Here are some commonly asked questions from people inquiring about visiting Utila and the Sandy Bay Beach House. More information can be found in the other areas of this site. If your question is not here or you cannot find the answer in our website, then feel free to email us.

1. Where are the Bay Islands & Utila?
2. How Do I get to Utila?
3. How do I get to the Sandy Bay Beach House?
4. Do I need a passport, visa or vaccinations?
5. How do I get around Utila?
6. When is the best time to vacation in Utila?
7. What is the weather like?
8. What are the people like and what language do they speak?
9. Is Utila Safe?
10. Does the house have air conditioning?
11. What does the house’s floor plan look like?
12. What currency is used & how do I exchange money?
13. What about medical care?
14. Is the Scuba Diving really that good?
15. What are the bugs like?
16. Can I rent a boat or car?
17. Can I drink the water?
18. What should I bring?
19. What kind of electricity is used?
20. Do you have any tips for traveling with babies?
21. What hotels do you recommend?


1. WHERE ARE THE BAY ISLANDS & UTILA?
Roatan, Utila, Guanaja and 65 other small Caribbean cays comprise Honduras’s Bay Islands. If you’re looking at a map of Central America, you’ll notice that Utila is almost directly South of Key West. Located just 12 to 35 miles off the countries northern coast, these tropical clusters are the exposed summits of an undersea mountain range known as the Bonacca Ridge. The Bay Islands are the continuation of the second largest reef system in the world, the Great Western Barrier Reef. The smallest and flattest of the three major Bay Islands, Utila, is also the closest (18 miles) to the mainland and measures approximately 3 x 8 miles.
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2. HOW DO I GET TO UTILA?
ARRIVING BY AIR
Travel to Utila is best accomplished by first flying to San Pedro Sula or Tegucigalpa in Honduras. These international airports enjoy direct flights from several U.S. cities including Miami, Houston, Dallas, and New Orleans. American, Continental, Iberia, TACA, and Sol Air airlines are among those to choose from. Once arriving in Honduras, you’ll clear customs and choose between one of several domestic airlines that service Utila. The national airlines are Atlantic & Sosa airlines and currently run about $75 one way.

From San Pedro Sula or Tegucigalpa, you can arrange to fly to Utila in time for a drink and sunset. Most flights to Utila make a short stopover in La Ceiba, the largest coastal city to the Bay Islands. You may need to change planes or stop for additional passengers in La Ceiba before a short 20 minute flight to Utila; just follow the directions of the airline staff. The last flights to Utila from San Pedro Sula leave around 2pm. Sunday schedules are more limited, so it is best to plan on arriving and departing during the week if you want more options. If you are arriving to Utila by air, you will fly directly over Utila Town when coming from La Ceiba so keep an eye out the window. You can also find direct flights into Roatan from Miami, Houston or Dallas on American and TACA airlines. It usually costs more to fly into Roatan then Sula and flights depart at 6am (M-Sa) and 12:30pm on Sundays. You can also take the ferry to Utila, once again, via La Ceiba or catch a flight to Utila. See the “arriving by land & sea” below for further details.

If you are arriving to Utila by air, you will fly directly over Utila Town when coming from La Ceiba so keep an eye out the window. You can also find direct flights into Roatan from Miami, Houston or Dallas on American and TACA airlines. From here you can take a ferry to Utila, once again, via La Ceiba. See the “arriving by land & sea” below for further details.

When you arrive at the airport there is always a taxi ready to take you to your destination. The going rate is Lps 20.00 (about a $1) per person for any destination on the island. If you arrive by ferry at the main dock you might have to ask for a taxi after taking the short walk off the dock into town center. Once you’re settled in the taxi tell him you’re going to the home called the “Sandy Bay Beach House” in Sandy Bay close to Blue Bayou. Some of the Spanish driver’s refer to it as the “house with the rope fence”. If you still aren’t getting through, you can mention the names of some of our neighbors; Sue & Carol.

To make things much easier on your end, I would highly suggest you contact Frankie at Morgan's Travel and have them help you with the reservation process. He is a well-respected islander and can help you with plane, bus and/or ferry reservations ˆ especially since SOSA and Atlantic airlines seem to always be changing their schedule! Other companies to assist you with your travel plans are Intratours, Exito Travel, World Wide Travel Agency or good old Orbitz for the competitive air fares.

