Utila: 10 Reasons Why This Honduran Island is Central America's Best Kept Secret

Diving with whale sharks
Diving with whale sharks | © Tomas Kotouc / Shutterstock
The smallest of Honduras’ Bay Islands, Utila has received increasing amounts of attention in recent years. From its beautiful natural landscapes and marine life to its culture and nightlife, here are the reasons why Utila is a hidden gem.

Top-drawer scuba diving

For years, the diving community has been aware of the charms of Utila, but it hasn’t been as popularly exploded as other Caribbean islands. Fortunately, scuba diving spots in Utila are still well-preserved, and courses are cheap.

Deep-sea diving © skeeze / Pixabay

Great nightlife

Thanks to the proliferation of diving schools, Utila Town has grown steadily to include a number of different businesses. Perhaps its forte is the number of bars catering to divers who want to let off some steam after a long day under the water. Skid Row Bar is one of the most famous spots, and Treetanic is an atmospheric spot built in among the trees.

Amazing marine life

The waters around Utila are teeming with marine life of every stripe, and are accessible to both divers and snorkelers. You might even be able to swim with a whale shark if you’re lucky; the biggest fish in the sea can be seen near Utila year-round.

Stunning whale shark's off Vietnam © Chainarong Phrammanee/Shutterstock

Good security

While mainland Honduras has some well-documented issues with security, Utila is much safer. You can walk home from the bars safely at night, and the friendly community adds to the feeling of security.

Flotation tank

Utila is home to the largest flotation tank in the world, where you can float in a salty solution without visual or audio stimulation. It’s great for relaxation, and is said to have certain health benefits.

Utila is an ideal place to relax © panacheart / WikiCommons

Affordable prices

In comparison to other Caribbean islands, Utila is a bargain. Whether you want to get a diving certificate or invest in property, the island is full of affordable opportunities.

Cayo Cochinos Marine Park

This incredible park makes for a great day trip on a sailing boat. You can fish for lunch, visit local Garifuna communities and watch the sunset from the deck.

Sunset at Cayo Cochinos, Honduras © Hector Abouid / Flickr

Sunjam Festival

Utila is also home to one of Central America’s premier music festivals, Sunjam. Every August, punters from throughout Central America and the world travel to the island for this massive reggae festival.

Great kayaking

Kayaking is a great way to explore Utila and its surroundings. You can explore the mangrove forests around the island shores, or head to the freshwater caves located in the south.

Kayaking in the mangroves of Utila, Honduras © Nick / Flickr

An interesting history

Experts believe that Utila has been inhabited since around 600 AD by a group known as the Paya, who came into conflict with Spanish colonizers who tried to enslave them in the 16th century. Later on, the island was used by European pirates conducting raids in the Caribbean before it was further colonized by the British, who handed it over to Honduras in the mid-19th century.