Utila Dive Community & Tec Divers Recover Abandoned Fishing Net In Utila, Bay Islands, Honduras. January 18, 2013Posted by Utila Dive Center in scuba diving.
Tags: bay islands, Honduras, net recovery, padi, project aware, reef recover, scuba, scuba diving, tec diving, udc, utila dive centers
In early January 2013, the personnel of the Bay Islands Conservation Association, BICA, discovered that a huge abandoned fishing net had drifted from the open sea onto “Raggedy Cay”, one of the popular dive sites on Utila’s West End, and was so big they were unable to lift or remove it, particularly as initial reports stated that the net was at a depth between 30 and 70 meters / 100 to 200 feet and as big as a volleyball court.
So BICA contacted all the scuba diving centers on the island, especially addressing Technical Divers to aid in the removal of the net in a joint effort and the next day Utila Dive Center sent a team to the dive site to research the actual depths and the size of the net in order to plan and execute the recovery in a single mission. It was important to recover the net as early as possible to prevent any aquatic life becoming entangled in this underwater hazard and to prevent further damage to the beautiful fringing reefs on Utila.
From the tec divers initial survey it out, that the net was stretched out over about 150 feet (45 meters), about 10 feet (3 meters) wide and lying at a depth of 100 – 150 feet (30 – 45 meters). After evaluating the net and video footage, UDC’s tec divers decided to organize one single mission for the recovery with different teams of both recreational and technical divers working together, executing separate tasks each that were carried out:
- Team 1 descended, located the net and marked the spot by sending up a surface marker at the shallowest point of the net.
- Team 2 then descended and attached a lifting device at that end of the net to gently and in a controlled manner start lifting up one end of the net.
- Team 3 (a team of technical divers from UDC as well as a freelance instructor) was gently releasing the net from the reef, cutting it loose and leaving the weights on the bottom (the net was weighted down with several cinder blocks in intervals of about 20ft (6 meters).
- Team 4 (also a team of technical divers from UDC) was responsible taking footage of the whole mission, in order to record size and location of the net, execution of the mission and casualties caused by the net.
- Team 5 was the biggest team of divers and responsible for coordinating the lifting of the net with buddy teams being distributed along the length of the net, each controlling the lifting of their section and coordinating with all the other teams so the net could be lifted as a whole with minimal impact on the environment and keeping everyone safe at the same time.
- Team 6 was on the boat lifting the net onto the boat itself.
Upon successful removal and lifting of the net, the two technical dive teams then had to complete their decompression using pure oxygen before surfacing, where the boats could pick them up with everyone else already having surfaced before. All in all the mission was a great success: the logistics were complicated but the group as a whole worked in perfect harmony accomplishing the mission in less time than expected and planned for. The net was confiscated by BICA who will decide together with the local authorities on how to dispose of the net appropriately.
One of the teams tec profiles that was executed, conducted by trained tec divers using specialized equipment (Disclaimer: do not try this at home kids!)
Level 45mt/150ft 12:00 (15) Air 1.16 ppO2, 150ft ead
Stop at 18mt/60ft 0:30 (20) Air 0.59 ppO2, 60ft ead
Stop at 15mt/50ft 2:00 (22) Air 0.53 ppO2, 50ft ead
Stop at 12mt/40ft 3:00 (25) Air 0.46 ppO2, 40ft ead
Stop at 10mt/30ft 3:00 (28) Air 0.40 ppO2, 30ft ead
Stop at 6mt/20ft 8:00 (36) Oxygen 1.60 ppO2, 0ft ead
For the future, we will have a working system in place to remove any threats to the fringing reefs around Utila, in a timely and efficient manner, should a similar situation come up, and part of Utila Dive Centers tec training courses and mission based planning will focus on projects such as net recovery. The Utila Dive Centers involved in the mission: Utila Dive Centre/UDC Tec (including freelance Tec Divers), Parrots Dive Centre and the Bay Islands College of Diving.
By Mary Peter PADI Trimix Instructor #274958
How to choose a wetsuit – guest post by Paul Tomlinson November 28, 2012Posted by Utila Dive Center in scuba diving.
