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Vacation Date: 13-Mar-2006 to 23-Mar-2006
Report Date: 27-Jun-2006
Author: Stephan Hurford (Email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
The last time I went diving somewhere that took 48 hours to get to was to Kho Tao in Thailand, it was also the last time I had such a rewarding traveling / diving / recharging experience.
Traveling through Roatan to get to Utila, I was struck by another parallel with Thailand, that Utila is to Roatan as Kho Tao is (or was) to Kho Samui. Its that extra mile, that greater effort that delivers you to the off-the-beaten-track idyllic hideaway where, by the time you get there, all the trappings and stress of your crazy-ass existence has somehow already been left behind you.
Although we knew where we were staying at Colibri Hill Resort (yes, there will be more shameless plugs here, these are the people who shaped our experience of Utila after all) chance lead us to Deep Blue Divers headed up by Phil and the crew who, as it turned out, had exactly the right balance of professionalism and fun (come on PADI, admit it, that's your USP!).
This was my first trip as a videographer. I knew about Utila's world-wide reputation for Whale Sharks but I also knew that sightings can be pretty rare so everything was up to chance, or so I thought. Enter one unassuming Honduran boat captain by the name of Gringo guiding the Foxy Lady (she's a beauty) on our quest for even one, please even one sighting of these majestic beasts of the ocean.
30 dives, 10 days and 5 sightings later, Gringo, in my mind at least, earned the well-deserved title of Best Whale Shark Captain in Utila.
That's not to say the other 19 hours and 50 minutes of diving was sat around waiting for Whale Sharks. The seas around Utila are packed with life - stunning corals, eagle rays, sailfish, manta rays, turtles, barracuda to name but a few of the cast that gave us a full-on show.
I'd love to tell you more about the night-life on Utila, but the only experiences that made it past my early nights and hungover memory-loss are: a full-moon beach trance party, Tranquila Bar, Coco Loco's, Dave's Restaurant, Bar in the Bush (great for getting up close and personal with the locals) and that nameless gem that sells the greatest rum cake in the world - a standard breakfast necessity (cheers for the tip Orlando!) So, if you're thinking about Utila, do it.
Steve has made a 11 minute video of his Utila vacation, including a sequence of his Whale Shark encounters. The video can be viewed or downloaded from here.