Utila - a tiny island, which is a part of the Bay Islands in Honduras, is famous amongst adventure enthusiasts as it promises the best and most affordable diving experience, a swim with whale sharks, and plenty of other water based activities.
The tropical Caribbean island is exquisitely beautiful, largely unexplored, having friendly natives coming from diverse cultures with a unique mix of American, British and Spanish heritage. So, you will get to experience diverse cultures and cuisine that you will cherish for life. Do not let the miniature size of the island fool you; there is aplenty to see and do that you will be spoiled for choice.
Utila is home to second largest barrier reef in the world, after Australia, offering disparate underwater region and abundant sea life, making it a utopia for scuba divers. Boasting cheapest open water courses in Caribbean, there are more than 16 scuba centers that teach scuba diving at beginner, advanced and professional level. There are more than 60 diving sites all around the island, some of which includes caves and several old wrecks like the infamous Halliburton. Most of these diving sites use proper safety measures, are professional and offer breathtaking views under water.
Utila Cays is a collection of small islets on the south west part of the island. Some these islands are about 100 feet wide with 1-2 feet above sea level. The most prominent cays are Water Cay, Pigeon (Suc-Suc) and Jewel Cay, Sandy Cay and Little Cay.
Water Cay is an astonishingly beautiful beach haven with white sandy beaches, pristine blue water and prolific coral reef. Water Cay is totally uninhabited as there are no buildings on it. It makes for an ideal place to spend the day lying on hammocks under the shade of coconut palms and Australian pines. Water Cay also hosts the famous two day music festival, Sun Jam during the 1st weekend of every August, with music lovers flocking from different parts of the continent.
Pigeon (SUC-SUC) Cay is basically a fishing village, but makes a good stop for lunch or even a stay over. Sandy Cay and Little Cay mostly have private owners, but open to visitors and have accommodation available on rent.
Visit the Iguana Research and Breeding Station to understand how the folks at the center are trying to protect the endangered Utila Iguanas, locally known as ‘Swamper’. These spiny tailed critters are endangered as result of increased pollution, implausible development of mangroves in the area and over hunting. The station gives a full tour explaining in detail the habits of iguanas, showing you the Swampers at different ages.
Utila Cays is a wonderland for Stand Up Paddleboarding enthusiasts. The tropical weather with a perfect 80 Fahrenheit temperature round the year and shallow, cerulean water makes it an ideal day for paddling. And it is one of the best ways to get a full-body work out and to explore the little islets around Utila.
Whale Shark is the largest fish on the planet. Imagine how exciting the idea is to swim with these giant mammals! Utila, famously called the "Whale Shark Capital of the Caribbean" is known to be one of the few places in the world where you can spot whale sharks all over the year.
These slow moving, harmless fish that feed on snapper egg, zooplankton and shrimp grow up to 12-18 meters in length and weigh around 15-20 tons. You can encounter these mammoth fish and even swim with them if lucky enough through various dive shops and the Whale Shark and Oceanic Research Center (the solo research organization that has been permitted to study whale sharks in the country).
Take a trip back in time to Cayos Cochinos, also called Hog Cays that consists of two tiny islets and even tinier 13 cays. Cay Cochinos are a protected nature reserve and the marine park here is a paradise of its own.
Rent a yacht from Utila and spend the travel time fishing and watching dolphins as you reach the gorgeous wharf of Cochino Grande. While on the island hike as you may like, or engage in water activities such as scuba diving, kayaking and snorkeling. Since accommodation is limited, it is advisable that you book your stay in advance.
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