Tags: bay islands, caribbean, Honduras, padi, scuba diving, utila, wetsuits
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We often get asked at this time of year, from November to January, when rain fall is more prevalent on Utila and throughout the Caribbean Bay Islands, what time of exposure suit should I use. We have a selection of wetsuits at Utila Dive Centre for our divers and students, from 3mm shorties, to 3mm and 5mm full length one piece and two piece suits. Most divers taking a PADI Divemaster or Instructor internship with us tend to like to have their own wetsuit, for comfort and good fit, and whilst a 5mm full length wetsuit might be excessive most of the year, when you’re in the water every day for several hours, ten in the cooler months it can make a big difference to your comfort levels. This post is a guest post from writer Paul Tomlinson in the UK on how to choose a wetsuit.
How To Choose the Right Wetsuit For Your Dive Location
Getting the right wetsuit is the first part of enjoying any diving experience. Diving would be impossible in some situations were it not for the vast array of wetsuits available to suit the unique requirements of different dive locations. Whether you’re dive is in the sea, a lake, a river or in caves, a wetsuit will be your best friend whilst diving so it’s important to choose the right one.
Warm Water VS Cold Water Diving
Warm water diving is the most common, as it simply means diving in water which is above 6 degrees Celsius. Staying warm becomes a factor when cold water diving, as temperatures can drop quite low and the body will lose heat 25% quicker when in water.
Different Dive Locations
Here is a short list of some of the most common types of diving, and what to expect from them.
- Reef Diving is the most common type of warm water diving and is usually suitable for divers of all levels. Reefs have good visibility, high temperatures, light currents, and tend to be relatively shallow.
- Kelp Diving – swimming down amongst thick beds of kelp or seaweed – is performed in cold water and can be quite tricky for inexperienced or claustrophobic divers. This is a dark dive, but not as dark as night diving.
- Wall Diving – this is a challenging dive, and anyone attempting it should make sure that their buoyancy is under control. Strong currents are a risk factor.
- Technical Diving – this type of diving is certainly not for beginners. Specialist gear is required, as the dive is often very deep.
Factors to Consider When Choosing Your Wetsuit
Different locations will always demand different wetsuits. UK locations tend to be colder, meaning that a full wetsuit with hood is often advisable. Temperature is often the overriding factor when choosing a wetsuit, however visibility, manoeuvrability and even wildlife will all play a part. Some factors may be unanticipated, such as the higher rate of cases of hypothermia in warm water locations due to the increased discrepancy between body temperature and water temperature. Visit the Secret Spot site today to consult a professional before you purchase your new wetsuit.
On Utila our temperature varies year round from averages of 24-28c/78-84f and for dive times up to 60 minutes, a 3mm shorty is sufficient from April to September, and then we recommend a full length. Divers who are just on a weeks diving vacation may find they feel colder towards the end of the week due to the body core thermal temperature being lowered after daily multiple dives, and so a hood can make a big difference. For dive times over 60 minutes, usually with our PADI training sessions on Open Water courses, and for divers who are interning on our PADI Divemaster and PADI IDC programs, in-water sessions can often be 2-3 hours, and although much of this is at the surface, the body is still loosing heat so we recommend a 5mm full length for the cooler months of the year, October to March. Of course this is a rough guide and will vary individual to individual based on surface area and body mass index.
The going-ons at UDC… October 4, 2012Posted by Utila Dive Center in Uncategorized.
Tags: bay islands, caribbean, dolphins, Honduras, instructors, Mammoth Cow, parties, september, sharks, side mount, sunjam, tech diving, utila dive festival, Whale sharks
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Appreciation and salutations from all of us at Utila Dive Centre. It’s been an amazing crazy year so far and things are still swinging as we head into rainy season. January, April, June and September all brought in Whale Sharks, keeping up Utila’s reputation for being one a few the unique places where they can be seen year round. We’ve also been regularly spotting dolphins to hop in with and have seen an upswing of sharks present in area, including Nurse Sharks, Hammerheads, and Caribbean Reef Sharks. The underwater visibilities continues to be crystal clear and the water is a balmy 28 degrees Celcius/82 degrees Fahrenheit, can’t ask for much better!
The month of August saw yet another rocking SunJam out at Water Key. The event brought in ferry-fulls of divers and non divers alike to dance the night away to world renowned DJs under the stars, and then continue the party at Coco’s bar through Sunday. UDC staff and divers were out in full force partying beneath the palm trees; as working hard to play hard is what we do best!
