Bay Islands, Honduras: Silversides
Silversides surround a diver in Blue Channel.
It seems like only divers know about Honduras’ three Bay Islands, all found along the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef. Roatan caters to a crowd ranging from chic to casual. Utila is known for its walls and seasonal migration of whale sharks, and quiet Guanaja is far off the beaten track.
For the Wall Diver
You’ll rack up the wall dives in the Bay Islands. On Roatan, head to sites such as West End Wall, Half Moon Bay Wall and Pat’s Place. Sites like Hole in the Wall induce that vertiginous feeling when you peer into the blue and watch for a passing pelagic like an eagle ray; the site is also known for several lengthy tunnels — the deepest of which ends at a depth of 110 feet. Utila’s Great Wall is a must-see because it gives divers that feeling of flying — its bottom is well beyond recreational limits.
For the Whale Shark Lover
Every March and April, the waters off Utila are thick with these massive plankton eaters. The island has a long history with the animal, and is notable for making Honduras the second country to start using Ecocean technology to identify whale sharks by the dot pattern forward of their gills. Encounters with the fish are snorkel only — a practical limitation, since they aren’t seen over reefs but rather the deep blue. Moreover, because whale sharks dive deep if uninterested, most interaction is at the surface.
For the Yogi
The tranquility of the Bay Islands has inspired many — including a handful of yoga followers, now founders of a growing community. At Paya Bay Resort on Roatan, the outdoor space overlooks the ocean; here, the vinyasa flow yoga aims to refocus attention on one’s breathing and awareness. Yoga Utila offers daily classes focusing on meditation and breath — not just butt-toning exercises.
For the Immersionist
If you stay long enough on Roatan, you’ll learn Spanish. Speed the process with sessions at the Kreativo Art and Language Studio, located in the West End. Honduran Zuni Bustillo teaches both the language and painting classes, nurturing an organic, creative atmosphere regularly visited by kids and locals. Granted, you may leave with a vocabulary best suited to buying paintbrushes, but that’s more than you came with.
For the Water Sports Enthusiast
Utila’s biggest playground is its water. When the wind blows, kitesurfing is popular, and several operators offer lessons. A handful of resorts are located within swimming distance of the reef drop-off, making snorkeling largely accessible. Power a kayak or paddle board through the mangrove tunnels, and spy crabs, herons and juvenile reef fish. For those who want to explore a wider swath, guided half-day, full-day and multiday kayak trips are available. — BM