How to Plan the Perfect Vacation to Utila Honduras
Last Updated on June 7, 2023 by Madison Krigbaum
No trip to the Bay Islands is complete without a stop on tiny Utila Honduras. Located only a quick ferry ride from Roatan, Utila is famous for its great diving, lower prices and awesome nightlife scene. With the lower cost of living, it’s the perfect place for a weekend getaway and change of scenery.
I set out on a Friday, intent on spending the weekend in Utila. Once I had a taste of the backpacker lifestyle and laid-back vibe, those two days quickly turned into a full week. Keep reading for the best things to do on Utila!
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Your Trip to Utila Island: The Quick Version
🏡 Where to Stay in Utila HONDURAS:
BUDGET-FRIENDLY HOTELS IN UTILA:
- Hotel Trudy (⭐️ 4/5) – more info below
- La Hamaca Hostel (⭐️ 7.7/10)
MID-LEVEL HOTELS IN UTILA:
- Coral View Beach Resort (⭐️ 8.2/10)
- Utila’s The Gardens ~ Upscale Apartments (⭐️ 9.2/10)
- Mango Inn Utila Resort (⭐️ 8/10)
LUXURY HOTELS IN UTILA:
- Jerico Place
- East Wind – Ocean Front Luxury (⭐️ 10/10)
- Coral Ridge House (⭐️ 10/10)
🏝️ MY FAVORITE ACTIVITIES IN UTILA:
- Scuba dive on the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef 🤿
- Take the ferry to Coral Beach Village 🏖️
- Hike to the top of Pumpkin Hill for views of the coast 🥾
- Visit the Treetanic Bar (and do your best to ditch all the massive spiders 🕷️)
- Spend a day or two visiting nearby Roatan Island 🌴
- Take a trip to mainland Honduras for river rafting, bird watching, chocolate tasting and Mayan Ruins 🦜
- Sample the local brews at the Utila Brewing Company 🍺
- Try lionfish ceviche at Mango Tango with an ocean view 🌊
- Experience the best of Utila’s nightlife scene 🍸
- Take Tuk Tuks everywhere 🛺
How To Get to Utila Honduras
If you’re already in Roatan, getting to Utila couldn’t be any easier. Simply make your way to Mahogany Bay and purchase a ticket for the Utila Dream Ferry. Ticket prices vary but you can expect to pay $25-30 each way. You can buy tickets on-site, but I always prefer to purchase them ahead of time in case prices rise. The trip from Roatan to Utila takes 50 minutes-1 hour and it’s a good idea to stock up on nausea medication if you’re prone to sea sickness.
If you’re searching Utila Honduras flights from the United States, you’ll most likely have a layover in Houston, Dallas or Atlanta. If you’re coming from Europe or somewhere else, you’ll probably have a layover on the mainland in San Pedro Sula (SAP).
My Experience Staying at Hotel Trudy Utila
There are plenty of great accommodation options on Utila (see above). Since price was a factor for me, I decided to stay at Hotel Trudy. The hotel offers accommodation options for every budget. If you’re traveling with your significant other or looking for your own space, Hotel Trudy offers private rooms with air conditioning for $50/night. If you’re a solo traveler or just looking to visit Utila on a budget, you can book a bed in a 6-bed dorm room for only $6/night. Since bookings were down due to the pandemic, I paid only $6/night for my own private dorm room.
Hotel Trudy has an on-site, full-service restaurant that offers a variety of yummy dishes for breakfast, lunch and dinner. They also host fun themed nights every week, such as wings on Wednesday and karaoke nights.
It’s currently not possible to reserve a stay on their website, but you can send a message to their Facebook page to reserve your stay.
The Best Things to Do in Utila Honduras
Go Diving On The Mesoamerican Barrier Reef
The first stop on any Utila itinerary is to scuba dive the Bay Islands’ beautiful reefs. Underwater Vision Utila Dive Center is Hotel Trudy’s on-site dive shop and the perfect spot to try out scuba diving for the first time.
If you plan on diving during your time in Utila, I highly suggest booking dive packages with Underwater Vision. If you’re staying at the hotel, you’ll receive a discount on your accommodation with the purchase of dive packages. Better yet, if you plan on completing a scuba diving certification with Underwater Vision, your accommodation is completely free!
Although I enjoyed Utila Honduras diving, I found the scuba diving conditions to be better in Roatan. March of 2023 was a very lucky time for dive shops on the island. There was a pod of dolphins in Half Moon Bay, pilot whale sightings, orcas in West Bay and even a whale shark spotted in Sandy Bay!
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Take Tuk Tuks Everywhere
Utila is a unique island in the sense that no cars are allowed for transportation. You may be wondering…”how do people get around?” The answer is simple, tuk tuks! Tuk tuks are essentially automated rickshaws. The colorful ones on the streets of Utila function like taxis and are very easy to flag down. If you’re going anywhere on the island’s main street, you shouldn’t need to pay more than 25-50 HNL ($1-2).
