Downey DuckRoatan 

Honduras, July 2000

It's been 13 years since we last went to Honduras, and the diving is still great! We spent two weeks total, one week at Coco View Lodge in Roatan, the other week at Utila Lodge.

Coco View's accommodations have been dramatically upgraded since we stayed in the ramshackle lodge. This time we were in individual cabins over the water, with lovely screened in views of the ocean. Our room had a double bed and a twin bed, and numerous shelves for clothes and other "stuff". Our first night in the room there was such a lightning and thunderstorm, I thought a hurricane was brewing! The rain blew through all that lovely screening and onto all our clothes and "stuff", and the windows by the beds began leaking. After moving our clothes and beds, we settled in. There is a large tarp that can be lowered to cover the screening, but it flapped so noisily, it was better to leave it up and move everything. The next morning we learned that was typical weather for the season, not even close to being a hurricane.

The diving procedures are very efficient. Everyone picked an open locker area in the large room behind their assigned boats; these rooms have garage doors on both ends that are locked at night. The first dive was a shore dive with a divemaster, to orient the divers to the exit, the wreck and the walls. After the first boat dive the divemaster usually hauled and set up our gear, unless we showed up first--it was rather casual, which was fine, as we'd just as soon set up our own gear. A detailed dive site description was given before leaving the dock. The boats were large, roomy, and covered, with plenty of space to move around, and we went out on our assigned boat even if there were only five divers. There was an adequate camera table and a large built-in camera rinse tank. After the dive we rinsed our own gear in one of several large rinse tanks; we could then hang everything either on the outdoor lines or inside the locker area. These locker areas were swept each day.

The diving consisted of two boat trips each day, one in the morning and one after lunch. Each trip offered a wall dive led by a divemaster and an optional one-way dive from the boat, along the wall, exiting where the shore diving is done. The divemaster-led dives were not at too fast a pace, although we camera people would often lag behind. There was no pressure to clump together. Computer diving was fine, with no big rush to exit the water. Nitrox was usually available at $6/tank. Thirteen years ago we did the one-way dives once or twice the whole week--it was called the "enduro"; now it's done twice a day, one side of the trench in the morning, the other side in the afternoon. It's fun because we were on our own and could pick a different depth each time. And at the end, rising out of the often-silty murk was the Prince Albert wreck, home to various fish and critters, and a popular night dive. There was also a small airplane nearby. If four dives a day weren't enough, unlimited shore diving, day or night, was available. Night diving used a tag system where the first person in set the strobe light and the last person out removed it; however, the system was only as good as the divers' memories for taking their tags!

And how is the diving? I thought I'd be bored this time around, after having dived many other places, but I was pleasantly surprised. We saw schools of amberjacks and Creole wrasse, and eagle ray cruising past the Prince Albert, a manta ray feeding at Menagerie, several seahorses, and a pipefish. Midway through the week a special briefing was held to describe the special diving procedures for Mary's Place, which is a huge crack in the reef, and was closed for several years. It is a lovely site, but a bit over-hyped. The dive site on the whole is great, though, with schools of chub and southern sennet, plus a brown seahorse and the pipefish.

What made Coco View special were the shore dives with easy entries and exits, two walls to dive, and boat and plane wrecks. We had extremely close encounters with numerous squid almost every day, plus mantis shrimp, cleaning stations, barracuda hangouts, garden eels, and a honeycomb eel, unreported in the area. Not anymore! We also saw octopus at night, along with a batfish, decorator crabs, lots of hermit crabs and various other invertebrates.

Back on land, all meals were buffet-style, with enough variety not to go hungry, although a couple of our people had stomach problems. The bar was a popular place, and activities such as crab races, barbecues, island tours, and a day-trip to Utila were available. There was a gift shop on the premises, plus local craftspeople came in each day to show their wares.

We had no major complaints, even our flights went without a hitch, and all our luggage arrived when we did! We flew Continental into San Pedro Sula on the mainland, then over to Roatan. At the end of the week it was time to head for our second destination: Utila.