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26 Dive Centres in Honduras

Honduras

Nestled between Guatamala and Nicaragua, Honduras has become a staple part of the Central American backpacking route. The countries entire 670km coastline is facing the Caribbean Sea, and the laid back, reggae loving locals are extremely welcoming to anyone who wants to chill out on their picturesque white sandy beaches to enjoy a cocktail and a barbecue. Each year, more and more travellers are making their to Honduras to experience its beautiful nature, culture, and of course, the scuba diving – which is considered to be one of the top diving destinations in the Caribbean, and the among the cheapest in the world.

Currency

The official currency of Honduras is the ‘Lempira’, or commonly shortened to ‘Lemps’ on the Bay Islands by overly chilled out expats. One lempira is subdivided into 100 centavos.

ATM’s can be found in most larger towns and settlements, however sometimes they do not work, and there is no other alternative around. For this reason, it is recommended that you bring some travellers cheques with you, as these can be exchange for cash at currency exchanges and banks.

The US dollar is frequently accepted at hotels, dive schools, and even some shops and restaurants. Many hotels and dive companies will require full online payment in USD before arrival, as it is much more stable currency.

Language

The official language of Honduras is Spanish, however there are a number of indigenous languages spoken throughout the country – although sadly these are disappearing.

The Bay Islands – where almost all diving takes place within Honduras – speak ‘Bay Islands English’ - a Creole based English that descends from Cayman Island English. Native English speakers should not have too much difficulty understanding Bay Islanders, however the dialect and accent can sometimes be quite strong. This language is known on the mainland as Caracol, which literally translates as ‘conch’.

Religion

Like many other parts of Central America, Honduras is a predominately Roman Catholic country, although it is far more religiously diverse than its neighbours.

Roughly 51% of the population regard themselves as Roman Catholic – and this number drops each year as more and more people are becoming members of Protestant churches. Just over 36% of the population identify as Evangelical Protestants, and 1.3% claim to follow other religions such as Islam, Buddhism, Judaism, or Rastafarianism. A surprisingly large number of people (over 19%) do not belong to any religion or consider themselves either agnostic or atheist.

Visa Requirements

British nationals do not require a visa to visit Honduras, and can receive a 30 day visit stamp upon arrival. This can be extended to 90 days by applying at an immigration office.

Full details can be found on the UK foreign travel advice page for Honduras.

 

Best Things to do in Honduras (Non-Diving)

Pico Bonito National Park

For those who like a bit of adrenaline on their holiday, Pico Bonito National Park is defiantly somewhere you should visit.

The national park – which covers an area of just over 550 square kilometres – is a popular destination for hikers, birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts. One of the most popular attractions in the park however, is white water rafting down the River Zacate. There are routes to suit all levels, and it is possible to have some encounters with white-faced monkeys or keel-billed toucans while you zip down the river.

Lago de Yojoa

Lago de Yojoa, or Lake Yojoa, is the only volcanic lake in Honduras, and with a surface area of 79 square kilometres, it is the countries largest lake.

The lake has become a popular stopover for those driving through the region, and more recently, it has become a hotspot for hikers looking to climb the rugged surrounding terrain. With over 400 species of birds and 800 plant species, the lake and surrounding forests and mountains have become popular with birdwatchers and wildlife enthusiasts too.

The agricultural land surrounding the lake is particularly good for growing coffee, and it is possible to make tours of some of the smaller coffee plantations near the lake.

Copán Ruins

While Mexico may be most famous for Mayan history, the vast Mayan empire spread to a few other Central American countries, Honduras included.

Copán is an ancient Mayan city that was built between 400 and 800 A.D. until it was suddenly abandoned due to constant droughts that made it impossible to sustain the ever increasing population. Once all the available resources had been used up, the residents left and the city was forgotten.

Today, the Copán ruins are considered one of the most impressive and important Mayan sites due to fully intact Mayan hieroglyphs found around the ancient city – which today are our main way to understand Mayan culture. The site was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1980, and since then it has received various donations for further archaeological study and excavations.

 

Scuba Diving in Honduras

The best diving in Honduras is found throughout the Bay Islands – a small island chain that consists of three main islands that are part of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef. The diving is very similar throughout the islands, however the islands themselves are very different, so you should think about where you would like to stay before planning your trip.

Utila

Utila is the ultimate spot for laid back travellers who want to fit some scuba diving into their travels. The island is the closest to the mainland and at under 10 miles from end to end, it is also the smallest.

Known as one of the cheapest and best spots for diving in the Caribbean, Utila has a lot to offer experienced divers, however where it really shines is when it comes to diver training – it is home to a number of the best dive schools in the world, and pricing is very competitive. Thousands of people visit Utila each year for the sole reason of becoming a certified diver, and many of those will find themselves ‘stuck’ there for the next few months as they work their way up the diving ladder and go on to become professional divers.

