My favorite things to do in Utila

Aug 05, 2014

Cheap diving, cheap accommodations and a party atmosphere that is sure to leave even the most seasoned traveler a little worse for the wear is what Utila is known for. If you’re looking for upscale resorts with beautiful beaches and nice restaurants, you’ve come to the wrong place. You might be able to find some nice accommodations at a few places but there’s no Sandals resort here folks. Utila is truly a backpacker’s island. So, aside from drinking and general backpacker shenanigans, what else is there to do? Well… here are a few of my favorite things to do in Utila.

1. Diving

FTDU3.jpgIf this weren’t on the list, then we wouldn’t be talking about Utila. Utila is the #2 place in the world for getting certified as PADI Scuba Diver second only to Ko Toa, Thailand. If you’re not diving, that’s cool but don’t be surprised when others ask you “then what ARE you doing if you aren’t diving?” Diving is the thing to do in Utila and there’s no better dive shop than Underwater Vision. No, they don’t have a pool but that’s because they have 100ft (30-ish meters) of prime, beachfront with some of the best swimming conditions on the island. Not to mention, they have a volleyball court, a kick-ass bar, great accommodations and literally the best dive training on the island.  Sure, you can get certified at one of the other shops, but why would you? Take it from me, diving is the thing to do here and Underwater Vision is the place that does it best.

2. Eating Beliadas

Beliada.jpgBeliadas are basically awesome quesadilla-like things minus the cutting-into-3-little-wedges part like your typical quesadilla. My personal favorite is the chicken avocado. I have probably eaten close to 100 of these things in an 8-week time-span and I plan to eat MANY more before we go. They are a great little meal with some fairly healthy ingredients and, they only cost about $2.50 USD.  My top pick for beliadas is Mama Rosa’s but there are surely good arguments to be made about the other shops around town. Your “dining experience” at Mama Rosa’s however, will generally include some hot-sauce and a bunch of locals yelling at whatever futbol (soccer) game is on the TV. If you’re there when it’s slow, grab the remote and find something to watch, unless of course Mama Rosa is watching her shows, in that case grab the remote and risk losing a hand. You have been warned.

3. Meeting interesting folks

Skids.jpgIf you’re traveling, then meeting “interesting folks” is a daily occurrence but being that we are talking about Utila, there’s an abnormally dense population of “interesting” people to meet. Want to see some local day-drinkers tell tales and get rowdy at the local dive-bar? Stop at Skid Row and do the challenge. You might even run into Web, a lunatic who plays some pretty good pool and occasionally snorts chalk off the pool table, amongst other things. Want to feel a nice breeze and hang with some alcoholic expats who appreciate a nice view, stop by Rehab. They pour all kinds of drinks but for some reason, Sambuca of all liquors is a hot item there. Maybe you want to hang-out somewhere that is so psychedelic you’ll be convinced the bull-shit mushrooms you bought from “that guy on the corner near the bank” are working… then you need to stop by Treetanic and have a look around, just don’t forget to bring a camera. Whatever your pleasure in terms of people watching, specifically unbalanced degenerates and backpackers, Utila is sure to impress.

4. Flor de Caña

Flor.jpgPut simply, good rum cheap. I guess this is a thing to do only because drinking is a “thing to do” here, and if you’re gonna do anything you might as well do it right. I like my Flor De Caña with Fresca and a little pineapple juice but it’s also great with lemonade. For extra bonus points, grab some ice, a little mint, some fresh lime juice and a mango, then blend with some light Flor De Caña and you have yourself one tasty concoction.

5. Fu-King-Wok

Two places to eat in one post!? What the hell? Yes, Fu-King-Wok makes the list. They are open on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and, while the food isn’t cheap (225 LPS or ~$11 USD) one order is usually enough for two people. I have eaten an entire order on my own but there were Oompa-Loompa’s standing by to roll me home soooo…

6. Nothing

Yes, this is something you do. Spend the day in a hammock, sit in a chair at the end of a dock and read (bonus points for doing this with an iced coffee in hand from Rio Coco or the aforementioned cocktail), float around in the calm waters, or whatever you feel like doing that requires little effort and a comfortable place to unwind. Doing nothing IS something you can do here and I promise you’ll enjoy it very much. Sure it can feel boring at times but you gotta make your own fun people. Don’t mope around saying there’s nothing to do, because nothing is something to do here.

7. Rent an island

You read that right. You can rent an island here and have as many people as you want on it. It’s like $140 a night and it is AWESOME! Split it with 10 people and stock up on things to grill, some drinks, and a lot of ice for cocktail making madness and you have one hell of a weekend. The snorkeling and the diving on these private islands is excellent and, if you’re handy with a spear, you can catch yourself some of those pesky lion-fish for the grill or for bonus points, lion-fish ceviche. If you have a bad time partying on one of these islands then you were either ill prepared or you are dead inside, either way you suck.

So those are my seven things but there are plenty of other things to do here. If I had the money, I would add Float Utila to the list because it’s the biggest float-tank in the world and it’s a great experience but I’ve only done it once. Aside from being the biggest float tank it’s also one of the cheapest at around $55 per float or $90 for three. I guess that tells you how frugal I am. You could also rent a dirt-bike and check out the caves, go fishing, go sailing, spend a day at one of the cays (tiny islands great for snorkeling) or do copious amounts of drugs of all kinds if that’s your thing. If you ask me though, a good day in Utila starts with Honduran coffee, includes some great diving and ends in a hammock with a nice cocktail in hand flanked by some cheap eats and interesting people. Have other suggestions? Post them below.

Roam on!




Written by Teague O’Connell
Teague is a Workforce Management / Operational Leadership expert and PADI Master Scuba Diver Trainer with a passion for travel, adventure and the magnificent journey that is, life.

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Category: Places

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