Of the 30 countries Babygirl has visited across the world, (as of the writing of this post 😂), her favorite is the small isle of Utila off the northeast coast of Honduras in the tropical Islas de la Bahía (Bay Islands). Almost every trip we’ve planned together, we’ve considered going back there so she can show me the island's simple allure.
She loves it that much...
So, getting to finally see this remote refuge from modern chaos, social media, and even cars, was something I've been hearing about for years, and was excited to finally see. In typical Andrew and Talita fashion, we decided on the destination only weeks before we planned to travel there. That said, the itinerary of activities that Babygirl put together was impressive.
Our 6 day/night trip would begin in San Pedro Sula where we’d spend a night before flying to the island of Roatán for 3 days. We then would take a private boat over to the small island of Utila for 2 more days before finally taking a ferry from Utila back to the Mainland, and a cab back to San Pedro Sula for our final night. We’d head back to the states early that next day. For details on our travel logistics, check out our Trips, Tricks & Hacks page.
Our trip began in, of all places, Houston.
...where our connecting flights converged.
I was escaping the cold of Boston where it could be 75°F during "Fool's" Spring or it could be "Third Winter" dumping 2 feet of snow. See details of our 12 seasons below:
March is also my birthday month, which falls on the month’s biggest holiday, St. Patrick's Day 🍀, March 17th! Each year for my birthday, Babygirl and I planned an adventure to a tropical location to escape New England's fickle and frigid weather. Last year we went to St. Lucia, this year the destination was Honduras.
Babygirl’s “retreat” from, always sunny Scottsdale, she’d consider escaping paradise for more paradise.
First to arrive in Houston, I got the rare experience of greeting a loved one RIGHT when they got off the plane. (I was already through security). Our IG story for the entire trip is here, her ENTRANCE 🤩, is the 2nd clip. Before boarding our flight to Central America,we had some time to chill in Houston's George Bush Intercontinental Airport.
Never to pass up an opportunity to utilize her Platinum AMEX lounge perk, Babygirl led us on a mini-adventure through the airport’s winding labyrinth of construction and underground tunnels to find the Centurion Lounge. 2 hour layovers can’t get much better than when you can enjoy them with free food, drinks, and High-Speed internet. 😎 (REEL) Our tranquil stay was all too brief, soon we heard our boarding call to hop on our 1800 mile flight.
3 hours later, we arrived in San Pedro about 7PM. The distance to clear customs and exit the small Aeropuerto Ramón Villeda Morales (SAP) could not have been more than a few hundred feet, hatch to curb.
We were a bit worried about safety and security based on the current US Travel Advisory (ok, I was 😅).
When I 1st read the warnings, ...
... and only one week before leaving, I had legitimate doubts about how much Adventure I wanted in this Dope Life.
Turns out all that worry was a bit over dramatic. During the entire trip we felt completely safe, at least from serious crime. We did have a few moments, however, that felt mildly life threatening 😂, including two sketchy AF boat rides. That being said, ...
... we had a private cab set-up with a friend to take us into the city and show us around. For our brief time in San Pedro, just that night, we stayed at the lovely Hilton Princess. In the morning, we’d be back at the airport to venture on to Roatán.
Our 1st meal of the trip was at OKI POKI for dinner with our new friend who’s also a fashion designer!
Something about eating an amazing meal when starving from traveling all day just hits different 🤤...
I don’t know what I thought poki was going to be like, but I was stunned at how good this asian-fusion inspired meal was. Phenomenal.
The next morning following a quick photo shoot, we were back at the airport.
Taking a local flight was a completely different experience than passing through international customs the day before. Waaay less formal, more like a bus terminal than an airport. Babygirl still found the lounge tho! 😎 She never be slippin.
The best way to get to Roatán, 200 miles to the northeast, is by small propeller plane. (see our Trips, Tricks & Hacks).
The 40 minute flight...
...barely felt life-threatening despite a little equipment uncertainty and a 5 minute delay while they attempted to pull the stairs in to the door. 😂 The flight itself was smooth and uneventful. Below, the emerald mountainous jungle terrain slowly became the deep blue of the Caribbean sea. Venturing to the tropical island via propeller plane was worth the ominous cabin vibration noises (BG held my arm so tight I thought she’d cut off my circulation 😂) and the 110°F we endured for the 1st 10 minutes of the flight 🥵. Oh, and the periodic wafting vomit smell 🤮. Totally worth it. 😅 Kinda reminded me of this show from when I was a kid, TaleSpin.
