The main International Airports in Honduras are located in Tegucigulpa (the national capital) and San Pedro Sula. International flights to/from Tegucigulpa and San Pedro Sula operate daily to/from USA airports of Miami (American Airlines) and Houston (Continental Airlines) To avoid complications in connecting flights, international visitors to Utila tend to fly to San Pedro Sula and then take the connecting flight via La Ceiba to Utila. As at 1-Jan-2005, Airlines SOSA and Atlantic Airlines are the only airlines with scheduled flights to Utila and operate these flights with small 15-20 passenger aircraft.
The nearby island of Roatan also takes international flights. Continental Airlines fly to Roatan from Houston on Saturdays. The schedules of Aerolineas SOSA and Atlantic Airlines are designed to connect with these international flights and then it’s only a 15 minute connecting flight to Utila.
Air Travel Tips
- If your local travel agent has problems booking you flights on Aerolineas SOSA and Atlantic Airlines, you can always contact Morgan’s Travel or World Wide Travel, two local Utila travel agents with over 50 years combined experience in getting people to and from Utila.
- If you have to stay overnight in San Pedro Sula, I strongly recommend you stay at the Microtel Inn & Suites in San Pedro Sula. It is the closest hotel to the San Pedro Sula airport, it is modern (built in the style of a Holiday Inn and charges similar prices) and it is secure and safe, (which is more than I can say for most of the Hotels in downtown San Pedro Sula). There is also a reasonably good restaurant (Larsons) next door to the Microtel Inn.
- There are no Hotel shuttles at San Pedro Airport. Make sure you take a licensed taxi. They will be in the taxi rank. Do not accept a ride with somebody unless you are sure they are a proper taxi. You will get hassled by people trying to take your bags to get you into their taxi, this is OK as long as it is a licensed taxi. Always agree the taxi fare beforehand, otherwise you are likely to be overcharged when you reach your destination. If you can speak a little Spanish, then don’t be afraid to use it. You’re less likely to be overcharged if you behave like you know your way around.
- Do not be concerned if your taxi is a beaten up old vehicle. Most taxi’s in Honduras are like this. Do not be too concerned if your taxi driver drives like a madman, again this is typical of Honduras taxi drivers. Do not be surprised if there are no seat belts in your taxi, hardly anybody in Honduras uses them.
- The taxi fare from San Pedro Sula airport to the Microtel Inn is about a 10-15 minute journey and will cost around 250.00 – 400.00 Lempira ($US 13 – 25) per person depending upon the time of day, number of passengers, amount of luggage, etc. Your taxi driver will accept US Dollars, but will make change in Lempira. If you like your taxi driver, you may well be able to arrange with him to pick you up for the return journey back to the airport (at a discounted fare), otherwise arrange a return taxi in advance at the Microtel Reception desk.
- Do NOT go into downtown San Pedro Sula at after dark unless you are familiar with the city, it can be a dangerous place at night. Even the local people are careful in San Pedro Sula at night.
- If you have to stay overnight in La Ceiba, I strongly recommend you do NOT stay at the Hotels nearby the La Ceiba airport, (they are truly awful, even by Honduras standards). Ask a taxi driver to take you to a Hotel in La Ceiba centre (el centro) – a 10-20 minute journey, depending on traffic. I can recommend La Quinta, Hotel Paris, Hotel La Ceiba and (for those on a budget) Hotel Iberia. You do not normally need a reservation at these Hotels. While most of the taxi drivers do not speak english, they do know the names of the Hotels. The taxi fare from La Ceiba Airport to La Ceiba el centro is 200.00 – 350.00 Lempira ($US 11 – 19) depending upon the time of day, number of passengers, amount of luggage, etc. Your taxi driver will accept US Dollars, but will make change in Lempira. If you go out after dark in La Ceiba (and there is no real reason to, except to eat), I recommend you get a local taxi from your Hotel to the Mega Mall or Pizza Hut (a taxi fare of around 25.00 Lempiras per person from the Hotels mentioned above). The Mega Mall is secure and there 1 or two restaurants there. Pizza Hut also delivers to Hotel rooms, ask at your Hotel Reception. I would not recommend walking around La Ceiba after 9:00pm, get a taxi if you need to go anywhere.
- Another option if you are staying in La Ceiba, overnight or even for a few days, is Coco Pando Resort & Iguana Restaurant and Bar. This beachfront Hotel & Bar, run by an American living in La Ceiba, is located about half-way between La Ceiba Airport and downtown La Ceiba. Prices include transfers to/from the airport, bus stations and ferry terminal, (which is great if you are unsure about getting around La Ceiba). You can either make a reservation in advance (telephone toll free 1-866-463-6959 from within the USA and Canada) or telephone or 969 9663 from within Honduras and they will send somebody to pick you up. You will find this to be a clean, safe and well run operation. Mention that you were referred by AboutUtila.com for a significant discount off standard rates.
