Turquoise waters, reefs teeming with life, friendly locals, and vibrant food. If you’re looking for an awesome locale with excellent diving, look no further than Utila, a small island in Honduras.
The entire economy is centered around hosting divers from across the globe. The destination offers a wide range of accommodations and a healthy nightlife to boot.
If you’re (a) an avid diver, (b) an extroverted socialite, (c) a proud foodie, or (d) all of the above, you simply must check out this paradisiacal oasis.
There is a gamut of housing options on Utila; some cater to tight budgets, while others aim to provide a luxurious experience. Nonetheless, compared to worldwide standards, all options are reasonably priced to say the least. I stayed at an amazing spot called the Laguna Beach Resort, an establishment owned and operated by the newly elected mayor of Utila.
For $750 flat, I stayed for seven days in an awesome cabin overlooking a quaint lagoon. Oh, and by the way, all of the dives were included. That’s right, a total of 20 dives were part and parcel of the original package. And did I mention the food? Three home cooked meals per day were included as well.
For breakfast, we had an assortment of standard items like eggs, French toast, pancakes, tropical fruits, and basic cereals. For lunch and dinner, we were served wonderfully prepared meals that included steak tenderloin, oven roasted turkey, homemade chicken fajitas, and freshly caught lobster tails.
The Laguna Beach Resort is away from the city center, so you are nicely insulated from the loud nightlife and daily bustling in the downtown area. But, if you would like to venture into the belly of the beast to explore the bar scene, all that is required is a five minute boat taxi (which the manager at Laguna Beach Resort will gladly arrange for you).
The reef surrounding Utila is buzzing with activity. I saw an array of colorful fish, large tortoises, octopuses, sea horses, stingrays, lobsters, and a handful of small sharks. Each dive was an awesome adventure replete with stunning colors and interesting landscapes. I even got to go on my first night dive!
If you have your own equipment, that’s terrific, but if you don’t, everything is available at the resort for a very reasonable price. My wetsuit and booties were only $5.00 per day. The equipment is in excellent condition and continuously renewed to ensure top quality.
The dive masters at the resort were terrific as well. Our boat was led by Mags, a British national who left a fancy corporate job to pursue her lifelong passion of diving professionally. She was extremely nice and very helpful when we were under water. She constantly pointed out cool sights as we glided across the ocean bottom. If it wasn’t for her, I would have likely missed one of the coolest sites on the trip: a massive crab hiding under a shipwrecked vessel. Absolutely amazing.
The City Center
As much as I loved my resort, my only regret is that I didn’t spend more time roaming through the downtown of Utila. Granted, it is quite small, but it is alive with activity during the day and night. The bars are laid-back and super fun.
I stopped to have a drink at two well-known establishments: The Jade Seahorse and Skid Row. Firstly, you simply have to go to The Jade Seahorse. The decor is stunning. The layout is beyond cool, and the place gets pretty interesting once the sunsets.
Skid Row is more of a typical dive bar, but really fun as well. Believe it or not, it caters to a lot of New Orleans Saints fans. So, if you’re from the great state of Louisiana, this is the bar for you. Another cool spot I checked out was Driftwood. I asked a bunch of locals where I could get a good plate of seafood.
I got two recommendations: Big Mama's and Driftwood. Unfortunately, Big Mama’s was closed, but Driftwood certainly met my standard for an awesome holiday lunch. I got the seafood platter, which consists of a delicious assortment of beer battered shrimp and fish. The food was incredible. Combine that with a couple of Salva Vida beers, and you have the perfect ingredients for an awesome afternoon.
One of the prime reasons why this island is such a treasure trove is because of its affordability. Beers are between 1 and 2 dollars at most bars, and a good meal will usually cost around $5.00… $10.00 if you want something on the fancy side. I ordered a round of four rum and lemonades at Skid Row, and the bill was less than 10 bucks… pretty damn reasonable if you ask me.
If you’re on a budget and don’t want to stay at a plush resort like Laguna Beach, there are many hostels and moderately priced hotels near the city center. In addition, if you’re looking for a lengthier stay, apartments are extremely cheap as well. An American woman I met on the island boasted that her two bedroom, two bathroom flat was only $400.00 a month. Not too shabby.
Whether you’re going with a gang of buddies or your romantic partner, Utila is an ideal location. You won’t be bored, you won’t be hungry, and you won’t go broke. Whether you’re a seasoned master diver, a newbie looking to get certified, or simply someone who wants to sunbathe and snorkel, the island will more than fulfill your needs. Enjoy.
About the author: Big Law Rebel quit his career in Law to pursue his greatest passions: writing and teaching. He writes about his transition from working at a law firm to being an entrepreneur on his blog, Big Law Rebel.