Behind the spas, glass-bottomed boat rides and canopy adventure parks lies the real Honduras.
The country’s powerful rivers, lush mountains, Mayan archaeological sites and the Mesoamerican barrier Reef attract adventurous travelers from all over the world. Honduras is a popular port of call for large cruise ships, and passengers often squeeze some activities into an eight-hour window. However, if you can, we recommend that you visit Honduras on your own and take the time to experience everything that this wonderful Central American country has to offer.
Here is our guide to the best activities in Honduras.
Head under the sea with (or without) the air tank
Honduras is considered by many to be one of the best places for diving and snorkeling in the world. One of the country’s three main bay islands, Roatan has many spectacular dive sites in the Roatan Marine Park, designated waters protected by corals and marine life.
It is not uncommon to see sea turtles, eagle rays or a variety of tropical fish while traveling to a dive shop like West Bay Divers. If you’re lucky, you may even come across the elusive whale shark.
However, Roatan is not the only first-class diving destination in Honduras. The other two islands of the bay, Guanaja and Utila, as well as the smaller archipelago of Cayos Cochinos, also offer some of the best diving sites in the world.
Utila is internationally known as a diving spot, both for its marine life and for its youth culture. In this enclave, tourists try to get the PADI Divemaster certification in diving hostels such as Alton’s Diving Center.
The best places to visit in Honduras
Getting wet in Crabhal River
Canopy rope slide tours at Gumbalimba Park in Roatan can give you an exciting experience. But if you want to experience a truly breathtaking adventure, head to the El Naranjo region, located in the Cangrehal River valley on the mainland, about 10 km (6 miles) from the city center of La Ceiba.
Here you can go wild rafting on the Kangrehal River through III-V class rapids rising from rocks rising from the riverbed.
The perennial operation of the Moskitia Ecoaventuras offers raft excursions with experienced guides to navigate the course. Jungle River Lodge organises excursions.
Another freshwater adventure is canyoning with the guides of the Las Cascadas Lodge, who will take you on a jungle trek through the river gorge to descend along a series of waterfalls. Although not for the faint of heart, a slow and careful descent of 15 m (50 ft) on a rope, while the force of the falling water breaks your body, provides a boost that you will not forget anytime soon.
Go hiking and birdwatching a little
Bird lovers flock to Honduras – it is a point of convergence of more than 760 species of birds from North and South America.
Bird watching is especially promising in the national parks of Honduras, where you can explore the hiking trails a little if you are not standing with binoculars.
But you don’t have to be an expert to get carried away by the wild toucans, hummingbirds and parrots that you will discover while hiking through the rainforest through the Pico Bonito National Park.
The Cerro Azul Meambar and Santa Barbara Mountain national parks on opposite sides of Lake Yohoa in the west of the country are also useful birding spots with excellent hiking trails.
Seven species of moths, along with chachalaks, fly hunters and rangers, create a polyphonic soundtrack as you navigate through the misty forest towards caves and waterfalls. Panacam Lodge is an excellent place to lodge in Panacam. From here, bird specialists make walks and awaken the understanding of ornithology even in those who are apparently not interested.
Whether you are an avid watcher or not, the national bird of Honduras, the majestic scarlet macaw, is sure to catch everyone’s attention. The chances of seeing it in nature are high in and around the macaw mountain bird park and nature reserve.
It is not a national park, but a rehabilitation zone for macaws, parrots, toucans, cassowaries and other feathered creatures.
Every June, graduates of the scarlet macaw rehabilitation program, who are considered independent enough to survive without human intervention, are released into the wild during a large media ceremony.
Direct your inner archaeologist to Copán
You can see several scarlet macaws in nature around the ruins of the Archaeological Park of Copan Ruinas, the site of a large Mayan city that was built in 300 AD.
Because there was not much gold in this ancient settlement, the looting by the Spaniards in the sixteenth century was not as terrible as in other Mayan parts of the area. Accordingly, although this place is known for its “ruins”, it is characterized by a high level of preservation.
On the famous Copán hieroglyphic staircase, the most famous Mayan textual inscription depicts the stories of the five Mayan kings. The staircase received the status of a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1980 and was included in the list along with the Tikal of Guatemala.
While the remains of Copán are in good condition, the red colors that once adorned the temples have faded.
To see Copan in all its former purple splendor, visit the Copan Sculpture Museum, just across the parking lot from the main entrance. The highlight is the imposing Rosalila Temple, which was rebuilt as it looked centuries ago.
The entrance to the park is L360, which does not include a guide; written explanations are scattered throughout the site. The entrance to the Museum is separated from the park by the L170 highway.
Visit the cities of Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula
Honduras’ two largest cities, Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula, have a less-than-excellent reputation when it comes to crime. However, since they are home to the country’s two main airports, a stopover may be inevitable. Consider spending more than just one night: if you keep your mind awake, you will actually find two cities as safe as any major metropolis, and even full of charm.
The capital of Tegucigalpa is the political center of the country, with government buildings and remnants of its Spanish colonial past. Most of the historical sights are located in the center, the area around the Plaza Morazan, named after the former president of Central America (1830-39), who is immortalized on a statue in its center.
If you Walk through this Square among local families and a handful of tourists, you will find shops, restaurants and the Catholic cathedral of St. Michael, the Archangel of the city.
The Garinaguu cultural center is also nearby, where you can learn more about the African Garifuna indigenous community in Honduras. There are several interesting museums nearby; if you only have time for one, make it a Museum for National Identity.
Wandering around the neighborhood, you are sure to find vendors selling baleada, a Honduran flour tortilla delicacy filled with variations of the traditional mix of refried beans, cream and cheese. Give it a try.
San Pedro Sula is the industrial and commercial center of the country. Like the Hollywood sign in Los Angeles, large letters representing the instantly recognizable Coca-Cola brand rise on a green hill to the east of the city.
From there, you can discover other places worth visiting: Angeli Gardens, a cross between a botanical garden and an elegant restaurant; the main cathedral of the Apostle Peter in Central Park; and the Museum of Anthropology and history, which presents exhibits commemorating the past of Honduras.
Enjoy the brilliant nightlife of Honduras
All over the country, Hondurans organize their own alcohol and music parties when the sun goes down. If you are interested in craft beer, San Pedro Sula offers Cerveceria LA20 with a lounge area and an outdoor beer garden. Beer Alchemy is delighted with live music. For a night of dancing, visit Morena, an indoor/outdoor place where you can eat, drink and meet the young locals.
The capital of Tegucigalpa (known locally as “Tegus”) also has its share of nocturnal hot spots. Visit Santa for live music, from Coldplay covers to metal bands. If the Club atmosphere is more like your stage, visit the Las Vegas-style DJ dance parties by the pool at the Blu Bar, the rooftop venue of the Real Intercontinental hotel.
While popular nightspots are scattered in major cities, they are more compacted in smaller towns, and are therefore easily accessible within walking distance. La Ceiba’s nightlife mainly occurs in and around the el malecon area, where bars are lined up side by side.
At its eastern end is the popular beach bar La Casa del Sol. If you’re brave enough, order your signature but diabolical cocktail, semen del diablo. (Yes, the translation is exactly what you think).