Utila, Honduras

What to See

Jade Seahorse

"Pop-up Fairytale" Playhouse at Jade Seahorse
by Hacked By of youtube.com/fırlamaadam about 9 years ago
"Pop-up Fairytale" Playhouse at Jade Seahorse

The hotel/bar/restaurant's website describes the whimsical decor as "a pop-up fairytale playing host to adventurers looking for a unique retreat." Between the fantasy and house's resident banana spiders, Jade Seahorse is a must-visit break from diving. To get there, go north at the Crossroads about 5 minutes or so, and it'll be on your left.

What to Do

Fishing

Fishing the Laguna in Utila
by Mattfromtexas about 2020 years ago
Fishing the Laguna in Utila

There are a handful of offshore fishing packages offered on the island of Utila, but the do-it-yourself fishermen can rent a kayak and paddle back into the mangrove lagunas (lagoons) to cast at snook, tarpon, barracuda, and jack. The easiest-to-access laguna is on the southeast end of the island right before you get to Bandu Beach. You can rent a 1 or 2 person kayak from Alton's dive shop for $15-20 USD depending on the amount of time. There are other places on the island that will rent you a kayak, but I didn't shop around because Alton's is right next to the laguna entrance, making for an easier paddle. In an hour and a half of fishing, I caught a barracuda and a jackfish on a 1/4 oz white 'Spec Rig', and failed to capitalize on a half-dozen or so other strikes. I could hear snook popping deeper into the mangroves and was told that tarpon will also be taken from the laguna from time to time. If I had more time, I would have explored the larger laguna on the west end of the island.

Swimming

2 Beaches Near Town, Others Accessible Only by Boat/Kayak
by Hacked By of youtube.com/fırlamaadam about 9 years ago
2 Beaches Near Town, Others Accessible Only by Boat/Kayak

There are two beaches in walking distance from the center of town. Neither is too great but all non-divers should know about them. Both Chepes and Bandu are about a 10-minute walk from the Crossroads, where Captain Morgan's is located near the ferry dock. To the east of the Crossroads is Chepes, the public beach, and to the west is Bandu, a private beach that costs $3 to enter. During low season, Bandu's is likely to be closed, but you can still access it from a kayak.

Yoga

Follow your breath to Yoga Utila
by Enibas about 7 years ago

Are you exhausted after diving all day? Are you in Utila looking for something to do other than dive? Are you missing your yoga studio while you are away on holiday? Or are you just looking to stretch and move and breath?
If you said yes to any of these, head to Yoga Utila where you are guaranteed to have a wonderful practice! This studio seems to thrive in large part by the excellent instructors, variety of classes, and weekly workshops. Also, Yoga Utila provides mats, hand towels, blocks, straps, etc. so don't worry that you didn't bring any of these in your pack.
This studio runs on donations (suggested 80 to 160 lempira), but pay what you can. You'll be happy you did! Namaste.
Location: Far down the West End in Sandy Bay. Don't worry, you'll appreciate the leisurely walk after a great session!
Bonus: Look for paddle board yoga to be starting soon!

Where to Stay

Off The Main Drag

Staying a week or longer? Rent an apartment!
by Enibas about 7 years ago
Staying a week or longer?  Rent an apartment!

Crashing in the dive shop dorms can be convenient (and often free!), but if you are looking for a bit of privacy and want to step back from the hustle and bustle of the main drag, consider renting an apartment. Lots of rentals are available on a weekly or monthly basis.

Mike at Utila Realty is an apartment finder and will help you in your search without charging you a fee. However, if you have time to explore on your own, you will find many rental signs around town.

Typically rates are around $100-150US a week, and between $350 and $400 a month for a 1BR. If someone is asking more, negotiate or just look around. 2-3BRs can be a better deal if you want to split with a fellow backpacker. Water (sometimes hot) is included, but utilities aren't.

Top Picks:
1) Daniela's Apartments (up the hill from Hugo Store 200m) - $100/week
2) Marina's Eco Cottage - Private, secluded, 3-room home. Take a right at BICA onto Hibiscus road (dirt trail). Inquire at the red gate 200m down. $350/mo

What to Eat

Coffee Shops / Tea Houses

Rio Coco - 100% "Humanic" and delicious coffee on the daily
by Enibas about 7 years ago

Probably the best-know (rightfully so) coffee-shop on the island. Guatemalan fair-trade coffee delights, and all the proceeds go to help support childhood education and local teachers of the Miskito Indian people located near the Rio Coco (areas of Southern Honduras and Northern Nicaragua).
Along with coffees of all sorts, refreshing natural smoothies and fresh baked goods will keep you cool and happy on a hot day.
Bonus #1: Shop opens at 7:00am M-F so you can get a cup of joe to go before your first dives
Bonus #2: Most reliable and quick free wi-fi on the island.
Bonus #3: Free bag drop til 2:00pm so you can unleash your pack and check out the island before getting settled in.
Getting her: on the far east end of the island between Deep Blue Divers and UDC. Can't miss it!

Restaurants

Ultra Light Cafe - Welcome change from tipica plates!
by Enibas about 7 years ago

Don't book your return ticket home just because you are getting tired of the same tipica foods. A little exploration and you can find cuisines, literally, from the other side of the world.
This is a nearly-authentic (and entirely satisfying) Israeli restaurant offering just the meal you need when variety is lacking.
If you've got a crew, or a massive hunger, start with the pita and hummus appetizer. If you're on a limited budget or appetite, try the falafel sandwich for with plenty of home-made hummus stuffed inside. The curries are a must-try and large enough for two (take-away or take-a-friend).
Location: Western Side of the Island just a few minutes down on the main road from the Hugo Store intersection.
Tip: Because the entrance is on the side, it can be hard to tell if this place is open. Luckily, it probably is.
Bonus: More atmosphere than most places. Try out the floor seating. You'll like it!