August was a busy month as just a week after SunJam we went straight into the first-ever annual Utila Dive Festival. The fest was a week-long, island-wide string of events, beginning with a vibrate opening ceremony with barbecue, live music, introductions from PADI Americas representatives that came down for the week, and UDC’s own DJ Jhair getting the crowd moving late into the evening. The rest of the week brought awesome events such as an underwater scavenger hunt, Rebreather and Tec Sidemount try-outs, Scuba Olympics, Fish ID and Whale Shark talks, an underwater photo contest, an island-wide pub quiz, a boat parade in the harbor and much much more, with staff and divers from UDC taking home the majority of the top prizes! The week was a complete success and as exhausted as we were by the end of it, we can’t wait for next year!
September came and went and with it went a cornerstone of the rotational instructor team for the past three years; our dearest Josiah “Juicy” Mackin has pick up and moved on. Recognizing an excellent excuse for a party or two, we sent Juice off with a bang! The week before he went saw his legendary quiz team Mammoth Cow score their final victory at the weekly UDC bar pub quiz, a Pig Roast for the weekly barbecue at Maya and Fernando’s, and last but certainly not least we shut down the dive center on Sunday afternoon and brought everyone over to Sarah and Dec’s for an epic pool party and Juicy’s final snorkel test! There was sunshine, a breeze and DJ Jhair spinning tunes, pretty hard to beat. THIS IS UDC!
Happy 2012 from all of us at UDC! January 11, 2012Posted by Utila Dive Center in Uncategorized.
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So friends, how many of you have still been writing 2011 every time you need to write the date!! (Perhaps that is just me….?!)
New Year is always a time to look back on the last year and to look forward to the new one. So first of all, we wanted to say thanks to all our customers in 2011. You were awesome and we loved being part of your diving adventures. If you were here to take your first breaths underwater…thank you for letting us share that with you. We will never get tired of the look of wonder on peoples´ faces as they see the underwater world we love. If you were here for Advanced classes or Specialties, then hopefully we have expanded your talents and skills. If you were here for Rescue…thank you for saving us! For those who did Tech, somehow one tank will never be enough again, will it? And for all our GoPros thank you for all your hard work, the fun we had and please keep in touch and tell us as you spread the UDC professionalism worldwide.
Highlights of the year…well almost too many to mention. Here are a few:
- Winning the Instructor Development Centre of the year from PADI for the 2nd year running
- Being awarded the Green Star in recognition of the environmental awareness we have and the work we do every day to promote that
- All the fun we have had here, both diving and also the “surface intervals” outside of diving
- Spectacular sunsets at the UDC dock with an ice cold beer
- Clive building a hand glider that was SUPPOSED to fly off the dock
- Setting up the new PADI Closed Circuit Rebreather program at UDC and with 3 Poseidon MKVI rebreathers!
Looking forward to 2012…what do we hope for. Well more of the same please! To every one of you that have visited previously, please hurry back to see us. To everyone who has not yet made it to Utila ….well what´s keeping you?
Here´s wishing you everything that you dream of for 2012 and hoping this is the best year EVER. Remember, it is up to you to grab the opportunities that come your way. Just think of the quote “because my worst nightmare is to wake up one day, old and grey, thinking about all the things I didn’t do…” Make this the year you DO!!!
The Halliburton Wreck July 20, 2011Posted by Utila Dive Center in scuba diving.
Tags: Advanced Open Water, Halliburton Wreck, PADI Instructor course, scuba diving, utila, Utila Dive Centre, wreck diving, Wreck Specialty course
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One of my favourite dive sites on Utila is the Halliburton Wreck and I never grow tired of it. It is a 30m (100ft) long cargo ship that was purposely sunk in May 1998 and lies perfectly upright with the bottom of its hull being at 30m on a sandy bottom. It is just 3 minutes away from Utila Dive Centre in the harbor near the lighthouse and offers us so much rich content for many types of diving.
