I first went to Utila in 1996, one of the stops on my 20 month backpacking trip through the Americas. I started in Montreal, ended in Santiago. Got as far North as the arctic circle in Alaska, and as far South as Tierra del Fuego. I'd do it all again, but Utila was the place that drew me back to Central America in 1998. Stayed another 6 months (4 of them in Utila) and after a quick money earning dash back to the UK, I was back in Utila in November 1998. Stayed until September 1999. Since then I have been living and diving in Phuket, Thailand.
Utila is a magic place, and for me its the people that make it special. There is no place in the world like it. The people are a mix of white English, black Caribbean, maybe a bit of pirate blood, a splash of Spanish..The big families are white - the Bush family, the Cooper family, the Whiteheads, the Boddens, the Morgans, the Hills, the Jacksons, the Hinds...The English spoken there is very odd. Try the link below for excerpts from the Utila TV station (was not in existence when I was there). Especially listen to the interview with Hal Whitefield. You have to tune your ears.
* Update - I uploaded a set of photos onto Flickr from my time in Utila - have a look here : Jamie's Utila Photos
Looks like aboututila.com has not been updated for a while. There was some great info on here. I love the old photos. I'd love to go back one day. I have nightmares about Utila looking like a concrete jungle, with shopping malls and big resorts, but I think that's unlikely to happen. Nothing seems to have changed since 1999 except good things like 24 hour electricity.
I learned to dive with Utila Dive Centre, and loved it so much I stayed for 2 months and did my Divemaster course, logging nearly 100 dives in the process. I'm not a big fan of "zero to hero" courses really, but I think I turned out OK. The instructors were very good there. In early 1999 after my Instructor course I did some work at the Bay Islands College of Diving, then changed to Paradise Divers, where we got things rocking and were one of the busiest dive shops over the summer of 1999. We never had a web site, and when Brian offered us a web site in exchange for a dive course we said YES! You'll find a photo of me somewhere on that site below, it's not been updated at all since then...
Jungle Jim stayed a long time in Utila, became a Course Director - see his blog below. Very sad to say he died in 2014.
• Utila Dive Centre
• Paradise Divers Utila
• Jungle Jim's Utila Blog
• Utila East Wind Newspaper
• Hotels in Utila