ARRIVING BY LAND & SEA
If you wish to stay off the planes, you can take the inexpensive bus ride from San Pedro Sula to the coastal town of La Ceiba. It takes just under 3 hours and costs less than $8 per person. First, you’ll need to hire a $10 taxi from the airport to the Hedman Alas bus station (504-237-7143) where tickets can be purchased. Within Honduras, this reliable bus company services Tegucigalpa, San Pedro Sula, the Copan Ruins and La Ceiba. The executive bus service is very clean, accommodates lots of luggage, shows movies and the seats recline nicely; not a bad way to travel. The buses depart for La Ceiba at 6 AM, 10:20 AM, 2:20 PM and 6 PM.

There are now two ferries traveling between La Ceiba & Utila/Roatan. The ferry cost about $10 per ticket, takes about 45 minutes to travel the 18 miles of sea. The ferry schedules run consistently throughout the day and keep good time unless the ocean’s rough. Arrival in Utila is at the municipal dock, conveniently located in the central area of East Harbor. The Princess Ferry services Utila and La Ceiba. Arrival in Utila is at the municipal dock, conveniently located in the central area of East Harbor. The Galaxy II Ferry services the Roatan and La Ceiba route. We’ve included the most recent schedules below, however, the schedules seem to change too frequently for our website to keep up so please make sure to check for accuracy.

FERRY SCHEDULES

THE GALAXY II ITINERARY
Ferry Route
Roatan - La Ceiba
La Ceiba - Roatan
Roatan - La Ceiba
La Ceiba - Roatan
Departure Time
7:00 A.M.
10:00 A.M.
1:00 P.M.
4:00 P.M.
THE NEW PRINCESS ITINERARY
Ferry Route
Utila - La Ceiba
La Ceiba - Utila
Utila - La Ceiba
La Ceiba - Utila
Departure Time
6:20 A.M.
9:30 A.M.
2:00 P.M.
4:00 P.M.


When arriving by ferry at the main dock you might have to ask for a taxi after walking 100 yards to the town center. Once you’re settled in the taxi tell him you’re going to the home called the “Sandy Bay Beach House” in Sandy Bay close to Blue Bayou. Some of the Spanish driver’s know it as the “house with the rope fence”. If you still aren’t getting through, you can mention the names of some of our neighbors; Sue & Carol.
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3. HOW DO I GET TO THE SANDY BAY BEACH HOUSE?
When you arrive at the airport there is always a taxi ready to take you to your destination. If you arrive by ferry at the main dock you might have to ask for a taxi. Just ask anyone where a taxi is if you don’t see one. Once you’re settled in the taxi, tell him you’re going to the home called the Sandy Bay Beach House in Sandy Bay close to Blue Bayou. Some of the Spanish driver’s know it as the “house with the rope fence”. If you’re still not ringing any bells, you can mention the names of some of our neighbors; Sue & Maudie and Carol & Marty.
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4. DO I NEED A PASSPORT, VISA OR VACCINATIONS?
Your only entry and exit requirement is a current passport with at least 6 months remaining from time of departing Honduras is required for entry into Honduras. No visas are needed to get into Honduras for the vast majority of nationalities including Americans and EEC passport holders. Upon arrival, a 30-day visa is automatically granted and can be easily extended on the islands for a small fee. Tourist Visas are normally granted for a duration of 1 month, but can be extended on a month by month basis for a fee of Lps 300.00 per month at the local Immigration Office in Utila or on the mainland of La Ceiba. A maximum stay of 6 months is permitted after which one must depart the country for a minimum of 3 days, after which you can return and start the process over again. Don't lose the piece of yellow paper they staple into your passport, you'll need it to exit the country and to extend your stay. Also, no special vaccinations are needed to enter Honduras. Tropical diseases such as malaria are not too common and water and food are generally very safe throughout the Bay Islands. I suggest you consult your doctor for a final decision.
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5. HOW DO I GET AROUND UTILA?

