Monday, January 28, 2008

Reflection on Utila

It has been a few months since I visited Utila and Roatan. I purposefully waited to make note of my impression of Utila. I want to be objective and hopefully the passage of time will help keep things in perspective.

I spent about one week on the island and came away with very mixed feelings. The weather, mosquitoes and roads were much like one would expect from the region. The weather was consistently hot and humid. Walking even short distances resulted in profuse perspiration. The mosquitoes and sand flies were everywhere and it was hard to keep enough Deet/repellant on your body at all times. Being a diver, means that anointing yourself with toxic chemicals multiple times a day (after every dive/shower etc). I got so tired of the itching and scratching that by the end of my vacation I could not wait for the sweet relief of going home to no mosquitoes. Luckily this time I did not come away with malaria, but apparently they have not had much malaria on the island so at least that is a good thing.

The diving was interesting, but as I mentioned in my previous post there was not much marine life. It seems like most of the marine life has been caught by the locals. There was only one dive site that had descent marine life. That dive was really pleasant and I came away with lots of great photos. Some of the other interesting dives were the wrecks and swim throughs at the old airport. Don't misunderstand - the diving was good, but don't expect to see much marine life.

The food and accommodation on the island vary a lot. There is a wide variety of really inexpensive accommodation that is very basic, and cater to backpackers and student divemasters etc. The accommodation rates are really a great bargain compared to other places. Food is also fairly inexpensive and you can pick up fried meat filled pastries along the main street at a very affordable price. Filling, cheap and really good. There are a few good restaurants that range in price and style of dining. My favorite in terms of price and quality is seafood place on the main street called Evelyn's. For the equivalent of $5 I had a wonderful meal including beverages. The food was really fresh and they grilled the food right on the street in front of us.

There are few grocery stores around and if you want to keep to a low budget you could probably get by for a few dollars a day. However, the street food is cheap and good. It will probably cost more or less the same in the end.

The overall impression I have of Utila is that it is an interesting place to visit, but if you are looking for a quiet peaceful vacation with awesome diving then this is not the place you. If on the other hand you want to party and meet people from all over the world, then you will probably have a great time on the island.

Here is a link to a post with reviews of the various restaurants and night life venues.

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