Many people haven’t heard of the island of Utila in Honduras — and now is the time to visit before news spreads! For those already on the Central America backpacking trail, Utila is a well-kept secret. The island of Utila in Honduras is nothing short of paradise. It lies north of mainland Honduras, and with its warm Caribbean waters, majestic coral reef, and unusual fish species, it’s one of the best islands to snorkel and swim in the world. Here are some of the best things to do in Utila, Honduras, including some of the island’s hidden gems.
1. Swim With Whale Sharks
The waters surrounding Utila are home to Whale sharks year round. It’s one of the best places in the world to see them, with peak season being in the months of March, April, August, and September. Whale sharks are slow-moving peaceful sharks and the largest type of fish known to humankind. It’s an experience that you’ll never forget!
2. Discover Cayos Cochinos
The Cayos Cochinos, or pig caves, are two stunning islands and 13 cays located to the east of Utila. During the boat ride to the cays, keep your eyes peeled for dolphins! The cays offer stunning beaches, reefs and vantage points. They are also home to rare pink boa snakes. You can have lunch on the tiny island of Chachahuate, where you can mingle with the local Garifuna community, which offers a unique insight into Honduras and its different cultures.
3. Explore Mangroves
Hop on a boat and explore Utila’s National Park Mangrove Canal, which crosses the island. It’s a stunning canal, surrounded by lush green mangroves, flora, and fauna. At the end of the canal, you’ll arrive at Rock Harbour, which is one of the island’s best, secluded beaches. Don’t forget your snorkel to explore the unspoiled reefs.
4. Fly Through the Water
Fly through the water? Yes, it is possible with this unique form of watersports called subwinging. The sport involves holding on to a waterboard underwater, as an overhead boat pulls you along. It’s kind of like skiing or snowboarding, but underwater. Visit Chepe’s beach to arrange your subwing experience.
5. Visit the Wreckage of a Drug-Smuggling Plane
Central America is not short of stories about illicit drug smuggling — and the island of Utila is no exception. To the east of Utila, you can see the wreckage of a drug-smuggling plane that crashed in 2009. It lies in the middle of the jungle towards the end of an airport runway and it’s an eerie sight.
6. Coffee With a Purpose
Rio Coco Cafe is a great place to grab a cup of freshly-roasted Honduran coffee. And it’s a cafe with a difference, as a portion of its profits goes towards financing social projects in the community.
7. Eat a Lionfish Burger
Possibly the best burger ever invented is the lionfish burger. Made from freshly caught lionfish, you can find this culinary feast at restaurants such as Mango Tango.
8. Party in a Tree Top Bar
There’s a fun treetop bar that sits above the Jade Seahorse restaurant. It’s a beautiful bar with amazing views of sunset and the tree canopy, alongside great cocktails.
9. Go Scuba Diving
Utila is one of the most popular places to go scuba diving thanks to its epic coral reef and reasonable diving prices. If you’re not already certificated, you can do a one-day to one-week scuba diving course before you take the plunge. There are tons of diving schools in Utila with abundant diving facilities
If you’re not keen to splash out on qualifying to scuba dive, you can also have an incredible experience snorkeling. The reef surrounding Utila is teeming with beautiful tropical fish, all you need to do is grab a snorkel and see the colors for yourself!
Have we tempted you to visit Utila, Honduras? Here are some safety tips for traveling in Honduras.