One thing you cannot get on Utila is lost. There is one main road through town and one to the airport. Numerous side roads throughout the community and surrounding jungle make for interesting exploration. Getting around on the island is best carried out on bicycle (Included in the rental fee of our home) or your own two feet. However, it’s fun to ride around the island on an ATV 4x4, Golf Cart or scooter that can be easily rented in the town center at Lance Bodden’s rentals and parts. Our home is located within one mile of town, making it easily accessible by walking or bicycle.
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6. WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO VACATION IN UTILA?
The answer to this question is not so simple and depends on several factors and personal preference regarding weather, climate, bugs, viewing whale sharks, etc. Our answer will resemble that of a politician’s, but here are a few things to ponder when making your decision:
The rainy season runs from late October through January; however, the rain normally comes only at night and the sun creeps out during the day. Daytime temps hover in the mid 80’s Fahrenheit (27 Celsius) and fall to the high 60’s at night for most of the year. The rainy season can also limit visibility in the water to between 50 and 75 feet. If there were to ever be a hurricane, which averages every 18 years, it would most likely come in latter September through early November.

For you divers, the water is also slightly warmer and rougher in the summer & fall and cooler, but calmer in the winter and spring. Water temperatures average in the low 80’s in the summer to high 70’s in the winter. Even though the whale sharks are seen year round, planning your trip during the months of March/April/May and August/Sept/Oct will give the best chance to spot one.
If you don’t like bug bites, the bugs are seldom around during the steady summer trade winds that last from May to September. Our home probably has the best location on the island for catching most of the year’s enjoyable trade winds that keep you cool and the bugs away.
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7. WHAT IS THE WEATHER LIKE?
Utila is blessed with great weather and a friendly climate. The rainy season is fairly short (about 3 months) and runs from late October to January, but even then a storm is followed by several days of sun. It is not the monsoon rain either but mostly sunny days with afternoon showers, another plus for the little jewel, Utila. So another plus for the little jewel ,Utila. Located near the equator, Utila’s average temperature is 82F or 28C and keeps similar temperatures year round. The hottest months of the year (May-September) only reach temperatures of 90-95 degrees and one will enjoy the constant trade winds out of the east during this half of the year to keep things cool. In front of the house, the sea in the bay is usually quite calm. Water temperatures average in the low 80’s in the summer months to high 70’s in the winter. Click here for the current Weather forecast.
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8. WHAT ARE THE PEOPLE LIKE & WHAT LANGUAGE DO THEY SPEAK?
English is commonly spoken on Utila and in the Airports on mainland Honduras. However, if you know Spanish, it always makes it easier to talk with the Spanish locals. Utilians speak a sing song English and carry names such as Morgan, Cooper and Jackson.
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9. IS UTILA SAFE?
Crime is almost unheard of in the Bay Islands and especially Utila. Utila is a quaint, tight nit community and everybody knows everybody’s name. Hondurans are very friendly to foreigners. Most of the Honduran economy originates in tourisms and in the fruit industry (owned by American interests, Chiquita & Dole).
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10. DOES THE HOUSE HAVE AIR CONDITIONING?
Yes, but only in the bedrooms. We don’t add an additional charge for the use of our A.C. units as this is included in your overall price. The home has ceiling fans and floor fans everywhere and this seems to be more than enough for the vast majority of nights, even in the summer. There is usually a good breeze the majority of the year, especially where our house is located. We prefer not to shut the windows up whenever possible so we can listen to the sounds of the ocean’s waves. Our home probably has the best location on the island for catching most of the year’s enjoyable trade winds that keep you cool and the bugs away.
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11. WHAT DOES THE HOUSE’S FLOOR PLAN LOOK LIKE?
Rather than describe it, you can click on this link for a floor plan and measurements of the house that are pretty close to scale. I have also pointed out on the map of Utila where the home and lot are located. You can accompany this with the pictures to give you a good idea.
VIEW THE FLOOR PLAN
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12. WHAT CURRENCY IS USED & HOW DO I EXCHANGE MONEY?

