‘We’re not drinking tonight’….’Yes you are!’
Utila’s infamous lie number three! After falling victim to lie #2 and being unable to leave the island for almost two weeks, we were lucky enough to experience some of Utilas unique drinking experiences. First up was an Underwater Vision Dive Master instructors graduation party at the world famous Jade Seahorse bar at Treetanic. This place is in a class of it’s own, and if you’re lucky enough to be here for such a party it’s something you’ll never forget.
Treehouses, archways, bridges and stepping stones collide with bottles, tiles, mosaics and glittering mirrors on almost every surface, creating an Alice in Wonderland experience that went hand in hand with the mood of the clientele that evening. The place was heaving with DJ’s cranking out party tunes and a huge crowd meandering through the maze like rear garden that seems to go on forever. Make sure you check this place out during the day as well, you won’t be disappointed and you’re probably less likely to get lost!
On the subject of graduations, if you’re around at the right time you might be lucky enough to catch an Underwater Vision Dive Master graduation. This consisted of a couple of attractive young girls put through their paces in front of three judges, having to answer some questions, undertake a sexy skills dance (they did a great sexy dance interpretation of an ‘out of air’ situation followed by a ‘shared air ascent’, all to to a Men at Work ‘Land Down Under’ soundtrack), followed by the ‘mask challenge’. This consists of filling your scuba mask with beer and drinking it through your nose until you’ve managed to down a whole bottle (usually about two entire masks full). They put in a pretty impressive effort if you ask us!
Nobody can leave Utila without completing at least one of the shot challenges on offer, and we started with a group challenge at Rehab. With a wooden deck protruding out over the lapping ocean, and serving great seafood and pizzas, about 14 of us turned up to down four shots of vodka/blue curacao in a row, scoring ourselves a tank top as a prize. Things turned a little crazy when one of the instructors then downed a second challenge to impress a girl he liked, something he couldn’t remember until she reminded him the next day.
The best challenge on the island has to be hands down the Skid Row challenge – four shots of home made Guifity, a traditional Garifuna drink made from rum poured over roots, herbs, ecyalyptus or whatever else is to hand, then either buried or left to sit in the sun for a few weeks. With a bit of a dive bar vibe, the challenge starts out on the main street where your first shot is followed by a little bit of Guifity history and challenge number 1, to remove your shirt. Sarah was thanking her lucky starts she swapped her bra for her bikini top at the last minute while getting dressed that night.
Second shots down challenge number two was to stand in the road, avoiding the passing tuk tuks, and spin in a circle 15 times. Our third shot down and Matt was awarded a penalty shot, after not obeying the rules and taking his shot without waiting for Sarah. Time for the final challenge which was to run into the bar, shirts still off, and run around the pool table four times without interrupting the game, touch the table or the players, and not overtaking each other. Bitter from his penalty shot, we managed to obey every rule apart from the overtaking, when Matt deliberately overtook Sarah in order for her to get a penalty shot and make things even. The prize shirts here were way cooler than Rehab, and are part of the fashion of the island, with people coveting older and limited edition version (including the rare Utila-ween print). This was our favourite bar on the island, and one we’d frequent several times after using lie #3. So be sure to get down there and see Ginski for your Gifity challenge!
One place you might want to steer clear of on a night out in town is a locals bar on the left side of La Pirata. Matt walked in one night to buy some smokes and was surrounded and stared down by the drunk, drug infused locals.
But Utila isn’t all about drinking, it’s also about hangover food, and there’s quite a few good choices along the main street. Munchies has great liquados (fruit shakes) and some excellent hangover baked potato with broccoli, sour cream and loads of melted cheese. But it doesn’t come cheap, so if you’ve spent all your money on tshirts and shots, hit up Mama Rosa’s for some dirt cheap tasty and filling baliadas, a flat pita filled with whatever you like and folded in half. The chicken and avocado with cheese is a winner. But be warned, do not stray from these….the nachos are drowned in sickening liquid cheese and the ceviche made Sarah so sick she spent the final dive of the trip with Captain Hoover spewing off the back of the dive boat.
Bucaneers Grill usually have a pretty tasty lunch special, typically along the lines of steak/chicken/fish with rice/beans/plantain. But with prices all listed in USD and tax and service not included, what you see on the menu is not what will end up on your bill. The internet is good though. We tried Mermaids once as the food was ready buffet style and we were starving, but the stewed chicken was stone cold and we were charged extra for things we didn’t ask for so skip it unless you’re desperate. If you’re in a hurry head down to Camilla’s Bakery and grab yourself a bacon and brocolli quiche…mmmmmm.
RJ’s Bar and Grill is a favourite among the local community. Open for dinner on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday nights you can get yourself a massive portion of pork, chicken, beef or a selection of fresh local fish with a huge serving of sides, washed down with rum’n’ade without breaking the bank. Which means more money to spend at Skid Row later on!
But if all else fails and you can’t drag yourself any further than the bar at Underwater Vision, get Mani to make you a strong arse coffee and order a breakfast burrito with guacamole and a toasted ham and cheese sandwich to go. It’ll sort your hangover right out and make sure you’re sorted to get back into the clear blue depths of the Caribbean sea.
Check out more of our Utila photos, above and below the water, on Flickr.