This is the most recent in our collection on underrated locations, It is Nonetheless a Massive World.
I went to Honduras for one cause: I like outside adventures however hate crowds.
For the previous few many years, Costa Rica has worn the Central American crown in journey journey, because it’s well-known for mountaineering, biking, browsing, zip-lining, and just about all issues outdoor. Don’t get me fallacious, I totally loved my action-packed journey to Costa Rica in 2020, however I do know that’s partly as a result of I visited proper after the nation reopened, so each single resort and attraction I visited was empty.
Simply give it some thought. How many individuals have you learnt have been to Costa Rica? I do know 5 individuals who visited Costa Rica simply final month alone, but I solely know two individuals who have ever visited Honduras. This shocked me as a result of I’m a journey author with many journey author mates who’re continuously jet-setting across the globe. As such, I positioned Honduras on the high of my 2023 journey record.
Final month, I spent six days in Honduras, the place I zip-lined, hiked down a cliff and behind a 143-foot waterfall, kayaked in a mangrove forest, rafted between two Nationwide Parks, and hiked in one other Nationwide Park, the place you may lease a six-person luxurious cabin for an insanely low worth of $300/night time. I additionally cycled by way of rural, not often explored areas and visited Central America’s largest and latest cypress tree labyrinth, which opened in January.
What I beloved most about touring in Honduras was that, in contrast to in Costa Rica or Mexico, the place 90 % of the vacationers you meet are American, many of the vacationers listed here are Honduran so you may benefit from the uncommon alternative of touring with locals. Most People I met have been Honduran-American vacationers returning to discover their delivery nation; the opposite chunk was a gaggle of U.S. Military and Navy people stationed at one of many bases. Apparently, the bottom organizes journey journeys for the troops each weekend.
Of the only a few People that do make it to Honduras, the overwhelming majority go to 2 locations: Roatán and Copán. Located about 30 miles off the northern coast of Honduras, Roatán island is the proper combine of lovely seashores and excellent snorkeling/diving, paired with loads of bars and nightlife choices. Assume Tulúm however a bit much less developed and with out the limitless drunken Spring Break vibe. To get to Roatán, you may catch a ship from close by Cayos Cochinos, or hop on certainly one of a number of each day flights from Houston, Miami, and Tegucigalpa. Because it’s simple to get right here from the U.S., it normally makes essentially the most sense to start out right here after which fly out of one other airport (like Tegucigalpa) or to do the reverse.
To maintain it even easier, catch an hour-long ferry from La Ceiba (on the mainland) to the smaller, less-touristy Cayos Cochinos, which is throughout the Roatán municipality. Made up of two small islands and 13 smaller coral cays, Cayos Cochinos is about 20 miles northeast of La Ceiba. These “pig bays” are value an in a single day go to however are additionally simply visited as a day journey. Most guests come right here for 2 causes: to go to seashores and to expertise Garifuna tradition. The Garifuna are the descendants of Carib Indigenous folks and enslaved Africans who have been exiled from British colonies within the japanese Caribbean within the 18th century.
Right now, there are thriving Garifuna communities throughout Central America (and in the USA), however the largest inhabitants is present in Honduras, adopted by Belize. In 2001, UNESCO declared the Garifuna tradition a Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity and you’ll e-book Garifuna Excursions in Cayos Cochinos and elsewhere in Honduras.
Honduras’ different declare to fame is Copán, some of the necessary websites of the Mayan civilization, which was found in 1570 however not excavated till the nineteenth century. Your complete metropolis of Copán is a UNESCO World Heritage Website, the place vacationers can go to pyramids that the Mayans constructed to represent mountains, plazas to symbolize lakes, and doorways to recommend caves. The location was occupied for over 2,000 years and, immediately, Copán is legendary for not solely the variety of its stone sculptures but additionally for the well-preserved high quality of those stone columns, constructed to symbolize a “forest of kings.”
As a result of I didn’t wish to spend seven hours (every approach) in a automotive getting there and since I’ve visited so many different Mayan ruins (once more, I’m a spoiled journey author), I made a decision to not go to Copán. I solely had six days in Honduras and I needed to spend each waking second doing one thing outdoorsy, a lot to the shock of each Honduran I met, I skipped the nation’s nationwide treasure. I’ll add, nonetheless, that each single traveler I met who had visited the location mentioned it was spectacular. From what I heard, it’s effectively value a day or two, as you can too zip-line, go horseback driving, go to an enormous discipline of sunflowers, and tour espresso and tobacco farms.