The official currency of Honduras is called Limpera (Limp/Lps for short). Currently it is valued at roughly 17 limps per US dollar. Most stores and shops on Utila will take the US dollar as readily as the Limpera. There are also two banks close to the downtown center; BGA bank and Bank Atlantida. Money can be exchanged for a slightly better exchange rate at a local hardware or grocery store such as Archie’s close to the downtown center. You can change enough money to get you to Utila at the San Pedro Sula airport upon arrival.
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13. WHAT ABOUT MEDICAL CARE?
Opened in 1981, the Utila Community Clinic is a private medical clinic headed by John P McVay D.O. Licensed to practice medicine in the USA states of Ohio and Florida, Dr John McVay has over 20 years of experience practicing medicine and has been based in Utila for over 3 years. Utila Clinic has a well-stocked Pharmacy with many prescription medications that are difficult to obtain in Honduras and the capability to perform minor surgical procedures and cope with most medical emergencies. Dr John has extensive Diving Medicine experience and is the attending Doctor at the Utila Hyper baric Chamber. Dr John has developed close personal relationships with many Doctors and Hospitals in the nearby Honduras mainland port of La Ceiba and with the consulting staff at Divers Alert Network (DAN). The fees are quite inexpensive. Bay Island College of Diving holds the islands hyperbaric chamber & trauma for any decompression sickness incidents or other diving emergencies.
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14. IS THE SCUBA DIVING REALLY THAT GOOD?
Utila offers world class diving with miles of pristine barrier reefs, beautiful coral & drop offs that go from 20 feet to over 3000 feet deep at the best rates in the world. Both beginners & advanced divers will enjoy crystal clear waters, cave & night dives, over 400 species of fish & 70 types of coral and an endless array of dive sights. Utila and the Bay Islands are the continuation of the largest reef system in the northern hemisphere and Utila is the only one of the Bay Islands that butts up to the continental shelf.

Close to shore and at the east end of the island are a series of shallow coral gardens, great for snorkeling and night dives. On the north side of the island, the undersea landscape becomes grandiose, with huge coral heads separated by deep sand fissures lining the drop-off. Another well-known feature of the abyss side of the island is a mini drop-off and cavern, actually an ancient wave cut running parallel to shore. The ceiling above is riddled with openings pierced by bands of sunlight. And this is just one of almost 40 different dive sights around the island. You can check out more of the island’s dive sights on Utila Dive Center’s reef and dive sight map.

Utila is famous for being repeatedly voted the #1 “Best Value” in the Caribbean and highly ranked in just about every other category by popular dive magazines. Dive instructors from all over the world come here to be trained in Utila with more than a dozen dive shops to choose from. Dive the reefs, walls, and caves for $10-$15 per dive. If you don’t have your diving license yet, get certified from some of the best instruction in the world in 4 days for approximately $100-$180. Utila offers more than 10 full service dive shops, speaking multiple languages. Utila Dive Center is our favorite due to their quality, value, experience and multilingual staff. They also have the best web sight on the island with valuable information about Utila, Diving, and all sorts of need to know info. Bay Island College of Diving, Captain Morgan’s Dive Shop& Deep Blue Diver’s are also excellent choices. Check out our dive package deals to save more money.
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15. WHAT ARE THE BUGS LIKE?
Utila is like any island in the Caribbean as far as little bugs that bite, an unfortunate fact of traveling in a warmer climate. At various times of the year, depending on the weather, mosquitoes and sand flies can be more than one might like. Most visitors will tell you that the sand flies, not the mosquitoes, are the biggest nuisance. It’s actually pretty simple; you’ll be bug free when there’s a breeze or if you’re enjoying the sun’s rays, but you need to develop some simple habits when the breeze stops or the sun goes down. Our house gets some of the best consistent breezes on the island to keep the bugs away.

The first tip is to make sure to bring bug repellent; Deep Woods OFF works the best and baby oil is also reported to have success. Make sure not to leave the house without it if you might not be back by sunset. The next bug deterrent is to cover your skin by wearing light clothing out to dinner. Additionally, sleeping with a strong fan directed on you makes flying too turbulent for those pesky little bugs. They also don’t seem to like a room with A.C. and a bug net can help if you don’t like fans or don’t have access to one.

Regardless of how diligent you are, the fact is that you will still most likely come home with some bites. They seem to affect everyone differently and can really itch. If you’ve been munched on, first try hard to fight your urge to scratch. If you must, gently rub the itching areas with your hands (no finger nails!) or a towel. Cortisone cream or waiting about 10 minutes works well in making the itch go away.
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16. CAN I RENT A BOAT OR CAR?

