Honduras: Guanaja

I confess, I don’t know what I was thinking at the Catalina Conservancy Divers benefit at this past June’s SCUBA Show. Being a relatively inexperienced diver (eight dives in the two years since becoming certified), I made a rash decision to bid on a trip to Guanaja, Honduras. Surprise, surprise, I won. So here I was, an avid non-diver, on my way to a remote island off the coast of Honduras, which is known only for its diving. What was I thinking?     

Much to my chagrin, Guanaja is a remote and isolated island in the chain of Bay Islands that includes Roatan and Utila. But, unlike its sister islands, Guanaja is virtually untouched by man. It has no roads and less than 10,000 inhabitants, who mostly live in one of its three small villages, the largest of which is built upon a cay located half a mile off the shore of the island. So much for partying; I guess I was going to have to stick to diving.     

Upon my arrival to the island I could not have been more impressed. It was unlike anything I had every seen, and from what I was told by locals, was even more beautiful before Hurricane Mitch had destroyed most of the vegetation a couple years back. The resort I was staying at, Posada del Sol, was an all- inclusive dive resort and that’s what I set out to do. The morning after my arrival, we set out quite early (why, must I ask, do you divers insist on leaving so early? Haven’t you heard of sleeping in on a vacation?) for the other side of the island. My cousin was still in the process of getting his check out dives so I decided to tag along with them instead of sticking with the dive master. The amount of reef life that I saw was amazing, and better still was the warm water (I’m a cold water wimp). Being an inexperienced diver, I don’t know what I can compare it to, so let’s just say it has no comparison. I was dazzled by the variation in sea life, which I found on this first dive. The colors of the reef blew me away as I swam effortlessly through the mini-walls on both sides of me.     

The rest of the week was spent sampling dive spots from various locations around the isle. One of my favorites was a magnificent swim through, in which I barely could see where I was going as thousands of tiny fish swam around me. When I finally broke through, I found myself looking into the deep blue sea as the wall dropped down hundreds of feet below. The visibility was good but not so good I could see the bottom—not like that is feasible, considering the depth.     

I also went on my first night dive right off the pier of the resort and followed a triangle laid rope, in which I found the final resting spot of two boats and former drug running plane, which was donated to the spot by the Honduran government. These wrecks also served as the homes for various eels and blow fish who continually scared the crap out of me as they poked out of their various homes to investigate the intruding lights.     

Also just off the resort was a marine preserve set up by the hotel manager, in which she dedicated acres of sea bed floor, attempting to regrow broken coral from around the island. The meticulous attention paid to the project should flourish in the next couple years as she attempts to regrow some coral that is now only found in her small habitat.     

Guanaja is a spectacular place for diving, with its abundant sea life, plentiful dive sites and magnificently clear warm water. And overall, I had a great time on the island—well, except for one mishap, entirely my fault. We were on the open sea and it was quite choppy. My cousin decided to go off the side of the boat, while I chose the much “safer” back end. As I lifted my left foot to jump into the water, I hesitated just long enough for our boat to hit a swell which propelled me 180° in the air and I landed on my opposite shoulder on the boat and promptly rolled off into the water. Luckily, I was relatively uninjured and everyone had a good laugh at my expense. I only wish someone had been videotaping, for I surely would have one the 10,000 dollar prize on America’s Funniest Home Videos.

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