Beaches and Snorkeling
If you take the road east from the center of Utila Town, you’ll eventually get to Bando Beach on the southeastern corner of the island, a groomed, golden beach with several shady champas dotting the sand and a large bar champa at the entrance. They have public showers and bathrooms and rent snorkel equipment (US$5/day), kayaks (US$3–5/hour), and paddleboats. Entrance to the beach is US$3 per person. This is the place to be on New Year’s Eve.
White-sand Chepes Beach, past Sandy Bay on the way out toward Blue Bayou, has a couple of thatch-roof, open-air restaurants, as well as Patrick’s Water Sports (tel. 504/425-3244), renting Jet-Skis (US$63/hour, US$37/half-hour for two-person; US$79/hour, US$47/half-hour for three-person) and water bananas (US$5.25 pp for a 20-minute ride, with five people max).
Visitors can snorkel at Blue Bayou, a 20-minute walk west of town along the shore, near the mouth of the canal, and at Bando Beach, on the southeastern corner of the island. It’s also possible to get in the water at Big Bight, a half-hour walk north of the old airport on the east side of the island, along an unpaved dirt road.
You won’t see as much colorful coral as on the south-side reef, but rather long ridges of rock and coral, with forests of elkhorn and staghorn coral. Snorkeling and swimming at the airport and Big Bight can be tricky, as the dead coral comes right up to the shore.
All the dive shops rent out snorkel gear for around US$5–7 a day, and many offer it for free if you are diving with them and just want to take a break from scuba. Many will also allow snorkelers to come out on appropriate dives to snorkel while the others scuba.
© Chris Humphrey and Amy E. Robertson from Moon Honduras, 5th Edition