The home does not come with its own boat or vehicle. However, a boat can be easily & inexpensively chartered with a captain as described in detail in the "Neighborhood Section/Fun Things To Do". The islands are so covered with reefs that even the locals can have difficulty navigating them. As far as land travel, the island is best carried out on your own two feet or a mountain bike (comes with house rental). However, it’s fun to ride around the island on an ATV 4x4, Golf Cart or scooter that can be easily rented in the town center at Lance Bodden’s rentals and parts. There are few cars on the island and really aren’t desirable due to the narrow roads in town.
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17. CAN I DRINK THE WATER?
The Water in Utila is generally clean and drawn from local wells. The restaurants have excellent records for keeping bellies on the up & up. Nonetheless, we still suggest you drink bottled water for general consumption. We provide water for you with the house rental in a 5 gallon jug dispenser and you can purchase bottled water in just about any restaurant or grocery store.
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18. WHAT SHOULD I BRING?
Valid Passport.
U.S. cash or Lempira (the local currency, about 17 Lempira to 1 US dollar). You can change U.S. Dollars almost anywhere on the island, but you may not be able to change any other currency here, so bring U.S. Dollars with you.
Credit cards; however, they’re not accepted everywhere, and when they are accepted there’s sometimes an additional charge to cover their fee.
Diving certification card, diving or snorkeling gear. You can rent them from your dive shop or they’re commonly included with your dive fee.
Bathing suits (at least 2) and cover ups or sarongs. Lightweight action clothing or easy care cotton blends: T-shirts (light grey is the best), shorts, blouses; Comfortable walking shoes, sandals or surf shoes; Lightweight long sleeve top and slacks; ladies might enjoy summer dresses for dining out; A very light sweater or jacket; hats with ample brims.
Day pack and/or fanny pack
Sunglasses and lip protection
Personal items, toiletries and medications.
Sunscreen, Deepwoods OFF mosquito repellent, antihistamines, (cortisone) anti-itch cream.
Camera, video camera, disposable underwater camera, Music CDs, extra batteries, lots of film, large Ziploc bags to store and protect your electronics from the salty air.
Address book for post cards to instigate jealousy amongst your friends & family.
Additional items for babies: Wet wipes, favorite food, diapers, umbrella and sun suits, front-pack/back-pack or stroller, baby oil, blanky & favorite toy, and feeding equipment.
Reading material and a good attitude.
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19. WHAT KIND OF ELECTRICITY IS USED?
The electricity is the same as in the U.S; 110 volts and 60 cycles.
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20. DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS FOR TRAVELING WITH BABIES?
Utila is a great place for babies and kids as far as fun & safety are concerned. There is little crime, there are few cars on the island, and all the fun is close by. As far as supplies go, Utilians have babies too and they also like the modern conveniences that go with them such as diapers, food, bike seats, etc. If you forgot something at home, chances are that you can find it at the local grocery store or our caretaker can find it for you. This doesn’t mean that you should leave home without your little ones favorite baby food or toy but that you can most likely make do in a pinch.

The first rule of thumb is to take as little as possible but make sure to bring the normal items you would on any trip. It’s nice to have a stroller with descent sized wheels since our road to town along the water is made of hard packed beach sand. Umbrellas and sun suits are good for blocking the sun. Wet wipes, a baby carrier or stroller, blanky or favorite toy, and your feeding equipment are a must.

One critter on the island that likes your baby more than the Utilians are the sand flies. But with some simple precautions and thinking ahead, you and your favorite friend can leave unscathed. Be careful when the breeze stops and the sun is going down; this is the only time the sand flies can party (on your dime). Of course there’s always OFF for you but you’ll need to use other preventions to protect your baby’s tender skin. Bring light clothing to cover her body and feet and keep her in front of a fan (moving air) when sleeping or out on the town. The bugs also don’t like the A.C. and I’ve been told that baby oil works almost as good as OFF if you baby’s old enough for it.

Another precaution is to keep your baby out of the sun. We purchased a sun suit and hat that worked great. Our son looked like a real tourist when we added the sunglasses and walked around with an umbrella most of the time!

21. WHAT HOTELS DO YOU RECOMMEND?
If staying the night in San Pedro Sula, the Grand Hotel Sula (Phone: 504-552-9999) located in the Central Park downtown square is probably the best in town. If you need to stay close to the airport, than the Microtel Inn & Suites is your answer (Phone: 504-559-0300) Both of these hotels cost about $75 per night for a double. The Paris is quite good if you are staying in La Ceiba and runs about $30/night. As for Utila, I like the Mango Inn, Colibri Hill Resort & the Nightland Cabins at the Jade Seahorse in that order. The first two have pools. You can find a good list of hotels & accommodations at www.AboutUtila.com.
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