Located approximately 18 miles from the coast of mainland Honduras, Utila is the smaller of the three major Bay Islands. A lush canopy of pine, mango, almond, and palm trees covers most of the island, providing a heaven for tropical birds, rare lizards and iguanas. Utila offers a delightful maze of caves and caverns, where jade beads and many other indigenous artifacts have been found. A large hill on the extreme northeast coast dominates the landscape and is named Pumpkin Hill for its round, sloping shape. It is the largest and most visible hill on the island, a favorite lookout point for natives and pirates.
The town of Utila in East Harbor is the center of activity. Visitors stroll the main road leading from the old airstrip past a large mangrove-lined lagoon into town. Softly faded pastels of shuttered wooden buildings, often precariously perched above stilts and over 100 years old, sweep the unsuspecting into another era.
If you have come to relax, Utila offers plenty of hammocks and sleepy untouched beaches, but the rewards of a little exercise are well worth the effort. There are several scenic walks and bicycle rides. By far the most scenic and unforgettable of all is a day trek beginning just off the main drag in the center of town, heading past the quaint historical town cemetery (also worth a visit) to the end at Pumpkin Hill. On the way you may be lucky enough to spot a rare American flag lizard (with its fold of red white and blue skin under its chin), one of three Utila amphibians found nowhere else in the world.
Just before Pumpkin Hill, a spectacular cave is found off to the right. The winding path finally comes to rest at the shores of the rugged northern coastline. Strikingly different from the calm beaches of the southern shore, powerful waves crash into black volcanic rocks, jettisoning foamy droplets high into the air while refreshing winds whip through the palms.