Since it has been lying in the ocean for 13 years now, it has become a rich ecosystem for coral and marine life. For example, there are huge clams on it and they have been there so long that coral is now growing on them, so as they open and close the coral moves with them, which is a great sight to see. Typically the wheel house section of the wreck is home to 100s of tiny fry and one large dog snapper. There is also one of the most enormous Green Moray that I have ever seen that makes occasional appearances…I have no idea where he hides the rest of the time and as he is so large I am not sure I want to know either! It is also the place I had one of my most memorable diving moments on Utila. I was teaching a lovely couple the PADI Advanced Open Water and on our safety stop dolphins started circling us. At the time I was showing them how much a bottle that we had filled with air at depth had expanded on the way up, but soon stopped that and frantically began waving at them to turn around and look behind them. Then not only could I hear the clicks of the dolphins but also the high pitched squeals of the students!
The wreck is perfect for fun divers with their Advanced certification but it is also a great place to take students for their deep dive for the Advanced course. Everyone falls in love with the wreck and I have often had students come to the surface afterwards and say it was the best moment of their life. That kind of excitement just brings chills to me and is absolutely why I am a PADI scuba diving instructor. It is also fabulous for the Wreck Specialty classes we regularly teach at Utila Dive Centre and our new Instructor candidates, enjoy training on this site after their PADI IDC is completed. There are plenty of places to penetrate the wreck and they are challenging enough to test the students’ new found skills with a reel and torch and modified kick techniques. However they are not so deep or complicated that they overwhelm the student, just enough to give them a sense of achievement and to know they can do it. We also have wreck specialty divers who are also Sidemount divers (more about that in future updates) and that allows them even more freedom to explore the inside spaces of the wreck.
My favourite parts of the dive can actually be the descents and ascents, you leap into crystal clear water and are immediately surrounded by blue water. All you can see at first as you drift down is the bubbles of other divers and it is like you are flying through space, so beautiful and so tranquil. Then Rainbow Runner and Yellow Tailed Snapper fish start circling you and suddenly the ship appears from the water below. On the way up, you drift gently up in a cloud of bubbles and then, glancing down you notice the ship has vanished again. Just imagine the amount of treasures in the ocean that we must swim past and never see….
If you come diving to Utila with us, it is one site definitely recommend you do not miss
Summer in the Tropics June 10, 2011Posted by Utila Dive Center in scuba diving.
Tags: bay islands, dolphins, Honduras, padi idc, project aware, scuba instructor internships, summer, sunjam, utila
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Hello everyone from beautiful Utila!
So how many of you saw the massive storm that was over Honduras in this part of the world and threatening that it would rain solidly for 14 days? Luckily it changed paths and all we had was one day of rain. As that was the first rain in 4 months, it was actually very welcome. Then the next day we had beautiful clear blue Caribbean sunny skies again and it has stayed like that ever since which is great news for all of us on Utila, our divers, and those on our scuba diving internships! Just shows you get the best weather forecast by putting your head out of the window as seeing what it looks like!
Last week we also had an amazing day when we saw dolphins on the surface intervals. There were at least 80 of them and a mixture of both spinner dolphins doing tricks and the big bottle nose dolphins. The PADI Advanced students I were teaching got to jump in and snorkel with them for 15 minutes. What a perfect day and hopefully the Whale Sharks may be back again soon….watch this space for news. Our June PADI Instructor course has just got off to a great start and all the candidates are very excited about making this a memorable Summer, and if anyone is interested we still have space on our July and August PADI Instructor courses (PADI IDC), though we recommend an early reservation as it’s looking to be an action packed and popular Summer.
The 15th annual infamous SunJam event is scheduled for this August 6th, see more http://www.sunjam.com and we’re expecting a record attendance and amazing event with this spectacular DJ line up.
This week saw ‘World Oceans Day’ celebrate Mother Natures gift to us and this coincided with the launch of the new Project Aware website, which we’re proud to be a featured member of, and you can read more about Project Aware and Utila Dive Centre environmental initiatives here, http://www.projectaware.org, and even set up your own member profile and link back to UDC so you can receive regular environmental updates from your favourite dive center in Honduras!
We’ll be sure you keep you updated as all the excitement and great diving starts happening this Summer and hope you get to be a part of it, both offline, online and underwater!
Tags: caribbean, Dive for Earth Day, Diving, Environment, environmental clean ups, Honduras, lion fish, lionfish containment diver, scuba diving, sunjam, tech diving, Technical Diving, utila, Whale sharks
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Hello all you friends of UDC
Life has been great here and we’ve been very busy with lots of new things!
