47 year old couple, PADI Pro Instructors, seeking Expat insight/advise

We both just completed our IDC in Koh Tao, Thailand. Being American’s, and still needing to be available for business back home (I own a residential real estate firm), the time difference was too much, the expat community non-existent, and the island had very little to offer other than diving. So we did some research because we are looking for a place to call home and obtain residency.

We are hoping to get some advice on the following and hope it may be useful for others in the future too:

  1. Recommendations for PADI dive shops that offer one or all of the following:
  • walkable to expat community/and reasonable housing (we prefer to walk or peddle bike if at all possible)

  • has MSDT and also ability and willingness to take a couple of optimistic, positive, coachable people (that would be us!) and provide a place for us to put our Instructor certification to use.

  • Dive shop that has retail shop (both of us have a strong sales background and it would be fantastic to be able to be connected to a organization that has the ability to service clients with equipment to enhance their diving experience.

  1. Recommendation to Housing (again, walkable to expat community and hopefully diving too)

  2. Insight into the best ways to connect with the community that is already here while we are visiting in December, January, and February…we are getting a one way ticket and if its as awesome as it appears to be, we will likely proceed to make it more permanent.

  3. Any tips on planning the initial “trial visit” that will help to make it more cost effective etc.

Thanks so much to our “hopeful” future friends,



You will have come to the right island for all your needs: first and foremost a robust ex-pat community and excellent diving and diving enthusiasts. West End is a great place to start your search for an affordable home that is walking distance to many (over 10) dive shops and some have retail stores within. Not to stop at West End but Sandy Bay and West Bay also have a very large ex-pat community as well. Once here, head over to Sundowners or Ginger’s in West End…you will be surrounded by ex-pats eager to welcome you and show you the way. Introducing you to various dive sites just prime for new exploration. I will be happy to host you both for your get to know us phase. Another couple: Jenny and Rudy Darling did just what you are doing… came here as diving enthusiasts, found a walkable home in west end and after their initial visit…just stayed. They are here almost two years now and enjoying the island so very much. That story repeats throughout the island.


Your response was very encouraging and we are certainly looking forward to our arrival.

I will let you know when we leave Utila (sometime in Dec most likely) after we complete a dive training program with Utila Dive Center.



PS. Any recommendations on travel insurance for expats?

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Depending on precise needs with insurance and ensuring you read the fine print, speak with Steve Cowley here on Roatan. He’s an expat that sells these type of policies. Evacuation insurance for medical emergencies is what I would focus on. Healthcare costs here are really nominal.

I live on the beach in Sandy Bay. You can reach me on Facebook or call me at +50496949228


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