Ankor på vift

A freedom-oriented travel blog

Tag: diving (page 1 of 2)

Diving around the Gili Islands – throwback to the end of April

Ulrika has finally edited our diving movies from the Gili Islands, so here is a throwback to the end of April when Ulrikas family decided to join our adventure in Indonesia. Gili Air was our first stop and it was also here we where diving. Crystal clear water and a lot of marine life – Gili Islands is a great diving spot according to us! 


Ulrika har äntligen redigerat våra dykfilmer från Giliöarna, så här är en tillbakablick till i slutet av april när Ulrikas familj bestämde sig för att följa med på vårt äventyr i Indonesien. Gili Air var vårt första stopp och det var också här vi ägnade oss åt dykning. Kristallklart vatten och mycket marint liv – Giliöarna är en bra dykplats enligt oss!

This time looking back to the end of April when we visited the Gili Islands, or Gili Air to be precise.

Ulrikas family were with us and it was here Ulrikas sister broke the news that a new family member is coming. That’s why she couldn’t follow us to the dive sites.

Ulrika, Pontus and Mats dived with the 7seas dive center on Gili Air and we can highly recommend them. We had an awesome time together with them 🙂 Below are four dive movies from around the Gili Islands.

On our first dive next to Gil Trawangan we saw our first tiny ribbon eel, also known as the leaf-nosed moray eel or bernis eel!

Mats followed us to our second dive site, called Turtle heaven, and this dive site really lives up to its name!

Our third dive was a wreck dive, but we only got a few minutes around the wreck because of the strong current that suddenly appeared. The dive turned into a drift dive and we realized why when we came to the surface and saw the wall of rain coming from the sky. We got picked up by another boat, because we drifted so far that we were no way near our dive boat.

Fourth and last dive was next to Gili Meno and with much nicer weather than our third dive.

Maja and Mats next to the beach of Gili air with Lombok in the background.
It was nice to snorkle around Gili air, we got to see a white frogfish here that we recorded with our GoPro.

We’re getting closer to be up to date with our blog now when all our dive movies are edited and published. We are back on track again and next will be about saying goodbye to the King family in Prague and unschooling, stay tuned!

Gozo – diving around the former Azure Window

Malta and Gozo are known to be good for diving, so we had to descend below the surface here. Our main purpose of our visit to Malta was the Corax conference, but we had one day scheduled for diving and the choice fell on Dive systems Malta and their “Diving around Gozo”- package.  We only had time for two dives, so we went to the “Inland Sea and Tunnel”- and the “Blue hole”-dive sites. The Azure Window is not standing there any longer, but luckily for us, it is now part of the marine life next to the Blue Hole, which was one of our dives here.  If we had more time on Malta, we would have loved to dive around some of the spectacular wrecks from the world wars that are laying around at the bottom of the sea next to Malta or explore more of the fantastic underwater limestone-caves here, but we have to spare them to another time. Going to Gozo was also interesting, we had been to Malta one time before, but we had saved the Northern part of the Maltese archipelago, because we knew that we were coming here for the conference. Below are pictures from our last days on Malta for this time.


Malta och Gozo är kända för bra dykning så vi var tvungna att ta oss en titt under ytan. Vårt huvudsakliga syfte med besöket på Malta var Corax-konferensen, men vi hade en dag planerad för att dyka. Valet föll på “Dive systems Malta” och deras paket “Dykning runt Gozo”. Vi hade bara tid för två dyk, så vi bestämde oss för att dyka vid “the Inland Sea and Tunnel”- och “the Blue hole”. Azurfönstret står inte  längre där, men lyckligtvis för oss är det nu en del av det marina livet bredvid “the Blue Hole”, vilket var ett av våra dyk. Om vi hade haft mer tid på Malta hade vi dykt vid några av de spektakulära vrak från världskrigen som ligger på botten runt Malta eller utforska mer av de fantastiska kalkstensgrottorna, men vi får bara spara dem till en annan gång. Att åka till ön Gozo var också intressant, vi hade varit på Malta en gång tidigare, men vi sparade då den norra delen av den maltesiska skärgården till en annan gång, då vi visste att vi skulle komma hit för konferensen. Nedan finns bilder från våra sista dagar på Malta för den här gången.

We went diving with a fellow conference-attendee during our last days in Malta. We would only have time for two dives, so we choose the smaller island Gozo to be where we would explore the underwater wildlife of the Mediterranean sea. This is the first time diving in this part of the world so we were quite excited about what we would encounter down there.

We had gotten to know our dive-buddy Per during the conference and now we met up with him early in the morning outside our dive center.

We got suited up with dive gear, not this old relic though – it is just a historical piece standing in the dive shop.

We went with Dive Systems Malta and they had nice new sets of dive gear. They also give you bigger tanks in their standard equipment. With a bigger oxygen tank you will be heavier, mind that when you have to walk to the dive site from the parking lot (see the videos further down), but you will have plenty of oxygen. This is good if you’re a heavy breather.

It takes around 2.5 hours to go from Sliema on Malta to the East part of Gozo, where we were going to dive, including taking the ferry between the islands.

We got to see the landscape in Northern Malta while we we’re getting closer to the town Cirkewwa, from where the ferries are departing.

Malta is mainly beige, with a few colorful spots here and there.

They do have a few parks here and there so when we saw a bit of green, we just had to take a picture.

Even an old English phone booth breaks the seemingly endless sandy look of Malta.

The ferry departs frequently, so we didn’t have to wait long for a ferry to take us to Gozo.

Mġarr is where the ferry takes you when anchoring on Gozo. Gozo is the second largest island in the Maltese archipelago and Gozo has long been thought to be Ogygia in Homer’s Odyssey, where the nymph Calypso held Odysseus captive for seven years.

Gozo is more rural than the main island Malta and Gozo has been inhabited at least since 5000 BC.

