The Republic of Honduras is the second-largest country in Central America, but travelers often overlook it when planning a tropical vacation. It’s too bad. With turquoise waters, white sandy beaches, and exciting eco-tours, Honduras is changing quickly and people are starting to take notice. In particular, the country is quickly becoming a hotspot for adventure travelers. That’s what brought us there on a recent trip.
Instead of flying to Honduras, we took a small boat from Placencia, Belize to Puerto Cortes, Honduras. Our goal was to take our PADI divemaster certification on the world’s second-largest coral reef. While we loved exploring the underwater world, we also enjoyed the mountainous landscape, fascinating history, and welcoming culture. Here’s a rundown of what we recommend.
For a tropical vacation, the Bay Islands are a must-stop on your Honduras itinerary. The archipelago comprises eight islands and 53 cays, the most popular of which are Roatán, Utila, and Guanaja. On each of these islands, you’ll find everything from deserted beaches and low-key getaways to high-end resorts and lively nightlife. You can go hiking through the forest or sailing on the Caribbean Sea.
Scuba diving in Honduras
Roatan is the most developed of the three and caters to package tourists and cruise ships. In addition to diving, snorkeling, and water sports, the island offers an array of daily excursions such as tromps into the rainforest canopy tour or full-day horseback rides. Many of these activites include transportation to and from major hotels.
If scuba diving is something you’ve always wanted to try, or if you are already a certified diver, The Bay Islands are the place to go. Utila is known for being one of the most reasonable places on earth to receive PADI divemaster certification, and the warm inviting waters are clear and calm for great viewing of coral, tropical fish, and sea turtles.
Guanaja is the least accessible and most secluded of the islands. If you are looking for a quiet vacation, this may be the choice for you.
The Bay Islands are also famous for their whale shark encounters and we can attest to that fact that these encounters can be AWESOME experiences! During one of our days in the water, we swam with a whale shark. On another day, we went swimming with a pod of wild bottlenose dolphins. The diving was outstanding in Honduras, but these are the moments we’ll never forget.
Relaxing in Honduras
If you are as fascinated with Mayan culture as much as we are, the ancient ruins of Copán are worth visiting. Located near the border of Guatemala, this is a perfect getaway from the beach to explore the interior of the country. The complex is well-preserved and excavated. It is set in a valley surrounded by rolling foothills and lush vegetation.
The most interesting display is a stone stairway covered in 2,200 heiroglyphs, which make the area possess one of the longest known Mayan texts. While you’re out and about, keep your eyes peeled, as you’ll be treated to sightings of wildlife such as monkeys and parrots as you walk through the complex of temples, altars, and sculptures.
La Ceiba is the third largest city in Honduras and is known as the adventure capital of the country. It’s gaining popularity with tourists because of its eco-tourism market. Surrounded by jungles, mountains, and wild rivers, La Ceiba makes for the perfect jumping-off point to have an adventure.
Viewfinder Tip: Avoid walking alone at night or in isolated areas in Honduras. Sometimes, thefts occur.
From here you can visit Pico Bonito National Park to go trekking, bird watching, or to try your hand at whitewater rafting on Rio Cangrejal. With warm waters and rapids ranging from class II to V, Rio Cangrejal is considered to have some of the best whitewater rafting in Central America. Pico Bonito is a steep mountain, which creates the perfect conditions for raging waters and beautiful waterfalls. Bird-watching is popular here, and, if you are lucky you may spy the elusive jaguar or maybe a giant anteater.
Each destination in Honduras offers something different. A trip to this small Central American nation can be as busy or relaxing as you want it to be. All you have to do is choose what type of vacation you’re looking for.
Where is your favorite tropical vacation destination and why?