Utila – Money & Communications
The Honduran currency is the Lempira or “lemp” for short. For many years the US Dollar was more favoured than the local currency, but recently this has changed. Only “pristine” dollars are accepted by most stores and the exchange rate you will get is often poor. Utila is a heavily cash based economy so it is sensible on arrival to acquire a reasonable supply of the local currency.
In the past obtaining money via the Honduran banking system could prove a difficult area for anyone who did not have banking facilities in the USA. This has changed recently, and debit cards issued by European banks can be used in Utila to obtain cash. Of course, as with most third world countries, there is sometimes a long que if you require counter facilities. In addition, care should be taken when using local ATM’s.
Are becoming more accepted – especially at larger operations. American Express can be a problem and debit cards do not seem to be accepted widely.
English is widely spoken in the Bay Islands. But, at least a moderate grasp of Spanish would be sensible to obtain before arrival.
INTERNET / MOBILE PHONE COVERAGE
If you had visited Utila in the past you would have needed a Satellite phone to reliably reach the outside world, there was no mobile phone “roaming” that worked and the Internet was “intermittent”. Things have changed. You can ring the UK form your smartphone (provided you have set it up correctly and are willing to pay the tariff) and the internet is available via various methods.
It needs to be mentioned that the electricity supply in Utila is not the most reliable in the world and power cuts can occur. These are normally quite short lived in duration but some people may find them to be a nuisance.