Scuba Diving Honduras
Diving in Honduras is a must for scuba diving enthusiasts and beginners alike. The Bay Islands is home to over 95% of the Caribbean’s coral and fish species, so is one of the most diverse areas of the Caribbean.
Often ignored by travelers to Central America to often exaggerated security threats, the nation of Honduras contains a number of attractions that will make it the dark horse in your Central American adventure. The top attraction in Honduras besides Diving is unquestionably the Copan Ruins, as they are truly a magnificent sight to behold.
Honduras is a passionate country, where religion, tradition and family are the backbone of society and where love for the national football team can unite even ardent enemies. It is a country where tortillas and beans are served with every meal, where pumping Latin music gets hips swinging and where the local beer is called Salva Vida (lifesaver). For despite its troubles, Honduras is a country of untamed, unadulterated tropical adventure.
SCUBA DIVING HONDURAS
Part of the Meso American Barrier Reef, the Bay Islands feature vibrant coral, multi-colored tropical fish, sponges as big as refrigerators and pelagic such as manta rays, sea turtles and whale sharks. Islas de las Bahia (the Bay Islands) lie in the Caribbean Sea about 48 kilometres/30 miles off the northern coast of Honduras meets. Consisting of seven islands and 50 small cayes, they stretch for 115 kilometres/70 miles in a northeasterly arc.
The reef surrounding the Bay Islands forms part of the Meso American Reef (the second largest barrier reef system in the world) and is home to a rich diversity of both corals and fish life. Roatan is the largest of the Honduras’ Bay Islands; the others being Utila, Guanaja and Cayos Cochinos (a couple of small islands and islets).
Each island offers different experiences both above and below the water but divers will enjoy warm tropical waters, warm and friendly people, and great visibility no matter which island they visit.
HONDURAS DIVE AREAS
Roatan: Reigns as one of the best diving islands in the Caribbean, and as a result there is no lack of dive shops and diving tour operators. It’s also a good place for divers of all levels offering shallow dives, walls, wrecks, and areas with drop-offs, caverns and swim-throughs for the more adventurous. Plenty of angel fish, big scrawled filefish, schools of tangs, durgeons, barracuda and stingrays cruising throughout your dive.
Utila: The smallest of the major islands in The Bay Islands group, they are known as being one of the least expensive and most beautiful places in the world for a scuba diving vacation. Utila offers a diversity of sheer walls and dropoffs on the north side, fringing reef systems on the south side, with many offshore seamounts and banks. There are 100 buoyed sites around the island and 2 marine reserves. This is the only place in the world to record whale sharks in every month of the year. Although the main time is March-April, and September – December.
Guanaja: The second largest & most remote of the Bay Islands, the reefs are pristine and feature a huge diversity of fish and coral life. Diving on Guanaja includes shallow reefs, wrecks, canyons, crevices, volcanic outcroppings and wall dives starting at 6 metres/20 feet and plummeting to 1829 metres/6000 feet. If you’re looking for a place off the beaten path, Guanaja – the most remote and undeveloped of the three Bay Islands – is worth a try.
DIVE SEASON: You can dive the Bay Islands all year long, but the tropical, rainy season runs from October to January. The Bay Islands’ southern Caribbean location means that hurricanes sometimes pass by to the north. Hurricane season is June to the end of November. While the weather is consistently good year-round, during the rainy season (roughly October to January) visibility can dip below the usual 30-45 meters/100-150 feet.
VISIBILITY: Generally the viz runs 24-45 metres/80-150 feet.During the rainy season (roughly October to January) visibility can dip below the usual 30-45 meters/100-150 feet.
WATER TEMPERATURE: Nice warm water, varying Jan-Mar 78f, July-Sept 82F
CURRENTS: Mostly mild, but can vary by location
WEATHER: Warm tropical weather is the norm, with little change in temperature from winter to summer. Average annual temperature is 85° F/29.4° C. Humidity is usually high, especially from May to September.
SKILL LEVELS: Divers of all levels will find the Bay Islands exciting. Deep diving experience or advanced training is recommended at some sites due to depth and wreck training is recommended for divers interested in exploring the various wrecks.
MARINE lIFE: There are more than 300 identified fish species in Bay Island waters. Divers frequently see dolphin, grouper, rays, barracuda, angelfish, butterfly fish, grunts, parrotfish, yellow tail snapper, horse eye jack, octopus, lobsters, crabs, moray eels, hammerhead sharks and even whale sharks.
GENERAL COUNTRY INFORMATION
CLIMATE: Subtropical in lowlands, temperate in mountains. Hurricane season is June to the end of November. Air Temperature Jan-Mar is about 81F, April-Sept is about 87 F.
LANGUAGE: Spanish, Amerindian dialects. Although Spanish is the official language, English is widely spoken on Roatan and Bay Islands (especially in the West End and West Bay communities).
ELECTRICITY: 110 volts 60 Hz, US-style three pin plugs are the norm.
CURRENCY & CREDIT CARDS: The Lempira (HNL). The US Dollar is accepted at some resorts and businesses and credit cards are widely accepted
GRATUITIES: Tipping is the norm. The standard practice is 10 percent of the total bill but this is optional if the bill includes a 10 percent service charge. Small tips for the housecleaning staff are customary.
PHONE & INTERNET SERVICE: There are high speed internet cafes in communities and popular tourist areas. Wireless Internet connections for laptops are available for purchase. There are three cell phone providers on Roatan: Digicel, Claro and TIGO. Cell phones are inexpensive to purchase and 100 Lempira (HNL) will give you a significant amount of talk time for local calls.
VISA & PASSPORT REQUIREMENTS: All foreign visitors must have a valid passport to enter the country and are typically granted a 90-day tourist card.
GETTING to HONDURAS: Frequent direct flights connect Honduras with all the Central American capitals and many destinations in North America, the Caribbean, South America and Europe. Most international flights arrive and depart from the airports at Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula; there are also direct flights between the USA and Roatán, coming from Houston, Miami and Atlanta.
CUSTOMS: You may bring items that are for your personal use on your visit or for you to conduct your profession or trade without paying import duties assuming the items are appropriate for your trip. The items may not be for commercial use such as goods for resale. Scuba divers should not bring spearguns. They are prohibited on the Bay Islands and will be held at the airport until you leave the country.
DEPARTURE TAX: The new international departure tax for foreigners is now US$33.19. All adults, children and infants pay this flat fee. It is a strange amount, but it is SET FIRM in USD (does NOT change monthly) but payable in local currency which fluctuates. It is payable ONLY in cash – either USD or Honduran Lempira, or a mixture of the two. They will NOT accept Credit Cards!
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