Utila

Utila is the cheapest and least developed of the islands and has a very laid-back ambience. Only 32 km from La Ceiba, it is low lying, with just two hills, Pumpkin and the smaller Stewarts, either side of the town known as
East Harbour
. The first inhabitants were the Paya and there is scant archaeological evidence of their culture. Later the island was used by
pirates; Henry Morgan is reputed to have hidden booty in the caves. The population now is descended from Black Caribs and white Cayman Islanders with a recent influx from mainland Honduras. Independence Day (15 September) festivities, including boxing and climbing greased poles, are worth staying for. More information available at www.aboututila.com.

Around Utila

There are no big resorts on the island, although a couple of small, lodge-style, upmarket places have opened, otherwise the accommodation is rather basic. Sunbathing and swimming is not particularly good - people come for the diving.
Jack Neal Beach
has white sand with good snorkelling and swimming.
Chepee's White Hole
at the end of Blue Bayou peninsula has a beach for swimming. Snorkelling is also good offshore by the Blue Bayou restaurant, a 20-minute walk from tow. There are hammocks and a jetty, which is great for fishing at sunset, and the only place to get away from the terrible sandflies.
Bandu Beach
is another option on the northern end of the island. Sunchairs, drinks and clean toilets are provided. There is also sandfly relief at
Big Bight
,
Redcliff
and
Rocky Point
.

­You can hike to
Pumpkin Hill
(about 4 km down the lane by
HSBC
, bikes recommended) where there are some freshwater caves with a beach nearby (watch out for sharp coral). It is also possible to walk on a trail from the airfield to Big Bight and the iron shore on the east coast, about 2 km, exploring tidal pools; nice views and beach but it is rocky so wear sandals.

You can visit the
Iguana Station
, www.utila-iguana.de, a short walk up hill from the fire station - follow the signs. Paying volunteer options possible. They also offer great trips through the mangroves to explore the more hidden parts of the island.

Utila's cayes

A 20-minute motorboat ride from East Harbour are the cayes, a chain of small islands populated by fisherfolk off the southwest coast of Utila, which are known as the Cayitos de Utila.
Jewel Caye
and
Pigeon Caye
are connected by a bridge and are inhabited by a fishing community, which reportedly settled there to get away from the sandflies on Utila. Basic accommodation and food is available.
Diamond Caye
is privately owned, the snorkelling offshore here is excellent.
Water Caye
is a coconut island with 'white hole' sandy areas and with wonderful bathing in the afternoons. It is the only place where you can camp, sling a hammock or, in an emergency, sleep in or under the house of the caretaker; take food and fresh water, or rent the caretaker's canoe and get supplies from Jewel Caye.

This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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