As for the diving itself, the island can easily be broken into two sections – the south and the north.

The south of the island is very sheltered and has a long, sprawling reef and most of the sites have a shallow sandy bottom. The south is usually where most diver training programs will be conducted, however don’t let that fool you into thinking there is nothing of interest for the more experienced divers. ‘Airport Caves’ is a fascinating dive site with seemingly endless swim-throughs to explore – many of which are home to spiny lobsters, morays, octopus, and much more. Another great south coast dive site is ‘Black Coral Wall’, a shallow wall that is home to a large number of black corals – a species that is normally found in much deeper waters. There is also a wreck just outside the East Harbour called ‘The Halliburton’. She was sunk in 1998 to create an artificial reef, and since then she has become home to vast amounts of marine life.

The north coast of Utila offers very different diving to the south. Instead of gentle coral slopes with sandy bottoms, you are offered extremely deep walls which are encrusted with soft corals, and mild currents are common so you can enjoy nice, relaxed drift dives. As the bottom is much deeper (often in excess of 90 metres), the visibility is usually excellent, and the currents attract a number of pelagic species. One particularly great north coast dive site is ‘Duppy Waters’, where the seabed drops to well over 100 metres below you, and eagle rays, barracuda, and occasionally sharks drift by in the blue.

Most dive companies in Utila will save a boat specifically for certified divers looking to venture out to the north shore, so if this is something that interests you, make sure you mention at the time of booking that this is where you would like to go. North shore trips typically happen in the morning, so you may need to take a day off partying if you want to wake up in time.

Roatan

While Roatan offers very similar diving to Utila, the island itself is vastly different. Where Utila caters to backpackers and gap year types, Roatan is more geared to resort travellers. For this reason, the diving is typically more expensive than Utila, and the island offers more luxurious resorts and fancier restaurants. Here you tend to find honeymooners, cruise ship passengers, and all-inclusive holiday makers – although some backpackers also make their way here.

The island itself is much larger than Utila – roughly 40 miles in length at its widest point – and there are a number of smaller islands and cays just offshore. Because the island is larger, there are many more dive spots than Utila – over 100 named sites, and many more that certain dive companies will use as back up sites when the more established ones are too busy.

The most famous dive site around Roatan is ‘Mary’s Place’, and for good reason. Mary’s Place is known for its beautiful narrow canyons that must be carefully navigated due to the car sized barrel sponges and colourful gorgonians. Every nook and cranny is home to countless invertebrates, and the crystal clear waters above are teeming with schooling reef fish. The only downside to Mary’s Place is that because it is so good, everybody wants to see it, so expect some crowds.

Half Moon Bay Wall is another must dive site on your visit to Roatan. For the most part, the site is a gentle sloping wall that can show you almost everything the Bay Islands have to offer. The shallow reef is a refuge for thousands of juvenile fish, while the deeper waters are home to enormous sponges, gorgonians, and black corals. Barracuda, jacks, and eagle rays are regular sightings if you can take your eyes of the wall to look into the blue.

Much like Utila, Roatan is also home to a wreck that was intentionally sunk to create an artificial reef – however at over sixty metres long, it is much larger than Utila’s Halliburton. She is called ‘El Aguila’, which is Spanish for ‘the eagle’. She was sunk in 1997, and due to natural decay she has now broken into three parts. The wreck itself is teeming with life – including large resident groupers, eels, and schooling reef fish, and there is barely a square inch of space left on her that is not covered in either corals or sponges.

 

When to Visit Honduras

The Bay Islands can be dived year round, however the peak season is from the end of January until the beginning of October. During these months, you can expect very little rainfall, great visibility, and an average water temperature of around 28°C. It is important to note that hurricane season can begin as early as late June, so you should keep an ear out for storm warnings and listen to any advice as given.

Mid October though January is the ‘wet’ season. During these months, the Honduras coastline and the bay islands can receive large amounts of rainfall and medium-strong wind. The rain is not consistent, and it may be that weeks go by without any at all. The sea scape is typically choppier during these months, meaning the boats will be more limited to where they can access, and visibility can be greatly reduced on some of the shallower dive sites.

Beware of Hurricanes

Having a Caribbean coastline does have its drawbacks sadly. Each year from the end of June until November is the Caribbean hurricane season, and while Honduras is typically spared the worst of these monstrous storms, they do occasional hit, and due to their location, the Bay Islands usually get hit the worst.

The most important rule when dealing with hurricanes is to listen to all advice given to you by the government and locals who are used to them. Prepare to board up your windows and lock yourself in your room for several hours until the storm has passed. Do not attempt to leave your accommodation during a storm.

The ocean can remain rough for several days after a storm has passed, cancelling ferries to and from the mainland, so if you need to travel shortly after a storm has passed, you may want to consider cutting your trip short.

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