I have just ended an amazing two weeks on Roatan where I took the plunge and learnt to scuba dive with a small dive shop called Reef Gliders in the coooool village of West End
For those of you who are thinking about learning to scuba dive then I highly recommend the Bay Islands, just off the coast of Honduras. I visited Utila (yuk!) and Roatan (nice!) over a 2 week period whilst travelling by myself around Central America. After spending a few days in Utila. which I really didn't like (real drug problems with a lot of the locals, particularly the dive staff - every night I saw people taking cocaine - definitely not my scene) I moved to Roatan, which was just beautiful. It may have been a bit more expensive than Utila (but not much) but is way more beautiful. The beaches are stunning compared to the very limited choice of beaches in Utila (which seemed to just be an excuse to pump sewage into the water) and much more to do as it is a bigger island.
I took the plunge and decided to learn to dive. After all, everyone else I met was either there to learn to dive or was already qualified! There are so many dive shops to choose from if you go to West End, where all the night life is. It is definitely the place to be! In the end I decided upon a smaller dive shop called Reef Gliders. I had already read good things about then on other internet chatboards (e.g. Lonely Planet) and they had a good write-up in the guides. After speaking to them they just gave me a good feeling! They showed me their equipment which all seemed to be in excellent condition as far as I could see and, unlike many of the other shops which just tried to act cool, they really focused on the safety aspects that they employ, which was important to me. They also took the time to explain all about the course in detail to me, unlike many of the others who said almost nothing.
Anyway, after making my choice I spent the next 3 1/2 days getting wet! Alex, my instructor, was amazing and a real calming influence when I felt nervous. The reef is so close to shore there that the boat journeys only took a few minutes. The groups were small so I never felt intimidated by being in large group. After 3 1/2 days I was qualified and got to do some fun diving with them. As a single traveller it was nice to hang out with them in the eveninings at Sundowners and The Purple Turtle, both cool bars in West End.
If anyone is thinking about learning to dive then Roatan is the place to do it. Take your time about choosing the right dive shop for you. There are plenty to choose from - some good, some bad, but check out Reef Gliders as they were by far the best! Less about image and more about quality - they definitely get my thumbs up, as does the rest of Roatan
My friends and I wanted to go diving in Roatan as we had heard so many good things about it. As there were 4 of us, we ended up renting a condo through a rental company called Caribbean Colors. The condo was located right on West Bay Beach and was absolutely amazing. In addition to renting us the condo, Caribbean Colors also helped up plan out trip. Apparently, this is just one of the many services they provide as a "full service vacation and long term rental company". They were extremely knowledgeable and helpful. I highly recommend them to anyone planning a trip to Roatan. Their website is <snip>
They suggested we dive at Ocean Connections Dive Shop in West Bay. We were originally going to dive with another dive shop that I will not name but were informed by the helpful woman at Caribbean Colors that they pack their divers on the boat like Sardines and do not support reef conservation on the island. The dive shop Caribbean Colors suggested was absolutely perfect. Small groups, great instructors. Absolutely perfect.
[Edited: 2012 Jan 31 02:56 - Rat on the Road:23681 - No advertising on forums. Thanks.]