HONDURAS

The Bay Islands are hidden gems in the Caribbean Sea. A lot of people perceive Honduras to be a dangerous place to visit but it is getting safer. There is hardly any crime on the Bay Islands and it is a very safe place to travel to. Not only can you find white sandy beaches and crystal blue water, but it is also a very reasonably priced and there are options for everyone: for a family with young children, a romantic trip for a couple, a vacation with friends and a solo traveler. It is also the cheapest place to scuba dive in the world and there are amazing reefs and sea life to explore!

When to Go:

Mid-December to March is best time to visit Honduras. During these months it rarely rains, and it is not too hot but still very warm. Rainy season is May and June and October to mid-December. You can still get nice weather and it will be cheaper to visit during these months but be prepared for some heavy rain at times.

If flying from the southern part of the US, the flight is so short you could go for a long weekend but once you get there, you will not want to leave. I suggest staying at least a week if you can.

Getting There:

There are three main airports that you can fly into: Tegucigalpa, San Pedro de Sula and Roatan. If you can, it’s best to fly directly into Roatan as Tegucigalpa and San Pedro de Sula don’t have much to offer. United, American and Delta Airlines all have direct flights into Roatan from the US.

  • United flies daily from Houston and every Saturday from Denver
  • American flies from Dallas every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday, and from Miami daily.  
  • Delta flies once a week from Atlanta every Saturday

From Canada, West Jet has a direct flight from Toronto to Roatan. It is a season flight that runs from December to April every Saturday. Air Transat used to have a seasonal flight to Roatan as well, but they won’t be offering it for the 2021-2022 season. If you decide to visit when West Jet doesn’t have their seasonal flight, you can flight through the US. You can also find flight deals from the US and Canada. They can get as low as $350 CAD round trip from Vancouver to San Pedro de Sula with one layover.

If traveling around Central America, you can take a bus from Guatemala or Nicaragua. Leon to La Ceiba is $80 USD and takes 12 hours. Antigua to La Ceiba is $40 USD and takes 17 hours.

Before You Go:

As of June 10th, 2021, tourists can enter Honduras after having been fully vaccinated for 14 days or if you show a negative COVID test taken within 3 days of your arrival. You must pre-register your arrival on the following website: https://prechequeo.inm.gob.hn/.

There are 3 forms you will have to fill out:

  1. Immigration Pre-Check Form
    • You cannot submit the forms until 48 hours before your arrival date.
    • It is best to do this on a computer rather than a mobile device.
    • You will need to register for an account on the site, and to complete the form you will need your passport number and expiry date, your incoming flight details (airline and flight number), and the address of where you will be staying.  
    • The site will automatically populate in Spanish. You can switch to English in the upper right of the screen. 
    • Once you have clicked “Save”, you will receive a confirmation email with an attached PDF and QR code that you will need to save to your phone, or print.
    • Not all the fields are translated to English on the site, below is what you can put for some of the fields if flying into Roatan.
      • For the United States, go to E and select “Estados Unidos de Norte America.”
      • Type of transport: AEREO
      • Immigration office: JUAN MANUEL GALVEZ
      • Destination address: INSERT DESTINATION ADDRESS (Do not use commas or other special characters.)
      • Destination state: ISLAS DE LA BAHIA
      • Destination city: ROATAN
  2. Health Survey Form
    • You will need a photo (jpg or png) of your passport page and a photo of your COVID vaccination or COVID test
    • You do not need to print this form and you won’t receive a confirmation email for it.
    • You MUST also bring your physical, original vaccination card or negative COVID testfor immigration. You will be denied boarding or entry into the country without them.
  3. Customs Declaration Form – you will receive a paper Customs Form on the flight to Honduras, which you will need to complete and submit to the immigration officer upon arrival.  One form for family traveling together is all that is required.

Things to Pack:

  • COVID Vaccination Card or Negative COVID Test Result
  • US Cash
  • Bathing Suits
  • Hat/Sunglasses
  • Flip Flops
  • Bug Spray – for mosquitos (for the island and the national park)
  • Baby Oil – for sand fleas (they only come out really early in the morning and in the late afternoon 3-5pm)
  • Afterbite
  • Reef Safe Sunscreen
  • Reusable Water Bottle
  • Waterproof bag/backpack
  • Thin Gortex / waterproof jacket (if going during rainy months)

Local Foods:

  • Baleadas – normally eaten for breakfast but some places make them all day. It’s a fresh made local tortilla with beans and your choice of meat, eggs, veggies, or seafood. These range from L15-100 depending on where you go and what you get in it.
  • Pastelitos – empanada like deep fried pockets with meat, veggies, or fish inside. These normally are priced at L15-24.
  • Conch – a local seafood eaten on the island normally served with rice and beans, or as a soup.
  • Rice, beans & plantains – what you will see as an accompaniment to most local meals which is very common around the Caribbean Sea.

