Utila - "Come for a Month - Stay for Five Years"

utila title graphic“There’s no other place anywhere near this place, just like this place, so this must be the place.” I remember reading this quote by local Utilian Rupert Eden, the very first day of my very first trip to the Honduran island called Utila.  

Fast forward six years, and I now fully understand what reading those words meant.  

I discovered Utila the way most modern people discover new lands...the internet. At the time, I was searching for how a person becomes a scuba instructor and what working as one entails.  

scuba divers

Utila came up as one of the cheapest, yet best and most professional, places in the world to become a pro-level diver. Most dive shops even offered free fun dives for life if you complete a pro level course. So off I went to become a "Zero to Hero" scuba diver, a term in the industry used to describe someone who trains all the way from beginner level to professional level back-to-back.  

One of the three Bay Islands of Honduras, Utila has a charm all its own. It's calm, crystal clear waters, magnificent reefs, and consistent whale shark and dolphin encounters, quickly put it on the radar for its scuba diving since the 90s. 

utila wildlife

The bay of Utila where all the dive shops on the island are located provide theperfect water conditions year round for confined scuba training. Minutes outside the bay are a multitude of dive sites. Mostly deep walls with shallow top reefs so the underwater topography is perfect for training everyone from beginner level to technical.  

Attracting like-minded young people from all over the world, the dive industry on Utila created an environment many people find next to impossible to leave behind. “Come for a month; stay for five years” actually became a thing. Life for scuba divers here is a routine of diving, sunset drinks, weekly social events, and of course parties. 

It is normal to find a party somewhere on the island almost every night. But there are two extra special times of year when Utila is in celebration mode 24/7. Semana Santa (Easter) and Carnival.  

utila carnival

The annual Carnival is a week long celebration of Caribbean life. The week culminates to an end with a big parade and street party, bringing together both local islanders and tourists.  

go cart

Closing the main road for Carnival is quite simple considering there are no cars or traffic lights anywhere on the island….Ok, maybe there are two tiny smart cars and the occasional work truck, but everyone else just drives around on motorcycles, mopeds, ATVs, and golf carts.  

Living in a world with no traffic laws, very little enforcement, and minimal infrastructure definitely creates some inconveniences in daily life, but the tradeoff is well worth it. 

For me especially, this is my dive home and always will be. It is the place I took my first breath underwater, shot my first pro underwater photograph, and provided me with the foundation for my dream career that I had been in desperate search of for so long.  
utila spacefish army

Now I find myself living and working on an island that may not have much in the standards of the modern world, but has given me everything I need. If one day you find your path leads you to Utila, be prepared to come back, time after time. You will never know the inspiration this place breeds until you experience it yourself.  

And that is what those words I read on my first day here now mean to me. 

- By Nicole Webster of Utila Dive Center

Follow Nicole on Instagram for a deeper look into life on Utila 



Do you have an inspiration scuba story you would love to share on our page? Reach out to Morgan at info@spacefisharmy.com for a chance to be featured!

1 comment

  • Bob

    How cool that your life has been every thing that you have hunted for. What a great story . What is the cost of lessons there and prices for rent if a person wants to come to get the schooling ?

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