Utopia on Utila
A short survey of a recent dive trip follows.........
Utila isn't the normal destination for someone headed to Honduras. Most visitors to the Bay Islands stop where the 737 does - Roatan. Being the biggest of the Bay Islands it typically gets the most traffic, whether SCUBA or sportfishing. Being just a bit more adventurous, my group went to Utila to dive, which for us was our second visit to the island. We sweated ourselves off the puddlejumper from Roatan to Utila & ended up on a boat at the small town of Sandy Bay to our destination at Utopia Resort. Boats are the only means of transportation to the resort.
Utopia Village overlooks the ocean from the southwest part of the island. On a clear day the mountains on the mainland of Honduras stand out to the west. Utila is about seventeen miles from the port city of La Ceiba on the Honduran coast. Prevailing westerly winds blow most of the time, which tend to keep the sand flies (no-see-ums) at bay. The oceanfront is a very nice white sand beach but the entry to the water is rather rocky w/ rough coral so footwear is a must for safety.
The rooms are spacious & well-furnished w/ air conditioning. Like most Carribean islands fresh water is precious, so conservation is the norm w/ most of the fresh water being collected in cisterns from the periodic rainfall. The food is varied, very good & the Salva Vida is always cold at the oceanfront bar.
The managing owners live on-site & pitch in w/ the staff to be sure the guests have a pleasant visit. The diveboat staff & the divemasters are very professional & attentive to all the divers, regardless of experience level. The boat carries a separate fresh water tank for UW cameras.
Aside from the seclusion, a good reason to visit Utila is for the opportunity to see & swim w/ whale sharks during their occasional passages along the island. Otherwise the diving is typical of the Bay Islands w/ little current, warm water & plenty of UW photo opportunities. The Utopia staff will also set up fishing charters for anyone interested in trying their hand at bonefish.
The resort is small enough that the owners know everyone by name after the first day or so. Free wi-fi is also available. My group's biggest bill at the end of our visit was for the bar (nothing unusual there), & basically there's nothing else to spend money on at the resort.
To do a little shopping or just to wander the streets w/ the expats & locals it's worth the fifteen-minute boat ride back to Sandy Bay to spend a day & take in the local sights & sounds. Mexico's Yucatan still seems the least expensive travel location from the good ol' USA but this visit to Utila was a nice change for a very reasonable price.
Best wishes & keep shooting!
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Photo credits: Conchasdiver.