Local Slang:

  • Maje = Dude / Bro
  • Macizo = Great / Nice
  • Pijin = Party
  • Cheque = Yes / Ok
  • Alero = Best Friend
  • Chepos = Police
  • Pulperia = Mini Market / Corner Store

Things to Note:

  • Bring US cash. Lots of places don’t take credit card so it comes in handy, and if they do take credit card, they will likely charge you a 5-10% fee. You will need to make sure that none of your bills have rips or tears or any writing or stamps on them otherwise they won’t accept them. Because Roatan is more touristy (due to cruise ships stopping there), more places take credit card there. The local currency is Lempiras (L) which at the time of writing this is L24 to $1 USD. It is always good to get some local currency when you arrive.
  • Spending the extra few dollars on a room with AC is worth it. With the humidity, it makes it hard to dry clothes if they get wet from the rain, or from swimming.
  • Internet get spotty at most places in the Bay Islands and in the Pico Bonito National Park, especially when it rains.
  • Most common local beers are Salva Vida, Imperial and Porter. Salva Vida was my preference and will normally cost L48 ($2 USD) at a bar or restaurant.
  • Rum is the least expensive alcohol on the island. There aren’t any good local rums so it’s best to go with Flor de Caña which is from Nicaragua. The 12-year bottle is the best (even better than the older ones) and can be found for $26 USD at the supermarket ($30-$35 USD in more touristy stores). If on a budget, the 4-year bottle can be found as cheap as $8 USD.
  • Ferry terminals give a great exchange rate (L24.5 to $1 USD). If paying a ferry ticket with cash and you need local currency, pay with a large bill. The ferry companies sometimes have online sales for tickets, so make sure to check the website as you can sometimes pay online instead and get a better deal.
  • Masks aren’t really enforced anywhere. You will need one for the airport, ferry terminals and some stores on Roatan.
  • Whale sharks aren’t seen as frequently as it seems in the advertisements for Utila.
  • Locals don’t hassle you on the island. They will ask you to buy something or if you’re interested in an activity and if you just kindly say no, they will leave you alone.
  • The Bay Islands are very safe. There isn’t a lot of crime. My friend accidentally left his backpack in the airport with all his valuables and when we went back to get it, it was still there.
  • When I went through security in Roatan to leave, they didn’t ask me to dispose of my water bottle that was in my backpack. If you aren’t connecting in the US, you could probably bring liquids through that are over 100ml.  
  • Honduras is in the CST and uses same outlets as the North America.
  • If you happen to go around an election, they don’t serve alcohol the day before, the day of, or the day after the election.

ROATAN

If you are looking for a beautiful beach town with clear blue water that is up to North American standards to hang out in for a few days, you should definitely consider going to Roatan! With direct flights from six cities in North America, it’s an easy destination to get to, especially if you are coming from the southern US states. The island is quite big and there are lots of towns you can visit and stay in, but I would recommend West Bay. They have a great beach with many hotel and restaurant options. If you are planning to go out every night, the West End might be a better area to stay as they have the best nightlife.

Getting There:

There are a few direct flights from the US and Canada straight into Roatan that were outlined earlier in this post. But if you are already in Honduras and planning to visit Roatan, you can get there by a domestic flight or ferry. There are two ferries you can take.

  1. La Ceiba to Roatan – Galaxy Wave ferry leaves at 9:30am and 4pm daily for $32 USD (1 hour and 30 minutes)
  2. Utila to Roatan – Utila Dream ferry leaves at 10:20am daily for $31 USD (1 hour)

Getting Around:

  • Taxis: taxis are an easy way to get around the island but can get expensive. You will likely need to negotiate prices with the driver prior to taking the ride. From the airport to West Bay, it costs $25 USD. From the airport to West End, it costs $20 USD. From West Bay to West end a taxi costs $15 USD. Prices go up at night as well. When you arrive at the airport or ferry terminal, you can try to walk out to the road and flag down a taxi to negotiate a cheaper rate.
  • Buses: there are two bus routes out of Coxen Hole. Westbound minibuses carry passengers to Sandy Bay and to West End for L50 ($2 USD) and takes about 15 minutes. Eastbound minibuses depart every 30 minutes to French Harbour, Polytilly Bight, Punta Gorda and Oak Ridge with fares ranging L20-40 ($1 to $2 USD). It takes about one hour to get to Oak Ridge.
  • Water Taxis: you can take a water taxi between West End and West Bay Beach. It costs $3.00 USD per person during the day, and $5 USD per person after sunset with a minimum of 3 people. The trip takes about 10 minutes. The last boat normally leaves at 10pm but you can organize a later pickup with them.  You can organize a water taxi trip with Big John: +504 9816 6440.
  • Vehicle Rental: you can rent a car or a scooter on the island starting from $20 per day. The roads on the island aren’t in great condition though so you have to be very careful of potholes, especially if renting a scooter.

Other Notes:

  • Rapid antigen COVID test at West Bay Mall at the International Care Unit for $35 per person. Results are immediate and they are open 24/7. No appointment is needed. You can just walk in or contact them via WhatsApp at +504 9472 9790.
  • PCR COVID test is $130 USD for rapid results and comes right to your hotel (you can ask them to call someone), or you can get a PCR test at the Woods Hospital in Coxen Hole.
  • Roatan long sleeve shirts are being sold all over the beach. You can buy two for $20 USD (vendors will ask for $20 for one though). These are great to wear post dive on the boat and make a good souvenir!

Where to Stay:

  • West Bay Lodge – located in West Bay one block away from the beach. A great spot with 8 bungalows run and owned by Celeste from Oregon. Each bungalow has a different layout and likely can accommodate any of your needs. Most have full kitchens as well and a water filter. It costs ~$100 USD per night and includes breakfast.
  • Naboo Resort – located in West Bay one block away from the beach. Opened in October 2021, this 18 room hotel costs $119 USD per night and includes breakfast.
  • Infinity Bay Resort – located in West Bay right on the beach. A bigger resort that is similar to those you will find in Mexico. There is an all-inclusive option and rooms start at $200 USD per night. If going with a bigger group, it might be worth renting a 3-bedroom beachfront apartment which sleeps up to 7.
  • Hotel Colonial – located in West Bay one block away from the beach. It costs $70 USD per night for a room with 1 queen and 1 king bed and includes breakfast. They also have a pool.
  • Anthony Key’s Resort – located on the North side of the island right on the water is another great option if you’re looking for a resort to stay at. They have all inclusive packages, including dive packages which are the better deals. They even offer a few over the water bungalow rooms. The only downside about this resort is that it’s difficult to go anywhere if you want to explore the island. It’s best to stay here if you just want to stay in one location. Rooms start at $400 USD per night.
  • Hotel Chillies – located in Half Moon Bay in the West End and costs $25-55 USD per night depending on the room. They have a dive shop attached to it called Native Sons that have great diving prices as well.  
  • Ibagari Boutique Hotel – luxury boutique hotel located between West Bay and West End. If budget isn’t an issue, it’s a great place to stay. Rooms start at $375 USD per night.
  • Hotel Colonial – $70 per night, 1 queen and 1 king bed, pool, includes breakfast
  • Island Man Apartments – located across the street from the airport. If you want to explore the whole island in a short period of time, this is a good option for you as they also rent cars. A two-bedroom, one bathroom, full kitchen apartment rents for $40 per night and a car can be rented for $30 USD per day.
  • Mission Gate Condos – for longer stays (min one week), you can rent a condo here in West Bay starting at $125 USD per night for a 2-bedroom place with full kitchen.

Where to Eat & Drink:

  • Airport
    • Get a drink at Larry & Luey’s when you land! Larry and Luey are very friendly and one of them is usually there.
    • If you are hungry or thirsty when you land, or need something to eat before your flight, go to Petrosun Gas Station across the street from the airport for a meal and beer.
      • L24/$1 USD for a cold beer – it is not a bad idea to buy some here before going to your hotel or if you want a beer in the airport while waiting for your flight.
      • Baleadas for breakfast from L15
      • Hot bar style meal for lunch and dinner from L100
      • Pastelitos served all day starting from L16
      • You can also buy bottles of rum here but it’s more expensive than a supermarket (about $12 more for the Flor de Caña 12-year bottle)
      • Blimpie American Sub shop with sandwiches from L115
      • Coffee shop inside
    • There is a café and a bar at the airport in the departure area, but food is way better, and cheaper, at the Petrosun gas station across the street.
  • Coxen Hole – by Utila Dream Ferry Terminal
    • If you have some time to kill before catching the ferry, you can go to Bay Side Restaurant & Grill a few steps away and get a drink.
  • West Bay
    • Beachers – located right on the beach, it’s a great casual place to eat, drink and watch the sunset.
    • Naboo Resort Restaurant – opened October 2021 and has great food for a great price. They have a lobster special some nights where you get 3 lobster tails for $22 USD.
    • Argentinian Grill – located right on the beach in Half Moon Bay but is more on the expensive side (a meal will cost you $20-$30 USD) but great food. Surf and Turf and the Caribbean Salad are the things to get on the menu.  
    • La Placita – local food court behind Bananarama where you can get cheap food. Baleadas cost between $2-$4 and Pupusas costs $4 for two and are delicious.
    • Fresh Coconuts – there is a guy that sells fresh coconuts on his kayak and paddles up and down the beach. It costs $2 USD per coconut ($4 USD if you want it with rum). He will cut the coconut open for you after to eat.
    • Snacks/Drinks – you can buy snacks and drinks at the mini market in the West Bay Mall. There is a deli where you can purchase sandwiches, snacks and alcohol but the liquor store next to the medical office has cheaper alcohol and snacks.
  • West End
    • Argentinian Grill – same as the one in West Bay. You can get table on platform on beach side or in the restaurant on the other side of the street.
    • Roatan Oasis – a contemporary, brasserie style restaurant open Wednesday to Sunday. It is a short walk from the beach and offers a variety of dishes from steaks to seafood.
    • Anthony’s Chicken and More – known for their jerk chicken, which is $7 USD for a plate including rice, beans, plantains. Whole grilled fish is also delicious for $13 and includes rice, beans, and plantains as well.
    • Thai Blue Elephant – if you need to switch it up from the local Caribbean food, this is a good choice, located right on the water in the West End.
    • Sundowners Beach Bar – great place to go for drinks and to hang out all night on the beach!  
    • Frank’s Cigar Bar – another great place to go for drinks.
    • Tita’s Pink Seahorse Beach Bar – known for not following the rules and is normally open late. It’s a little further away from the main strip of bars and is a hut located right on the beach.

What to Do:  

  • Scuba Dive!
    • Bananarama dive shop is recommended in West Bay. It costs $110 USD for two dives including tax and equipment. Boat leaves at 8:15am and 1:15pm daily. If you are staying for a longer period of time, you can get a 5 dive package for $185 USD or 10 dive package for $330 USD + $15 USD for equipment per day (or $60 per week). They also offer many dive courses.
    • Native Sons dive shop is recommended in West End. It costs $45 USD per dive including equipment, but if you are staying at Chillies Hotel it costs only $30 per dive. They also offer many dive courses.
  • Hang out on a party boat in West Bay – there are two options:
    • Mono Loco for $60 USD per person – a party raft with a roof that leaves the east side of the beach and is 3 hours. Includes 5 beers and two chicken skewers.
    • Stray Cat for $55 USD per person – a Catamaran that leaves Infinity Bay Resort and is open bar and food for 3 hours. No shaded areas though.  
  • Check out the water activities in West Bay:
    • Parasail for $35 per person (vendors will ask for $45 per person)
    • Jet ski for $35 per person (vendors will ask for $45 per person)
    • Snorkel in front of Grand Roatan hotel on the west end of the beach
  • Get a massage – on the beach you can find ladies that will give you a 30-minute massage for $10 USD. If you don’t want to lay in the sand and want a more private experience, you can go the Serenity Spa next to the West Bay Lodge and get a 50-minute massage for $40 USD.
  • Relax at Camp Bay Beach – a quiet, virtually untouched natural area, remote from any tourists’ spots. It is located on the most eastern part of the island.
  • Golf at the Black Pearl Golf Course – located on the North side of the island in Pristine Bay. To play 18 holes it will cost you $100 USD. You can also rent clubs there.
  • Go fishing – there are lots of Tuna, Wahoo, Mahi-Mahi, Grouper and Blue Marlin in the area. A good company to look into for this is Wahoo Slayer based out of the West End. A charter for half a day will cost between $400-$500 USD depending on the size of the boat.
  • Go on a day excursion – West Bay Tours offers many day excursions such as a day trip to Cayos Cochinos, and even private boat rentals.
  • Go out one night in West End – here you will find a similar vibe to the nightlife in Utila.

