The whale shark is the largest fish in the world and one of the most mysterious. Its lifespan seems to fall somewhere between 70 and 150 years, and it has never been observed mating or giving birth. But one thing's for certain: the creatures are exceedingly docile. In fact, they're usually so focused on gulping up plankton that they pay little attention when divers swim alongside them. You can see these gentle giants for yourself on a seven-day retreat to the PADI Five Star–awarded Deep Blue Resort, located on a remote island in Honduras where whale sharks can be found year-round.
Each day of the trip, trained scuba experts lead three Caribbean Sea boat dives setting out from some of the 90 dive sites scattered throughout the island. These extended trips are your best chance to spot whale sharks as well as dolphins, manta rays, and schools of colorful fish. Expeditions from the north side of the island focus on exploring the huge barrier reef located just off the coast. It's distinguished by sheer wall drops of more than 3,000 feet and is home to a wide array of marine life. Among the snapshot-worthy inhabitants, there are seahorses, frogfish, and tons of clownfish all riding in one tiny car.
Surrounded by coconut palms, fruit trees, and wild orchids, Deep Blue Resort sits on a private beach accessible only by boat. Between the day’s dives, you can refuel with complimentary meals provided in the resort restaurant. Chefs create homestyle dishes to accommodate all tastes, and they stock a selection of fine wines. The clubhouse lounge is outfitted with a full-service bar and a pool table.
One of the three Bay Islands off the coast of Honduras, Utila is best accessed by ferry from its more developed neighbor, Roatan. Mangrove forests laden with orchids carpet 90% of Utila, which is also the only place in the world where you'll find the swamper iguana. Deep Blue Resort offers boat rides to the island’s only town, which hugs a natural harbor to the southeast. The small Caribbean hamlet is filled with markets, shops, and oceanfront bars perched on stilts.
Seven-night stay for one in a king or two-double room with daily scuba diving. Check in Saturday. Valid for Travel with a Friend package (two Groupons required), or pay a solo supplement fee to travel solo. Read about package structures here.
$699 without equipment provided (a $1,200 value)
$799 with equipment provided, including regulators, buoyancy compensators, and shorty wetsuits (a $1,350 value)
Book by: 12/21/12
Arrival window: 12/1/12–2/23/13
Solo Traveler Fee: $400
Included in all options:
Three full meals per day
Welcome drink and all coffee, tea, water, and iced tea