For years, the island of Utila has enjoyed a steady flow of visitors from around the world that are scuba diving enthusiasts to the max. Utila has become famous as one of the “cheapest places to learn to dive” in the world. Tourists love to let loose on the island; in fact, the first thing to go are their shoes! Known also by many as the “bare foot capital of the world”, the local rock band has even named themselves the “Barefoot Band”. The band is made up of musicians who came to Utila years ago, and decided never to leave (as do most people on Utila who can find a way to survive without a “real job”). Many take on odd jobs, and make enough to just spend the rest of their lives having a good time.
The dive shops, as well as the very best Utila scuba diving resorts, have played an important part in making this dream possible for many who did not want to return to their previous high stress careers, and “need this now!” type of life, by employing a great many of their BEST students once they have graduated. Many of these Certified Dive Masters are happy to throw their shoes away for good. Speaking of strolling around the streets, transportation is another one of those things that is thrown out the window. With a town made up of streets that never dreamed of having to accommodate a “car” (streets are just too narrow for more than one vehicle at a time), only about 20 or so vehicles exist on the island, and almost every one of them is there as a work horse. Basically, you learn to just “walk” everywhere, since you can cover the island on foot in twenty to thirty minutes. There are many golf carts on the island, however, that serve to keep the seniors who retire here happy to keep their “Sunday afternoon drive” tradition alive and well (okay, perhaps it has become their “daily afternoon drive”).
This upcoming week, however, many of those golf carts will be put to another use, as the Utila Dive Festival gets under way. In order to prove Utila has it all, for those who wish to keep up their “five star living”, the island has various rental shops catering to every need, such as golf carts, scooters, the ever favorite ATV’s (for the many trails to explore) and of course, bicycles. For those who live on Utila, there will be “traffic jams” (what a concept!) as turnout for the festival (based on advance reservations, as well as the increased amount of tourists who have already arrived in Utila) continues to grow.
The Utila Princess will be running its ferry service to and from La Ceiba, and there are regularly scheduled flights. Charter services can also be arranged. Captain Vern will have his catamaran running daily between Roatan and Utila. Local Utila boaters have their “skiffs” available to taxi the adventurous out to the Utila Cays, as well as just troll around the mangroves and lagoons. Tuk Tuks will be available, beeping their horns at all the people and traffic, and the bars will all be open, with music that can be heard throughout the island until 4 AM. The many restaurants and bars have been stocking up in order to ensure that every taste will be fulfilled.
All in all, Utila aims to prove to the world that it IS a world class diving destination with full services for the five star connoisseur, all the way to what the many backpackers who have helped put the Bay Islands of Honduras on the map are in need of.
For complete details on the Utila Dive festival, visit the official Utila Dive Festival website.
If you are a Facebook fan, please be sure to follow our Honduras Facebook page.