UTILA

Island Time: got nothing to do and all day to do it. This is the motto that locals on Utila live by. This backpacker island is a diver’s haven! Because of the island’s attraction to divers, the local community consists of a mix of native Bay Island locals and international divers.

How long you should stay will depend on what type of dives you are planning to do. If you are going to take your PADI Open Water course, you need at least four days and a half. If doing PADI Advanced Open Water course, you need at least two days and a half. However many days you plan to stay, you should also leave a bit of flexibility to stay an extra day or two because you will not want to leave – and will likely catch yourself saying the first of the 3 lies of Utila:

  1. I’m leaving tomorrow
  2. I’m not drinking tonight
  3. I love you

Getting There:

There is a small domestic airport that you can fly into from San Pedro Sula (SAP), La Ceiba (LCE) or Roatan (RTB). If coming from Roatan of La Ceiba, the best way to get there is to take a ferry.

  • La Ceiba to Utila – Utila Dream ferry leaves at 9am and 4:30pm daily for $31 USD (45 mins).
  • Roatan to Utila – Utila Dream ferry leaves at 2pm daily for $31 USD (1 hour)

You can also take a private boat, which we had to do since the ferry was broken. This will cost between $500-$700 USD for a boat, depending on the size and how many passengers. Bush’s Bay Island Charters or West Bay Tours can organize this for you.

Getting Around:

The island has only a few main streets that are very walkable. If you don’t want to walk, Tuk Tuks are available to take you around the main streets for L20 per person and will go up to L30 at night. They are especially useful when its raining or if you have luggage.

Other Notes:

  • There are two ATM’s on Utila. One is right on corner as you exit the ferry terminal. It is a good idea to get Lempiras as this island prefers local currency.
  • The green painted market across the street from Mango Inn has the cheapest beers on the island – $1 USD each.
  • You can get a rapid antigen COVID test on the island for $60 USD at the Utila Hyperbaric Chamber & Trauma Center – you get results in 15 minutes. You can book an appointment through their Facebook page.
  • Bush’s market gives worst exchange rate (19 limps to $1 USD) so do not use USD here.
  • If you need to do laundry, Alice’s Laundry next to La Casita is the best on the island. It costs 10 limps per shirt/pair of pants and is normally ready the next day. It’s open 7am to 8pm daily.

Where to Stay:

  • Mango Inn – if you are diving with UDC a bed in a dorm room is included at no additional cost. It a 5-10 minute walk away from UDC and the main road. A private room is an additional $40 USD per night and has two queen beds, private bathroom, AC, a mini fridge, water filter and hot water filter and is worth the upgrade. They also include free pickup and drop off at the ferry terminal or airport.
  • Utila Lodge – an 8-room lodge that costs $90 USD per night and located on the water right on the main road. Each room has a water view and patio with a hammock.
  • Manurii Hotel – a more modern hotel which is a 5-10 minute walk from the main road. It is one of the more expensive places on the island and costs $140 USD per night.
  • La Hamaca Hostel – if you are on a budget, this is a great option right on the water. Dorms with AC cost $20 USD per night. A private room with a queen bed and own washroom costs $50 USD per night. They also have a cute bar/hangout deck area right on the water.
  • Bush’s Suites & Apartments – if you are looking for a longer-term rental or want more of an apartment style accommodation, Bush’s is a good option.
  • Coral Beach Village Hotel – if you are looking for a more relaxing stay away from the main town with resort like accommodation, this is a good option. MORE INFO
  • Utila Cay Islands – you can rent a private island in the Utila Cays that has a house for $175 USD per night. You can find Sandy Cay on Airbnb.