Best Bakery Breakfast - Camilla's Bakery
by Enibas about 7 years ago

In Utila, the baleadas are delicious, but lunch, dinner, and breakfast? I don't think so! Check out Camilla's Bakery for some of the best homemade goods you can get your hands on. The omelets and traditional breakfasts are good, but pale in comparison to the quiche. Follow the quiche! (the broccoli bacon is our fave, but the veggie option is not to be overlooked).
The "main dock" changes in Utila. From the main intersection at the bank, head east and walk 4 minutes. Large hard-to-miss sign on the left points the way.

Good Food. Good People. Good Price.
by Ramon of segunmoncho.com about 9 years ago
Good Food. Good People. Good Price.

Need a place to eat some good food?
Go to Dona Rosas Restaurant
(its right beside Bundu Cafe)
You can have from homemade food to a simple baleada. This place has the most extensive baleada types you can imagine.
you can choose from: Chicken Baleada, Beef Baleada, Losbter Baleada, Veggie Baleada, and much more. What best?? they are only $1.25!!!
Nice place, nice people and comfortable chairs and tables to eat at. How to get there?
You get down at the main dock, turn right and walk for 2 minutes, at your left hand youll see the restaurant, its beside Bundu Cafe! Hope you like it!

Street Food

Where to get your baleadas
by Hacked By of youtube.com/fırlamaadam about 9 years ago
Where to get your baleadas

The cheapest and best baleadas we had in Utila were at Baleada Express, next door to Rivera's Mini Supermarket west of the Crossroads. A plain baleada (bean and cheese) costs 10 lemps ($0.50). Friendly staff and filling meals. Genesis has very good baleadas as well for slightly more. Stay clear, though, of The King's mega super seafood baleada, which was just bad, though we hear their non-seafood items are quite tasty.

Where to Party

Movies

Fishy Film Night
by Enibas about 7 years ago

Want to go to the movies and support a good cause? On Thursday nights, WSORC (Whale Shark & Oceanic Research Center) features "Fishy Film Night" located in the back of Utila Lodge.

Films may include documentaries about whaling, fishing, diving, as well as other interesting picks about ocean and marine life.

Donations are much appreciated and well worth the movie, free-popcorn, food specials, and don't forget, a great cause!

Getting Around

Boat

Utila-Roatan Connection - It does exist!
by Enibas about 7 years ago

Some guide books will tell you that there is no transportation between Utila and Roatan, the 2 most popular Bay Islands. Please, don't be fooled into taking the ferry from Utila back to La Ceiba and then catching a different from La Ceiba to Roatan.
There are regular, and sometimes frequent, charters between the 2 islands. From Utila, there are a few options.
1) Head to Bush's Supermarket (mid East-end). The board our front will list when the next boat to Roatan is. Typically it is $50 each way, but they do day trips as well and I have seen $50 roundtrip offered as well. May depend on the season.
2) Head a bit further down the East-end. There's a yellow house on the right with a sign out front for the boat, Lady Julia. Also $50 one way. Days she leaves will be listed.
3) Check out the travel agent on the West end (their large dry-erase board advertises flights). Prices vary between $95 and $50/person per/way. The lower end if you have a group of friends to split the cost.

Utila Princess, Only La Ceiba-Utila Ferry Operator
by Hacked By of youtube.com/fırlamaadam about 9 years ago
Utila Princess, Only La Ceiba-Utila Ferry Operator

There is only one ferry operator taking passengers between La Ceiba and Utila, which explains the high prices. Utila Princess charges $26 each way. The boat leaves the Cabotaje port in La Ceiba at 9:00am and 4:00pm. Even though their website says 9:30am, the ferry actually leaves earlier. From Utila, catch either the 6:20am or 2:00pm ferry. I highly recommend you take along some dramamine in case the waters are a little rough the day you leave.

What to Avoid

Sand Flies

Utila Island Sandflies - Be Warned!
by Anon about 9 years ago

Utila Island has many, many bugs, and most of them like to bite you and suck your blood. DEET-based repellents will keep off the mosquitos, but won't make any difference at all to the sandflies. The only thing that keeps the sandflies off is FREQUENT application of oil-based products. The cheapest and easiest is baby oil, though it's no good if you have sun-sensitive skin. Deep Ocean bug repellent, produced locally, also works well enough, but is pretty expensive. The best thing you can get is Avon's Skin-So-Soft, originally a bath oil. It repels mosquitos, sandflies, even gnats. It smells nice and doesn't have the really worrying chemicals that other products do. The only catch is that you can only buy it through Amazon.com or Avon.com, so you have to buy it before you go as it's not available locally. You also need to reapply it every few hours for maximum protection, like sunscreen, but it's worth it if you don't want to leave the island with your lower legs covered in bite scars!

Wear Insect Repellent ALL DAY LONG
by Mattfromtexas about 9 years ago

The sand flies or No-See-Um bugs will bite you all day long. They don't care if it is day or night or if you are wet or dry. If I knew better, I would have worn insect repellent all day long. Now you know.