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Looking for a small Caribbean island that hasn’t succumbed to the effects of tourism? Think it doesn’t exist anymore or is just too hard to get to? Think again!
Utila is part of the Bay Islands on the Caribbean coast of Honduras. Its larger neighbor Roatan attracts all the cruise ships and tourists who don’t want to give up too many of their creature comforts leaving Utila still relatively unspoiled.
Like many Caribbean islands, the main language on the island is a form of Caribbean English, even though the island is part of Spanish-speaking Honduras, which makes Utila extremely easy to visit for people who haven’t added Spanish to their language repertoire.
Getting there is fairly simple as well. An international airport serves both Roatan (RTB) and La Ceiba (LCE), although cheaper flights are more often found going through San Pedro Sula (SAP). From any of those airports you can fly to Utila’s (UTI) airport. CM Airlines and SOSA are the most popular flight choices, although the latter tends to have less reliability of their schedule. Coming from Roatan or La Ceiba, you have a few different marine options: Capt. Vern’s catamaran or the Galaxy Wave (from Roatan). Two ferries leave the mainland from La Ceiba: The Utila Princess and the Utila Island Express (less expensive, more enjoyable ride, less seasickness, but also less reliable on their schedule). Ferries will generally cost around $20 USD each way. You can buy a round trip ticket (no return date required as long as it’s within 1 year), but many people find it easier to get their return ticket when they’re ready to leave as it provides you more flexibility. If you are prone to seasickness, make sure to ask for a free Dramamine at the ferry ticket window. Also the morning ferry (9:30 AM from La Ceiba) tends to be a less bumpy ride.
The island offers everything from super basic backpacker lodging to high-end resort accommodations. If you’re planning on a longer stay you can easily find a furnished apartment or small house to rent. Monthly you can expect to spend anywhere between $200 and $600, or more if you’re planning on using any of the many luxurious vacation homes available through services like VRBO.com.
Utila is the type of place where people usually come expecting to stay a few days and end up being there a few weeks instead. One of the biggest jokes heard on the island is “I’m leaving tomorrow,” so don’t be surprised if you hear laughter when you announce this.
Don’t expect zip lines or huge swaths of white, sandy beaches. But you also won’t get inflated prices. Food, accommodation, and the like are extremely affordable. If you’re into diving, or want to take a course, Utila offers some of the cheapest diving in the world, and it’s great diving as well. The reefs are in pretty good health, particularly on the north side of the island. March and April are the traditional whale shark months, but they have a mind of their own and often don’t follow the human calendar.
Want to see the Caribbean the way it used to be? Utila is your place.