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I recently completed an intro scuba dive with the Island Diving Center in Roatan, Honduras. This company is ranked #1 on Trip Advisor for diving so I had to check them out and see if they would live up to my high expectations. After going through their intro course and completing a dive with them, I can say that this company is as legitimate as they come and that I highly recommend booking with them if you want your dive to be an enjoyable and smooth experience. Here’s a review of my time with the best scuba diving company in Roatan.
One thing that I always pay special attention to is how a company communicates to its customers that are located in another country. When companies in another country aren’t responsive or take a week to reply to messages, it makes me a bit suspect of the quality of their services and apprehensive about going with them. However, Island Diving Center in Roatan offered superb communication from the beginning via email and their prompt responses made me feel much better about choosing them for our dive.
Pricing is very reasonable. For two people to complete an intro dive, it will cost you about $320. This is cheaper than other intro dives that I’ve done in other places in the Caribbean like Belize. An $80 deposit may be required at the time of booking and you’ll be able to make that payment via PayPal.
The diving shop is located in the West End, Roatan. That means that you’ll likely need to take a water taxi if you are coming from the West Bay. Those taxis are available early in the morning and so if you need to arrive at the dive shop around 8:30 am, you should be able to hop on a water taxi in the morning with plenty of time to get over, as it only takes about 10 to 15 minutes. Tell the water taxi that you’re headed to Half Moon Bay and you will find the diving shop next to the white church. It’s tucked away into the alley a little bit so just be on the lookout for their signs.
Note: the Island Diving Center said they are opening up a location at the West Bay soon so you may not have to take a water taxi to get there in the future!
Once you arrive at the shop, you’ll be fitted with your BCD, weight belt, goggles, flippers, and if you’d like, you can get fitted for a wet suit. After you’re all fitted and have your equipment together, it’s time to start to the intro course.
The intro course
The scuba intro course is a mandatory session that you must complete if you are not already PADI certified. The session lasts about 45 minutes and consists of two portions. The first portion is working through a short booklet that will get you familiar with your equipment, the hand signs used while underwater, and everything else you need to know. It’s also where you will sign your waiver and disclaim any medical conditions you have or don’t have. (If you check “yes” for any conditions, you’ll have to be cleared by a physician before you are eligible to dive.)
After you go through the booklet, you’ll make your way to the beach at Half Moon Bay, Roatan (located just across the street). In clear shallow waters you’ll practice the handful of skills needed to embark on your intro dive. These consist of locating you respirator, purging, removing water from our goggles, etc. All pretty basic skills but skills that you need to be comfortable with before diving.
Our dive instructor Esteban was absolutely top-notch. Since we’ve completed so many intro dives, we didn’t have any issues with learning how to use our equipment during the intro course or during the dive, but I could just tell that Esteban was a very patient and knowledgable diver that would offer as much help as a newbie would need. Also, Esteban was aware that we’d completed several dives before but still made sure we mastered each step of the intro dive skills and it was reassuring to know that we was so thorough.
Right before we went out, Esteban gave a briefing on our dive spot called “Turtle Crossing.” He showed us on the map which direction we’d be headed and what we could expect during the dive in terms of topography. Our lowest depth was about 35 feet during the entire dive, I believe.
Ready for the dive
One of the great things about diving in Roatan, Honduras, is that the reef pretty much surrounds the entire island and is very close to the shore. It felt like we were only on the boat for like 5 to 10 minutes before we arrived at our diving spot.
We entered the water via a backroll entry and I was happy to find the waters very calm and the visibility superb. We slowly descended via a line to probably about 20 to 25 feet and then we were off the explore the reef.
Esteban along with his diving (and life) partner led the way for us and took us through some pretty cool narrow channels in the reef to begin the dive.
Esteban pointed out a ton of different wildlife to use along the way. One of the first animals that we came across was a sand diver, a lizard-like fish that rests still on the ocean floor until it’s time to ambush its prey.
At one point, we found a trio of conchs hanging out by each other. It was my first time witnessing conchs and I got a kick out of watching them move about on the sea floor.
We saw a host of other creatures including a lobster, lion fish, many parrotfish, trumpetfish, grouper, drumfish, a sea cucumber, and got up close to a beautiful trio of angelfish. A sea turtle made an appearance at the end of our tour but we didn’t get a good look at it before it ventured out into the dark blue depths.
We came across some very interesting coral as well, such as the giant barrel sponge. These are often referred to as the “redwoods of the reef” because they can sometimes be thousands of years old. Other coral spotted were brain coral, fan coral, and a few others.
During out entire dive, Esteban did superb job of keeping us together and making sure that we moved along at a perfect pace. Sometimes instructors make you feel a bit rushed and that can cut into your enjoyment, especially if you’re trying to get photographs but that never happened.
One thing that I really liked about this intro dive is that we were taught how to read and signal the readings from our oxygen monitors to our instructor. In all of my previous intro dives, the scuba instructors took care of checking on the readings, but I enjoyed learning how to check on my oxygen levels myself and it made me feel a bit safer.
Overall, I was 100% pleased with the service and the actual dive with the Island Diving Center. It’s obvious to me now why they are #1 on Trip Advisor for diving in Roatan and I would absolutely recommend them to anyone.
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Daniel Gillaspia is the Founder of UponArriving.com and creator of the digital smart wallet, WalletFlo. He is a former attorney turned full-time credit card rewards/travel expert and has earned and redeemed millions of miles to travel the globe. His content has been featured in major publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, Forbes, CNBC, US News, and Business Insider. Find his full bio here.