My first cease in Honduras was Pulhapanzak, a few two-hour drive from the Comayagua Airport, the place I flew in. Pulhapanzak is a 143-foot waterfall that may be engaged with in nearly each approach conceivable. Zip-line throughout the falls, climb down, behind, and beneath the falls, simply take a selfie in entrance of them, or go kayaking within the quiet water behind it. It’s a well-liked day journey however you can too keep in a single day on the onsite cabins, which is what I did. The cabins are modest however enough and all the opposite visitors have been Hondurans and Honduran-born People who I stayed up with chatting across the campfire.
Come morning, a van pulled up filled with Military and Navy people stationed at a base two hours away. Since I used to be alone, I used to be partnered with their group for a zip-line tour. Shout out to the wild army man who shot and shared some epic movies of us gliding over the falls.
Zip-lining just isn’t normally my favourite exercise as a result of, whereas it’s typically included within the “journey journey” class, I discover it a bit too passive for my liking. Pulha, as the location is usually referred to, then again, utterly modified my thoughts. It’s not each day you can crisscross above an infinite waterfall, surrounded by its large spray whereas sopolotes (vultures) circle above. In a phrase, it was unimaginable.
Much more unimaginable was the climb down and behind the waterfall, which, in a phrase, was intense. Or, maybe, insane, relying who you ask. The hike is damaged into three more and more harsh sections, the place it’s important to swim throughout a slim river, climb up and down stair-like rocks whereas water kilos down onto you, and maintain a rope as you fastidiously shuffle your approach alongside a rock shelf whereas the nice Pulhapanzak releases its watery gates of hell from above. One of many girls in my group stopped on the first part, which was in all probability sensible, as my information says that some folks expertise panic assaults after they get to sections with continuous highly effective bursts of water streaming down. I’ll admit to being a bit nervous at instances, and I positively tucked my glasses down into my bra, behind my life jacket, however, total, I completely beloved it.
La Ceiba, The Bride of Honduras
Throughout the northern port metropolis of La Ceiba, thought-about by many to be essentially the most stunning metropolis in Honduras, you’ll encounter colourful billboards referring to the realm as “La novia de Honduras,”, or “The bride of Honduras.” The billboards showcase the realm’s seashores, forests, and rivers this nature-rich area is thought for and the pictures are correct. If I had to decide on one favourite place in Honduras, it could positively be La Ceiba. I began my go to at The Lodge & Spa of Pico Bonito, which is situated throughout the Pico Bonito Nationwide Park.
Solo mountaineering throughout the park is feasible however I’m glad to have gone with an area information, who identified white crown parrots, black hawk eagles, toucans, tree frogs, monkeys, butterflies, and numerous tropical vegetation and mushrooms. After the hike, I headed straight to the spa for a soothing therapeutic massage. As soon as on the spa, I realized that in addition they supply the standard Mayan sweat lodge expertise often called a temazcal. Having gotten hooked on the follow in Mexico about 10 years in the past, I used to be dissatisfied not to have the ability to strive it right here, as you must make a reservation the day earlier than as a result of the ceremonial stones take 5 hours to warmth up. Phrase to the smart—make an advance reservation so you do not miss out.
The following day, I headed out on a kayaking tour of La Ceiba’s mangrove forests with La Moskitia Ecoaventuras. My information, Emilio, is the son of the corporate’s founder and was a wealth of knowledge. As we paddled by way of Lago de Cacao, he identified inexperienced herons, howler monkeys, and black hawks which have tailored to consuming the native crabs. Tiny, uncommon pygmy kingfishers flew in entrance of us whereas a number of the space’s 200 styles of bats slept on the downed bushes that we floated beneath. Emilio identified a nephila spider and defined that it spins an internet so sturdy that scientists try to synthesize it as an alternative choice to iron. After a fast cease on the seaside, we noticed a number of crocodiles, which Emilio insisted by no means trouble people.
That afternoon, I headed out once more with Moskitia Ecoaventuras to whitewater raft alongside the Rio Cangrejal, which flows between Pico Bonito Nationwide Park and the neighboring Nombre de Dios (Title of God) Nationwide Park. Although I didn’t have time to hike, guides advised me that the 4-hour in-and-out hike to the 420-foot excessive El Bejuco waterfall is fairly unimaginable.
