LOCATION: The Bay Islands, Roatan, Guanaja, Utila, Cochino Grande and more than 60 other islets and cays, lie 12 to 35 miles off the northern coast of Honduras in Central America. GETTING THERE: TACA (800-535-8780) now has daily service from Miami, Houston and Los Angeles to the Bay Islands. CLIMATE: Virtually idyllic weather prevails year-round. Temperatures average between 78 degrees and 85 degrees with gentle easterly trade winds. The wet months are generally October through December, but rainfall is periodic and of short duration. TOPOGRAPHY: The Bay Islands are actually tips of undersea mountains called the Bonacca Ridge. The islands' core is volcanic surrounded by an ancient limestone shelf. The islands' interior is a lush jungle with dramatic elevation changes and tumbling waterfalls. The coastal areas are palm-fringed sandy beaches with diverse vegetation. DIVING: Year-round, except for short periods in the winter months when occasional storms from the north may bring heavy seas and rain. VISIBILITY: Variable, depending on winds and currents. Windward reefs are sometimes subject to current clouding and plankton blooms, although an average of 80 to 100 feet can be expected.WATER TEMPERATURES: Varies from 78 degrees in the winter months to over 85 degrees in the summer months. CURRENCY: The U.S. dollar and all credit cards are readily accepted throughout the Bay Islands. LANGUAGE: Spanish is the official language; however, English is widely spoken throughout the islands. DOCUMENTS: A valid passport is required for U.S. and Canadian citizens. There is a departure tax (fluctuating). DIVE SITES: The Bay Islands have hundreds of dive sites, including vertical walls, coral caves & crevices, vertical chimneys, coral gardens, shallow coral reefs, coral channels, shipwrecks and oceanic seamounts. For information about diving Roatan's famous ''Spooky Channel'' you can click onto the home page below. MARINE LIFE: The Bay Islands boast the greatest diversity of coral, sponge and invertebrate species in the western Caribbean. Towering pillar corals, giant barrel sponges, anemones, bluebell tunicates and azure vase sponges are common to almost every dive site. In addition to a vast variety of tropical reef fish, there are huge groupers commonly seen throughout the islands. These islands are one of the last few places in the world where whale sharks are commonly sighted and should almost be expected. Leatherback sea turtles and manatees are also common to the islands, as are the usual assortment of basket starfish, octopus and lobster often seen on the reefs after dark. LIVE-ABOARD: The Bay Islands has one live-aboard dive boat (Utila Aggressor) that dives all of the Bay Islands and seamounts during a 1-week cruise. For more information, click onto Aggressor's home page below.
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