Northeast of Utila Town and the airport, the snorkeling at the East End Reef (aka The Aquarium) is known as a popular dive site. The boat-accessed Aquarium snorkeling dive site is located off the East End point. The water depth varies from 5 feet to 50 feet deep. During East End Reef snorkeling, you may encounter sea fans, sea whips and sea plumes among the patchy coral formations. It is not really known for colorful corals like along the south shore, but there are long ridges of coral and rock with plenty of staghorn coral and elkhorn coral. The water entrance may be tricky since dead coral comes right up to the shore necessitating the use of water shoes.
While the snorkeling on Utila is well known for its offshore whale shark encounters, there are numerous beach-accessed snorkeling dive sites. Isla Utila is considered by many as one of the best places in the world to snorkel with whale sharks. The harmless whale sharks off Utila range from 25 feet to 50 feet long and are up to 15 tons. The best time of year for snorkeling with whale sharks is from March to April and also from August to September in the Cayman Channel off the north shore. The most popular shore-accessed snorkeling dive sites are along the south shore mainly due to convenient shoreline access. The best dive sites are about 500 feet offshore. Overall, the best water clarity and visibility is from February to May during the dry season. The reefs around Utila are monitored by the Bay Island Conservation Association.
After a long day of snorkeling at East End Reef, you may want to cool off with a cold drink in Utila Town at the Tranquila Bar or Coco’s.
To reach the snorkeling in Utila by air, fly into Ramon Villeda Morales International Airport (SAP) in San Pedro Sula. Then, you will need to transfer to an inter-island flight. To reach the snorkeling on Utila by air from Roatan, you may be able to find a direct flight to Roatan into Juan Manuel Galvez International Airport (RTB) from Miami or Houston. Then, there is an inter-island airline from Roatan to Utila called Island Air (504) 9558-8683.
To reach Utila by boat from the mainland city of La Ceiba, there are two ferry companies called Utila Princess and Utila Island Express.
To reach the snorkeling on Utila by boat from Roatan, you can try the daily catamaran service from Captain Vern Fine ((504) 3346-2600), which departs Roatan from the West End and arrives into Utila at the dock near the Bush Supermarket.
TIP: the sand flies (aka no-see-ums) are voracious year-round on Isla Utila mainly since two-thirds of the island is covered by swamps. So, make sure you arrive prepared with bug lotions.
Overall, Aquarium is the 6th most popular snorkel dive spot of all 10 snorkeling dives in Utila Island.