Where to Dive:

  • Utila Diving Center – highly recommend diving with UDC! This is where I got my advanced open water certification and couldn’t have asked for a better experience. They charge slightly more than other dive shops on the island but it’s worth paying the extra dollars because they have better equipment & boats, and a better dive master to student ratio. Having newer and better boats allows divers to leave at 8am for morning dives (which is later than other dive companies). A dorm room at the Mango Inn is included with any PADI diving course and fun dives. Diving prices are:
    • $350 USD for PADI Open Water + 2 fun dives (includes equipment & tax)
    • $350 USD for PADI Advanced Open Water + 2 fun dives (includes equipment & tax)
    • $162 USD for PADI Discover Scuba (diving without certification)
    • $80 USD for a 2 Tank Fun Dive
    • Hire Nicole, the photographer, for $50 per person and you get an underwater photoshoot and she will send you 25 photos.
  • Bay Islands College of Diving – another option for divers. All equipment is included in all PADI courses and fun dive as well as a dorm room.
    • $369 USD for PADI Open Water + 2 fun dives
    • $369 USD for PADI Advanced Open Water + 2 fun dives
    • $64 USD for a 2 Tank Fun Dive
  • Underwater Vision – another dive shop right next to UDC. All dive prices include equipment rental. A dorm room is included if taking a course and $6 USD per night if you are doing fun dives.
    • $299 USD for PADI Open Water
    • $299 USD for PADI Advanced Open Water
    • $109 USD for PADI Discover Scuba
    • $68 USD for a 2 Tank Fun Dive  

(c) 2021 Nicole Webster, (c) 2021 Christie Lee

What to Do:

  • Scuba Dive!!! Get certified, this is the cheapest place in the world to do this!
  • Day trip to the Utila Cay Islands – these are amazing islands off the southwest side of the island. Bush’s Bay Island Charters has a day trip there for $15 USD per person (minimum 4 people) and you get to spend 4 hours on the islands. Bring snacks, drinks, and a snorkel & mask to swim around the island. Water Cay has a shallow sand bank where you can hang out in the crystal-clear blue water. Upper and Lower Cay have about 100 people living on them. You can walk around town, go to a restaurant to eat, or just buy beers there on the way to the other Cay islands.
  • Hang out at Neptunes Bar & Grill at Coral Beach Village for an afternoon. Boats go there on the hour and come back on the half hour. The last boat leaves Neptunes at 4:30pm. A Tuk Tuk can take you to the boat at Blue Bayou and it will cost 30 limps per person. They have great food and drinks and a 190-foot pier you can hang out on. Check out their Facebook page to double check their schedule before going.
  • Visit Chepes Beach – located at the south-western end of the main road, this is the main beach to relax at near town. It has little cabana huts in the water with shelves where you can hang out.
  • Visit Bando Beach – another alternative beach on the eastern end of the main road. It is a private beach, so you need to eat or drink at the restaurant bar or pay L40 to hang out here.
  • Hike to the top of Pumpkin Hill – this is the highest point on the island. From the main town, it is a 12-mile loop so unless you have the time, it’s best rent an ATV to get halfway up and then hike the rest.
  • Go out to the bars one night! You will meet a ton of people, locals, tourists, and international locals living on the island. It’s a great, friendly community!

Where to Eat:

Don’t ever ben in a rush when you order food anywhere, unless you can see that it’s already made. Everything is made to order and can take a VERY long time sometimes. Even drinks can take a long time.

  • Mango Tango – set in a garden oasis by the sea, this restaurant is one you must check out. They serve excellent Mediterranean and international food and have great cocktails!
  • La Casita – a small light blue house located right next to Alice’s Laundry and Mama Rosa’s big pink baleadas sign on the main road. Has the best quality food for a low cost and delicious baleadas. Open every day for lunch and dinner, except Wednesdays. Baleadas cost between L15-L100. A seafood dish will cost between L160-L300. Meat dishes cost between L150-L180. Maria is a great chef and this was my go-to lunch/snack every day!
  • UDC Bar – great place to get a pastelito for L25, breakfast or lunch between dives.
  • The Pelican – located right across the street from UDC. It is more expensive than the typical restaurant on the island and has smaller portions but the seafood is delicious. It is open Monday to Thursday for lunch and dinner, and Friday for lunch only.
  • RJ’s – for BBQ & steak located on the western end of the main road. Open Wednesday, Friday and Sunday at 5:30pm.
  • Trudy’s – if you love wings, Trudy’s (the hotel/restaurant at Underwater Vision) has great wings on Tuesdays.
  • Relapse – a pier restaurant on Chepes beach with good seafood options.  
  • The Pub by Utila Brewing Company – you can find Mexican comfort food here. The food comes out quicker than most restaurants.
  • SeaBreakers – if you are craving pasta, the Italian owner of this restaurant bar makes his own pasta from scratch and sells plates for L150. There is no menu though, it’s just whatever he feels like cooking that night.
  • Gordo – sometimes sets up next to La Cueva at night for people who get late night munchies. He serves baleadas for $2-$4 USD.  

