Honduras is relatively untrodden when it comes to tourism. This Central American country is known for its pristine beaches, dive spots such as Roatán and Utila, and the ancient Mayan city of Copan. Honduras is slowly beginning to shed its negative reputation, and building a name for itself through scuba diving and eco-tourism adventures in Central America. It is one of the cheaper destinations in Central America and, though often skipped by most travelers, we think it offers the best value in the region. With a gorgeous Caribbean coast, this is a wonderful place to explore. In this post, we’ll let you in on all the wonderful places to visit!
Honduras has a reputation for being dangerous, and it can sometimes live up to that reputation. While we were there, things did happen such as protests against the government, road blocks etc. But you’ll notice that once you leave the major cities, it quickly becomes a true paradise. Someone traveling through the country really has nothing to be afraid of, but we recommend that you exercise caution at all times. We met many friendly people in Honduras, and would happily recommend it to travelers who are looking to get off the beaten tourist path.
To escape and sit quietly on the beach — That’s my idea of paradise!
— Emilia Wickstead
What to see or do?
- Explore Roatán — Lying on the southern edge of the second largest barrier reef in the world is Roatán, the largest of the Bay Islands and the most visited as well. Roatán has been the Caribbean’s best kept secret for many years. With a biodiverse reef, pristine beaches, turquoise waters and mountains covered with tropical forests, Roatán has become a popular tourist destination. We drove to La Ceiba and took a ferry to Roatán, but you can fly directly to the island. It is an excellent diving spot, and some of the best snorkeling sites around Roatán are found only 4-5 minutes from the shore. You can also enjoy Roatán’s waters by going sailing, fly boarding, and even swimming with dolphins. Roatán is a paradise filled with wonderful surprises!
- Take day trip to Cayos Cochinos — From La Ceiba or Tela, you can take a small motor boat to reach Cayos Cochinos. Also known as Hog Islands, this is a breathtaking paradise that stands out from other places to visit in Honduras. Cayos Cochinos is made up of 2 small islands and 13 small coral cays that are all very exciting to explore. With Cayos Cochinos’ crystal clear waters, spectacular beaches and incredible views, it is hard not to fall in love with these tiny islands. We spent the day at the village of Chachauate in Cayos Cochinos where the Garifuna community lives. Garifuna people were originally slaves that were brought over from West Africa to the Caribbean region in the 1600s. They live mostly in the coastal towns of Honduras, Belize, Guatemala and Nicaragua. The main island where they live was very primitive. There was no power or running water on this island, and the locals make a trip on a boat to get drinking water from one of the other islands.
- Visit the Copan Ruins — Just by the border between Honduras and Guatemala lies the remains of a Classic period Mayan kingdom that is frequented by tourists from all over the world. If you are thinking of places to visit in Honduras, this is one that should definitely be on your list. This complex of ruins has temples and hieroglyphs that date back to around 400 to 800 A.D. The city was abandoned due to lack of resources but this site now flourishes as a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1980.
- Go Snorkeling and Scuba Diving in the islands — Honduras’ Bay Islands have some of the most affordable diving spots in the world. Scuba diving spots can be found all over Roatán and Utila. There are more than 100 dive sites in Roatán, but the one we chose to dive at is called the Blue Channel. This is one of Roatán’s most famous dive site with stunning coral and marine life including turtles, moray eels, and lots of colorful fish make this dive something to remember. The coral reefs here are spectacular!
- Visit Pico Bonito National Park — Another beautiful protected area in Honduras is Pico Bonito National Park in the Nombre de Dios mountains. The site is perfect for hiking, with trails that are also enjoyable for bird watchers and nature lovers in general. There are great waterfalls in the park and you can swim in natural pools.
- Don’t miss the Punta Gorda Sunday Celebration — Take a day trip to the East end of Roatán island. Punta Gorda is the oldest Garifuna community on the island and holds strong to its culture and traditions. Every Sunday the community has a celebration with music, dancing, and traditional food. We had lunch at one of the local Garifuna restaurants and we loved the traditional Garifuna celebration. This is a video of my husband dancing with the locals!
- Visit Utila — Utila is the smallest of the Bay Islands. Prices are pretty much the same as in Roatán, but accommodation is cheaper and the locals are friendlier. If you’ve always wanted to try diving but are looking for the most beautiful yet affordable spot to learn, Utila is just that. There are a number of other water activities to try here like snorkeling, canoeing, paddle boarding, kayaking and fishing. Nightlife is great in Utila and day trips for diving and snorkeling are incredible.
