Utila is the smallest of the islands that make up the department of Bay Islands in Hondurasâ€™ Caribbean coast. Despite its small size (it measures only seven miles long by three wide), most of the island is uninhabited. It is located in the southeast end and its main town Easter Harbor (or simply Utila) has most of the tourist facilities.
The three-mile by seven-mile island of Utila is set between a fringing coral reef and a 2000â€™ deep continental shelf. The positioning of the island makes it a Mecca for divers. Utila is also famous for its many whale shark encounters which occur throughout the year. Pristine snorkeling, fishing for tarpon and bonefish, horseback ridding are among other offerings.
Utila is world famous for being one of the less expensive and safer destinations around the world to learn how to dive in the deep sea and where you can obtain a basic open water diving certificate or become a diving instructor. Drawn by this, thousands of visitors arrive each year to dive the second largest barrier reef in the world, making scuba diving, snorkeling and fishing the main attractions of the island, but not the only ones.
There is a little known part where the former British possession becomes a real fantasy island. The northern, central and western territories of Utila are composed of intricate mangrove forests, wetlands and savannas largely unexplored. These settings are almost virgin for the emergence of OysterBedLagoon resort and it’s offering of specialized diving, gourmet food, fishing trips and private villas away from the world.
These green areas have allowed the island to retain a unique flora and fauna; features that have been placed before the eyes of the international scientific community, as a â€œhot spotâ€ for the conservation of Caribbean biodiversity. Here lives the Swamper or Swamp iguana or black iguana, Ctenosaura bakeri, an endemic reptile belonging to the family of iguanas. Such is the importance of this species, OysterBedLagoon is dedicated to help study and contribute in the conservation at the Iguana Station, a scientific research station sponsored largely by Frankfurt Zoological Society and the Senckenberg Nature Research Society along with other national and international institutions.
Currency? The Lempira is the official currency on the island and the most widely used. For travelers it is recommended to change their dollars or euros in La Ceiba before traveling to Utila. However, if you cannot, do not worry. Banco AtlÃ¡ntida, one of the largest banks in Honduras, has an office on the island. Open Monday to Friday from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM and Saturday from 8: 00AM to 11:30 AM. It has a 24-hour ATM. Credit cards are accepted in many establishments, but not all restaurants or small bars. It is convenient to always carry cash, especially small bills in either U.S. dollars or Lempiras.