Downey Duck

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Lagona Beach, Utila

The last time we went to Utila to search for whale sharks we stayed at the in-town Utila Lodge. We didn’t see any whale sharks, but we had a great time, except for the loud music emanating from the disco three blocks away until 3AM many mornings. This time we stayed at Laguna Beach Resort, a 10-minute boat ride from town and a long way from the music.

Laguna Beach Resort is a lovely complex of well-kept individual and duplex cottages all overlooking the lagoon. Each nice-sized room is very functional with hardwood floors, a small closet, an open cupboard for clothes, and a wonderful desk/shelf for cameras, suitcases and all the other stuff that usually ends up being thrown on your bed. There is a narrow beach on the ocean side with hammocks and lounge chairs. Socializing takes place in the large bar/dining hall. The honor system is reasonably priced—local beers for $1.25, Pepsis $1.00, and mixed drinks $1.50. All meals were served buffet style with a choice of fish or meat, great-tasting vegetables, soup, salad, and dessert for dinner. Vegetarians were happily accommodated.

The diving is normally a variety of walls, pinnacles, and sandy/rubble areas; however it was very windy most of our week, making it uncomfortable mooring at some sites, so we did mostly wall dives. Getting back on the boat sometimes got a little interesting—watch out for the boat platform as it crashes up and down with the waves.  We did three boat dives each day with an optional fourth drop-off dive on the way back to the resort. Shore diving is advertised but it’s easier to do the drop-off dive. We saw a couple of nurse sharks, a few turtles, and a nice variety of invertebrates and smaller fish. Two night dives are offered, but after doing our first ever “sand storm” dive, the second night was scrubbed due to surge and poor visibility. And yes, we did see “Mr. Big” two different days when the seas were calmer. Our third day of diving a whale shark was spotted on the way to our first dive—we ended up skipping the dive to snorkel with several of the big guys.  They were all about thirty feet long and dived as soon as they spotted us, but this is one time when tail-shots count!

 The sand fleas, or no-see-ums, were the only negative things about Laguna Beach Resort. Those of us allergic to their bites scratched a lot; I took Benadryl at night so I could sleep. Consistently using lots of DEET is essential—these sand fleas laugh at Skin-So-Soft.

 Comparing Laguna Beach and Utila Lodge, both places are set up for easy diving. Utila Lodge has many fewer bugs because there’s no beach; it’s also nice being able to walk to town without having to catch a boat ride. But there’s that loud music, which we understand the local government is trying to get toned down. Laguna Beach is private and quiet, but there’s those darn sand fleas. Both places have comparable food. The decision is yours!