Sunday, September 21, 2008

SCUBA Diving and Útila

A few days ago I got back from a short vacation to the Bay Island of Útila. I went there with some friends to get certified as a PADI Open Water Diver.

The certification takes 3 and 1/2 days, with 1 day of classwork and the rest diving. First we practiced in a shallow area at the dive shop, then we moved on to actual open water dives.

Útila is the most inexpensive place in the world to get your dive certification. We stayed and took the course at Alton's Dive Shop, a really nice, happening place right on the water. It's filled with international travelers and has a very energetic, friendly vibe. If you want to go diving in Útila, I highly recommend it.

Diving itself was a fantastic new experience. Everything about it is fascinatingly different: from breathing underwater, to exploring the bizarre and beautiful plant and animal life of a coral reef, to having complete freedom of motion and virtual weightlessness underwater.

Our last dive of the trip took us to site called Ron's Wreck. There's a sunken sailboat about 17.5 meters underwater. The boat had been taken over by the reef, and was covered in aquatic plants and filled with ocean life. Our instructor told us that there was a giant moray eel living in the stern of the boat, but we didn't see it.

Here are some pictures (not mine) of things we saw diving the reefs of Útila

Flamingo Tongue.

Christmas Tree Worms.

Barrel Sponge.

Ron's Wreck.