Where to Go Out:

Utila’s nightlife doesn’t ever stop. You can always find a party on the island any day. Here are the bars that are the place to go to each night.

  • Monday: Open Mic Night at SeaBreaker
  • Tuesday: Tequila Tuesday at Tranquila Bar
  • Wednesday: Kareoke night at Trudy’s from 7:30-9:30pm and then La Cueva after
  • Thursdays: Ladies Night at VINYL
  • Friday/Saturdays: Tranquila Bar is the best
  • Late Night: Clifford’s Sports Bar which is a minute walk up the street behind Mango Inn. It opens at midnight.

PICO BONITO NATIONAL PARK

Change up the scenery of your island trip by checking out the Pico Bonito National Park, located in the Nobre de Dios mountain range on the mainland. If you have time, spend two nights (one full day) there. Look for birds (over 425 species live here), animals, waterfalls and take a water rafting trip down the Cangrejal River. There isn’t much around the area so it’s best to pack some snacks, drinks, and bottled water for the duration of your stay.

Getting There:

If coming from the mainland, you need to get to La Ceiba and it will cost L300 for a taxi to take you to Pico Bonito National Park. The drive is about 30 minutes with no traffic. The hotel you are staying at should be able to arrange this for you. If coming from the Bay Islands, you can take one of two ferries to get to La Ceiba:

  1. Utila to La Ceiba – Utila Dream ferry leaves at 7am and 3:20pm daily for $32 USD (45 mins).
  2. Roatan to La Ceiba – Galaxy Wave ferry leaves at 7am and 2pm daily for $32 USD or Utila Dream ferry leaves at 2pm daily for $43 USD (1 hour and 30 minutes).

Where to Stay:

  • Las Cascadas Lodge – a higher end all-inclusive lodge with 4 cabins. Your stay includes all meals and drinks (including alcohol), transportation to and from La Ceiba and activities depending on the package you choose. Rooms are $480 USD per night but can sleep 3-4 people. If budget isn’t an issue, this is the best place to stay.
  • Omega Tours Eco Jungle Lodge – here you will find a variety of different room styles, ones that even overlook the national park. All these rooms are designed to have a natural breeze so there is no AC and only some rooms will have fans. A double occupancy room ranges from $80-$130 USD per night. They have the best restaurant in the area, and it is great for lunch or dinner. A meal will cost you L300-400 and a bottle of wine is ~L400.
  • Hotel Rio – costs $40 USD per night for a 2-bedroom apartment with AC. Rooms are very basic and minimal. Pepe who owns the hotel speaks English and can help organize, but if he isn’t around at the hotel while you are there, there isn’t anyone who speaks English. There is a restaurant bar at the hotel but it’s only open on Saturdays. Walter, the manager’s, wife can cook simple meals for you if needed, including breakfast. Each meal is L100.
  • La Villa de Soledad – a relaxing bed and breakfast hotel. The house consists of 5 rooms that will cost you $75-$110 USD per night (for two people) to stay, depending on the time of year you visit.

What to Do:

  • River Raft – this is a great way to see the national park from a different perspective and it’s a unique experience because the chances that you don’t see anyone else on the river are pretty good. It costs $30 USD / 1500 limps per person for a 2-hour excursion from Hotel Rio, or $60 USD per person (minimum 2 people) with Omega Tours which includes lunch.
  • Hike – there are many hiking trails around the park. A great one to do is to the main El Bejuco waterfall. This hike is about 8km and 3 hours round trip. It’s best to hire a guide to go with you (the hotel can help you organize this). The guide will tell you about all the different plants, trees and animals in the forest. It costs L500 for guide at Hotel Rio and a fee of $7 USD per person to enter the park (paid at the Visitor Center right before the suspension bridge).  A walking stick is highly recommended, otherwise you will be using your hands a lot to keep your balance. Hotel Rio also has a private hiking trail that is 3.4km to a smaller waterfall that is free for guests. If you want to take a guide on this hike, it will cost L100.
  • Visit the local chocolate factory – if you stay at Hotel Rio, tours are free. Otherwise, you can probably organize a tour with your hotel for a small cost.  
  • Look for wildlife – there are a lot of beautiful birds and animals in the park. Keep an eye out for toucans, monkeys, and macaws.

(c) 2021 Christie Lee

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