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Utila has only one main settlement, called East Harbour, or simply Utila Town. Although it is the smallest of the three main Bay Islands and the nearest to the mainland (29km/18 miles west of Roatán), Utila is still the wildest and most untouched. Islanders, many of them the descendents of pirates and Garinagu from the Caymans, are eager to casually chat with anyone about the weather or local news. Some may even tell you that Captain Morgan's lost booty from his raid on Panama in 1671 is still hidden in the surrounding hills.

Apart from a few chic dive resorts, almost the entire population of Utila is clustered together along one stretch of coast, while the other nearly 80% or so of the island is made up of mangroves and wetlands. Many have called this island a backpacker paradise because of the cheap accommodations and restaurants, the bar scene that rages well into the night almost every night, and the sandy bottom rates for dive certification -- once considered the lowest in the world. It is far less polished than, say, Roatán, but beach resorts are slowly starting to carve their way out of the mangroves outside of town. Even the certification costs are roughly on par with Roatán these days. Chances are that it is going to be a good while before a dirt-cheap dorm bed in a rickety old wooden house goes out of style in Utila, though.

Ouch! Watch Out for Sand Flies -- One thing the Bay Islands do not lack is sand flies, sometimes called no-see-ums. These pesky little gnat-like creatures, 1/3 the size of mosquitoes, bite and leave annoying little red bumps that you cannot help but itch. While some of the major resorts send their staff out to rake the sand, which kills sand fly eggs, much of the islands just have to deal with them, especially on Utila, where they are particularly fierce. There is no best repellent for these nasty buggers. Some recommend Cactus Juice Sun Cream or coconut oil, while others feel just regular bug spray works best.