As we approached the island, we took a few shaky circles around the runway before landing at the Juan Manuel Gálvez International Airport. It felt like we were in an adventure movie.
Crime was significantly less on the island...
...compared to the mainland, so we felt fine hailing a cab to take us from Coxen Hole, where we landed, the island's largest city. 30 minute southwest was the West Bay on the island's southern tip. We drove through winding streets lined with various buildings and homes of differing color, style and structural integrity. On the 8 mile ride from the airport, weaving along the island’s south coast, school children dismissed for the day, walked along the side of traffic, their matching uniforms imitating the country's blue and white flag. The narrow, sometimes single vehicle width streets, became jammed with traffic shadowed by 3 massive cruise ships, each one large enough to replace Utila’s entire population. Our deft cab driver took a sharp right and we went north into the neighborhood's interior to avoid the chaos from the sudden population explosion the cruise ships initiate every time they dock. We passed dilapidated shacks, and abandoned cars missing most of their parts, before cutting through a back road and a flooded street. Sketch. Adventure. That feeling you get when you’re pretty sure things are ok,... But not like 100% sure… Maybe not even 80% sure…. …and then the fear is gone. And you know what it feels like to be alive. That cab ride was an Adventure. And there would be plenty more. (Wait till the boat’s 😅)
Alive! Our cab pulled off the main road into a confided alleyway filled with activity. Excursion coordinators, a family of 4 who sounded like they were from Germany, divers, and beach merchants all moved up and down the thin lane from the main road to the beach.
We unloaded after pulling up to the resort check in, a diminutive building filled with rental towels.
A few minutes later we were on our way to the Thirsty Turtle, the tiki hut themed bar nestled next to the beach filled with activity. A few feet from the bar, up a flight of steps above the ice cream stand, was our cozy circular room, with a view of it all.
Getting north up the coast to West End, we decided to use one of our favorite transportation methods, water taxi!
Available for $5 per person, we were able to take the 10 minute ride with a few other tourists over to Happy Harry’s Hideaway. Harry’s was one of many pier bars built over the water, with a deck for the water taxi to land. You have the option to be dropped off at any one of the pier bars that wove up the coast. (water-taxi)
Pulling up to the dock...
...the perimeter was populated with happy drinkers on swings and hammocks, swaying over the shallow water, mildly annoyed by our watercraft’s imposition.
Keeping it moving, we headed through the bar out to the tiny street that preceded up West End. Wide enough for one car to pass, the street was lined with bars, restaurants, nightclubs, dive shops, and street vendors. The beach side included docks and more restaurants over the water like Harry’s.
As it was Tuesday night, most of the night clubs were not popping like on a weekend, so we only briefly inspected the Booty Bar, Afrobeats reverberated through the hollow dance hall.
We ended up back at Harry’s for dinner and drinks before heading back to West Bay.
The 12 minute cab ride back to the resort was surprisingly about as long as the boat ride over. The evening still felt young, by our standards, so we decided to walk the beach south past the neighboring resorts.
Our peaceful stroll in the night’s warm ocean breeze, felt pretty safe with the armed security patrolling. 😅
...this bar also had swings for patrons, just like Harry’s, I guess it's a thing around here. Our evening concluded with one last drink, and a quick explore around the pool, while Don’t Stop Believing rang into the night.
Sloth Dreams Do Come True
The next day would be one of the most special of our relationship.
If you didn't know, sloths are a big part of our journey together. You could call it our relationship spirit animal, an inside joke about how slow we move compared to everyone else we know. 😂
Meeting, holding, ENCOUNTERING a sloth would be the real life culmination of an insane couple’s idolizing of this adorable central american mammal.
And we were fucking here for it.
Like literally. It was 70% of why I was on this trip. 😅
Babygirl planned the day perfectly. We took a 40 minute cab ride up to Daniel Johnson's Monkey and Sloth Hang Out, which was also next to our 2nd stop of the day, Little French Keys. We packed our bathing suits, cameras, and bootleg sunscreen I got from the Farmacia.
Oh yeah, we forgot to bring sunscreen...
On this trip to a Sunny tropical location. So, I stopped at a Farmacia (where one would typically get FDA non-approved viagra without a prescription) and found a local brand that I didn’t recognize, but figured sunscreen technology must have peaked decades ago.