We arrived at Dwejra around lunch time and suited up for our dives. It was really hot this day, as you can see in our videos below. We were curious what we would see below the surface and we concluded that it was different from diving in Southeast Asia and in Central America. However, we loved the limestone underwater caves and the different corals and fishes here. The parrot fish, a common and really colorful fish in SE Asia, where not colorful at all here. The famous Azure Window, that fell into the sea in early spring of 2017, was also interesting to see. The Azure Window was a main tourist attraction of Gozo, but is now laying in pieces at the bottom of the sea next to the Blue Hole. We had two great dives here, then it was time to head back to the main island Malta.

Peculiar thing seen in Gozo – be aware of the CCTV cameras in the toilets :p

Back to Malta and the sunbathers! If you want sand beaches instead of cliffs, go to Gozo or Comino!

We also had time to participate in the Balluta Parish Our Lady of Mount Carmel – festival, which happened in Balluta bay in the end of July 2017.

The first Carmelite friars went to Balluta bay on the 22nd of May 1890 and first had a small church, but the increasing number of followers made it so that they had to rebuild the church many times since then. This is the current church today, standing in S:t Julians.

Close up on the top windows in the church, looks kinda like a scary movie with this light setting.

“Our Lady of Mount Carmel” or “the Blessed Virgin Mary in her role as patroness of the Carmelite Order” is what is celebrated during this festival. Here, the friars carrying around a statue of her at the festival.

The festival ended with fire works and our time on Malta ended here as well.

We said goodbye to Malta and headed North again, this time to Prague visiting our friends there.  Our hostel had an interesting map of Europe hanging on the wall, picturing the main products of agriculture in different parts of Europe.

Liveaboard – Diving in the Andaman Sea part II: Similan Islands

Part II of our liveaboard adventure begins when we entered the waters of the Similan National Park, a very famous dive area with a lot of dive sites and beautiful Islands. Part I was all about the Surin Islands and Richelieu rock, a more remote location where most boats that come there are dive boats. Now in the Similan islands we would encounter a lot more tourists and people snorkeling near the beaches. We were here in the beginning of March, so the high season for tourists were over so there weren’t to many people here. However, we can imagine crowded beaches here during the peak of the season.  


Del II av vårt liveaboard-äventyr börjar när vi kom in i Similan Nationalpark, ett välkänt dykområde med många dykplatser och med vackra öar. Del I handlade om Surinöarna och Richelieu rock, ett mer avlägset område där de flesta båtar som kom dit är dykbåtar. Nu på Similanöarna skulle vi möta många fler turister och människor som snorklar nära stränderna. Vi var här i början av mars, så högsäsongen för turister var över och då var det inte alltför många människor där, men vi kunde föreställa oss hur trångt det skulle kunna vara på stränderna här under toppen av högsäsongen.

Day 2 of diving we entered the Similan National Park, which consists of 11 islands. Similan means nine (in Yawi) and from the beginning the park consisted of nine islands making up an archipelago, but in 1998 two more islands were included in the National park, Koh Tachai and Koh Bon.

We reached Koh Tachai, the most northern island and latest added to the Similan National park list of islands, around lunch on dive day 2. Some information about Koh Tachai: Original name Koh Bua after the unique Lotus flower that used to grow on the island. The 2004 tsunami wiped away all flowers so the island was renamed after one of the first fishermen who came to the island after the tsunami: Uncle Chai (TaChai).

Our dive number 8 on this trip was scheduled during the sunset so we didn’t bring our gopro for this dive.
More information about Koh Tachai: The island is located between the Surin Islands and the main Similan Archipelago, quite close to the Richelieu rock where we dived previously that day (dive day 2). Whale sharks and Manta rays can be seen here, but luck wasn’t on our side on this trip.

Next day, dive day 3, we had traveled to Koh Bon for dives number 9 and 10. Koh Bon has two main dive areas, the ridge/bay and the Pinnacle, which is deep and prone to currents. The first dive for us here was next to the ridge.

Our tenth dive on this trip was north of the ridge and it was here that we got to see our first Guitarfish, which we first thought was a shark, but it belongs to the family of rays.

Then it was time to travel down to the main Similan archipelago, the original nine islands which have given this part of the world its name. We did our last dive of the day here, before it was barbecue time with our dive companions and the dive crew.

We did only three dives this day, so our barbecue party could start early.

Erica, Vita and Shing while waiting for dinner. We had good times together on the boat.

The sunset on dive day 3. The morning after would be our last dive day with the Sea dragon’s liveaboard.

Dive day 4 and we would have our last two dives on the West side of the archipelago. We also had time to visit Koh Similan, the largest island out of the nine islands in the archipelago.

We headed up on the “mountain” on Koh Similan to get a better view over the island.

It is an easy and short hike up a human-made trail, so shoes are not needed. The white powder on our feet are sand from the beach.

The view over the bay, Ao Kuerk, on Koh Similan. We don’t have a lot of pictures with us together so we took the opportunity to be in the same picture together.

The water is crystal clear so to jump from the rocks was amazing.

We found a strange looking dead creature near the beach. More pictures from Koh Similan can be found in the slide show below. Then it was time for our two last dives on the trip.

 

We had all three dives in the archipelago on the West side, which is known for its huge boulders and swim-throughs. Diving on the East side is said to be different with gently sloping coral reefs and sandy patches.

Then it was time to get back to the mainland and for us that meant to get back to Khao Lak and waiting for our friends to arrive.

Liveaboard – Diving in the Andaman Sea part I

Finally, Ulrika has taken the time to go through all our movies and photos from our Liveaboard adventure in Thailand so this will be a throwback to the end of February when we went out with Sea dragon, a Khao Lak based dive center that  has its own boats traveling up and down the west coast of Thailand taking divers out for adventures in the Andaman Sea. We choose to do a 4 days/4 nights liveaboard going from the Surin Islands down to the Similan Islands with a total of 13 dives during the days (and nights) out on the sea. The crew and dive masters where awesome and the food served was really good, so we had a great time with the Sea dragons that we will remember forever.


Äntligen har Ulrika tagit sig tid att gå igenom alla våra filmer och bilder från vårt Liveaboard-äventyr i Thailand så detta blir en tillbakablick till slutet av februari när vi åkte ut med Sea Dragon, ett Khao Lak-baserat dykcenter som har sina egna båtar som färdas upp och ner vid Thailands västkust och tar dykare ut på äventyr i Andamansjön. Vi valde att göra en 4 dagars/4 nätters liveaboard som gick från Surinöarna ner till Similanöarna med totalt 13 dyk under dessa dagar (och nätter) ute på havet. Besättningen och dykinstruktörerna var fantastiska och maten som serverades ombord var riktigt bra. Vi hade en underbar upplevelse med Sea Dragons som vi kommer att minnas för alltid.

Our first stop was the Surin Islands where we would do our first four dives. We had traveled to these Islands during the night, so we could do our first dive early in the morning on day 1.

Mu Ko Surin National Park is an archipelago of five islands 60 km from the mainland and only a few kilometers from the Thai-Burmese oceanic border. The ethnic Moken minority, known as “chao lay” or “sea gypsies”, are the only humans living on the Surin islands.

We got a chance to walk on the main Surin Island and explore a small part of the national park. The park is closed during rainy season, 1 May-31 October, so during that time no dive boats go to this part of Thailand.

We brought our masks so we could do some snorkeling, but there wasn’t much to see under the water here. It was more things to see looking out from the beach. We then went out on our second dive before lunch.

We went out with the M/V Andaman boat and it was our Liveaboard-home for a few days. So we could relax on the sun deck reading a book or lay down under the roof listening to a podcast between dives. We have put together a slide show with pictures of the boat if you want to see how a Liveaboard boat could look like.

 

We could also talk with the other Liveaboard people on the boat. Siim and Kajsa were our dive companions, sharing the same dive master, so we did all of our dives together. Siim and Kajsa are working in the Finnish/Estonian film industry and Siim had become a bit famous after his last movie ( Mother, 2016) so some Estonian people on vacation in Thailand had recognized him.

Emil was our Swedish dive master who took us out on the under water adventures! Thanks Emil for our days with the Sea Dragon Liveaboard, you made it an awesome time for us.

It was encouraging to see the number of dives the people on our boat had done. We were one of the least experienced with only 48 dives during this trip, some of the divers had done several thousands of dives up to this point.

Our fourth dive was a night dive around the Surin Islands, so we waited for the sun to set before we jumped into the water. We didn’t film during this dive, but it was a really nice dive.

On dive day 2, the M/V Andaman took us to Richelieu Rock, a famous dive site 18 km east of the Surin Islands. Richelieu Rock is known for its purple corals and the diverse marine life found there. You even have a chance of seeing whale sharks around this underwater rock mountain if you’re lucky (we weren’t that lucky).

The dive master, there were five of them taking care of different dive groups, held a dive briefing before each dive and told us what we could expect to see on different dive sites. We did our dives no 5 and 6 around this dive site. The coral is pink and purple, so Scorpion fishes here have amazing color pattern trying to disguise themselves among the corals.

Richelieu Rock became a dive site when diving pioneer, Jacques-Yves Cousteau, with the help of local fishermen, discovered it. It is a horse-shoe shaped pinnacle that rises 50 meter from the sea bottom and touches the surface during low tide. After our two dives at Richelieu rock, we had lunch on the boat while it took us  south to the island Koh Tachai. More about that in part II.

Gili Air with Ulrikas family & Swedish Mises-institute article

The Gili Islands was the first stop on our trip with Ulrika’s family. After one night in Kuta, we jumped on a fast boat out to Gili Air for diving and swimming in the ocean. If you follow Ulrika on snapchat, you have probably noticed how much she has been waiting for her family to come to Bali, and now it was time to explore the islands around Bali. It is very easy to move between the islands. Almost every homestay can arrange transportation to different locations on Bali or to other islands nearby. Pictures from Gili Air can be found below.

Ulrika has also translated and modified an episode of one of our favorite podcasts, “The Voluntary Life – episode 274“, into Swedish and had published it at the Swedish Mises-Institute, which is also behind another one of favorite podcasts, Radio Mises, which we highly recommend!


Giliöarna blev det första stoppet som vi tog Ulrikas familj till. Efter en natt i Kuta, så tog vi snabbåtarna ut till Gili Air för att dyka och bada. Ni som följer Ulrika på snapchat har nog märkt hur mycket hon längtat efter att hennes familj ska komma till Bali och nu var det dags att utforska öarna omkring Bali. Det är väldigt lätt att röra sig mellan öarna då nästan varenda homestay också kan ordna transport till olika platser på Bali och andra öar i närheten. Bilder från Gili Air kommer nedan.

Ulrika har även översatt och modifierat ett avsnitt av en av våra favoritpodcasts, “The Voluntary life – avsnitt 274”, till svenska och fått den publicerad på Svenska Mises-institutet, vilka också är grundare till en av våra andra favoritpodcasts, Radio Mises, som vi högt rekommenderar!  

Finally, my family arrived to Bali, but we did not stay long there. Our goal was to take a boat out to the Gili Islands.

The view in Padang Bai, a fishing village from which the fast boats depart to the Gili Islands.

We arrived at Gili Air almost two hours later. There are three Gili islands, which are located near each other. Gili Trawangan, or Gili T, is the party island where a lot of backpackers come to enjoy life and late hours. Gili Meno is the quiet islands, where often honeymooners end up at luxury resorts. Gili Air, is the laid back island, with a relaxed atmosphere and bars.

You can easily travel between the Gili islands with local boats and also get over to the bigger island Lombok.

There are no motor traffic on the islands, so horse and carriage
is the way to get around, together with bicycles and electric scooters.

Our accommodation on the island. The place is called Family Bungalows, which is a set of bungalows with air-conditioning in the middle of the island.

We went to Gili Air for the diving, and we were not disappointed. We chose to dive with 7seas and they were a very customer friendly dive center and they also had good diving gear. Here are we posing with our dive masters Efrin and Francesco, who took us out to incredible dive sites around the three islands.

Gili Air means beach time, and you can snorkel here if you’re not into diving. Ulrika showed Maja how to snorkel here!

Maja and Mats enjoying the warm water. The island is really close to Lombok so you can see the northwest part of Lombok from the beach.

Gili Air has a really relaxed atmosphere in the evenings and interesting bars to hang out in.