It’s less common for the residents of Utila to own Tuk Tuks for their private transportation, but not unheard of. Most people that live full-time on the island will own a motorbike, scooter or ATV to get around.
Take the Free Ferry to Neptunes at Coral Beach Village
Taking the ferry to Coral Beach Village is the perfect excuse for a long tuk tuk ride. If you’re staying on Utila’s main street, you can hop in any tuk tuk and ask the driver to take you to the “Coral Beach ferry.” They’ll know exactly where to go. Since the ferry port is a further drive, you may be asked to pay 75-100 HNL for the ride. The free ferries run each hour on the hour, so make sure to time your visit right.
Coral Beach is the perfect spot for a relaxing beach day on Utila. It includes a 300+ acre resort community with a white sand beach, restaurant, water sports rentals and more. There’s plenty of free beach chairs and the beach restaurant, Neptunes Utila, serves all the yummy food and cold beer you could drink.
Hike Pumpkin Hill
Since most of Utila is completely flat, Pumpkin Hill is impossible to miss. If you’re in the mood for some light physical exercise, grab a tuk tuk, pay 100 HNL and hike the 20 minutes to the highest point on the island. Regrettably, the trail is overgrown at the top so the views aren’t as great as they could be. However, the views on the way up aren’t bad and, if you’re like me, you probably need a chance to work off some baleada calories.
After your hike, head down the other side of Pumpkin Hill and stop for an ice-cold Salva Vida at Rockies bar! You’ll meet some nice locals and there’s no better way to end a hike than with a cold beer.
Visit the Treetanic Bar at Jade Seahorse Utila
Voted 4th best bar in the world by Lonely Planet Magazine, Treetanic Bar the perfect place to take some Insta-worthy shots in Utila. The garden is decorated in all sorts of stones and mosaic tiles that make for gorgeous photographs. The property is also home to B-Leaf, an entirely Vegetarian restaurant. If you just plan to walk around and enjoy the scenery, you’ll be charged a small fee of 25 HNL ($1).
Fair warning, if you have arachnophobic tendencies, like myself, you may want to steer clear of Treetanic Bar. I realized about five minutes too late that I was completely surrounded by 4-inch spiders. Let’s just say I’ve never finished a photo shoot faster in my life.
Taste the Local Brews at Utila Brewing Company
Sampling the local brews is an activity not-to-be-missed in Utila Honduras. Utila Brewing Company serves tasty brewskies five days a week (they’re closed on Tues/Thurs) and is the best place to be on Fridays when they host their famous burger night! The beer is delicious, reasonably priced and the cute location on the main street is the perfect spot to sit for some people watching.
Spend a Day or Two on Roatan
I spent a week traveling around Utila, but I lived for a full year on beautiful Roatan. I moved to Roatan for “one month” in January of 2021…and ended up loving it so much I stayed until January of 2022! Long story short – if Roatan is on your Honduras bucket list, you’re in the right place.
During my time living in West End, I experienced all of the best things to do in Roatan. I got my Open Water and Advanced PADI scuba diving certifications, visited the Roatan Brewery Company, toured the Roatan Chocolate Factory, went night snorkeling in Half Moon Bay, shopped for souvenirs from local artisans at the craft market, took a mangrove tour, spent a weekend in Camp Bay, took an island cooking class and danced many nights away on various Roatan dance floors.
Although you definitely need more than a day or two to truly experience Roatan, a short visit is better than none at all and it’s easily accessible from the island of Utila.
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Visit Mainland Honduras
Usually passed over for nearby Costa Rica, Mexico or Guatemala, Honduras a hidden gem of Central America. Many tourists think Honduras is unsafe, however, if you travel smart and follow general safety protocols, you’ll be just as safe in Honduras as you are in the rest of North America.
At the end of 2021, I took a two week trip through mainland Honduras to visit Copan Ruinas, Tela, Lago de Yojoa and Pico Bonito National Park. I explored Mayan ruins from 1500 BC, white water rafted on the Cangrejal River, relaxed in hot springs in the middle of the jungle and kayaked/bird watched on the beautiful Lago de Yojoa.
In two weeks, we encountered only a couple other English-speaking tourists. Honduras is less touristy and more affordable than vacationing in Costa Rica or Guatemala.
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Where to Eat in Utila Honduras
Like Roatán’s foodie scene, Utila has lots of amazing local eats to choose from. But also like Roatán, some places are better than others so it’s best to do your research if you have limited meals on the island.
As one of the most famous restaurants on the island, Mango Tango is a must-visit on your foodie tour of Utila. Although it’s one of the most well-known, it’s also one of the island’s most expensive dining options. Thankfully, Utila is so affordable that it’s still not very expensive (roughly $20 for a beer, appetizer and entrée).
