GREAT AMERICAN VACATION
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Warm water, great visibility, and thousands of colorful fish make Utila a popular destination. Add to this a good chance of seeing a whale shark and you'll realize why so many people head here each year.
The Bay Islands College of Diving is one of Utila's top dive facilities. Classes are small, meaning you'll get more one-on-one attention than some other schools in the Bay Islands. Utila Lodge, Utila. 425–3291. www.dive-utila.com.
If you're looking for a one-stop dive center, look no further than Cross Creek Dive Center The bar has great music, and the restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Cross Creek Hotel, Utila. 425–3334. www.crosscreekutila.com.
Coral View Dive Center has a relaxed family-friendly atmosphere. The beach hotel is cozy, and the kitchen dishes out seafood classics and traditional Honduran fare. near Chepes beach, Utila. 425–3781. www.coralviewbeachresortanddivecenter.com.
Utila Dive Center is perhaps the largest and most professional school in Utila. In 2004, it was ranked the top dive facility worldwide for entry-level training. Mango Inn, Utila. 425–3326. www.utiladivecenter.com.
For comfortable lodging and courses taught by locals, check out Underwater Vision. The center has been around for 30 years and comes highly recommended by islanders. Toward The Point, Utila. 425–3103. www.underwatervision.net.
Parrot's Dive Center is best suited for the backpacker crowd with its inexpensive dives and festive location (it's right beside Tranquila Bar and CocoLoco) West Main St., Utila. 425–3159.
Popular with the youthful crowd is Alton's Dive Shop toward The Point, Utila. 425–3704. www.altondiveshop.com.
Believe it or not, there is more to Utila than diving. Kayak Utila offers two options for four-hour day trips. The first takes kayakers north through the Mangrove Channel and to Rock Harbor bay. The second trip explores the Harbor and South Shore. Mango Tree Building, Utila. 9857–7355. www.kayakutila.com.
The same ladies who do the kayak tours also offer private guided snorkeling trips with Snorkel Utila. Mango Tree Building, Utila. 9628–6363. www.snorkelutila.com.
Red Ridge Horse Stables. Guides lead up to eight riders at a time and offer private lessons around Pumpkin Hill. Reservations are recommended. Left of the highway en route to the airport, Utila. 425–3143 or 3390–4812. $35 for 2 hours, $50 for a half day. Daily 9–4:30.