The island of Utila is a beautiful, fun-filled getaway off the Caribbean coast of Honduras. If you're into scuba diving, partying, or lazy days drinking beer with no shoes on, then Utila is the place for you. But the word 'Honduras' often fills travelers with dread. Honduran people overall are friendly and welcoming to tourists, and nowhere more so than on Utila. Here I have put together some information on getting to the island, so you can put it back on your bucket list.
Getting to Honduras
There are two airports on the mainland; San Pedro Sula (SAP) and Tegucigalpa (TGU). There is also an airport on the neighbouring island of Roatan (RTB). It is much easier to connect to Utila from SAP or RTB, however if you find a good flight deal to TGU then it is worth considering.
There are many flight comparison websites available. Some that I have used successfully include www.skyscanner.net, www.faregeek.co.uk and www.cheapflights.co.uk.
Connecting to the island of Utila from SAP
Flying to Utila costs around $120, and flights are in the afternoon so provided you land before lunch you can transfer to the island on the same day. There are two airlines that regularly make the trip, and you can book your flight directly through their website. Aerolineas Sosa (www.aerolineasosahn.com) flies on a Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday at 3pm, and CM Airlines (www.cmairlines.com) flies on a Saturday at 3pm. There are always a queue of tuc-tucs (the local taxis) waiting to meet the plane, that can take you to where you are staying.
By Coach and Ferry
The other way to get to the island is to catch a bus to La Ceiba, and then take the ferry. Buses in Honduras are as safe as any other country, just keep your valuables on you at all times and make sure they are secure, especially if you fall asleep.
The bus journey is at least 4 to 5 hours, and the ferry leaves at 4.40pm each day, so unless your flight arrives to SAP very early then you will need to spend the night in the city. If your flight does land in the morning, there is a Hedman Alas bus straight from the airport to the ferry dock that leaves at 10.50am. It costs from $18 and you can book your ticket online in advance (en.hedmanalas.com).
If you do need to stay in the city, you can take a taxi from the airport to your hostel. I can recommend the hostel La Hamaca (www.lahamacahostel.com) and you can book your room online.
Your hostel can organise a taxi to take you to the bus station in the morning. There are lots of bus options, and the most commonly used are the Hedman Alas, the Diana Express or the Mirna bus.
Hedman Alas is a luxury coach that leaves San Pedro Sula to La Ceiba at 10.10am every morning, and costs from $15. Hedman Alas have their own bus station, so tell the taxi driver this is the bus you need.
The Diana Express and the Mirna bus are cheaper less luxurious options, at around $7, and leave throughout the day from 7.30am. Get to the main bus station by 10am to allow plenty of time to get to La Ceiba in time for the ferry.
Once in La Ceiba, take a taxi to the ferry dock, and on arrival purchase your ticket for the Utila Dream, which costs around $25. Then just check your bag and enjoy the 50 minute boat ride to the island!
Connecting to Utila from Roatan
There are two regular flights a week from Roatan to Utila, both on Saturday afternoon at 2pm and 3pm, and both costing around $100. It is possible to fly on other days, but these are charter flights, and only go if there are enough passengers. This is a popular option as people feel they need to avoid the mainland, so it is worth contacting travel agents on Utila to ask about available flights.
Just recently, the ferry schedule from Roatan to Utila improved, and it now makes the trip every day at 2pm. Most flights arrive on Roatan at around midday, so provided you don't suffer delays you should catch the boat. Take a 5-10 minute taxi ride (costing $5-$10) from the airport to the ferry dock, and purchase your Utila Dream ticket for around $31. If you miss the ferry connection, you can spend the night on Roatan. Hostel beds start from around $10.
Traveling to Honduras may seem daunting, and getting to the island seems a little complicated. But armed with this basic information, you will be able to plan your journey and know what to expect, which I hope will put any apprehensions to rest.