We had a long weekend of Green Events for Dive for Earth Day. These included Lion Fish and Whale Shark talks, beach and underwater cleanups, coral watch and lionfish containment dives and a BBQ. On the beach clean up alone we collected 309kg’s of rubbish collected, 250kgs (81%) of which was plastic and has gone to the recycling plant.
Whilst we are on the subject of Lion Fish, we have two things to update you on about that. Firstly our very own Josiah (a.k.a. Juicy!) has published his own distinctive specialty unique to Utila and Utila Dive Centre that has been approved by PADI. It is called Caribbean Lion Fish Containment Diver and teaches people the techniques needed to capture Lion Fish in support of our efforts to control the population of these fish. For those of you who do not know, they are not native to this region and so have no natural predators and as they are rampant feeders and reproducers, they can ruin a reef.
In addition, the Utila College of Marine Ecology organized the first Utila Lion Fish Derby. Teams from all the dive centres spent a day capturing and killing Lion Fish and the total for the day was almost 500, which makes a signifcant impact.
April and May have also been really big Tech months here. We have certified several new tech and Trimix divers and also some new Tech instructors. If you are interested in taking tech classes, just drop us a line and we can let you have more information.
If you fancy trying something new, don’t forget we also are the only place in the region that can teach you Sidemount diving. This traditionally has been used by Cave Divers and involves wearing 2 tanks on a harness. This removes a lot of the cumbersome and heavy equipment you usually wear and gives you much more flexibility to move and fit through tighter spaces. Those who have done it say it is like flying!
Finally, one reminder of the big event that is fast apprioaching….yes it is nearly time for Sunjam 2011. For more information check out http://sunjamutila.com. The confirmed date for this year is 6th August and it will be taking place on Water Cay. Remember the island gets crazy busy during this period, so be sure to reserve accommodation now!
That is it for now. Check our the website for regular posts and if you have pictures or comments from a trip to see us, please post them!
Take care and hope to see you here soon
All the staff at UDC
1st blog update of 2011 – a great start so far! January 31, 2011Posted by Utila Dive Center in Uncategorized.
Tags: bay islands, caribbean, divemaster course, Honduras, lion fish, padi idc, scuba diving, scuba instructor internships, utila
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It’s time for another one of our sporadic blog updates, and our first of 2011, there’s been new updates to some programs at UDC and also to our staffing so please read on for more news, and we hope your year is going as well as ours and you get to return to dive with us sometime in the near future.
UDC kicks off 2011 with brand new PADI Divemaster program
In October of 2010 Utila Dive Centre and are team of Instructors who work on our Divemaster program, worked closely with PADI to beta test the new
revised Divemaster course curriculum. Following our feedback and support, the new 2011 PADI Divemaster program is now officially offered at UDC, 6 months ahead of the required implementation date. The new Divemaster course, has more focus on in-water practical workshops, and programs/activities that todays Divemaster finds themselves working in. The theory has been streamlined to only include Divemaster relevant topics and the number of dives required to enter the program has been raised to 40 from 20, though 60 is still the same exit requirement. At UDC we also integrate the Project Aware Coral Watch program into our Divemaster course so candidates get to learn more about Coral Reef surveying, and also log extra dives prior to starting the course. Our Divemaster training sets some of the highest standards int he region, and has to, as many of our Divemaster candidates continue on to train to become PADI Scuba Instructors with our monthly Instructor courses, so you can be assured our training gives you the strongest foundation possible. We offer Divemaster training all year round, and start the course every Monday (prerequisite training available any time) and have PADI Instructor courses scheduled each month.
New for 2011 Global Dive Network!
We’ve expanded our former ‘Preferred Partner’ scheme to add more quality dive operators worldwide, and there are now 7 quality PADI dive centers;
- Utila Dive Centre, Honduras
- Emperor Divers, Red Sea Egypt
- Poseidon Divers, Red Sea Egypt
- Buddha View, Thailand
- Blue Season Bali, Indonesia
- Eco Divers Manado, Indonesia
- Pro Dive, Great Barrier Reef, Australia
When you dive with any of these operators just show your card or proof of diving with UDC and you’ll be entitled to preferential treatment and savings on direct bookings.
Adios Dick, Hola Declan!
