How many attractive dive pages do you know in Honduras?
This weekend we stumbled upon a very interesting Instagram page run by Nick, owner of @DiveSaga with showcases amazing dive material shot in Utila, the Bay Islands. Nick's material features dive wrecks, caves, and marine life.
I am originally from Belgium but moved to Utila 10 years ago. I'm a very avid diver and am always looking for the next wonderful reef, so of course the Bay Islands could not be missed.
Nick tells us it was always his intention to live his life on his own terms but didn't know a place existed where that was still possible, until he stumbled on Utila. Initially, he had planned to leave Utila but he started working at the Bay Islands College of Diving and one thing led to another. Before he knew it ten years went by, he built a house, a career and made friends which is why he now calls the island "home".
How has been your experience so far compared to other places? For someone who grew up in Europe, where everything is regulated and everyone's expectations of everyone else are very high, it has been both a relief and a learning curve to build a life in a place that takes things a little easier. That doesn't mean life is always easy here. Utila is a small island, you can't always get what you need when you need it and you're very subject to the weather. If mother nature decides it's time to close us down, there's really no way around it. I think many foreigners refer to this feeling of "island fever" when you are not used to living in a small place that's difficult to leave. Luckily, over the years, I've grown used to it and there's definitely a lot of things to be thankful for, living here. Whenever I'm abroad, I refer to Utila as "home".
What are your favorite places on the island... inland, and underwater? I can spend hours sitting on Pumpkin Hill and looking west, over the island. It's such a beautiful sight, especially in the afternoon, when the sun is low. The Iron Shore is also one of my favorite on-land spots to just sit and take it all in. Especially on a windy day! Underwater there's also a lot to see.
I'm a technical diver so Utila's north side is a real treat. One of my favorite things to do is gear up for a Trimix dive at "Duppy Waters" or "CJ's Drop Off" and explore the 100 meter 330 ft area. I still have a secret hope to discover something new of historical significance. You just never know!
What things have you seen diving in Utila that you had not seen anywhere else before? One of the more unique moments was when I was on a decompression stop and heard a noise. When I looked up, hundreds of dolphins were passing overhead. That's quite spectacular and definitely very lucky! On land, I am always fascinated with our Iguana population. It's so unique that the "Swamper", also known as the Utila Iguana can only be found in the wild here, on this little island. Many zoos around the world keep it and refer to it as the "Utila Iguana" but we're the only place on earth that actually has them in the wild. It doesn't get more Jurassic Park than that!
What is Dive Saga and how did it come to life? I actually work as a PADI Course Director at Bay Islands College of Diving. That means I train people to become dive instructors themselves and go teach around the world. When I realized that, while people do come back to Utila sometimes, it's very difficult to maintain an intimate feeling over the years, I started Dive SAGA. It's an entirely online dive club for diving professionals (recreational divers welcome). We organize dive travel around the world, designed to help all of us check off some "bucket list" dive spots. We also have an online diving magazine (www.divesaga.com/magazine) and a web shop where members get discounts (www.divesaga.com/shop). It's really just a way to keep our diving community together and generate more interest for the sport. Last year, I also started SAGA Adventure Media to attract more dive brands to consider Utila as a possible location for their product shoots. Just before the lockdown, we actually finished a really big shoot for OTS Full Face Masks, which means a lot of their social media, their catalogue and their product shots will feature Utila in the background. I think that definitely helps putting us on the map!
Not only does Dive Saga put Utila in the map in various ways but it also attracts dive travelers from around the world which bring revenue to the island.
We see you offer from dive products to PADI classes and even some incredible dive packages. Can you elaborate some more on these? In Utila specifically, you can find me at the Bay Islands College of Diving. I teach dive instructors and technical divers, as we mentioned before. As far as dive trips go, we always try to do something unique. We've been to Iceland, Mexico, the Azores.. We were supposed to explore the ship wrecks of Malta this September but unfortunately we'll have to postpone that due to the current pandemic situation.
Where have you received guests from? We receive guests from all over the world. In my instructor courses, I've received guests from the US and Canada but also from much more unexpected places such as India, China, Chile and South Africa. We're quite known for what we do because we like to take it really serious, which definitely attracts a certain crowd.
My goal is essentially to make the diving world a more interesting place, bring people together and get divers excited.
Dive Saga also features its own Youtube Channel where you can find much more interesting content come to life on video. Check it out: www.youtube.com/c/divesaga
Remember to follow Dive Saga on social media!