[private]Following closely on the heels of another successful Sunjam Festival (see this month’s cover story), Utila held its first Dive Festival August 18-25.
Utila has come a long way since its first dive shop, Club Aqua Caribe, opened, Over the last 15 years it has become an international diving Mecca, with 10 dive operations. In the last decade Utila’s dive shops have certified thousands of divers from open water to instructor.
More than 200 passports were sold for the festival, entitling the holders to participate in the wide array of activities. There were sunrise dives offered at 4:30 a.m. by Paradise Divers. Ecomarine offered discover free diving. There was a fish-identification presentation at the cinema, which was quite crowded. Bay Islands College of Diving organized a pub quiz. Several dive shops offered deep-dive experiences. And to make sure people knew where to go if they misread their dive tables, there was a tour of our decompression chamber, which has served many divers over the years.
Utopia Village offered a barbecue and shore dive. Captain Morgan had the Scuba Olympics. At Deep Blue there was a reef fish survey. Several dive shops organized treasure hunt dives. Others offered guided snorkeling trips. Technical divers had the opportunity to try out equipment, such as sidemount and closed-circuit rebreathers.There was also a karaoke night at the Utila Lodge, a Taste of Utila event organized by the Municipality, a pool party at Laguna Beach and volleyball competitions.
There was also a photo competiton, results of which were to be announced at the Treetanic bar, the creation of one of Utila’s finest artists, Neal Keller.
The Dive Festival blasted off at Chepas Beach with disco music out of the 70’s and other tunes. Girls were dancing in bikinis and other beach outfits in the sand. Hundreds of divers enjoyed themselves with food, drink and music. The SCUBA Cowboys provided musical entertaininment, and everybody had fun.
Thursday evening was the parade of lights, with all the dive shops’ boats and other boats passing through eastern harbour all lit up. On Friday dive shops got together to organize a shore cleanup. There was an afternoon picnic on Water Cay and a closing ceremony at Chepas, where prizes were presented.
All in all, one can say that the first Utila Dive Festival was a great success. There are already plans to make it better and bigger next year.
Thanks are due to all the organizers and sponsors who helped to make the event a unforgettable experience for all. Until next year, Happy Diving and Partying![/private]