Utila is an island off the north coast of Honduras and it was the highlight of our trip so far. This place is crazy cheap, so if you are on a budget then you are definitely in the right place. The main reason everyone comes to this island is to do their open water dive course (the cheapest place to do it in the world). We took a long and expensive 16 hour shuttle ride from Leon, Nicaragua and then an hour long ferry ride to Utila. It is a long trip but believe me, its worth it. We were also excited to get to Utila because we were meeting up with our good friends Mark and Jo who we are going to be doing some travel with.
After we arrived we had a look around a couple of dive schools and settled on Underwater Vision. These guys are the best by far and have an amazing beach bar and volleyball court. The course takes 3 and a half days and costs USD$290. This includes accommodation and two free dives at the end. Also if you want to stay longer than your course then accommodation is only USD$5 a night! What a bargain!
Thing that really made Underwater Vision so good was our dive instructor, and fellow kiwi, Cookie (Adam Cooke). Getting our dive tickets was just such a fun experience and we were so lucky to get to do it in such a beautiful part of the world.
We didn’t just limit ourselves to diving, we did quite a lot of drinking and ate plenty of baleadas. Baleadas are the super cheap local dish, basically a naan bread filled with fried chicken, cheese, refried beans and salad – for only US$1! We enjoyed going for quiet drinks at the Treetanic Bar where there are just crazy beautiful mosaics everywhere. Plus a tarantula in the girls bathroom. Although, the best place to party on the island is at Skid Row Bar. After completing their shot challenge we were hit with about a two week hangover…
A neat day trip while on Utila is to take a boat (anyone on the island can organise this for you) to a few of the many small islands just off the coast. They are beautiful and a great place to go snorkelling and drink rum on your own deserted island.
On one of our last days Jo and I took full advantage of Utila’s chilled vibes and caught up on some suntanning and reading while Andrew and Mark went out on a fishing trip (US$50). Luckily they were successful because I had my heart set on sashimi. Mark caught a massive sail fish and Andrew caught some tuna! All this and Andrew, by mistake, took a banana on the boat (myth busted I guess). We feasted that night on fresh fish.
After a lot longer on Utila than we thought we were going to be, it was time to leave. We were pretty sad about it and wished we could have stayed there for longer (seems a running theme with this trip!). We love the Caribbean vibes of this place and the crazy English Creole that everyone spoke (although not so good for practising our Espanol!).
Here is a breakdown of our costs for 9 days:
Budget = US$482 (NZ$720)
Accommodation – US$40
Activities – US$80
Food/Drink – US$320
Travel (incl. Taxis) – US$10
Miscellaneous – US$32
Total spent – US$482 (NZ$720)
So, we were right on budget! On top of this we budgeted separately for the dive course, which was US$290 (NZ$410) per person, and for the really long shuttle to get to Utila, which cost US$60 (NZ$85) per person.