Pigeon and Jewel Cays, the only permanently inhabited of the Útila Cays, cover an area of roughly 1 square kilometer. Everyone there travels by boat or on foot via the main thoroughfare: a narrow sidewalk that runs from one end of Pigeon Cay to the far end of Jewel Cay.
The small population of about 450 inhabitants is made up of the descendants of those who have colonized and settled Honduras’ Bay Islands over the past several centuries, beginning with the Spanish in the 1500s. Locals joke that many folks you meet on Pigeon Cay have one of these 5 last names: Morgan, Diamond, Howell, Jackson, and Cooper, because those last names (and their lineage) can be traced to British pirates who settled on the Islands in the late 1700s.
The community is small, but lively, and includes grocery stores, restaurants, churches, a school, and even a tiny one-room jail cell. Some locals work for resorts and dive centers on the surrounding Bay Islands, but most make a living by fishing and through the small businesses within the community itself.
Old traditions have survived on Pigeon Cay, as shown by several fishermen who still operate traditional fishing dories carved from a single large mahogany tree and who use hand lines as opposed to modern rods and reels to catch their fish.
Visitors to the area find themselves on Pigeon Cay after initially being attracted to the natural beauty of the cays themselves, and are surprised by the bustling community and friendly people who are there to greet them.
Thanks to Paul Avenant of Utopia Village for the tour and additional information.