Útila, Honduras

Photo: Utopia Village
Photo: Utopia Village

Your quest for the perfect beach resort continues. It never ends, really. All you need is a long, sandy beach. White sand, is your preference, though pink or black wouldn’t dissuade you. A little palapa, just big enough to cover two lounge chairs. A beach-side restaurant, which serves the catch of the day, cold beer, and pretty fruity drinks. Plus, a room—or a cottage or a bungalow—with a view of the turquoise water. But you’ll pass on the high-rise hotels, the required wristbands, and the screaming children. It shouldn’t be that hard to find. Yet it’s nearly impossible.

This time you’re off to the Bay Islands. The eight islands sit off Honduras’ northern coast along the edge of the Western Hemisphere’s largest reef. Útila, the smallest island, feels wonderfully undiscovered. The whale shark capital of the Caribbean is surrounded by ambitious dive sites. Boats and tuk-tuks are the easiest way to get around the mostly flat island. People are friendly—genuinely friendly—and helpful. And a little resort on the southern coast might be just the place you’ve been looking for.

After landing at the island’s small airport, you’re picked up at Bush’s dock in Útila Town for a 15-minute boat ride to Utopia Village. The resort, nestled in between palm trees, is barely visible from the water. You’re welcomed with a rum punch and given a tour. Paco the dog leads the way. Adirondack chairs and hammocks surround the beach bar. Tanks, weights, and belts are lined up in the dive shop. The hot tub by the pool has its own palapa. A “house reef” begins just feet from the edge of the water. While your room has custom furniture, linen, and artwork. You immediately feel right at home.

Photo: Utopia Village
Photo: Utopia Village

You quickly get into a routine at Utopia Village. Though you’re usually not a morning person, you start getting up to watch the sun rise with a cup of coffee. Most days, it’s from a hammock at the beach bar, but one day, you join the sunrise island tour to cruise around Útila and listen to the captain’s stories. You return to the resort in time for breakfast. There are plenty of options, though you keep going back for more sweet cinnamon rolls. Then you grab your gear to go diving.

On the north shore, go to the Pinnacle, where sea turtles and spotted eagle rays glide along the plunging walls. Keep an eye out for hard-to-spot midnight parrotfish. Swim through the cave passages at Blackish Point. Then on the south shore, see hard and soft coral, as well as a sunken sailboat at Ted’s Point. And look for southern sennets, flameback angelfish, and huge grouper at the Halliburton, the island’s largest wreck.

After getting up early and diving each morning, you’re ready to relax in the afternoon. Stare at the blue water, small waves, and mainland mountains in the distance from a lounger on the beach. Get dropped on Water Cay. You might have the uninhabited island, only a five-minute boat ride away, all to yourself. Have a deep tissue massage in the spa that smells like mango and papaya. Then return to the beach bar for a sunset cocktail. You may have finally found your perfect beach resort.

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