The Caribbean island of Utila is one of three in a group of islands called the Bay Islands found just off the coast of Honduras in Central America, the other two being Roatan and Guanaja. It is the second largest island being about seven miles long and three miles wide. It is less developed than its larger and better known neighbour Roatan and has a unique culture which is friendly and welcoming. The true Utilians speak English (well a version of) as their primary language and of course Spanish as the islands are now owned by Honduras.
The Caribbean island of Utila is made up of mangroves, forestry and dry lands which cover approximately 90% of this tropical island. It is rich with indigenous wild life and beautiful mangrove orchids. The mangrove Swamper iguana is only found on Utila and nowhere else in the world. The only town is built around a natural harbour on the south east end of the island.
Scuba Diving on Utila
The extensive reefs of Utila make an all inclusive scuba diving vacation an exciting and varied experience with over 130 buoyed sites around the island to choose from. Diving on the north side of Utila is awe inspiring with sheer walls dropping to over 1000 mtrs (3000ft) with amazing coral growth on top of the wall. There is always the chance of seeing dolphins, manta rays and many of the other large pelagic creatures that inhabit the Caribbean, including of course, the largest of them all, the whale shark. With the extensive macro life including seahorse and frog fish, it is a photographer and videographers dream.
The south side of Utila consists mainly of shallow fringing reefs, the top of the reef at around 5 mtrs (15ft) dropping down to between 30-40 mtrs (100-120ft). The reefs here are a mix of small walls with good overhangs and many sites with really pretty spur and groove formations. Some of our favourite visitors to the south shore are eagle rays and turtles. There are also 4 sea mounds approximately 1-3 miles from the Utila coastline. The tops begin at around 10 mtrs (33ft) and they drop to the ocean floor. The reefs are stunning with lots of soft coral and the chance of seeing the larger pelagic species. Dive trips will include a wreck dive, drift dives and of course, the ever popular night dives. Unlimited shore diving is also available from the resort beach on some of the best south side dive sites.
Island HistoryAlthough there is evidence that Columbus was not the first European to visit the Bay Islands , he did pass through the islands on his fourth voyage (1502-1504) and provided the first known accounts of the area. He sent his brother Bartholomew ashore; his only recorded comment was "very robust people who live mostly from a certain white grain, from which they make fine bread and the most perfect beer".
When you arrive you will notice the influence of the British, the surnames of the islanders e.g. Morgan, Cooper, Rose, Jackson and Thompson, these were British settlers who came to the islands during the 1800's. Over the years there has appeared a wonderful mix of people and cultures here on Utila. These include people that arrived here from the Cayman Islands and of course people from Honduras.
The best words to describe Utila are the words of Richard H. Rose who wrote the book Utila Past and Present, "Indeed Utila is rich in fanciful name. Someone not very long ago christened it 'A lazy mans paradise' It seems that some peoples idea or vision of earthly bliss is to be in a place where one may live a dreamy inactive life only smoking a pipe and swinging in a hammock and be as happy as the day is long."