly due to very full days. There are some good shore dives available there. I myself dove with nothing more than a skin. There were a couple of others that did the same. Most of the divers wore 3 mls. There are quite a few restraunts and some really interesting bars on Utila, other than that, not much to do. We hung out at the resort most evenings and played pool, watched whale shark videos etc and just visited with our hosts and other guests.
I loved Utila and will go back as soon as I can.