I think the majority of natives and people passing through Utila island are happy to admit 99% of the tourists coming to the small island is for the diving. It has some of the most breathtakingly beautiful dive spots on the whole planet, let alone Central America. Utila island is also well known for being a travelling party spot. The combination of rum, sun, diving and party atmosphere has led to the joke ‘Once you get to the island you can never leave.’ I know for a fact had I not had flights booked I would have stayed there far longer. But there’s loads more to sink your teeth into while you’re on the island than just diving and drinking.
Beaches on Utila Island
Theirs a choice of beaches but the main two are Bandu and Chepes. Bandu is a beautiful private beach with a fee of 40 LMPS or there is the public, Chepes beach on the opposite side. Both with white sands, beautiful palms and accessible by foot from the main stretch of road which makes up the main street of Utila island.
Partying and bars on Utila Island
The Jade seahorse (Treetanic)
This hosts a couple of large parties each month including Utila islands full moon party all within its tree top bar. The artist behind this venue, Neil, took 20 years to create the masterpiece and claims it is still not finished. The plan is to add more architecture because he enjoys the freedom he has in creating anything he likes. He compounds collages of glass bottles, plastic pieces of fruit and circuits boards to create a trippy dream like almost adult secret garden.
You can also stay the night here, with individually themed rooms for a completely unique experience. The themed names includes; Shangri La, Mona Lisa, Dalai Lama and many more. He is insistent its best seen in the moon light but as you can see it is beautiful in the sunlight too.
This place has a good buzz and is some where we spent the majority of nights out. Everyone is specially lured in on a Tuesday for ‘Tequila Tuesdays’ along with ladies night on a Thursday. Relapse and Rehab are also venues on the island, particularly for a heavy weekend!
A restaurant and bar on the South Shore of the island.
There are many dive centres available on the island, so it’s worth taking a stroll to find the one that suits you, whether it’s value, social life or professionalism. Some dive centres allow you to stay for free while completing the course and then as little as $5US a night after this. My preference was Underwater Vision which hosts family dinners, pub quizzes and a film night. As a plus it is the dive centre with the biggest beach.
Yoga on Utila Island
There are several yoga places on the island, one is at the Free Diving Centre. Paddle board yoga classes also take place sporadically at Underwater Vision dive centre.
Food and Drink on Utila Island
Juice it up
Feel great again after a heavy night after accepting the Juice Bar Shot challenge.
All the food
Mary-Annas pupuseria has a decent meal for a cheap price. Che Poncho is a nice place if you want to spend slightly more as the only Argentinian restaurant on the island, but quite easily with the best steaks. While your there try and find my favourite vendor that literally has no name. It has the best Balleadas on the island at the cheapest prices. It’s 100 meters down from Jade Seahorse, good luck!
A morally good coffee fix
Rio Coco Beans Coffee is a family run cafe, by Michael, Laura and their three daughters. A substantial portion of the profits from their fresh roasted high altitude coffee, helps to educate Miskito Indian children in seven villages along the Rio Coco river. This was a project set up by Michael and his family in 1986. A cup of speciality coffee or an iced chai tea starts at 40 LMPS. They also have a food menu which is delicious.
Shakes and Smoothies
Mermaids restaurant, take-away and shop, whatever is best to call it offers the best value for money when it comes to their drinks. Think of anything you might want in a smoothie or shake, chances are they’ll have the ingredients to do it. Shakes and smoothies start at 35 LMPS.
Kayaking around Utila Island
Chepes beach is the home of The Venue, which hosts quarterly UV parties, has accommodation and kayak rental. Here you can kayak across the lagoon to join the sea, this can also be done at night to see the beautiful, bioluminescence glowing plankton.
Explore Utila Island
Rent a quad bike for the day and drive around the whole island! This is an easy way to get to Pumkin Hill, the highest point of Utila island with views to show. You can also find the secluded, completely untouched beaches and bathe in the fresh water caves, which have stories of scuba divers attempting to explore their depths without ever returning.
A boat goes to a nearby island for an all day BYOB drinking in a 1pm -5pm session, making it a cheap change of scenery and a chance to meet others from different hostels and dive centres. Watch the sunset and party with fellow travellers from Utila Island.
The carnival, an annual event on Utila Island
A yearly event held in July. An amalgamation of colour, bodies, beads, dress up and drinks all gathered in a procession of home made floats created by each of the dive schools and businesses on the island. The carnival parades along the entire main high street before the festivities continue in an island wide beach party.
Iguana station on Utila Island
A charity run by volunteers with the aim to looking after the endangered population of iguanas. The foundation aims to increase this on the island with the breeding programme they have in place. Come at feeding time to watch them eating live crabs or help out by becoming part of the volunteering programme.
Get weird on Utila Island with Dr. John
Something I have to include as an iconic part of island life is Dr Johns. Travellers hang out at his place doing shots with him, smoking joints all made famous by Marty and Ginskins video ‘If you come to Utila you will never leave’. Check it out below.