Traversing Central America

After leaving Boston back in March 2011, I ended up spending close to 6 months in a place called Utila, which is part of the Bay Islands in Honduras.

Little did I realize what I was getting into before I boarded that flight that took me away from everything that was familiar and safe down to an island that will forever be known, at least to me, for its eccentricities and odd uniqueness.

Situated about 30km from the mainland Honduras, Utila is one of a series of islands including Roatan and Guanaja, that makes up what is known as the BayIslands.

Utila is probably most famous for its diving. For its cheap, cheap diving. You can walk into any dive shop on the island, and jump on an Open Water course, a course that usually costs at least $450 in the US, for less than $300. Don’t be fooled by the economic price as there is nothing cheap about the quality of instruction you will receive.

Utila suffers from an over supply of qualified, or should I say overly qualified dive instructors, who saturate the island’s dive shops. As such, prices for hiring a well-qualified instructor are low, while the quality of training received remains high.

So, if you’re looking into doing anything dive-related ranging from enrolling in an Open Water course to getting your divemaster, Utila is the place to be!

That said, I must now tell you the other side of things…the marginal side note (warning label) that should be given to anyone interested in heading down to Utila.

Utila is a diving island. That much is certain and clear. Everything revolves around diving. There is not much to do other than dive. The other activities center around drinking, drinking, and more drinking. So there are basically two things people do on this island: dive and drink or drink or dive.

Sounds like any diver’s dream, right? Dive all day, party all night.

That’s where you are wrong, my friend. When the sole other activity besides diving involves going to one of the few bars on the island to get plastered, not just one night, but EVERY night of the week, things can get old very quickly.

Not to mention the plethora of drugs, namely cocaine and weed, makes a night out seem like a never ending line of debauchery.

Mind you, the first few days, even the first few weeks are fun. Everything feels like a novelty. You’re getting used to the island. The people.

But after a month of the same old party scene, over and over again, you quickly realize that Utila is nothing more than a cesspool.

While the turover rate through the island is quite high thanks to the number of backpackers who travel through the island, the residents aka ex pats, who have decided to call Utila their home, do add some sense of permanence to the otherwise transient island.

But having stayed on the island for close to half a year, I had to endure saying goodbye to quite a few good friends.

Utila is a small island. So when you  meet people who think on the same wavelength as you do, it is quite easy to form  close friendships with such people. And because Utila is such a small place, you end up spending a lot of time with these friends.

But in the back of your mind, you know that the inevitable goodbye is close ahead. I’ve had to say goodbye to a few amazing people, and it gets old. Before long, you start to envy the people who are leaving the island. Waving goodbye to your friends on the dock of the ferry , you soon realize that Utila never does quite feel like home.

Which is why decided that enough was enough and that it was time to leave the island. I’ve had many kick ass moments in Utila, but also not so great ones as well. Overall, the decision to leave was a wise one.

This is all based on my experiences. Some people end up falling in love with the place and end up staying, but I must question their sanity.

That being said, to anyone thinking about traveling to Utila, you have been warned. Utila is a great place to stay for a few days. But leave before its addictive and debauched lifestyle claws you in and decides never to let you go.

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About Panda Writer
Essay Panda here to help dispel myths and answer FAQs for International Students applying to Colleges in the US.

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