Saturday, 2 June 2012

Days 32-34: Antigua to Utila

Antigua is a very hard city to leave, after meeting so many friends that greeted us so warmly, it almost felt like we were leaving family behind…again. Our Hedman Alas bus to Honduras had a 15h schedule; this involved us to be picked up at 3.20am! 

But of course, it wasn’t until 3.45am that our pick-up shuttle arrived and took us to Guatemala City. We decided to pull an all-nighter so we hadn’t slept and the wait felt like an eternity!

The harbor in La Ceiba
Finally time for the swim suits again!
Huge ferry for Roatan...tiny ferry for Utila.

Our journey was Antigua > Guatemala City > San Pedro (Via Copan border control) > La Ceiba > Utila, Bay Islands of Hondoras. Overall the bus ride was US$60 each. Our shuttle took an hour to get to Guatemala City where our big beautiful Hedman Alas bus was waiting for us to leave at 5am. The bus was very luxurious which made the 15h much easier! 

We had the standard tv and toilet on board but we were also given blankets, free food and drink, plus the seats reclined quite far back. 

The bus took us to the boarder at Copan where we paid US$2 (Q10) to exit Guatemala and paid US$3 (60 Lempiras) to enter Honduras. It should have been very straight forward but everyone kept pointing in various directions and yelling at us in Spanish for where we were to go next. 

After boarder control there was a 30min stop for a food and bathroom stop in Copan then we made our way to our stop over point in San Pedro Sula. We arrived at 1.30pm but then had a 2h wait in the bus station before we got our final Hedman to La Ceiba in northern Honduras. 

Thankfully there was an outlet mall above the station where we could wander and grab a coffee. We had a problem with security, sorry, the men had a problem with the security. Apparently, women do not smuggle drugs or carry anything dangerous so I could just walk past... (Harry was not pleased with the ridiculously awkward search). 

The final leg to La Ceiba took only 2h and because there were only two ferries to the island Utila (9.30am and 4,30pm) we had to stay the night.

We met a cool Argentinian, Nicolas, and an American, Belle, whom we took a cab to our hotel, Hotel El Estadio. We paid L40 each but were told the standard from the bus station is L30. The hostel was nice and we got a private room for US$26 with AC (most things in La Ceiba and the Islands are in US dollars and most people speak English. There are a couple great street stalls in La Ceiba to get food for a couple of dollars as restaurants can be pricey.

The dock at Parrots Dive center
The ferry to Utila left at 9.30am so we got another cab for L40 (standard is up to L50). There are a couple of places to eat there so we gave ourselves at least 30mins to buy our ticket (US$25) and put our bags on. 

The ferry was small which was such a contrast to the other ferry going to Roatan (the biggest of the Bay Islands) which also attracted less backpackers and more families as it is generally more expensive. We chose Utila as the scuba diving and accommodation is cheaper and the small island has a very personal, community feeling. 

The ferry was an easy 1h 15mins but as soon as we got off there were several dive shop reps trying to recruit new customers, a lot of overwhelming information in one go! We ended up choosing Parrots which was located near the dock and also gave us the best deal. 

Utila is one of the cheapest places in the world to get a PADI Open Water diving certification so for US$250 we were given the full training and renting of gear, accommodation during our 5 day course (each additional night was US$4 pp), a trip to one of the tiny uninhabited islands off the SW coast called Water Cay (usually costs $15), 4 free drives after we are certified (dive is usually $30 each), rental of snorkelling equipment and one free (very tasty!) breakfast burrito…. We were sold at the burrito!

Aerial view of Utila
Utila is a gorgeous Island with tropical Caribbean climate. The southern part of the island was on a continental shelf and above the world’s second largest barrier reef. The northern part is located over the continental slope where the water was deeper (location for the last day of our course). The entire population lives on the southern bay where there were dozens of diver centres to choose from, many restaurants and bars (Utila had a big party scene!), one of the most popular bars was the bar at Parrot’s called Tranquilla (Tuesday night was tequila night= 50 cents for a shot). There was also some other good places to have a drink and eat out in Utila.

This sign was next to the dentist......


  1. So you got to update it finally! Great post, don't we all love Utila?!?


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