It was horrible. The stuff smeared on like milky plaster. The sun screen, not the viagra. Our cab ride seemed to take forever as we had to again dodge the cruise ship traffic through a one-way street filled with tourist traps. Tiny shops and restaurants, located at the bottleneck, sat ready to ensnare the tourist dollars that burned holes in their pockets as they flowed off the cruise ships. I felt bad for those whose curiosity will be satisfied by this capitalistic encounter and might not venture past THAT street to see the more authentic side of the culture. Arriving at Daniel Johnsons with dozens of other eager tourists, our anticipation level was an 11/10. Organized into groups of about 16, we headed into the animal enclosures to meet the adorable capuchin monkeys, brilliant scarlet macaws, and the sloths.
And this is when we encountered a sloth. 🦥(REEL)🦥
Recovering our senses from the emotional rollercoaster that we just experienced, we took a 3 minute cab ride over to the ferry dock to Little French Key.
About 1000 feet off the coast where our sloth encounter occurred, was the small private island of Little French Key.
With its hundreds of hidden nooks, sea swings, sapphire blue coves, tropical drink serving bars,…rope swings, and Instagram-able backdrops filled with aspiring Instagram models,..phew. Little French Key is as beautiful as it is relaxing.
Baby then got her hair did...
... (story) and we enjoyed some fall off the bone grilled chicken and chilled. On the long cab ride home we faded in and out of consciousness as the sunscreen was as ineffective as it was impossible to put on.
Shout out to our awesome cab driver!
Following showers and a nap, we went back to Cuyaco Beach Bar for a delicious dinner of orange chicken and pasta.
Birthday Boat Tour
Today I turned 45.
Wow. That's a big number. The day before we were achieving animal relationship goals, and today I would be celebrating a long and prosperous life thinking it might end in the ocean aboard an undersized water skiff pretending to be a deep ocean ferry.
(I actually was pretty sure given the life jackets, we’d probably survive capsizing, but our belongings would be lost forever in the choppy ocean surf.)
Before we get to the “tour boat”, let me talk about what was almost lost in that boat, my newest gadget, lil DRONE, Babygirl’s absolutely perfect gift for my birthday. THANKS BABY!!!! I will love it like a child.
No, I will.
Back to our “tour boat”...
...at least that's what we thought we were going on when Babygirl arranged the day tour with one of the “Excursion coordinators” who roamed the beach in front of the resorts.
We were expecting to ride over to Utila, explore the coast, and get some snorkeling in. Just like St Lucia. But this was not St Lucia. While wheeling our awkward checked bags over the sand and down the beach dock, Babygirl was disputing something in Spanish with the Excursion coordinator.
Something was wrong.
When the 20 foot “water taxi” that we were told was an “ocean tour boat”, and paid $600 for, piloted by some 20 year old captain, and his even younger 1st mate pulled up to the dock, I knew something definitely was wrong.
I don’t know how big a boat should be to travel from that small dock off the beach in front of our resort across the 25 mile ocean gap from Roatán to Utila, but this wasn’t big enough.
I actually just googled the distance of that ride. We were 25 miles from Utila. And even further from the Honduran coast some 30 miles away. In that moment, we thought that hour-long ride was like 5 miles. 😂. Forget losing our belongings, we would have died.
At least we took some nice photos in the beginning …
and this video
Then shit got real 😂
Also, about that $600 and how we were hustled by the government as well. We paid for the trip with a credit card and could have saved $100’s on sales tax if we had used cash. See our (Trips, Tricks & Hacks)
Finally, after two commercial airliners, an evening in the capital city of San Pedro, a propeller plane, and our mini whoopty boat ride (teetering on the brink of oblivion) we arrived at the lazy secluded cove of Utila.
As our small craft rounded the protective sea wall...
...of the bay, lay calm, crystal blue waters, where one could easily see the bottom about 20 feet below.
As the adrenaline rush of the last 60 minute subsided, we decided to at least get something out of this “day tour”, and snorkel. The underwater landscape was stunning. And for good reason.
Utila is one of the most well known diving and snorkel destinations in the world. Aspiring young divers with explorers' hearts, journey to Utila’s diving schools, and some never leave. The simple relaxed island vibe’s secluded embrace will drain you of any ambition but to stay.
I understood why Babygirl wants to make this place a possible future home. When snorkeling ended, ...
...we headed to the dock, exhausted from the day's adventures. It was barely 11am. As we pulled up and unloaded I remembered an important fact.
There are no cars.
The only motorized way to get around the extremely tight streets was dirtbike, moped, auto rickshaw (very common in India) or ATV. Luckily, Babygirl had this covered as well. Our rental for the duration of the stay was $70 a day and a star of one of our many non-viral 😅 (REEL)s
Pretty cool with the drone, huh?
