This interesting new article is from the Australian press, "the world's six best secret islands" and of course the Bay Islands are included!!!
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
Friday, November 5, 2010
click here for my ecuador movie
Wolf and Darwin islands were absolutely beautiful dives, big topography, big currents and big creatures galore (I've never had a dive briefing before that included " two divers have already been lost at this dive site this year"??? We found out later that actually three divers had died this year at that site!!!). We were lucky enough to dive with large schools of hammerheads, huge whale sharks, seal lions; we even saw orcas.
My lovely wife and i also toured the highlands of mainland Ecuador and the beautiful capital city of Quito. We really liked Ecuador.
I was then lucky enough to spend three weeks in Puerto Lopez on Ecuador' southwestern coast volunteering on a giant manta ray conservation program with Mark Harding's Project Elasmo and Dr. Andrea Marshall of the Foundation for the Protection of Marine Mega Fauna. We stayed with a great group of guys from Exploramar Diving, they're based in Quito and Puerto Lopez. Being in the water with giant mantas everyday was quite an honor, they're very curious about humans and would sometimes stay with us for 15-20 minutes at a time. When you look them in the eye it's obvious there's intelligence there. Sadly, legally sanctioned no fishing zones in and around Ecuador' national parks are not being enforced. All the diving we did was at Isla de la Plata, eighteen miles by boat from Puerto Lopez. Isla de la Plata is a national park sometimes refered to as "the poor mans Galapagos", a national park with a two mile no fishing zone around it. Yet everyday fishermen and tourists on sport fishing charters plied the waters above us as we dived. Many of the mantas we saw had terrible scars from entanglement and we cut fishing line from many individuals. We also removed hundreds of feet of abandoned fishing nets we found wrapped around the reef within five hundred yards of the national park rangers station (the guys we had to pay each day for our park entry fee). The fishermen even used the calm bay in front of the rangers station as a mooring while they repaired their nets!! It's yet another country whose marine life is being decimated by the greed to satisfy the asian market for shark and ray fins.
Hurry to Ecuador, it's a lovely country and the diving is fantastic but sadly at the rate they are fishing sharks and rays, there'll be none left in a few years.
UTILA : MY TOP TEN PICKS FOR FOOD & DRINKS
- DRIFTWOOD INN - great for a cool breezy lunch on the dock, bruce on the b.b.q. at night (his brisket is famous on the island but i like the beer battered snapper). a favorite amongst the expats, horse shoes on the sand & u.s. sports on t.v. sunday afternoons.
- LUNCH AT THE CAYS- wether you choose beau's "fishburger" or mr. hermans "cay view", no trip to utila is complete without lunch on the cays. everyone goes for the fish burgers but i prefer the chicken or lobster (in season). great places to spend a surface interval, bring your camera.
- MANGO INN-best pizza on the island, authentic thin crust italian style from the brick oven. beautiful gardens, watch the hummingbirds feed by day, bats at night.
- THE INDIAN WOK- consistently good indian/asian cuisine, a welcome new addition to utila.
- THE PURPLE PELICAN-my new favourite place for lunch. located at pine point one of utilas prettiest beaches. nice food, beach chairs and lovely water (i've never seen so many starfish). stay for a couple of hours, eat, drink, swim and relax.
- THOMPSONS BAKERY- the place to stop on your way to that first dive of the day. great coconut bread and cinnamon rolls.
- TRANQUILLA BAR- a favorite of backpackers and locals, great place to sit on the water and watch the sun go down. an eclectic music selection fuels the party as the evening progress', an institution on utila.
- TREETANIC BAR- located in a treehouse on the grounds of the jade seahorse. atmospheric , hip bar thats a favorite of the divemasters and younger expats. things usually get going around 10pm,. nice crowd, good vibe.
- ULTRA LIGHT - great falafel sandwiches and chicken schwarma . very reasonably priced, quality middle eastern food.
- UTOPIA RESORT- for a special evening out of town, chef hugh prepares the best food on the island (probably honduras), his menu changes daily . try the blackfin tuna if its available, amazing ! accessible only by boat from town, contact the hotel to make reservations and transportation arrangements.
- my adventures in island living . after visiting utila as a diver for four years (it reminds me of ambergris caye belize, 20 years ago) i bought some beach front land in 2005 and built a home for myself in 2007. i'm located on the beautiful southwest shore opposite the utila cays at treasure beach. now i'm in partnership with my builder Roger, designing/building beautiful homes for our clients (we've completed 5 so far) and living my island dream !