Where to stay?
- Puerta Azul Boutique Hotel in Roatán, Honduras — Puerta Azul has a great vibe and it was the perfect retreat for us. In Roatán, you can stay at the touristy West End, Sandy Bay where our hotel was located, or the East End which is remote and still being developed. What we loved most about this beautiful hotel is that it’s only minutes from all the biggest tourist attractions and best restaurants in Roatán, but the little bungalows feel like they are tucked miles into the jungle. Puerta Azul has an incredible 200 foot pier with a deck at the end that is perfect for lounging, watching the sunset, or jumping into the clear aqua water. We absolutely loved this hotel!
- Indura Beach and Golf Resort, Tela Bay, Honduras — Indura Beach and Golf Resort is luxury resort in Tela. This is a gated development with a golf course, residential homesites, and a beachfront hotel where we stayed. Our room had a gorgeous sitting area and outdoor terrace with views of the Caribbean. The resort had multiple restaurants and their main restaurant, Bazul, served food that was influenced by the culture of the local Garifuna people.
What to eat?
- You have to try the Monkey La-La in Roatán, Honduras — The drink is named after the lizard the islanders call Monkey La-La… It contains vodka, rum, Bailey’s, Kahlua, and coconut cream blended together with ice into a frozen cocktail. Most bartenders will swirl in some chocolate sauce to add some additional sweetness to the drink. What’s not to love about that? When visiting Roatán, it’s almost a requirement that you try one Monkey La-La at your favorite beachfront bar, curling your toes into the sand and revelling in the fact that you’re in paradise.
- Try a Baleada in Honduras — Baleada is a traditional Honduran dish with ingredients famously eaten all over Latin America. Perfect for breakfast or lunch, this street food is basically made with a flour tortilla and refried beans. You can add cheese, scrambled eggs, plantain, meats, avocado etc. for extra flavor.
- Eat Machuca in Punta Gorda in Roatán, Honduras — Visit Punta Gorda and stop at a local restaurant to try a Garifuna specialty called Machuca, which was considered a “poor man’s meal” but today it is an island specialty. Machuca is a fish soup made with coconut milk and includes fish, lobster, conch and other seafood. The bananas and plantains are mixed together to form a heavy dough which is served inside the soup.
- Triunfo De La Cruz in Tela, Honduras — We drove to Triunfo De La Cruz, which is one of the places where the Garifuna people live in Honduras. We found a small restaurant called Playas Miramar right on the beach. We enjoyed fresh seafood and Guifiti shots, which is a rum-based drink made by the locals. It really can’t get any better than this!
How to save money?
- Take a ferry to Roatán — Flying is always the most comfortable option to get to Roatán, but it can also be the most expensive option, which makes it hard to justify the expense. We did our research and chose to fly into San Pedro Sula, and drove to La Ceiba then took a ferry to Roatan. The ferry ride takes about 1 hour and a first-class roundtrip ticket is only $75 USD per person, which is an excellent option to get to the island.
- Download offline maps before your trip — If you don’t have an international plan on your cell phone, download offline maps before you get to Honduras. Also, Internet in Honduras is pretty hit or miss. WiFi is pretty slow as well in most parts of the country.
- Get dive certified — Roatán and Utila are one of the cheapest places in the world to get your PADI certification. If you aren’t certified, this is the place to do it! An open water course costs around $250-350 USD (including rental gear).
May we recommend?
Our recommendations for anyone hoping to travel to this amazing destination:
- There is still some violence in the country, so we do not advise going out in the major cities of the main land alone at night. Once you get out of the city to the costal touristy areas, it’s a peaceful, friendly and amazing place!
- It is recommended to avoid wearing expensive watches or jewelry. In general, exercise caution when traveling to any foreign country. Having a good time also requires us to act responsibly and make smart decisions.
- You can use US dollars pretty much for everything in Honduras. The currency in Honduras is called the Honduran Lempira and ~24 lempiras is equal to $1 USD. ATMs in Honduras are almost everywhere in touristic places. Most of the ATM machines in Honduras are reliable and safe.
Honduras is a paradise just waiting to be discovered!
What makes Honduras so special? Beautiful white sand beaches, turquoise waters, spectacular coral reefs for snorkeling and scuba diving, ancient ruins, delicious seafood, and so much more! We loved our time spent exploring Honduras. This country is full of exciting things to discover. Always remember… Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer!