Cayos is a protected marine park and it is $10 to enter the park. There are 16 buoyed dive sites in the area, for all certification levels. The best site would have to be the sea mound called ‘Roatan Banks’ (for certified divers only). The top of the mound is 14 metres and the sea life here is incredible. Huge schools of jacks, barracuda and snapper, turtles, rays, groupers and every type of coral and reef fish can be found here and the water is super clear most of the time. The currents are sometimes very strong and you’ll need to be good on air to get a nice long dive on this site.
Other dive sites to check out are Lion’s Head, a nice, shallow sandy dive with lots of huge coral heads to explore between and Pelican Point next to Cayo Major.
It’s great to do a tour with a local dive centre as you can meet the local fishermen and their families, take a ride in their makeshift fishing boats and eat a delicious meal of fried fish, rice and beans and sip on a delicious fresh coconut. Take a bottle of the local rum with you to pour into the coconut for a tasty ‘coco loco’. Make sure you’re not diving after lunch though! If you’re very lucky you might see dolphins on the way there or back and the boat captain might allow you to snorkel with them.
Whether you just do a day trip or manage to get out and stay a few days, your experience in Cayos Cochinos will certainly be unforgettable.
(By Kelly Luckman)
Some of the most beautiful islands in the world are right here in Cayos Cochinos (directly translated means the ‘Hog Islands’). They are made up of two main islands (Cayo Menor and Cayo Mayor) and 13 small privately owned coral cays, located 17 km’s northeast of the port of La Ceiba.
There are a few options for getting there, depending on where you are. If you’re in the main port of La Ceiba then you can pre-organise with a resort for them to pick you (Saturdays) or head east of the port to Sambo Creek Tourist Operations for fast and reliable transport services. A round trip should be around $25-$35, but you should only pay for one way though, to be sure they come back and pick you up!
If you’re on Utila then Eco Tours and Alton’s Dive Centre do day trips, transport and sometimes overnight tours including food and diving. If you have anything you would like to donate to the local people or the school on Cayos (such as clothes, books, pencils and blankets, anything at all), please deliver it to Alton’s Dive Centre and they will deliver it to the people.
The Plantation Beach Resort is the only resort and diving operation on Cayos and quite expensive but very nice. Pirate Island Divers are another centre in La Ceiba for courses and excursions. They have a private island on one of the smaller cays and can offer accommodation also. Subway Watersports do day trips from Roatan.
You can stay with the Garifuna for a few dollars a night but there aren’t really any facilities (food and water are available to purchase), or you can stay on the east end of Cayo Major in the bunk house they have available. It is best to bring your own supplies from the mainland. More information can be found online or from Sambo Creek.
Activities include hiking through the forest of Cayo Major or try to spot the very rare and elusive Pink Boa. Climb the 60 foot high lighthouse, kayak the pristine waters around the cays or visit the Garifuna village for an insight into how the island people live. And of course there’s diving and snorkelling on the gorgeous untouched reefs in the area.