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Learning To SCUBA Dive On The Island Of Utila

Utila Honduras Scuba Tanks

Scuba Diving on the Island of Utila

Utila, Honduras

The island of Utila in Honduras is one of the cheapest places in the world to get your PADI diving certification. Here’s how I did it.

Many travelers & backpackers learn to SCUBA dive in Utila. It’s smaller and cheaper to visit than it’s bigger next door neighbor, the island of Roatán. Because of it’s popularity, there are many dive shops on Utila, and it can be hard to choose one.

That’s why my buddy Richard and I teamed up to check out a bunch of different Utila dive shops and find the best deal for an Open Water Diving Course. This way we could cover more ground.

Utila Honduras Scuba

Heading to My First Dive

Choosing A Dive Shop

After interviewing staff at a few different places, we decided on Parrots Dive Center. This is the criteria we used for choosing a dive shop:

  • Are the employees energetic & friendly?
  • Is the instructor experienced?
  • How many people will be in a class?
  • How many instructors are there per class?
  • Are there additional “fun” dives included?
  • Is accommodation included? How many nights?
  • How nice is the accommodation?
  • What’s the quality of the equipment?
  • What time is class in the morning?

The employees at Parrots seemed laid back, professional, & fun. The shop was locally owned too, another important factor. We even received 5 free nights in a double room away from Utila’s noisy main street, when most places only offered 4 nights in a busy hostel environment.

Two free fun dives were included with the course as well.

There were 6 of us in the SCUBA class. Our 4 day course started with our instructor Alan teaching us basic diving principles of depth, pressure, & breathing air underwater. In the mornings we sat in a classroom, in the afternoons we practiced our new skills in the bay.

Utila Honduras Scuba

Dive Master Alan

Utila Honduras Scuba

SCUBA School

Learning How To SCUBA Dive

Some of the underwater skills we needed to learn: equalizing the pressure in our sinuses, clearing a flooded mask, sharing air with another diver, and proper timing of our dives at different depths to avoid Nitrogen Sickness (aka “The Bends”).

For one of the tests the instructor turns off your air tank underwater! This important test is to simulate running out of air. You don’t want to panic in a real emergency, so this experience lets you feel the effect due to an equipment (or human) error.

When the air is turned off, it takes a second to notice. The effect isn’t instant. You will slowly begin to have trouble breathing.

When this happens, you get the attention of your buddy with hand signals in order to share his/her air supply with a backup regulator mouthpiece that every diver carries.

So now I know what it feels like to run out of air deep underwater…

Utila Honduras Scuba

Open Water Diving in Utila

Weightless Underwater

The real fun started when we finally went diving for the first few times. Slowly sinking 60 feet down to the ocean floor is an incredible experience. But it keeps getting better!

Once at the bottom, you press a button on your BCD diving vest and inflate it with a bit of air from your tank.

Because you’ll be wearing a weight belt (mine was 14 pounds) to help you sink, adding this air to your vest will level you out. This makes you weightless underwater. You won’t sink to the bottom, or float up to the top.

It lets you hover at one depth, neutrally buoyant.

Utila Honduras Scuba

Underwater World

Utila Honduras Scuba

Superhero SCUBA Powers

I ❤ SCUBA Diving!

I thought I knew what weightlessness would feel like, but I was wrong. True underwater weightlessness is an amazing experience! You can control your body just by breathing.

Want to go up a bit? Breath in a bit deeper. Want to do down? Breath out a bit longer.

Hang completely upside down, swim sideways & backwards while spinning, or do 20 somersaults in a row. We removed our fins to engage in Matrix-style movie stunts, jumping at each other feet first, followed by backflips.

We’re all just a bunch of grown-up kids down there. ★

[su_box title=”Travel Planning Resources for Utila, Honduras” style=”noise” box_color=”#333333″ title_color=”#FFFFFF” radius=”3″ class=”resource-box”]
Company: Parrots Dive Center
Cost: $260 USD

Packing Guide

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Book Your Flight

Book cheap flights on Skyscanner, my favorite airline search engine to find deals. Also read my tips for how I find the cheapest flights.

Rent A Car

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Book Accommodation is my favorite hotel search engine. Or rent local apartments on Airbnb ($35 discount!). Read my post for tips on booking cheap hotels.

Protect Your Trip

Don’t forget travel insurance! I’m a big fan of World Nomads for short-term trips. Protect yourself from possible injury & theft abroad. Read more about why you should always carry travel insurance.


I hope you enjoyed my guide on learning to SCUBA Dive on the Island of Utila! Hopefully you found it useful. Here are a few more wanderlust-inducing articles that I recommend you read next:

Steve Cummings

Wednesday 4th of July 2018

Hi Matt, This is great information. My fiancé and I are going out to the Bay Islands to get some certifications. I noticed you mentioned Parrot's Dive Center. We were looking at either going to Roatan or Utila. Which place would you suggest for some good budget savvy people like us?


Tuesday 21st of June 2016

Hi Matt Can you just turn up at Utila and get a dive course sorted straight away? Have emailed a few places but not had any replies.

cheers, Lee


Tuesday 21st of February 2017

Hi Matt,

I realize my comment is rather late but I am off to Utila to dive with Parrots at the end of March. This is going to sound like an off topic question (cause it is) ... but did you notice if they sell sunscreen on the island and if yes, was it very expensive? We are only travelling with a backpack and as you know TSA is pretty restrictive on packing liquids. I am glad to know you had good results with Parrots. We are taking our Advanced Open Water with them.

Matthew Karsten

Tuesday 21st of June 2016

Yeah pretty much Lee. If one can't do it for some reason, there should be 5 others who can. It's the main reason people travel there.


Tuesday 10th of April 2012

Matt, I swear you must be one of my top influencers when I do a search online. You always pop up in my google search and the stuff you share is always recommended. Well done and thanks for having great taste! Each time I click through to what you either wrote or recommended, it's fantastic. I was just looking up Diving in Honduras for nostalgic purposes and there you were. We loved our time in Utilla back in 2003. We were in the midst of doing our dive masters there. It's a great and affordable destination. Cheers.

Matthew Karsten

Saturday 11th of July 2015

That really means a lot to me Deb! I love your site as well.


Monday 21st of March 2011

It's pretty common in some countries - many of the dive centres I visited in Indonesia & the Philippines had lodging too (although sadly not as cheap as the ones in Utila)

Matthew Karsten

Monday 21st of March 2011

That's good to know, I'm looking at getting my Advanced certification next, possibly in that area.

Jennifer with @twoyearsoff

Saturday 5th of March 2011

Thanks, Matt! I never would have figured that dive centers offered lodging too.

Matthew Karsten

Sunday 6th of March 2011

This is specific to the island of Utila Jennifer, I don't think it's like that everywhere.

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