We arrived in Puerto Cortes, Honduras via boat from Placencia, Belize. As soon as the boat docked in Puerto Cortes our passports were whisked away to customs and we were surrounded by taxi drivers trying to charge a fortune to bring us there. We were able to sneak away from the dock and pick up a taxi on the street for a normal fare to customs. We got our stamps and made our way to the bus station to catch a ride to San Pedro Sula. Once in Sula we got on another bus to La Ceiba. The boat, border crossing and transport took so long we didn’t arrive in La Ceiba until evening. After walking around for a bit we finally found a hostel that was clean enough and so we settled in. These days the ferry runs everyday, but in 2009 we had to to wait as the ferry only ran every other day. La Ceiba was probably the grimmest city we visited on all our travels through Central America. Dirty and crowded there wasn’t much to recommend this city to other travelers besides being the gateway to the Bay Islands. The one awesome thing in La Ceiba was the Insect and Butterfly Museum run by a man named Robert Lehman. The museum is the work of a lifetime of passionately collecting butterflies and insects from all over the world.
The small house was covered floor to ceiling with the collection and there were even some live beetles we got to hold. Mr. Lehman was on hand to show us around the collection and tell us about some particularly interesting specimens.
The next day we were able to get on the ferry to Utila. The ride was only about 1 hour but the water was fairly rough on the crossing. Once we disembarked on Utila we were surrounded by touts from various dive shops on the island. Utila is small and the main part of town had a dozen dive shops within a mile of each other which means competition for clients is fierce. We walked around town and talked to some of the dive shops and looked at equipment. Most of the dive shops offered cheap accommodation if you booked a certain number of dives and so we were also looking at that, trying to find somewhere quiet. We chose Utila Water Sports and got a good deal for 10 dives and accommodation in a private room. The equipment and boats were all top notch. We were expecting old and used gear as Utila is a budget destination but fortunately we were wrong.
If you can stay on the coast in Utila the sunsets are amazing.
The diving around Utila was awesome, the coral was healthy and there were a lot of fish and sponges. We did 10 dives over a few days all around the island, we hoped for an encounter with a whale shark but we were a little too early. When we weren’t diving we took some time to walk around the beaches and look for the endemic iguanas. We walked up past the airport and were followed the rest of the day by a friendly dog. Once at the beach we explored the tide pools and were followed by a couple local kids who were excited to show us the beach and its inhabitants.
When we were diving we met a couple Israeli travelers that were interested in going to the seldom traveled Mosquito Coast. We made our plans with Dan and Etan for the next leg of our journey and set off back to La Ceiba.