Whereas within the space, I stayed a number of nights on the La Villa de Soledad, which is inside strolling distance to rafting and mountaineering alternatives. La Villa is a family-run colonial villa with monumental rooms, sky-high ceilings, hammocks on the patio, and a allure you will not discover in any company resort. The B&B, like many Honduran lodges and inns, may also help organize your taxis and excursions, so must you not e-book a driver or information, attain out to them upfront to plan your journey. It’s also possible to work with trusted tour operators to e-book lodging and drivers. I used to be extraordinarily impressed with Moskitia Ecoaventuras, who assured me they may also help vacationers plan a multi-day journey itinerary, together with actions, lodging, and drivers. Subsequent time I go to Honduras, that’s precisely what I’ll do.
Because the runways within the capital metropolis, Tegucigalpa, are very brief, Honduras just lately unveiled a brand new worldwide airport close to Comayagua, about 80 minutes away. The vast majority of points of interest are within the northern and western components of Honduras, however it’s value spending a day in/round Comayagua no matter your plans. For those who do just one factor right here, make it a go to to Rancho Sofia. Don’t be fooled by the inordinate quantity of cow pictures on their social media web page, as that is excess of a farm. This farm-turned-tourist attraction opened a small however beautiful resort two years in the past with six rooms, a number of swimming pools, plus tenting choices and a laundry facility. If it’s obtainable, go for the room with two floor-to-ceiling window partitions overlooking the property.
Rancho Sofia additionally operates a small restaurant and “Cow Bar” that may solely be described as John Deere meets Honduran bohemian stylish. Yeah, I do know. Assume vodka cocktails and contemporary dragon fruit juice on the patio, in a hammock, or within the elevated treehouse lounge space whereas the sounds of Madonna and The Weeknd drift by way of the air. You might simply drive right here by yourself however I arrived by bicycle with Julie Excursions Journey, which took me on a 10-mile tour of small cities and farmland earlier than stopping on the Jardín de Edén, which is simply down the highway.
Jardín de Edén, higher often called the Cypress Labyrinth, started planting its 2,886 cypress bushes (introduced in from all around the nation and neighboring El Salvador) in 2018. The bushes have been lastly tall sufficient for the attraction to open its doorways in December 2022, and guests now spend anyplace from half-hour to three hours looking for their approach out of the maze. The location additionally has a big flower tunnel resulting in a park studded with vegetation trimmed into the shapes of canines, hearts, and on a regular basis objects like cups. There’s additionally a big clock manufactured from vegetation and bushes that’s been set to 9 o’clock as a result of that is when Jesus died (Honduras is a really non secular nation). A handful of cabins have been constructed on web site, utterly surrounded by fuchsia-colored bougainvillea flowers, that ought to open subsequent month, including to the nation’s already spectacular choice of distinctive lodging.
Getting Round and Planning Your Journey
Like most Central American international locations, you may lease your individual automotive, rent a driver (with or and not using a information), or get round by public transportation. You possibly can decide up your automotive proper from the airport and it’s greatest to order one upfront. For those who e-book a driver, perceive that they’re simply that—drivers—they don’t seem to be tour guides and so they could or could not converse English. Uber can also be a superb choice for getting round bigger cities (its unavailable in small cities and rural areas). Nevertheless, for security causes, solely settle for drivers with a photograph with profile info.
Whereas it’s really useful to keep away from public buses inside Tegucigalpa for security causes, it’s secure to take buses between cities (between Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula, as an example). For those who lease your individual automotive, know that the roads are in respectable (however not nice) situation and you’ll normally get by with a sedan. For those who plan to drive your self to off-beat nature hikes, kayaking journeys, or to that attractive colonial villa I stayed in, positively think about getting a mini-SUV, which is what I rode in.
Google Maps works pretty effectively (although a number of instances it tried sending us the fallacious approach down a one-way avenue), however know that it could recommend a shortcut by way of an space that isnt the most secure. That is solely an actual concern should you’re driving in Tegucigalpa, which, as you’ll be taught later, can (and will) be skipped in case you have restricted time within the nation.
Even if you wish to do your individual factor and drive alone, it nonetheless could also be value hiring an company to assist plan your itinerary, e-book lodges, and even map your driving route so that you keep heading in the right direction. For those who do drive alone, keep away from driving at night time for safety functions and since some highways aren’t effectively marked so it’s simpler to get misplaced at night time. Additionally, be sure to order an automated automotive as stick shifts are sometimes the default in a lot of Latin America.
