Downey DuckUtila

Bay Islands, Honduras, July 2000

Our week on Utila began the same way our week on Roatan ended--no hitches. The flight between the two islands normally involves a layover in La Ceiba on the mainland; somehow we managed to fly direct arriving at the small Utila airfield about four hours early. The staff at the lodge found out we were coming about fifteen minutes before we landed and met us with our transport to the lodge--the back of a pick-up truck. After a short ride through the narrow street of town, we arrived at Utila Lodge, where they kindly fed us a late lunch.

Utila Lodge is small and quaint, in town, but on the water's edge. In fact you can actually swim beneath the rooms, where a seahorse lives. The rooms are comfortable, not fancy, and each room had an air-conditioner, some of which worked! A working AC meant drowning out the throbbing music of the near-by nightclub late at night. You may have figured out by now our AC didn't work. The loud music was our only gripe; some of the nights were quiet enough. Meals at the lodge were buffet style, with a variety of good foods.

Diving procedures were similar to Coco View's. There was a fenced area to store equipment, tanks were hauled to the boat; we set up our gear before the dive and rinsed it afterwards. The boat wasn't as large as Coco View's, and had less covered area--more like what we usually dive; we realized how spoiled we were the previous week! We did two dives in the morning and one after lunch; between dives we'd search for whale sharks. Unfortunately, they weren't around that week, but we did have a large pod of dolphins hang around the boat, many taking turns riding the bow wave, for more than 20 minutes.

There was a greater variety of diving at Utila, including walls, pinnacles, ledges, and sand flats. We saw turtles, eagle rays, neat cleaning stations, a huge grouper, cowries, and a nice variety of other fish and invertebrates. We made two night boat dives--the second one was awesome. The dive area was a large, mostly circular sandy area with a few small coral heads here and there; we pretty much spent the entire dive swimming circles. We weren't too hopeful about seeing much, but each time we made another circle we'd see new and different critters, such as toadfish, octopus, helmet conch, huge hermit crabs, and a parrotfish wrapped in a thick cocoon. The dive was interesting enough to last well over an hour!

But the weirdest thing we saw was during a wall dive. I was swimming a distance from the wall looking for the jellyfish and pelagic tunicates that float out there when I spotted light reflecting off what looked like a piece of metal. It turned out to be a tiny triangle-shaped fish with two teeny black eyes and a couple of long filaments at two of its corners. It was heading toward the surface and had an even tinier fish swimming with it! After frantically waving at Bill to bring the camera, I managed to take some pictures. This goes on our list of top ten strange creatures we've seen--something from the abyss?

Coco View and Utila Lodge are a nice two-week contrast--from secluded resort to in town hotel, and from mostly wall diving to more variety. We had a great time.