It's the most amazing piece of technology I’ve ever owned and I carry it around like a small child. Back to ATV life. We stacked our bags onto the vehicle and rode the short ½ mile down main streets tight corridor of small shops, markets, and restaurants. Most walked, while dirt bikes and mopeds snaked up and down the street. It was interesting how the kids seemed to play everywhere carefree. The seclusion of the island made everything feel safe in its smallness.
We decided to have lunch at one of the best places on the island, Captain Willis. The pasta alfredo and Tacos were amazing.
We checked into the Hotel Trudy (info), next to UnderWater Vision Dive center. The main building had the hotel checkin and dive HQ on the second story, with a lively open air beach bar we’d come to enjoy each night on the ground level. That level opened up into a courtyard, filled with palm trees, a volleyball court, and a dock where we witnessed incredible sunsets.
After checking into the hotel, we decided to take the ATV and explore.
...and watched boats filled with divers exploring around the bay. We pressed on to the wind blown north coast of the island, from which we just came only hours earlier. Uniquely beautify ocean front luxury homes, sat on piers, raised to guard against flooding. We rode past farms with barking dogs, out to the island's small airport, which looked like an empty parking lot. Heading back to see the other “end” of the island, we found our way back onto main street heading the other direction and
Then stopped at The Beach House Lounge Utila for a drink and watch the sun-set.
That evening we took showers, and we headed out on foot for dinner. If you’re looking for a nice drink that’s not watered down and don’t mind paying US prices for a meal, Mango Tango is for you.
Local, but filled with foreign nationals ...
... including one expat who moved to the island 20 years ago and ended up staying and running this restaurant. The food, drink, and atmosphere felt like a westerners' oasis, in the middle of a tropical paradise. The Christmas tree made out of glass bottles gave the place a nostalgic energy.
For $80, it ended up being the most expensive meal of our trip, filled with mostly reasonable cost experiences. (REEL)
Following dinner we wanted to have some fun. Besides, it was my birthday, a national drinking holiday! 🍀 We started at Tranquila Bar, a dive bar on a dock where the forthright bartender told us, “honestly the only decent alcohol here is the fireball” So we had two of those. 🥃😂🥃😂
...and felt extremely over dressed for Utilan nightlife. Shirts and shoes were both optional.
Side note. I really love this polo Babygirl bought me for my birthday, but the link above shows this model, and, well, that’s not my fit. So, please see this old photo from our text msgs, enthusiastically modeling said shirt.
Next stop was La Cueva.
This was the SPOT.
Filled with divers, tourists, locals, and maybe a drug dealer, the cozy space was split into an indoor and outdoor section. One toilet served the entire crowd.
The club was packed. Girls and guys applied fluorescent green body paint to each other’s bodies, it glowed in the blacklight representing the holiday’s lucky color. Although I have no footage from that night,the clubs Facebook has plenty. Also, shout out to Fiona who also has some amazing videos of the club, and reviews of the island.
Dre Drone Day
In the morning, we had homemade french baked goods with bacon and eggs. (I seriously can’t remember anything from entering that club until breakfast 😅)
The time had now come...
I finally had enough time to thoroughly read my new drone's instructions, watch some youtube videos, and take my new baby out for a test flight.
We packed our beach gear up for the day, hopped onto the ATV and headed back to Bando Beach.
To use the beach, one must pay $8 adult, $4 children in the local currency and then be waited on the rest of the day with food and tropical drinks. It's a great deal.
Iron Shore Beach (North Shore)
By the Reef Bar
Main Street Bridge (with Babygirl)
After a perfect beach day, we got back to Hotel Trudy just before sunset. All the divers and tourist inhabitants seemed to be out in the courtyard, like it was some sort of ceremonial evening ritual to congregate on the edge of the Utila Bay and watch the sun slowly sink to the rainbow fire horizon.
For dinner, we walked a short distance up the street to have an authentic local meal. Babygirl knew exactly the spot, La Casita. For a few dollars each, we had some of the best food of the trip.
Dining was situated around a small 10’ x 10’ kitchen filled with 4 people whirling past each other. One took orders, 2 cooked, and one served in perfectly synchronized activity.
The magic of the motion was clearly centered around the oldest among them, the main cook, an elderly woman, perhaps their grandmother. She owned the real estate in front of the black greasy stove. Everyone else moved around her.
It's amazing how good local food can be, and for a fraction of the cost of western cuisine.
When we returned from dinner ...
