The smallest of the three major Bay Islands, Útila lies closest to the Honduran mainland and is by far the flattest of the islands. Útila is located approximately 18 miles from the coast and can be easily reached from La Ceiba either by sea or air. The Utila Princess operates everyday, leaving from La Ceiba’s municipal dock located east of La Ceiba. The trip takes only one hour on the Utila Princess Ferry catamaran.
Arrival in Útila is at the municipal dock, conveniently located in the central area of east harbor. Air service is available daily via Sosa Airlines. Sunday schedules are limited, so it is best to plan on arriving and departing during the week. There are some charter air services available from both La Ceiba and Roatan that can help you get in or out of Utila. Travel from Roatan to Utila is limited these days to charter services either air or by sea. The main town in Utila is known as East Harbour or simply Utila, and is located on the eastern side of the Island, between the Upper Lagoon and the Lower Lagoon. The Upper Lagoons entrance is between the “old” airport and town, precisely where the only bridge in the road between the “old” airport also known as “the point” and town is located. Thus, some of the rooms and dive shops are actually located right on the lagoon, such as Crosscreek Dive Shop.
The main road is paved until the end of town,; and ends at Chepes Beach the most popular beach in Utila. However, a dirt road continues and will take you as far as Blue Bayou. The Blue Bayou is located at the entrance to the Lower Lagoon. On the other side of the Lagoon you will find one of the most exclusive resorts in Utila: The Laguna Beach Resort. It is located on a narrow strip of land, with the Caribbean Sea on one side and the Lower Lagoon on the other. Shore diving from both resorts is outstanding, as the reef is only a few feet from the beach. You require a motor launch to reach this resort.
Although Utila is world famous for its diving, which is not only excellent, but also very inexpensive, this does not mean that Utila is necessarily a “cheap” place. Accommodations and food are much less expensive than at the other islands, but Utila also has some world class diving resorts, such as the Utila Lodge, the Laguna Beach Resort, Parrots, Deep Blue, Underwater Vision and Eco Marine and now on the Utila Cays – Utila Cays Diving Resort.
If you are arriving to Utila by air, you will need to arrange a ride to town, however, there are always “taxis” waiting for regularly schedule flights to all hotels and resorts.
There is only one bank in Utila, Banco Atlantida, which is located across the street from the Municipal dock. The bank hours are 8:00 – 4:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 8:00 – 11:30 a.m. on Saturdays. Banco Atlantida will exchange your dollars, and offers cash withdrawals on your Visa, Master Card or American Express as well as JCB and Diners Club cards as well as ATM service.
An interesting site on the island is Gunters Driftwood Gallery, where Gunter an Austrian who was attracted to the island 28 years ago and has lived here since. His gallery is located just off Cola de Mico Road. Here you will find a variety of driftwood carved wood items, s well as coral jewelry and some paintings.
Gunter is great source of local information and is always very friendly. Gunter has been diving Utila for almost 20 years and is considered one of the most experienced divers in the world. He is in his early 70’s and every single day rain or shine goes diving at sun up and then rides back to home on his bicycle in full gear including scuba tank. He rides his bike around the Island doing “laps” various times every day. You can’t miss him he has coffee at Munchies after his morning dives every day. Never a dull story!
The only mountain on the island is Pumpkin Hill, from where you can get a view of the whole island, as well as of Roatan, further east. There is a trail that leads you to Pumpkin Hill, which is located three miles from town. If you decide to follow the trail, remember to be back before nightfall, or else take a good flashlight with you. There are caves around Pumpkin Hill, where according to legend pirates hid their treasures. Although Utila does not have many beaches, there are several small keys (Cays) within reach by boat that boast a good beach and a lot of privacy. The largest of these keys are actually populated, such as Pigeons and Suc Suc Keys. Here you can stay at Vicky’s Rooms for rent, a small “hospedaje” with ten rooms. Eating on the Utila Cays is limited, however there are a few restaurants: Susan’s restaurant is probably your best bet. She is open for lunch and dinner and offers inexpensive meals well as soft drinks and beer. Another alternative is Maggies Restaurant.
The other Utila Cays, such as Bells Key, Southeast Key, Sandy Key and Morgan Key are all privately owned and have nice houses. You can rent most of these keys. Prices vary, but you can get them for about $75.00 US per day and up, and can sleep up to 6 persons. Sandy Key can be rented by calling George Jackson, who lives on Pigeon Key at Tel 2425 3161. He also has a fax installed on the same number. Water Key is probably the prettiest of the keys. It is uninhabited and a very popular place to camp out. There are no facilities here, so you must bring all your food , camping gear, etc. Getting to the Cays is fairly easy these days – See our “Getting to the Utila Cays Guide“. If your stay in Utila allows enough time, It is definitely recommended to visit the Utila Keys. These offer a totally different view of Utila. Camping on Water Key is safe, and there is excellent snorkeling off the windward side of the key.
There are many different restaurants and bars around town. Perhaps the most frequented restaurants are the Bundu Café which has been renamed Buccaneer’s Restaurant, Driftwood, Foo King Wok serving awesome Asian food and Skid Row Bar and Restaurant. Other alternatives include Mermaids Corner, who has a new pizza oven. The Bundu Café now Buccaneer’s Restaurant is an excellent place for a good place for light Sandwiches as well as full meals and also has a large book exchange and reading area.
Probably the best restaurant for breakfast in Utila is either at Buccaneers Restaurant, Munchies or for a really good inexpensive full Honduran Typical meal try Thompson’s Bakery (now also called “Cafe Rosa de Oro” as well as “Lidia’s”) which also has the best cinnamon rolls on the island, open 6:00 a.m. till whenever as they now serve lunch and dinner.
Skid Row Bar & Restaurant located across from Eco Marine / Gunter’s Dive Shop offers good music and full international bar, as well as food and is now one of the most popular spots on the Island for watching sporting events via Satellite as well as streaming Internet music and sports. Open from 10:30 a.m. till 11:00p.m. and has the best pizza on the Island. Finally, the real party bar in town is Tranquila’s Bar, located in the middle of town. Open every day until past midnight most of the time until 3 or 4 AM features good music and a festive atmosphere that lasts until past midnight every night.
The biggest attraction that Utila offers to its many tourists is its fantastic reefs combined with some of the least expensive scuba diving certification in the World.
We hope you found the information on the Island of Utila useful; take off your shoes!
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