When I visited, I was thrilled to find lionfish ceviche as the nightly special! Since lionfish are invasive to the Caribbean and are often caught by spearfishing, most restaurants only serve lionfish by availability. If you’re lucky enough to find it on the menu, I highly suggest ordering it and trying it out for yourself.
Camilla’s Bakery is located along the main street in Utila. Since it was so close to where I was staying at Hotel Trudy, it was my favorite place to stop for a quite bite during my week on Utila. The little bakery bakes all the bread daily, and you can definitely taste the difference! My favorite were the homemade bagels with ham, cream cheese, avocado and fresh tomato.
Camilla’s closes at 2PM daily and at 5PM, reopens as “Pizza Nut.” Although I didn’t get a chance to try the pizza myself, I’ve heard it’s the best on the island.
La Casita is my favorite place for baleadas on Utila! This tiny, family-run establishment makes traditional Honduran baleadas with every filling you could imagine. I always went for my favorite combination: avocado, scrambled egg, mantequilla (Honduran sour cream) and lots of hot sauce.
Baleadas Mama Rosa
Another great spot for baleadas, Baleadas Mama Rosa is an affordable and quick option for a tasty meal. They offer a large menu that includes plenty of baleadas, pupsas, burgers, fries, bbq and more, all at amazing prices.
I need sushi at least once a month or I can’t function as a human. So when I heard about an amazing sushi place on Utila, I had to give it a try.
Mister Buddha definitely served the best sushi I’ve had in Honduras. Although I wouldn’t go as far as to say it’s up to U.S. standards, it had a great atmosphere and I thoroughly enjoyed my Filadelphia and Spicy Lionfish rolls. It’s a bit on the pricier side for Utila and, if you do make it there for dinner, budget for extra time. I think I waited an hour and a half for my two sushi rolls.
RJ’s Barbecue is the place to be for a Sunday dinner in Utila. The prices are reasonable and you get an obscene amount of food for what you pay for. On a recommendation from the waitress, I decided to order the roast pork with all the yummy sides: rice, roasted veggies, salad, garlic bread and mashed potatoes and gravy.
Nightlife in Utila Honduras
Utila is well-known for its lively nightlife scene, so take full advantage of it during your visit. The most popular spots to visit are Tranquila Bar and La Cueva, but the Utila Brewing Company is the place to be on Fridays for burger night. Most bars in Utila also serve food, so you can easily turn dinner into a night out.
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Visiting Isla de Utila Honduras FAQs:
Utila is located approximately 18 miles off the coast of mainland Honduras. At only 11 km long and 4 km wide, it’s the smallest of the three largest Bay Islands: Roatan, Guanaja and Utila.
Yes, Utila is a very safe island for solo travelers. As with Roatan, I never felt unsafe in Utila, even when I had to walk long distances home alone at night (although that’s not to say I would recommend this).
There is not much Utila Honduras crime in the touristy areas. For the most part, Utila is a safe, quiet island and you’ll be fine if you practice common sense and abide by general safety practices.
Yes! Roatan is a very affordable island, especially when compared to the rest of the Caribbean, but Utila is even cheaper.
The reason divers and backpackers flock to the island is because of the affordability of PADI certifications and the low cost of living in Utila. You’d be hard-pressed to find a cheaper Caribbean island to get scuba diving certified. Food and drink in Utila are almost unbelievably affordable and rent is much cheaper here than it is in Roatan.
The main language on Utila is English. However, since many residents have migrated from mainland Honduras, you will find a large portion of the population that speak Spanish.
The ferry ride from Utila to Roatan takes only 50 minutes – 1 hour. Simply make your way to Mahogany Bay and purchase a ticket for the Utila Dream Ferry.
No, you can’t drink the tap water in Utila, it will make you sick. Drink bottled water or order large jugs of water directly to your home instead.
Yes and no. You’ll find many lively bars and nightclubs on the main stretch of Utila. There’s always good nightlife in Honduras if you’re looking for it! However, if you’re looking for a more relaxed vibe, just choose an accommodation further away from the main street for some R&R.
Utila wasn’t on my radar until I moved to Roatán back in January, but after spending a week on this little island paradise I couldn’t recommend visiting enough! The locals are friendly, the eats are yummy and there’s plenty of beautiful beaches to explore. Hopefully this post convinced you to add Utila, Honduras to your travel bucket list.
If you enjoyed my trip itinerary for Utila, Honduras, you may enjoy my related posts linked below. Don’t forget to follow along with the adventure on Instagram, @madisonsfootsteps, and, if you’re looking to plan some epic trips, make sure to snag my FREE guide below, “How to Plan Epic Trips.”