We’d like to wish one of our longer serving Instructors, Mr Dick Walker, all the best in his future direction as he moves
on to new adventures. Dick has worked for us for the last 4 years and has mentored many Divemasters during his tenure with us, and was well know for his Thursday night BBQ words of wisdom. Whilst irreplaceable, we would like to welcome another great Instructor to join our team Declan Dowdall. Declan is already to familiar to many of our divers as he worked as an Instructor and Guide aboard our resort boat, the Old Tom, and is already proving to be an outstanding addition to the team.
Congratulations to our January 2011 Instructor course
Congratulations to our first PADI IDC of 2011 in January, and our candidates who came from afar as the UK, the USA, Canada, Mexico, Colombia, Ireland and locally Honduras. Our candidates from our January PADI IDC are now preparing to work in the local dive industry throughout Utila, Roatan, Mexico, Costa Rica and elsewhere in Central America and the Caribbean this month with a job placement service and many will be going on to complete their ‘Master Scuba Diver Trainer’ scuba Internships and ‘Beautiful Oceans’ Science Instructor ratings before embarking on jobs within the region. If you’d like to learn more about a professional dive career please contact PADI Course Director Andy Phillips on email@example.com for more information.
Great Diving Conditions so far!
The weather has been amazing so far this year, aside from a few days of rain it looks like the rainy season is behind us, which is not surprising as it seemed to start very early in 2010 as well, around September with rain most of the month which was actually a welcome as 3 storms in September helped to lower our water temperatures and prevent permanent damage from coral bleaching as Summer of 2010 had elevated water temperatures. We’ve had several Nurse shark sightings on the Northside so far this year, and also encounters with Dolphins, and we’re sending our boats daily to the Northside and looking forward to when the Whale sharks start to show up.
UDC Lion fish containment specialty approved!
Congratulations to UDC Instructor Josiah Mackin, on having his own distinctive specialty the ‘Lion Fish Containment Program’ approved by PADI and he will soon be offering this specialty course to our divers who are interested in responsible environmental management of this invasive species. The specialty takes 2 days and educates divers how to safely remove Lion Fish from the reef, without causing any environmental impact, or harm to them selves from the venomous spines, and also covers safe handling and disposal, including leaving on the reef for decomposition. In the last 2 years the amount of Lion Fish sighted on Caribbean reefs have grown to concerning numbers, as they have no natural predators, and have voracious appetites. There have been unconfirmed reports of Moray Eels predating on Lion Fish around Utila and further research is being conducted to see if this behavior is actually happening. If your interested in this specialty class that is unique to Utila Dive Centre, please contact us for more information.
We hope you enjoyed this latest round of updates from the Utila Dive Centre team, and please feel free to touch base with us at any time, or if you would like to return for further training or diving, we’re more than happy to answer any questions.
Tropical Storm Matthew passes safely, and lots of ‘news’ action from UDC! September 27, 2010Posted by Utila Dive Center in Uncategorized.
Tags: caribbean, divemaster course, Honduras, hurricane, IDC, instructors, padi, september, sidemount diving, utila
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Tropical Storm Matthew passed about 20 miles South of Utila on the mainland of Honduras with winds around 30 miles per hour on the weekend of 25th/26th September, with no damage to the island, though rumors abound of a few sore heads on Sunday am after a few ‘storm parties’! Utila and the other Bay Islands are rarely affected by Hurricanes as they lay so far South of the typical trajectory path in the Caribbean, though they do get the occasional fall out from winds and rain clouds.
In this update of our blog we also have news on;
- Latest Divemaster training updates
- UDC offering sidemount courses
- Congratulations to our September Instructor candidates on another 100% pass rate
Click on more for the latest………..
Utila Summer Update September 2, 2010Posted by Utila Dive Center in Uncategorized.
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SunJam 14th Edition Outstanding Success
This year on August 7th and 8th over 1000 revelers danced the weekend away to one of the most successful, attended and greatest SunJam parties ever hosted on the beautiful island of Watercaye. A line up of international DJ’s from Central America, the USA and Europe attracted party goers from all over the world for this famous and established party event in the Central America calender, and in good party season, there were several pre and post party evens on the island of Utila to support the SunJam. Here’s to the 15th edition of the SunJam in 2011, see you there and for more information visit http://www.sunjamutila.com!
Click on ‘more’ below to see other updates from this Summer……………….