Air is really small, only 6.5 kilometers in circumference so it is possible to see the whole island in under an hour. We walked along the coast during low tide and took pictures.

The famous swings in the water at Gili Air.

Hairdresser, snorkeler and mother, Maja has more than one skill.

Evenings were spent talking and laughing.

We had a few lazy days on the beach before we moved on.

We went to an outdoor cinema the last evening on Air, which btw means water in Indonesian, before we took a boat over to Lombok.

Exploring Khao Lak with our new camera

We are currently hanging around in the Khao Lak area and we have just come back from a 4-day tour out on the Andaman Sea, where we did 13 dives at the Surin Islands, Richelieu Rock, Koh Tachai, and the Similian Islands. It has been an absolutely fantastic diving experience for us and Ulrika is now going through and editing the nearly 200 video-shoots taken during the dives. These films will end up here and on our Youtube-channel eventually. In the meantime,  we will show you some pictures from our first days here in Khao Lak.
We went out for a long walk in the heat so Ulrika would have the opportunity to take pictures with our new camera, a Sony RX-100. You can find these photos in the slideshow below. Khao Lak was hit hard by the 2004 tsunami, so those who have been here before the catastrophe will perhaps not recognize the place.  A lot of big resorts has popped up since then in the Khao Lak area, but we found nice places to take photos.  Khao Lak is a very green place,  where the Lam Ru National Park rise up just behind Khao Lak and squeezes the villages in the area between the djungle and the Andaman sea.


Vi hänger för tillfället i Khao Lak och har precis kommit tillbaka från en 4-dagars tur ute på Andamanska havet där vi gjort 13 dyk vid Surin-öarna, Richelieu rock, Koh Tacha och Similian-öarna. Det har varit helt fantastisk dykning, och det har genererat nästan 200 film-klipp som nu Ulrika går igenom och redigerar. Dessa filmer kommer hamna på bloggen och på vår Youtubekanal så småningom. I väntan på det får ni istället se lite bilder från våra första dagar här i Khao Lak.
Vi var ute på en långpromenad i hettan för att Ulrika skulle få tillfälle att fota med vår nya kamera, en Sony RX-100 och ni hittar dessa bilder i bildspelet nedan. Khao Lak drabbades hårt av tsunamin år 2004, så ni som har varit här innan känner nog inte igen er. Det har växt upp en hel del stora resorts i Khao Lak-området, men vi hittade fina ställen att fota och detta är en väldigt grön plats där nationalparken Lam Ru reser sig bakom Khao Lak och klämmer in byarna i området mellan sig och havet.

Our pictures from Khao Lak:

 

The sun isn’t always shining in Khao Lak. We’ve had thunder and lightning almost every night. This amount of rain is very uncommon during the dry season. Fortunate for us, the clouds usually comes around during the evening and we like rain so it is not bad according to us.

We’re eating both local stuff, like the lovely noodle soup,…

Thai-version of Sushi, with their own kind of rice,…

and we did go to the only McDonalds in town and had a Mcflurry and a Sundae.

Our home during our stay here.

Pontus training in our 25 meter-pool.

And they are our reason not to sit with our computers all day. Our friends Karin and Patrik decided to join us here in Khao Lak, so we’re spending our time with them – eating, drinking, talking, laughing, sunbathing and swimming in the Andaman sea 🙂

 

 

 

Hejdå Utila! /Bye Utila!

(Please scroll down to the orange text for the English version)

Den lilla karibiska ön Utila utanför norra Honduras lockar många dykare och backpackers. Självklart ville vi också åka dit nu när vi ändå var i närheten. Det första som fångade vår uppmärksamhet på Utila var arkitekturen och språket. Vi har aldrig varit i södra USA, men det var dit våra associationer gick när vi först fick syn på husen med breda och låga huskroppar som står på pålar med en stor veranda på framsidan. Vi förväntade oss nästan att se amerikanska flaggor vajande från verandorna. Att vi var på en karibisk ö och inte i USA blev dock tydligt så fort vi stannade upp och lyssnade på lokalbefolkningens språk. Det är en fascinerande form av engelska med en kraftig karibisk melodi och meningsuppbyggnad som talas här. Det närmaste jag kan komma för att beskriva språket för er är att hänvisa till karaktären Tia Dalma i filmerna “Pirates of the Caribbean”. Det är ett fascinerande språk och det var mysigt att strosa runt på ön och lyssna på lokalbefolkningens ofta väldigt högljudda konversationer.

Utila åker man till om man vill dyka eller se valhajar. Det finns nio dykcenter på ön i olika pris- och komfortklasser och alla ligger längs med huvudgatan som går längs stranden från öst till väst. Du hittar alla inom en tio minuters promenadväg åt vänster eller höger från piren där färjan kommer in. När du kliver av färjan möts du även av en välkomstkommitté bestående av olika dykklubbar som gärna vill ta med dig till just deras ställe. Det sägs att priserna på “fun dives” och dykkurser ska vara en av de billigaste i centralamerika och det kan vara ännu en anledning att åka hit för att dyka. Vi kan hålla med om att priserna håller ungefär samma nivå som sydostasien, men vi har inte utforskat om det faktiskt är en av de billigare platserna för dykning på denna sidan av världen. Vi har lagt upp alla dykfilmer ifrån Utila i ett annat inlägg, så klicka dig gärna vidare om du vill se mer av dykningen här. Många kommer hit för att se valhajar och de kan man se nästan året runt här vid Utila, men du måste ha lite tur för att de ska visa sig just den dagen du bestämmer dig för att åka ut.

Vill du bada eller snorkla så kan du följa huvudgatan åt något håll så kommer du till olika privata och publika stränder där du kan svalka dig i hettan. Det finns även fina gömställen på norra delen av ön, men du får räkna med en längre promenad för att ta dig dit, eller hyra något färdmedel. Ett annat slående kännetecken på Utila är den stora mängden golfbilar och fyrhjulingar som susar fram längs med huvudgatan.  

