The most popular wreck dive off the coast of Roatan is without question El Aguila (The Eagle) and it is easy to see why. El Aguila was a 220 foot cargo ship that originally sunk off the coast of Utila. Due to growing diver interest in wrecks, the choice was made to bring El Aguila up and re-sink her right off the coast of Roatan as part of the artificial reef program in 1998. Everything went smoothly and she was positioned close to the reef at about 100 feet. However, a couple of weeks later, Hurricane Mitch came along and broke El Aguila into three distinct pieces and that is how she remains today. As a result, El Aguila now lies as if it were an actual wrecked ship.
Like most dive sites in Roatan, El Aguila is a quick boat ride from the shore. So, by the time I finish gearing up and listening to the dive brief, our custom built dive boat from Luna Beach Resort, is pulling up to the site. As I start to descend down the mooring line, the excitement and anticipation of my first view of the wreck is peeking…until I become totally distracted by the huge, friendly groupers and parrotfish. These fish call the El Aguila home and do their part to greet you as soon as you arrive. Once I take my eyes off the welcoming crew, I see the El Aguila come into focus.
We arrive first at the stern of the boat, which is full of “windows” that allow you to gaze into the ship. The inside of the ship looks inviting and I am definitely curious, maybe I will have to take that Wreck Specialty course after all. For now though, I am just in awe of the size of this ship and the creatures that call it home. Next we move on to the middle part where the ship is quite broken up in pieces, which we swim around and thru. It is here that we spot an adult drum fish, how beautiful! Finally, we head to the bow of the ship which is my favorite part. There are portholes to look thru and loads of arrow crabs and bearded fireworms hanging around. Suddenly I hear the tap tap from my divemaster as she points out a huge green moray eel. The moray actually seems to pose for the camera, what an amazing creature! Eventually we start to shallow up as we check out the mast of the ship which takes us all the way to 50 feet.
As we start to swim away from the wreck, I am totally happy with this dive, and it is not even over yet. Due to the proximity of the wreck to the reef, we are able to swim over to the reef and continue the remainder of the dive drifting along the wall. I am amazed by the diversity of fish life here. There are schools of Creole wrasse, brown chromis, yellow tail snappers, chubs and more. The shallows here are amazing! As we do our safety stop we gaze at blennies, damselfish, and even a lettuce sea slug. This is truly an outstanding dive. I can’t wait to go back to Luna Beach Resort, where we are having an excellent stay, and sign up for that Wreck specialty course.
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