Utila Sunjam
Behind the Scenes at Water Cay’s All-Night Beach Party

August 29th, 2012
by Robert Armstrong


Festival-goers arrive by the boatload from Utila Town.

Festival-goers arrive by the boatload from Utila Town.

The normally tranquil sands of Utila’s Water Cay became an all-night dance floor August 4-5 for the 16th installment of the “infamous” annual Sunjam Festival.

Organizers said 1,350 people from throughout the world attended this year, up from 1,100 last year and just 50 at the first Sunjam in 1996.

Sunjam began as the brainchild of a couple of Utila dive instructors, Luis Maier and Alfredo Olin, who thought it would be cool to throw a beach party for the local dive community. Since then Maier, who is now a DJ and promoter based in Tegucigalpa, and Olin, a native Utilian who owns Parrots Dive Center on Utila, have reprised the event every year.

“It started as a few friends wanting to enjoy good music and evolved into what you see today,” said Maier. This year’s festival, he said, was a tribute to artists from Central America.

“The idea was to bring in the best Central American talent and they bring with them their crowd from their home in an attempt to gather together and unite as a region in celebration of the end of the Mayan calendar.”

web mainMany people now travel from far away to Utila every year just to attend Sunjam, and lodgings on the island book up weeks in advance. Others happen into it by chance. For example, Josué Eucedo, who came up from Tegucigalpa, was attending his fourth Sunjam. Eldar from Israel, on the other hand, was traveling through the region with four college classmates and decided to jump on a launch and join the party with three other friends they met on Utila – one from France, one from the UK and one from Australia.

“Sunjam is a family that works hard every year to come together and create a beautiful opportunity to be together in a memorable way,” said Maier. “There is no formula to create something like Sunjam; it’s taken 16 years to perfect, and it will continue to evolve.”

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