The best-established dive resort in Utila  is The Utila Lodge (tel. 504/425-3143, U.S. tel. 800/282-8932, www.utilalodge.com , dive packages are US$1,100–1,275 per week depending on the season, double occupancy, or US$87/night, room only). The lodge, run by Americans Jim and Kisty Engel, occupies the dark-wood building next to the Bay Islands College of Diving , which is its partner dive shop. It has its own dock for fishing boats and dive boats, as well as eight slightly dated but nice rooms with TV, air-conditioning, and private balconies.
Rates include three good cafeteria-style meals and three boat dives daily. Nondivers pay US$985–1,159 a week. Jim is an avid fisherman and will arrange flats or deep-sea fishing trips for guests. The hotel has use of the BICD’s small swimming pool and hot tub, free Internet for guests, a bar over the water, a sundeck, and a pool table. The max number of guests is 16, with a full-time staff of 10. The restaurant is open to nonguests as well, and the bar and dock are great spots to watch the sunset.
On the south side of the island and the west side of the canal is Laguna Beach Resort (tel./fax 504/425-3264, U.S. tel. 800/668-8452, www.lagunabeachresort.info , US$1,465–1,495 pp double occupancy for a seven-night package, or US$225–230 pp/night, with discounts for nondivers and low-season, and surcharges for single occupancy). Packages include dives, meals, snorkeling, horseback riding, and use of kayaks and bicycles. The locally owned resort (same owners as Utila Water Sports ) offers 13 bungalows with air-conditioning and a two-bedroom beach house, all set on a private sandy peninsula accessible only by boat.
Rooms are not luxurious, but attractive with polished wood floors, and each bungalow has a small dock that leads out into the water. It’s a wonderful spot if you’re looking for a secluded place to forget about the world for a while. Swimming and snorkeling are fantastic right off the beach out front, and there is a large swimming pool for those who prefer fresh water. Flats and deep-sea fishing on one of their three fishing boats, windsurfing, and sea-kayaking trips are available, and shore diving is unlimited. Trips to town are regularly available. Equipment is top-notch, and the dive boats are very well-maintained.
Utopia Village (tel. 504/3344-9387, www.utopiadivevillage.com ) is without a doubt the fanciest digs on the island. Owned by a group of partners from the U.S., U.K., and Canada, Utopia is another secluded, all-inclusive resort, with its own private beach. High season rates range US$1,717–1,972 for seven-night dive packages, and fishing and spa/romance packages are available as well, with special rates available for shorter stays. Rooms are elegant, with polished wood floors, good quality linens, and accents in woven rattan and stone. Facilities include a gourmet restaurant on-site, a full-service spa, and of course, a dive center. Basic packages do not include as many services as at Laguna Beach, but can be customized. No children under the age of 15 are allowed. The PADI Open Water certification course is a whopping US$450, but Advanced Open Water is a more standard US$275.
Deep Blue Resort (tel. 504/9834-4399, www.deepblueutila.com ) is run by a British family, also located on a lagoon accessible only by boat. The rooms are nothing fancy, nor is the food, and admittedly the aging dive boat is a bit slow when heading around the island to dive sites on the revered northern coast. That said, overall it’s a pleasant place to stay, and guests rave about the dive masters, and diving is what you came for, isn’t it? Rates range US$1,014–1,878 for a seven-night dive package, double occupancy.
There are a couple of much cheaper places that describe themselves as dive resorts, but there’s some truth to the maxim “you get what you pay for.” Accommodations are basic, and service can be a mixed bag. Better midrange options can be had by arranging your own accommodations at a place like Lighthouse , Trudy’s Hotel , or Mango Inn , and choosing your dive shop separately.
Certainly Utila ’s most unique opportunity, the Utila Aggressor (www.aggressor.com ) is a live-aboard yacht that can accommodate up to 14 guests. One of a worldwide chain of live-aboard dive yachts, it is (as of the time of writing) the least expensive Aggressor in the world, offering five-star accommodation on board for a “mere” US$2,200 per person for a week. It is also perhaps the smallest Aggressor—be prepared for tight quarters.