Have you heard of Utila? It’s an island in Honduras and it’s home to a cool little town on the waterfront! Picture hammocks strung up on docks, a relaxed, low-key vibe, friendly locals, colorful houses, ice-cold beers enjoyed over the water, coral reefs, and mangroves. The Caribbean Sea is warm and bright blue, the pace is unhurried, and the living (and diving) is easy. If you’re looking for a chilled-out place for your next freediving course or some fun diving, this could be it! Sheena McNally, a regular freediver out there, explains.

Getting There

You can fly into either San Pedro Sula (SAP) on the mainland, or to the neighboring island of Roatan (RTB). From either airport, you can take local flights with CM Airlines to Utila's airport (schedules vary—check directly with the airline). You can also travel over land and sea. From San Pedro Sula, catch a bus (Transportes Cristina) for just a few dollars to the coastal city of La Ceiba. Then, take the Utila Dream Ferry to the island. From Roatan, take a taxi to the Utila Dream Ferry and enjoy an easy 1-hour journey to Utila.


Apartments are plentiful, and the best place to see what's available is a Facebook group called Utila Buy & Sell. Make a post with details of what you're looking for (AC? Hot water? Hammocks?) and locals will respond. Prices vary depending on what amenities you need and how near to the waterfront you want to be, budget $300-$700 per month (note that most long-term rentals will not include electricity). You can find short-term rentals on the same Facebook group.


The restaurant scene in Utila has improved over the last few years, and something that makes the island unique is that there are no chain stores or fast food businesses! You can find everything from baleadas (the cheap and hearty local staple) to pizza to sushi to schnitzel! For Italian, try Mango Tango in Sandy Bay (home-made pasta with delicious sauces). Argentinian restaurant Che Pancho features some of the best value for the money in the middle of town. Pizza Nut serves up hot thin-crust pizzas from 5:30 p.m. (delivery available). A newer addition with some tasty sushi and Asian-inspired dishes is Mister Buddha in Sandy Bay. The Utila Brewing Company has a selection of Honduran craft beer and delicious burritos, tacos, loaded fries, and more (including a burger night on Fridays). For something sweet, take a short trip to the outskirts of town to visit the Utila Chocolate Co.—get a brownie or blondie with delicious home-made ice cream! There are many more options—check the local Facebook groups for opening hours and nightly specials. For those who prefer to cook, there are plenty of small supermarkets and a few veggie stands. Bush's and Mermaids are two of the bigger markets, while Caribbean Mini Market is stocking an increasing number of hard-to-find products.


Freedive Utila is the island's freediving center, and is also the first freediving school in Central America. Long-running and highly rated, the center runs daily boat diving sessions to a variety of dive sites, including private moorings in deeper waters, and the Halliburton shipwreck (a dive site that offers the possibility of multiple swim-throughs). All gear is included with fun/training dives, and divers can expect to be sharing buoys with members of Freedive Utila's excellent and experienced team. The center specializes in freediving education, offering a full range of courses from beginner through to instructor, and a monofin specialty course. It also has a guesthouse on-site, with both dorm-style and private rooms, a shared kitchen, and a beautiful 2-storey dock where you can watch the sunset each night.

The Caribbean Sea features warm waters, good visibility, and little current. Utila is suitable for divers working up to 70m—certain months have calmer wind conditions, allowing more frequent access to deeper sites (check with Freedive Utila for best advice). For deeper divers, the neighboring island of Roatan has more depth—check out Roatan Freediving School and Training Center, the hosts of the annual Caribbean Cup International Freediving Competition.

Other Activities

There are a few reefs accessible from shore. Coral View boasts a lovely house reef riddled with gorgeous sea fans. Buy a drink at the bar, leave your belongings, and enjoy—you might even see an eagle ray or two! Neptune's makes for a fun day trip—catch their private boat from their dock in Blue Bayou, enjoy a short ride through the mangroves, and spend the day lounging on the beach, enjoying the restaurant, or exploring the lovely reef.

Other popular activities include scuba diving, kayaking through the mangroves (rent a kayak at Coral View and head north through a small channel in the lagoon—be sure to bring plenty of water), beach-going (Chepes is the free public beach, Bando is a well-maintained private beach with beach bar), and exploring the island's jungles and terrain on a rented ATV. You can enjoy refreshing freshwater caves (ask the locals for directions), or watch the sunrise from atop Pumpkin Hill (Utila's highest point). If exploring isn't your thing, simply relax and unwind in a hammock at one of the many bars or restaurants located over the water.

Meet Alchemy Pro
Sheena's Short Carbon Freediving Fins Of Choice

Share this on