Swimming -- While Utila isn't known for its beaches like other places in Honduras, it does have a few decent options for sunbathers and swimmers. There are several good beaches within walking distance of town. Bando Beach (tel. 504/2425-3137), just past the bridge from the Point, is privately owned, and you must pay a small admission (L40/$2) to get in. Occasionally, they host Full Moon parties that attract top DJs from the region. There's a small beach bar that also rents snorkel gear and kayaks. Chepes Beach, to the west of Sandy Bay, is the main public beach. They are constantly at work there at improving the infrastructure by adding sand and facilities.
The small, uninhabited Water Cay is similar to many of the beaches you'll find in the Cayos Cochinos: It's made of a cluster of palm trees circled by a white sandy beach and turquoise water. Charters and dive trips often stop here for lunch or weekend barbecues and parties. The first weekend of August, it is host to the largest party in Utila, the Sun Jam festival.
Float Utila -- What was once a trend in the '80s has been brought back to Utila. Float Utila (tel. 504/2424-3827; www.floatutila.com; $30 for 60-min.) gives patrons the experience of euphoria while floating in their flotation tank, believed to be the world's largest. The tank is filled to a depth of 304mm (12 in.) with a sterile water solution saturated with 907kg (2,000 lb.) of Epsom salt. Some say it is as rejuvenating as a massage, that it relieves depression, and will even reduce the symptoms of jet lag.
Kayaking -- A few hotels and several shops in town, including Utila Water Sports (tel. 504/2425-3264; www.utilawatersports.com), Kayak Utila (no phone; www.kayakutila.com), and the bar at Bando Beach , rent sit-on-top kayaks to explore the channels, lagoons, and the mangroves around the island.
Horseback Riding -- Located on the road to the airport, Red Ridge Stables (tel. 504/2390-4812) leads horseback-riding treks to the inner jungle, Pumpkin Hill Beach, the freshwater caves, and to other destinations on the island that aren't submerged completely in swamp and mangroves. Trips run L665 ($35) for a 2-hour ride.
Snorkeling & Scuba Diving -- With prices hovering around L4,750 ($250) for a PADI 4-day open-water certification, it is no wonder that scuba divers from around the world descend on this small island. Almost any certification or course can be taken on the island from a number of dive shops. There are roughly 90 permanent mooring buoys around the island, giving access to the reefs, wrecks, walls, and tunnels that frequently line the pages of top diving magazines. The most frequent whale shark sightings tend to be in March and April.
The dive shops on Utila are second to none in Honduras. On Main Street in East Harbour, dive instructors seem to outnumber people five to one. Competition is high, and the operators can be catty at times; but standards tend to be relatively high. Prices, although they have risen slightly with increased development on the island, are still among the cheapest in the world. Some operators to try include: Alton's Dive Center (tel. 504/2425-3704; www.diveinutila.com), Bay Islands College of Diving (tel. 504/2425-3291; www.dive-utila.com), Captain Morgan's Dive Shop (tel. 504/2425-3349; www.divingutila.com), Deep Blue Divers (tel. 504/2425-3211; www.deepblueutila.com), Utila Dive Center ★ (tel. 504/2425-3350; www.utiladivecenter.com), and Utopia Dive Village (tel. 504/3344-9387; www.utopiadivevillage.com).