Where can I even start describing my first few weeks on this crazy and beautiful island? I have fallen in love with Utila. I spent a couple of weeks here before I started my internship and had already decided Utila is a special place, but it has become even more special to me after just two weeks at WSORC.
I do not have a background in marine science or anything related but I have learnt so much already from the presentations, boat trips and generally being around such interesting people all the time! When I arrived at WSORC I began my Advanced Open Water PADI certification with my fellow volunteers, and got the opportunity to do a wreck dive – surrounded by thousands of tiny jellies at the three-minute safety stop being my favorite part, I have a newfound love for jellyfish! We also did a night dive, which I’ve been dying to do for ages – it did not disappoint, as well as seeing bioluminescence for the first time we saw a cute little octopus.
On one of the first days a group of us from the dive shop and WSORC walked to the freshwater caves, another new experience that was mostly enjoyable, other then the part where you had to squeeze through the tiny jaggedy tunnels! The caves were awesome though and you could swim into different chambers, as well as being surrounded by bats, which actually looked pretty beautiful in the torchlight. The next day we walked to Pumpkin Hill beach hoping to see turtle hatchlings at sunset – unfortunately the turtles decided to stay in that night but we had a productive beach clean up and even found a tiny filefish perfectly dried. On a more studious side, the four of us also had a REEF fish ID and invertebrate ID test, which we studied pretty hard for between daily activities using the WSORC flashcards – we all passed and I’m excited to actually be able to identify all the pretty fish I’m looking at on my first research dive. I’m also crossing my fingers for dolphins!
Utila is a pretty unique place, full of a collection of people who have realized they can live life so much better on a Caribbean island, incredibly delicious food, and spectacular sunsets – not a bad place to wake up in the morning. One of my favorite days was taking a boat out to Water Cay, a tiny deserted island straight out of a luxury travel magazine. We bought some beers, music and our happy selves and hung out in the ocean all day – perfection. Another great memory was the carnival opening day boat parade. The boat got dressed up all fancy, covered in palm trees like a jungle, and so did we! We paraded around the bay for a good couple of hours, dancing, laughing and checking out the other boats (ours was definitely the best!). So, all in all, I’d say my first few weeks on Utila have exceeded all expectations and like so many people on this island – I literally never want to leave!