Completed my training as a PADI Advanced Open Water Scuba diver in Utila, one of the Honduran Bay Islands and among the cheapest places to do so. Accompanied by an equally-qualified ‘buddy’, I can now dive to 30 metres anywhere in the world.
Highlights: gliding alongside a pair of turtles; eyeballing a resolutely evil-looking barracuda, hovering in the cabin of a seaweed-draped wreck; surviving an encounter with an irritable porcupine fish, rottweiler of the ocean. Still holding out for dolphins and the ongoing goal for all the dive boats: snorkelling with a whale shark, the biggest fish in the sea.
Open Water kicked things off with crucial skills like removing masks, sharing respirators and navigating underwater, followed by a series of recreational dives. Basics duly mastered, Advanced could offer a 30-metre deep dive; a wreck dive; a night dive by torchlight, jostling with phosphorescent creatures of the deep; and peak performance buoyancy, not unlike an underwater obstacle course complete with hoops, weights and giant hollow cubes.
Just returned from a night on Water Caye, an (almost) deserted island of fine white sand, just 100 metres long, off the coast of Utila. We chartered a friendly local captain to ferry us across in his tiny launch, slung up hammocks between the palms and built a campfire to barbeque fresh red snapper and bake potatoes by twinkling starlight.
Utila, Honduras – 19th May 2005