Having native foreign money (lempiras) is greatest however, should you’re in a pinch, many locations catering to vacationers (lodging, eating places, tour corporations) settle for USD. I additionally discovered that a number of lodges and tour corporations change cash, which is best to do in the course of the week since they don’t do financial institution runs on the weekend.
Although pre-planning is a good suggestion in any nation, figuring issues out is pretty simple when you get to Honduras. In all places I went, I met vacationers who shared ideas for the place to go and extremely educated guides gave me recommendation for what I’ll do subsequent time I return.
Talking of guides, I received my automotive and information by way of Andy Paraiso Excursions. Really, I used to be assigned a journey agent, not a information, which appears frequent right here, and it labored effectively since I had native consultants for all my adventures. Sadly, the Journey Honduras web site has a number of damaged hyperlinks, however it does have good info value reviewing. For those who like the thought of visiting a number of locations in Central America, Go to Centro America is a superb web site that lets you seek for excursions by nation, exercise, and size of keep.
Basically, guides converse English, costs are extraordinarily reasonably priced, and Honduras makes use of the identical electrical shops because the U.S. so that you don’t have to deliver a converter. All of the locations I stayed had Wi-Fi (although sign energy diverse), and my worldwide information plan normally allowed me to browse and textual content freely, and I used to be even in a position FaceTime a number of instances.
Honduras has traditionally obtained fewer guests than Costa Rica as a result of it has skilled much more crime and violence than its Central American neighbor, famously identified for not having a army. Whereas there have been many extra issues and security considerations prior to now, the scenario has improved considerably. The nation skilled a coup in 2009, and a later president was arrested and extradited to the USA on drug trafficking fees. Nonetheless, the federal government has since declared conflict on gangs, and Honduras has skilled a gentle and important drop in homicides over the previous decade.
Does Honduras nonetheless have points with medicine and violence? Sure, however it’s principally restricted to the northeasternmost province, Gracias a Dios, and sure neighborhoods in Tegucigalpa. As a result of the remainder of the nation is far more attention-grabbing and delightful, most vacationers will wish to skip Tegucigalpa anyway.
Whereas I did go to Tegucigalpa (with an area information who knew what neighborhoods have been secure), I couldn’t make it to the colonial metropolis heart as a result of there was a big political protest that day. These protests are considerably frequent and could also be accompanied by violence, so as an alternative of touring the downtown space, we spent our time stuffing our faces with the favored avenue snack, baleadas. The astoundingly addictive snacks (normally eaten for breakfast or as a night snack) are thick corn tortillas filled with beans, eggs, and mantequilla, a creamy liquid butter. These egg, bean, and buttery treats are principally a takeaway model of the standard Honduran plate, minus the plantains, plus a serving to of cabbage curtido slaw. Don’t go away the nation with out attempting them.
Whereas a lot of the world has utterly eradicated COVID restrictions and one may simply neglect that the pandemic hasn’t ended, Honduras remains to be taking COVID pretty significantly. Masks are required on home flights, in airports, and in public locations. Even when masks aren’t required, they’re the norm in lots of indoor settings, from supermarkets and pharmacies to cafes and lodges. As such, even should you normally go and not using a masks, it could be well mannered to hold one with you to make use of indoors if that’s what you see most individuals are doing.
To go to Honduras, you’ll additionally want to point out proof of vaccination or a latest unfavorable PCR take a look at earlier than boarding your flight and once more once you land in Honduras. Journey insurance coverage isn’t required (although I purchased a World Nomads plan as a result of I’m an enormous believer in complete journey insurance coverage), however you do must fill out a well being type 72 hours earlier than your departure.
Attending to and from Honduras is pretty simple, as is getting across the nation, speaking, exchanging cash, and discovering secure and great adventures. Whereas I selfishly hope the nation doesn’t develop into utterly overrun with vacationers within the close to future, it completely is a risk. Till then, now’s the time to take pleasure in an underrated, under-visited small Central American paradise that’s blissful to have you ever and nearly ensures you a good time.
Cassandra Brooklyn is a author, journey professional, and group tour chief. She runs EscapingNY, an off-the-beaten-path journey firm, and is the creator of the guidebook Cuba by Bike.