En av de häftigare restaurangerna vi varit på hittade vi av en ren slump under en kvällspromenad. Det går inte att gå förbi denna restaurang vid namn Jade Seahorse utan att stanna för att studera detta konstverk. Restaurangen är ett sagoland med slingriga gångar, trappor, valv och grottor byggda av återvunnet material. Färgade glasbitar och stenar i mosaikmönster bildar en spektakulär form och färgupplevelse som verkligen sätter igång fantasin. Ägaren har byggt på restaurangen under de senaste 20 åren och alla möbler och dekor är handgjorda av återvunnet material. De serverar vegetarisk och vegansk mat, men det går lika bra att bara komma in och promenera runt i sagolandskapet eller ta en öl uppe i trädkojan, som baren på övervåningen heter.

Utila är ingen stor ö, men ett litet partyliv finns här i och med alla backpackers som kommer hit från olika delar av världen. Barer och restauranger hittar du på många mysiga bryggor som sticker ut från södra delen av ön. Vi satt många kvällar på någon av dessa barer pratandes om dagens dykäventyr och njöt av en kall öl samtidigt som vi såg på när solen försvann bakom horisonten. Efter att vi blivit certifierade räddningsdykare så lämnade vi detta lilla paradis för nya äventyr i Honduras, men vi lämnade Utila med ett löfte om att komma tillbaka.

På återseende Utila!

Text och bilder hittar du även på Ett annat liv.


The small island Utila just off the coast of northern Honduras attracts a lot of divers and backpackers. So we wanted to go there now when we were in the vicinity. The first thing that caught our attention on Utila was the architecture and language. We have never been in the southern part of the United States, but that’s where our associations went when we first saw the houses in Utila that are wide and low, standing on stilts with a big porch on the front. We almost expected to see American flags waving from those porches. However, that we were on a Caribbean island and not in the United States was clear as soon as we stopped and listened to their language. It is a fascinating form of English with a heavy Caribbean melody and sentence structure. The closest I can come to describe the language for you are to refer to the Tia Dalma character in the “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies. It is a fascinating language, and we enjoyed strolling around the island and listening to the often very loud conversations between the locals.

Utila is a great place to go if you want to do diving or see whale sharks. There are nine dive centers on the island, in all price and comfort classes, and they are located along the main street that runs along the beach from east to west. You can find all of them within a ten minute walk to either left or right from the pier where the ferry docks. As soon as you get off the ferry you will also be met by a welcome committee from the various diving clubs, who would like to bring you to their particular place. It is said that the prices for fun dives and dive courses are one of the cheapest in Central America and it may be yet another reason to come here to dive. We can agree that the prices are about the same level as many of the places in South East Asia, but we have not explored whether Utila actually is one of the cheaper places for diving on this side of the world. We published our diving movies from Utila in another blog post, so click on the link if you want to see more of the diving around Utila. A lot of people come here to see whale sharks and they can be seen almost all year round. However, you have to have some luck to spot them on the particular day you decide to go out to sea.

If you want to swim or snorkel, you can follow the main street in any direction and the small road will take you to both public and private beaches where you can cool off in the heat. There are also  nice hide-aways in the northern part of the island, but expect a longer walk from the dock to get there, or you can rent some form of transportation. Another striking feature of Utila is the large amount of golf carts and four-wheelers that are whizzing down the main street.

One of the more cool restaurants we’ve been to we found by chance during an evening stroll. When walking past this restaurant named the Jade Seahorse it is impossible not to turn your head and stop in order to study this piece of art. The restaurant is a wonderland of winding passageways, staircases, arches and caves built out of recycled materials. Colored pieces of glass and stones have been placed in mosaic patterns and creates a spectacular shape and color experience that will trigger your imagination. The owner of the restaurant has built on it for the last 20 years and all the furniture and decor are handmade from recycled materials. They serve vegetarian and vegan food, but you can just come in and walk around this fabulous scenery or have a beer in the bar upstairs in the tree house.

Utila is not a big island, but you will find a small party scene here with all the backpackers who come here from different parts of the world. Bars and restaurants can be found on many cozy small piers on the southern part of the island. We spent many evenings on one of these bars talking about the day’s diving adventures and enjoyed a cold beer while we watched the sun disappear behind the horizon. After we had become certified rescue divers, we left this little paradise for more adventures in Honduras, but we left with a promise to come back.

We’ll see you again Utila!

Text and pictures are also publishet at “Ett annat liv“.

Utila i kvällsljus! Utila in the evening light!

Utila i kvällsljus! Utila in the evening light!

Det är väldigt trevligt att gå runt i staden och observera människor. It's very nice to walk around the city and observe people.

Det är väldigt trevligt att gå runt i staden och observera människor. It’s very nice to walk around the city and observe people.

Vi tar en paus på en av alla bänkar som står uppställda på stranden! We take a break on one of the benches that are standing on the beach!

Vi tar en paus på en av alla bänkar som står uppställda på stranden! We take a break on one of the benches that are standing on the beach!

Stranden sydväst om Utila stad. The beach southwest of Utila town.

Stranden sydväst om Utila stad. The beach southwest of Utila town.

Ett hus med bred veranda på framsidan och står på pålar - ett typiskt hus i Utila. A house with a wide porch in the front and standing on poles - a typical house in Utila.

Ett hus med bred veranda på framsidan och står på pålar – ett typiskt hus i Utila. A house with a wide porch in the front and standing on poles – a typical house in Utila.

Nästan alla transportmedel som de flesta på ön använder är fångade på denna bild. Almost all means of transportation that most people on the island use are captured in this picture.

Nästan alla transportmedel som de flesta på ön använder är fångade på denna bild. Almost all means of transportation that most people on the island use are captured in this picture.

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Bara så att ni vet! Just so you know!

Bara så att ni vet! Just so you know!

Samlingsplatsen vid piren där du även hittar bankomaterna på ön. Det kan även bli trafikstockning ibland om flera fordon kommer till fyrvägskorsningen samtidigt. The meeting point at the pier where you also will find the ATMs on the island. There may be traffic jams there at times if several vehicles come to the crossroad at the same time.

Samlingsplatsen vid piren där du även hittar bankomaterna på ön. Det kan även bli trafikstockning ibland om flera fordon kommer till fyrvägskorsningen samtidigt. The meeting point at the pier where you also will find the ATMs on the island. There may be traffic jams there at times if several vehicles come to the crossroad at the same time.

