Has it ever been said that the best experiences you have in life are the ones you don’t plan? I’m sure someone did say this, but I’ve got no idea who. My visit to Utila, a tiny island in Honduras was as crazy as any adventure gets. And when I say “you may never leave this place alive”…I mean it because how could anybody dive and party so much that he never gets a second of sleep! Well, I came back alive but I think it was my stars I have to thank!
My Unplanned Plans…..
When I landed in L.A I had no plans.
Actually, I did, I had one.
My plan? Travel, head towards Panama, and get back again, to fly out of L.A three months later.
Eight months later I was happy, warm, content, yet hauled up, wet, soaked to the bone, running on fumes for cash in the mountains of Costa Rica trying to make my way back to Antigua so I could fly the last leg back to L.A.
For three months of the past eight I’d been living on Utila. Somehow, I’d spent the majority of my time and my trip, on a little island off the coast of Honduras. So small in fact you have to zoom right in on Google maps just to find it. It is a world in its own.
A divers’ paradise where I set my own shop!
You’d never know Utila had a population of slightly over 4000 given the sheer number of divers that flock there to dive the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System which is the second-largest in the world. Culturally, Utila is a mix of Creole, Spanish and English with more dive shops than places to buy food. There are no cars. Only bikes tread here, and the occasional golf cart.
It also happens to be really cheap. A fact a fellow traveler I’d met on a Guatemalan border town had shared with me while we were comparing travel notes over a few beers and trying to find a small amount of trouble to get into. (And yes my brother in law had also mentioned it to me years before which I had forgotten till then.)
He had just become a dive master. I had dived a few times before and was an advanced diver. The idea of becoming a dive master and working for a while on a small island in the middle of nowhere, basically treading water in the ocean seemed like a great idea. Once I had made my way down through Guatemala and Belize I set up shop on the little island and began diving, or partying? I really don’t know which one came first, because I really don’t remember.
The Party never stops here……crazy huh?
On Utila, you can spend more time drinking and diving than you do sleeping. Basically, for a small island you can get more experiences out of it than you can of colour combinations of a mixed up Rubik’s Cube sides! If you want to dive, just dive. If you want to party, by all means you have the opportunity to never take a night off. It’s a place where it’s actually as possible to catch the disease FOMO (Fear of Missing OUT!). ‘Never close your eyes’ was the best (maybe worst) advice I got while I was there.
It is as much a paradise for divers as it is a hedonist’s haven for those that want to just get off the grid. It is safe as houses, but can be as loose as wheel that’s already fallen off. Pretty much anything is a go, i.e. crabs rule the streets after midnight. The place is as interesting as you make it. You just have to dip your toes in. It has more characters than a Dickens novel with a plot line that would make “Days Of Our Lives” seem like it just premiered.
A glorious beach destination where Sunbathing is not an option!
For the sun lovers, there is sun. In peak summer you may as well be sitting on a bowl of sand inside an industrial microwave, it is simply glorious! However, the one thing you can’t do is sunbathe on the beach, that is because of sandflies that control beach 24 hours a day. If you’re not one to like insect repellants, prepare yourself for a scratch fest. It’s not uncommon for the prettiest of girls to have scratch marks like a junkie in withdrawals within a day of coming ashore! Please, don’t let that stop you from going. At night there’s plenty of alcohol to help you forget they exist. Unless there’s a monsoon there’s always a bar to take shelter. In the daytime, you’re probably diving and hung over from the night before.
When you get back after the morning diving later in the day the sun is always out and bearing down on the sandy streets. Well there are only about five of them that are full of bikes, barefoot travelers and locals moving between shops, looking for any excuse to have their next beer, snack, or a meal.
Note, there are no meal times! I am guessing it is because no one is on the same time. The first bite from a sand-fly is a sign that the sun is setting and the time for Deet has arrived. BTW the sunsets here are as spectacular as they get! Don’t be surprised of you find yourself wondering about what day it is, because knowing the day will tell you what bar you’ll be at till the morning sun rolls up the blinds and tells you it’s time to go diving.
Shuttling between diving, drinking and Partying!
It really is a place to eat, drink, dive…… and repeat.
The diving is great. The nights are great. The hangovers? You don’t get them. You never really have time for them to catch up with you…
It is a little bit like ground hog day, with the plot line remaining the same but the sets and actors rotating through every ten or so days.
I lived there for over three months. I dived every day. I rented a room with a local, who doubled as the island barber and weed dealer. I met more great people than I had ever done before. I did scratch till I bled, then bought some Deet. I went out every night. I must have slept at some point. And finally became a Dive Master.
The hardest part here for me? Making the boat to leave.
My List of things to do:
1. Dive. Or even a dive course. You’ll meet people and it is cheap, oh, and fun. Doesn’t really matter where you are. You’ll find a clan that suits you (I was at Underwater Visions. Tell Tammy I sent you).
2. Get a bike. It is way easier than walking. When you’re stumbling home from #wherever it always feels way further for some reason. PS. Always lock it up.
3. Go to all the bars. That’s a demand.
4. There’s crashed plane that tried to land illegally off the runway. Ask for directions. P.S. All the drugs are gone. Definitely worth a look and please wear shoes.
5. There is a cave. You can get in if you dare… Get some tips.
6. Don’t close your eyes.
7. Email me for more tips!
So this was a place where the party never stops and you may die of sleeplessness! We would add that this is probably the perfect place for insomniacs and even people like us, who love to sleep but love their parties more!! So what are you waiting for, book your next flight to Honduras NOW! Don't forget to check out the other tour options in Honduras.