We found that the sunset congregation now filled the bar and karaoke night ensued. It was the most pleasant surprise to realize the SPOT to be t`hat night was right there, just outside our bedroom door.
Trudy’s was popping.
As the evening progressed the crowd slowly built until those in the back had no clear view of the front. My favorite singer was a late 30-something, hairy blonde dive instructor, who looked kinda like Disney’s Mr. Incredible, (if he was a surfer) and like before he got back in shape. We’ll call him Dan, and he looked like his back story started 20 years ago on some diving adventure to this island, and he never left. He sang Vacation. It was appropriate.
At 9PM, Karaoke abruptly ended when they packed up all the equipment like they had another engagement to make. (they didn’t) We realized this SPOT was really just the spot BEFORE the spot SPOT.
It was time for some clubbing.
It being Friday night, the locals were out in full force. We chanted Spanish hip hop in sweaty crowds of young islanders. We started at Tranquila Bar, and then to Vinyl Utila next door. The final spot, as always, was La Cueva, which tonight was visited by the police brandishing machine guns, but they just stopped by to smile at the crowd and move on.
The night ended with a peaceful ride back to Trudy’s for our final night on the island.
One Last Adventure
Checkout the next day was 2 PM, which was amazing timing coinciding with our 3PM ferry ride back to the Mainland. We spent our last day on the island making drone videos and networking with local developers to plan a dream home.
The Utila Dream Ferry from Utila back to La Ceiba was nuts. The 100 foot, 100 tonne, catamaran style, multi level ferry was not a little boat. I was having flashbacks to our trip over in “Lil Ocean Ferry” and was so happy to board this 240 passenger, solid steel craft capable of slicing through the surf at 28 knotts.
The sun was out and the day was a humid 85°F.
So we decided to sit on the ferry roof deck. As we smoothly pulled away from the dock the buildings on that one main street slowly shrank down till they were indistinguishable from each other.
The ferry rounded the protective sea wall of the peaceful bay, and accelerated to its full speed for the 30 mile trip across the ocean gap. Wind began to whip, like a hurricane. Those crazy waves from a few days earlier were back and even larger later in the afternoon. I remembered our young captain telling us back then that his trip back was too dangerous for passengers. All of a sudden the world turned sideways. Our ferry started to heave up to its side on a massive wave. I then realized 3 things at once.
This captain was not slowing down on these insane waves.
I think we might flip.
We need to get the F off this deck.
I really did think we might flip. I’ve never been on a structure that large and had it tossed like it was weightless.
We freaked out. Quickly, we got out of our seats and carried our luggage to the stairs and down to the covered deck below. The boat heaved with motion before smoothing out on a calm patch of sea.
We needed to sit before we got hurt.
I didn’t think we’d get thrown off the boat, but I did think we’d get thrown down into the hardened steel deck. Anything we slammed up into would hurt a lot.
We flew to our seats one level below, and huddled towards the center of a bench, sheltering, as wind whipped and water sprayed around the vessel’s open and windowless sides.
For 50 minutes we rode on that choppy sea with a pilot who clearly gave zero fucks about any of it. I lost my favorite NASA hat capturing these videos, enjoy.
Mentally exhausted, we arrived in La Ceiba and took a 3 hour cab ride to San Pedro.
We only had daylight for the 1st hour...
... and spent the final two hours of the ride looking through our photos and new memories, as the indistinct lights from the foreign jungle and countryside passed invisibly beyond the glass.
We could have been taking an uber back home. The reggaeton that played on the radio during the entire ride, subtly reminded me that I was thousands of miles from the predictable security of an Uber’s backseat in Scottsdale.
We were safe because of our anonymity. Invisibility was our protection.
Our final night in Honduras was at the Isabella Boutique Hotel. We arrived late, 8:30PM, and barely had any time to enjoy the hotel's luxury amenities and pool. We did have time to enjoy the room service and ordered enough food for 4 people.
We felt terrible about the leftovers, but sometimes you just get glutty.
It was also our first night with internet and reliable electricity. I only got about 90 minutes of sleep before we had to leave at 4am to make our flight back to Scottsdale. I was up excitedly attempting to sort through the hundreds of pictures and videos from our first BIG trip as Dope Life Adventures.
On our way home, we were able to make the most out of our brief layover in Houston, a certified location to complete my Global Entry Interview. $100 for 5 years will save you countless hours taking the fast lane through TSA security for domestic and international flights. Completing my interview in about 20 minutes left 15 minutes for us to make our connection.
Our Dope Life Continues.