- Utila Airport is a tarmac landing strip. There is no terminal building (unless you count the hut with the tin roof at the runway gate). When you arrive at Utila Airport, there are always “taxi’s” waiting there to take passengers in to town. These “taxi’s” may be pick-up trucks or vans. Whatever the vehicle, the fare is the same, 30.00 – 45.00 Lempira for your taxi driver to take you to your accommodations in Utila. (The fare maybe higher for those with a large amount of luggage or those going further out to Blue Bayou).
- If you have stayed overnight in La Ceiba and you are not in a rush to get to Utila, I would suggest you consider taking the morning ferry, the Utila Princess, for the final leg of your journey to Utila. If the weather is good (as it is most of the time) it can be a beautiful introduction to the island as the ferry pulls into the Municipal Dock at Utila.
Caution – Advance & confirmed reservations for flights to and from Utila are strongly recommended.
It is also recommended to re-confirm your return flight from Utila with the local Aerolineas SOSA Agent located at Morgans Travel Tel +(504) 425 3166 & +(504) 425 3161 and Atlantic Airlines Agent +(504) 396 3691.
Occasionally, and depending upon weather conditions and number of passengers, Aerolineas SOSA and Atlantic Airlines will fly directly between Utila and San Pedro Sula without stopping in La Ceiba. Flights may be cancelled if there are only 1-2 passengers. Flights to/from La Ceiba may be cancelled or re-routed if there is heavy rainstorms in La Ceiba. There is no control tower or landing lights at Utila airport, so aircraft must land/take-off in daylight hours with favorable weather conditions.
The MV Galaxy passenger ferry ceased a Utila service in late 2004. I mention this since you may have found several other web sites detailing MV Galaxy schedules to Utila. Be warned, this information is out of date, the Galaxy no longer visits Utila.
There is only one ferry service to Utila, the Utila Princess, usually leaving twice daily from the Mulle de Cabotage (the docks) in La Ceiba.
Sea Travel Tips
- All the taxi drivers in La Ceiba know how to get to the Muelle de Cabotage (the docks) in La Ceiba, where the Utila Princess departs from, just ask them to take you to “Utila Princess”.
- Plan to leave your Hotel for the dock 1 hour before the Utila Princess is scheduled to depart La Ceiba since there are often long queues at the entrance to the docks should the port police decide to search vehicles entering the docks for drugs. You may also have to show your passport or identity papers to these police. The taxi fare from the centre of La Ceiba to the Utila Princess dock is around 30.00 to 100.00 Lempiras ($US 2 – $6) (depending upon the number of passengers and amount of luggage) Your taxi driver will accept US Dollars, but will make change in Lempira.
- Do not be surprised if your taxi driver starts driving out of the center of La Ceiba into the countryside, instead of down towards the sea. The Utila Princess dock is about 10-15 minute taxi ride out of central La Ceiba.
- When you arrive at the La Ceiba docks make sure you go to the Utila Princess Ticket Office and not the Galaxy Ticket Office. There are only two passenger ferries that leave from these docks, The Galaxy which goes to Roatan and the Utila Princess. You don’t want to end up on the wrong boat.
- There is a Tourist Information Office behind the Utila Princess ticket office at the La Ceiba docks. This office is run by the Honduras Institute of Tourism and provides a free Utila hotel reservations service.
- If you are prone to sea sickness ask at the Utila Princess ticket office for a free sea sickness tablet. For maximum effectiveness, you really should take this tablet at least 30 minutes before the voyage.
- When you arrive at the Utila Municipal Dock, there are normally several taxi’s waiting outside the entrance to the dock. Taxi’s in Utila are usually in the form of pick-up trucks, which can be confusing since there will also be a number of pick-up trucks there to get in-bound cargo from the Utila Princess. Ask around for a taxi and do not despair, one will turn up sooner or later (this is the Caribbean).
- Most Hotels and accommodations are less than 15 minutes walk from the Utila Municipal Docks and those without a large amount of luggage tend to walk rather than wait or pay for a taxi.
A valid passport with at least 6 months remaining from time of departing Honduras is required for entry into Honduras. There is a $3.00 entry fee into Honduras and a $25.00 departure tax with an additional $2.00 security charge and $3.00 immigration fee if leaving Honduras by air. There are other incidental national airport taxes with connecting local flights usually not exceeding $5.00.
Tourist Visas are normal granted for a duration of 1 month, but can be extended on a month by month basis for a fee of 400.00 Lempiras per month at the local Immigration Office in Utila or on the mainland of La Ceiba. Depending upon the mood of the Immigration Officer at your port of entry, you can sometimes pay on entry for an extended tourist visa. A maximum stay of 4 months is permitted after which one must depart the country for a minimum of 3 days, after which you can return and start the process over again.
At some immigration offices, you can also pay 1,000.00 Lempiras and avoid having to leave the country. Note – the Honduras Government has changed the rules on Tourist Visa extensions several times in the last 12 months. I’ll update this advice if things have changed when I next renew my visa.
Don’t lose the piece of yellow paper they staple into your passport, you’ll need it to exit the country and to extend your stay.