En av de mystiska varelserna som man kan hitta på Jade Seahorse restaurangen. One of the mysterious creatures that can be found at the Jade Seahorse restaurant.

En av de mystiska varelserna som man kan hitta på Jade Seahorse restaurangen. One of the mysterious creatures that can be found at the Jade Seahorse restaurant.

Jade Seahorse restaurangen. The Jade Seahorse restaurant.

Jade Seahorse restaurangen. The Jade Seahorse restaurant.

Jade Seahorse restaurangen. The Jade Seahorse restaurant.

Jade Seahorse restaurangen. The Jade Seahorse restaurant.

Ett valv av färgade glasflaskor. An archway of colored glass bottles.

Ett valv av färgade glasflaskor. An archway of colored glass bottles.

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En bar med en tillhörande brygga och observationsdäck för att njuta av solnedgången med en kall öl! A bar with an attached bridge and observation deck to enjoy the sunset with a cold beer!

En bar med en tillhörande brygga och observationsdäck för att njuta av solnedgången med en kall öl! A bar with an attached bridge and observation deck to enjoy the sunset with a cold beer!

En klassisk, men kanske inte så korrekt väderstrecksmässig, avståndsvägvisare som man kan hitta lite överallt i världen. A classic, but perhaps not accurate compass-wise, distance sign post that can be found in different places of the world.

En klassisk, men kanske inte så korrekt väderstrecksmässig, avståndsvägvisare som man kan hitta lite överallt i världen. A classic, but perhaps not accurate compass-wise, distance sign post that can be found in different places of the world.

 

Dykfilmer från Utila / Diving movies from Utila

(Please scroll down to the orange text for the English version)

Utanför Utilas kust sträcker sig världens näst största barriärrev ut sig och här lever en stor mångfald av olika marint liv och koraller. Utila är också en plats där du kan ha tur att få se valhajar nästan året runt och vi hoppades förstås att få syn på dem under någon av våra turer ut på havet. Vi hade dock väldigt otur med både valhajar och övrigt marint liv. Det var förvånansvärt fattigt på fiskar, sköldpaddor och amhajar (nurse shark), som annars är väldigt vanliga att se här omkring, och det var egentligen bara ett av sex dyk som mätte upp till våra högt ställda förväntningar. Vi är vana att vrak drar till sig en mängd fiskar som gjort vraket till sitt hem, men här var det kusligt stilla runt den sjunkna båten. Vi fick dock uppleva tillräckligt med intressanta saker för att sätta ihop fem stycken korta filmer att visa er. De innehåller fina videoklipp på koraller, en jättemuräna som är ute och simmar mitt på dagen, en väldigt skeptisk barracuda, en jättesöt piggsvinsfisk, tryckarfiskar i olika färger och mönster, krabba och hummer, samt en hel del andra fina fiskar och gulliga räkor.


Outside the coast of Utila, the world’s second largest barrier reef stretches out with a great diversity of sea creatures and corals. Utila is also a place where you may get to see whale sharks almost year round and our hope were of course to get a glimpse of them during one of our trips out to sea. However, we did not have much fortune with either whale sharks or other marine life. Our dives were surprisingly poor in fishes, turtles and nurse sharks, which otherwise are very common to see around here. It was really just one out of six dives which measured up to our high expectations. We are used to that wrecks attract a variety of fishes that have made the wreck their home, but here it was quiet around the sunken boat. We did however experience enough of interesting things to be able to put together five short videos to show you. They contain corals, a giant moray eel that are out swimming in the middle of the day, a very skeptical barracuda, a cute porcupine fish, trigger fishes in different colors and patterns, crab and lobster, and a lot of other nice fish, and cute shrimps.

 

Certifierade räddningsdykare! / Certified rescue divers!

(Please scroll down to the orange text for the English version)

Vi lämnade Guatemala och tog sikte på dykparadiset Utila i Honduras för att försöka uppfylla två av våra drömmar: uppleva valhajar och bli räddningsdykare. Dykningen i Utila ska vara en av de billigaste i centralamerika, så det var även en anledning till att vi åkte dit. Det går shuttlebussar mellan Antigua och La Ceiba, där färjan avgår ut till den karibiska ön på Honduras norra sida, och vi anlände lagom till att sista båten för dagen skulle gå. Båten ut till Utila går två gånger per dag, 9.30 och 16.00 och det är en hyfsat stor katamaran som skjutsar människor och gods mellan fastlandet och ön. Spända och förväntansfulla klev vi av båten och rätt så snabbt hittade vi ett dykcenter som kändes helt rätt för oss, Parrot dive center i Utila. Nu var det bara att sätta på hjärnan för studier och påbörja utbildningen till att bli räddningsdykare.      


We left Guatemala and took aim at the dive paradise Utila in Honduras to try to fulfill two of our dreams: to experience whale sharks and become rescue divers. The diving in Utila is said to be one of the cheapest in Central America, so that was also a reason why we went there. Shuttle buses run between Antigua and La Ceiba, where the ferry departs out to the Caribbean island on Honduras’s north side, and we arrived just in time for the last boat of the day. The boat out to Utila runs twice per day, 9:30 am and 4:00 pm and it is a fairly large catamaran that transports people and goods between the mainland and the island. Excited and hopeful, we stepped off the boat and we found a diving center relatively fast that felt just right for us, Parrot dive center in Utila. Now it was just to turn on the brain for studying and begin the training to become rescue divers.

VI började resan till Utila med att åka igenom ett fantastiskt landskap och korsa gränsen till Honduras! We started the trip to Utila by travel through a fantastic landscape and cross the border to Honduras!

Vi började resan till Utila med att åka igenom ett fantastiskt landskap och korsa gränsen till Honduras! We started the trip to Utila by traveling through a fantastic landscape and cross the border to Honduras!

Vi åkte med Trans-land som är ett företag vi verkligen kan rekommendera! We were traveling with Trans-land, which is a company we really can recommend!

Vi åkte med Trans-land

som är ett företag vi verkligen kan rekommendera!

, which is a company we really can recommend!

Deras förare Juan är oerhört trevlig och hjälpsam. Their driver Juan is extremely nice and helpful.

Deras förare Juan är oerhört trevlig och hjälpsam. Their driver Juan is extremely nice and helpful.

Det kostar 200 Lempira (cirka 75 Sek) att åka en väg och det går lika bra att betala med US Dollar. It costs 200 lempiras (about 7.9 Euro) to go one way and it is just as easy to pay with US Dollars.

Det kostar 200 Lempira (cirka 75 Sek) att åka en väg och det går lika bra att betala med US Dollar. It costs 200 Lempira (about 8 Euro) to go one way and it is just as easy to pay with US Dollars.

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Du får räkna med att det står en hel del människor på kajen som väntar på att hoppa på dig om erbjudande om dykpaket och boende! Expect that there are a lot of people on the dock waiting to jump on you to offer dive packages and accommodation!

Du får räkna med att det står en hel del människor på kajen som väntar på att hoppa på dig med erbjudande om dykpaket och boende! Expect that there are a lot of people on the dock waiting to jump on you to offer dive packages and accommodation!

Vi hittade rätt så snabbt ett dykcenter där vi kände att vi ville göra räddningskursen. We quickly found a dive center where we felt that we wanted to the rescue course.

Vi hittade snabbt ett dykcenter där vi kände att vi ville göra räddningskursen. We quickly found a dive center where we felt that we wanted to the rescue course.

Det första vi fick göra var att gå "Emergency first response"-kursen som är en hjärtlungräddningskurs. Vi övervakades noga av vår lärare Joel. The first thing we had to do was to go a Emergency First Response-course which is a CPR course. We were closely monitored by our teacher Joel.

Det första vi fick göra var att gå “Emergency first response”-kursen som är en hjärtlungräddningskurs. Vi övervakades noga av vår lärare Joel. The first thing we had to do was to go a Emergency First Response-course which is a CPR course. We were closely monitored by our teacher Joel.

Pontus gör hjärtkompressioner! Pontus is doing chest compressions!

Pontus gör hjärtkompressioner! Pontus is doing chest compressions!

VI fick också lära oss hur man återupplivar mindre barn! We also got to learn how to revive small children!

Vi fick också lära oss hur man återupplivar mindre barn! We also learned how to revive small children!

Samt att använda hjärtdefibrillator på både stora och små individer. and how to use the heart defibrillator on both big and small individuals

Samt att använda hjärtdefibrillator på både stora och små individer. And how to use the heart defibrillator on both big and small individuals.

Sedan började räddningsdykskursen och det var intensiva dagar med livräddningar från land och båt, ta hand om trötta och panikslagna dykare, leta efter saknade dykare och test av stressnivån under vatten. Then we began the rescue diver course and it was intense days of saving lifes from land and boat, take care of tired and panicked divers, look for missing divers and test our stress levels under the water.

Sedan började räddningsdykskursen och det var intensiva dagar med livräddningar från land och båt, ta hand om trötta och panikslagna dykare, leta efter saknade dykare och test av stressnivån under vatten. Then we began the rescue diver course and it was intense days of saving lives from land and boat, take care of tired and panicked divers, look for missing divers and test our stress levels under the water.

Kursen var jätterolig och lärorik, så nu är vi certifierade PADI räddningsdykare! The course was really fun and educational, so now we are certified PADI rescue diver!

Kursen var jätterolig och lärorik, så nu är vi certifierade PADI räddningsdykare! The course was really fun and educational, so now we are certified PADI rescue divers!

Stort tack till Joel som är en fantastisk lärare! Many thanks to Joel who is an amazing teacher!

Stort tack till Joel som är en fantastisk lärare! Many thanks to Joel who is an amazing teacher!

Dykning i ett slukhål! Diving in a sinkhole!

(Please scroll down to the orange text for the English version)

Det blev dags för oss att ta oss till Playa del Carmen och leta upp en dykshop som vi kunde boka in ett prova-på dyk i för Maja och Mats, samtidigt som vi kunde göra fun dives! Playa del Carmen är ett ordentligt turistställe med 5:e avenyn som är full av lyxbutiker och turistaffärer. 5:e avenyn ligger ett stenkast från stranden i Playa del Carmen och vi hann med att ta en dag på stranden även här. Vi hittade en liten, mysig dykshop med oerhört bra service och gjorde upp att vi skulle göra våra dyk tillsammans med en dansk instruktör, som hette Per, dagen innan Maja och Mats skulle flyga hem. Denna dag upplevde vi vårt sämsta väder hittills i Mexiko med gråa moln och massor med regn, så våra planer för dyken fick då ändras. Sikten var tyvärr mycket dåligt vid ön Cozumel, som var vår plan från början, så istället fick Maja och Mats göra sina första dyk i ett slukhål, Casa Cenote. För vår del var det även första gången på flera sätt: första gången i ett slukhål, första gången i färskvatten och första gången att dyka i en grotta. Vi gjorde två dyk i Cenoten och det gick jättebra för både Maja och Mats. Redan vid slutet av första dyket så kunde både Maja och Mats andas under vattnet och ta sig framåt utan att någon höll i dem! Vi är imponerade av att Maja och Mats klarade av att göra sina första dyk någonsin i ett slutet område med rätt så strömt vatten. Mats vågade till och med att följa med till grottorna och kika in! Det var väldigt roligt att dyka i ett slukhål, så att planerna för dagen ändrades på grund av regnet gjorde inte så mycket!

Vi fick även veta en hel del om Yucatanhalvön och slukhålen.Tydligen är hela Yucatanhalvön uppbyggt av korall som blivit kalksten, då detta område legat under vatten det mesta av tiden innan landhöjningen gjorde sitt. Nästan alla cenoter på Yucatanhalvön är ihopkopplade med underjordiska gångar där färskvattnet strömmar mellan dem. Dessa gångar kan vara väldigt långa och förgrenade, så det uppskattas att endast 10% av grottorna har hittills blivit utforskade.   

Efter vårt dyk blev det vår sista middag tillsammans och då bjöd mamma på stort och tog med oss till en italiensk restaurang som hon hade sett ut för att fira lilla julafton i Mexiko. Dagen efter blev en sorgsen dag för vi var tvungna att säga hejdå till Maja och Mats för den här gången, då det var tid för dem att flyga tillbaka hem. Vi ses nästa år!

It was time for us to go to Playa del Carmen and find a dive shop where we could schedule a discover-scuba dive for Maja and Mats, while we could do some fun dives! Playa del Carmen is a big tourist place and where 5th Avenue is the center point where all the luxury and tourist shops are located. 5th Avenue is a few steps from the beach in Playa del Carmen and we also had time to spend one day at the beach here. We found a small, cozy dive shop with incredibly good service and fixed so that we could do our dives with a Danish instructor named Per, the day before Maja and Mats would fly home. Unfortunately, we experienced our worst weather so far in Mexico this day, with gray clouds and lots of rain, so our plans for the dives got changed. The visibility was very bad at the island of Cozumel, which was our plan from the beginning, so Maja and Mats got to make their first dive in a sinkhole, Casa Cenote, instead. It was also the first time in several ways for us as well: the first time diving in a sinkhole, the first time diving in fresh water and the first time diving in a cave. We did two dives in the cenote and it went very well for both Maja and Mats. Already at the end of their first dive both Maja and Mats could breathe underwater and swim without anyone holding them! We were impressed by Maja and Mats to be able to make their first dive ever in a closed area with fairly strong currents. Mats dared even to come with us to the caves and take a peek inside! It was great fun to dive into a sinkhole, so that the plans for the day got changed, because of the rain,  was fine with us!

We also got to know a lot about the Yucatan Peninsula and the cenotes. Apparently, the entire Yucatan Peninsula is built out of coral that has become limestones, because this area was under water for a long time before the uplift raised the area. Almost all the cenotes on the Yucatan peninsula are connected by underground passageways where fresh water flows between them. These caves can be very long and branched, so it’s estimated that only 10% of the caves have been explored so far.

After our dives, we went out to eat our last dinner together in Mexico and Maja brought us out to an Italian restaurant that she had picked out beforehand to celebrate “Little Christmas Eve” in Mexico. The following day was a sad day we had to say goodbye to Maja and Mats for this time, because it was time for them to fly back home. See you again next year!

Vårt fina hotellrum i Playa del Carmen! Our nice hotel room in Playa del Carmen!

Vårt fina hotellrum i Playa del Carmen! Our nice hotel room in Playa del Carmen!

5:e avenyn i Playa del Carmen! 5th Avenue in Playa del Carmen!

5:e avenyn i Playa del Carmen! 5th Avenue in Playa del Carmen!

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Playa Del Carmen!

Playa Del Carmen!

Barnen var väldigt fascinerade av vatteninstallationen på gatan! The children were fascinated by the water installation on the street!

Barnen var väldigt fascinerade av vatteninstallationen på gatan! The children were fascinated by the water installation on the street!

En viss film skulle snart ha premiär! A certain movie would soon have its premiere!

En viss film skulle snart ha premiär! A certain movie would soon have its premiere!

Maja och Mats på väg till stranden! Maja and Mats on their way to the beach!

Maja och Mats på väg till stranden! Maja and Mats on their way to the beach!

En dag på stranden! A day at the beach!

En dag på stranden! A day at the beach!

Man hittar många underliga saker på 5:e avenyn! You will find a lot of odd things on 5th Avenue!

Man hittar många underliga saker på 5:e avenyn! You will find a lot of odd things on 5th Avenue!

Mysigt att se solen gå ned i Playa del Carmen! Nice to watch the sun go down in Playa del Carmen!

Mysigt att se solen gå ned i Playa del Carmen! Nice to watch the sun go down in Playa del Carmen!

Vår dykplats för dagen, Casa Cenote! Our diving spot for the day, Casa Cenote!

Vår dykplats för dagen, Casa Cenote! Our diving spot for the day, Casa Cenote!

Maja och Mats gör sig redo för att dyka! Maja and Mats getting ready to dive!

Maja och Mats gör sig redo för att dyka! Maja and Mats getting ready to dive!

Mats visar okej-tecknet! Mats shows the okay-sign!

Mats visar okej-tecknet! Mats shows the okay-sign!

Mats. Maja och Ulrika! Mats Maja and Ulrika

Mats. Maja och Ulrika! Mats Maja and Ulrika!

Pontus bakifrån! Pontus from behind!

Pontus bakifrån! Pontus from behind!

Vi lämnar en av grottorna som vi besökte under vattnet! Exiting one of the caves we visited under water!

Vi lämnar en av grottorna som vi besökte under vattnet! Exiting one of the caves we visited under water!

Ulrikas favoritbild från dyket! Mangroveträden från en fisks perspektiv! Ulrika's favourite picture from the dive! The Mangrove trees from the fish perspective!

Ulrikas favoritbild från dyket! Mangroveträden från en fisks perspektiv! Ulrika’s favourite picture from the dive! The Mangrove trees from the fish perspective!

Julmiddag i Playa del Carmen! Christmas dinner in Playa del Carmen!

Julmiddag i Playa del Carmen! Christmas dinner in Playa del Carmen!

Årets julmiddag! This year's Christmas dinner!

Årets julmiddag! This year’s Christmas dinner!

Efter julmiddagen bjöd Maja på drinkar på det "rosa stället" som hon hittat! After the Christmas dinner, Maja gave us drinks in the "pink place" that she had found!

Efter julmiddagen bjöd Maja på drinkar på det “rosa stället” som hon hittat! After the Christmas dinner, Maja gave us drinks in the “pink place” that she had found!

Det jättejobbiga avskedet när Maja och Mats åkte till flygplatsen och vi blev ensamma i Mexiko! The tearful parting when Maja and Mats went to the airport and we were alone in Mexico!

Det jättejobbiga avskedet när Maja och Mats åkte till flygplatsen och vi blev ensamma i Mexiko! The tearful parting when Maja and Mats went to the airport and we were alone in Mexico!

  Dyk 1 / Dive no 1:

Dyk 2 / Dive no 2:

 

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