Small in size, Honduras is huge in its array of cultural diversity. In addition to the Ladinos (people of mixed European and Amerindian ancestry), there are also the Lenca people mostly settled in their ancestral lands in Lempira, Intibuca, and La Paz. The Miskito, Tawahka, and Pech of the northeast, the Tolupan in the Montana de la Flor, the Maya Chorti of the Copan valley; as well as the Garifuna along the Caribbean coast, and Creoles in the Bay Islands. Immigrants mainly from the Middle East, West Indies, North America, and Asia have also contributed significantly to the diverse cultural landscape of Honduras.
A jewel of the Mayan World, Copan is one of the ancient Mayan civilization’s most spectacular remnants. Exquisite hieroglyphs, ornate stone temples and stairways, plazas, altars, and stunningly-carved stelae give this UNESCO World Heritage Centre outstanding universal value. Beneath the acropolis, a series of underground tunnels - aqueducts, tombs, and temples - reveal an even earlier period of Mayan civilization in the Copan valley. Today, thanks to an ambitious re-introduction project, Scarlet Macaws, a beautiful bird sacred to the Mayans, once again roam free among the archaeological treasures.
Coffee is extremely important to the Honduran economy, comprising around 10% of GDP, and benefiting approximately 120,000 families. During harvest, the coffee industry employs 1 million people meaning that about 20% of the country’s population depends on coffee for their livelihood. There are grand estates with more than 100 years of production history, and at the same time coffee producer co-ops utilizing the latest equipment. From professional agronomists to small-scale farmers, everyone is bringing their own skills, ideas and creativity to the table. Traditions, innovation, and modern technology live side by side on these farms.
There is growing recognition that Honduran “cacao fino” is one of the finest in the world. It is no surprise then that archaeologists have uncovered proof of ancient cacao farming in Honduras. In Mesoamerican cultures, like the Mayan, cacao seeds were used as currency, and this fact is depicted in many sculptures in the Copan Valley. Cacao was an important part of the Mayan culture, so, naturally it is highlighted in our itineraries, specifically those that feature Copan; where you can enjoy a refreshing traditional-style cacao beverage. We also visit small-scale cocoa producers in the rain forest near La Ceiba, to taste their chocolate bars and cacao liqueur.
An abundance of ecosystems (tropical rain forests, mangrove-lined lagoons, cloud forests, and tropical rivers) mean that beaches are only the beginning. Nature enthusiasts and outdoor explorers are spoiled for choice. Enjoy a boat ride in the Caribbean Sea, or kayak through mangrove lined channels. Master traditional hand line fishing, or fly thru the tree tops on a zip line. Hike through the jungle, up hillsides and along riverbanks for one day or several. Spot rare birds you’ve only ever seen on nature documentaries or swim with tropical fish on a river snorkelling expedition or in the best preserved coral reef in the world.
With almost 700 kilometers of spectacular and diverse shoreline along the Caribbean Sea, Honduras is very much a tropical paradise. Dozens of islands, and cays dot the warm waters and, in many places, the lush tropical rain-forest edges right up to the soft, white sand.
We always seek out the lesser known, unspoiled beaches for our travel experiences, and some of our favorites include: Cocalito Beach and Puerto Caribe in Punta Sal National Park, El Playon in Cayos Cochinos, La Ensenada Beach near Tela, Camp Bay in Roatan, and more.
Almost 800 bird species have been identified in Honduras, but there’s always a chance there are more! Enjoying a prime location at the southernmost fringe of the North American migratory bird route, this is a birder’s paradise. The diverse ecosystems (tropical rain forest, tropical dry forest, pine-oak forest, pine savannah, cloud forests, mangrove forests, coastal dune, etc.) and relative small size, mean that a wide variety of birds find a home here which allows for an unparalleled birding experience. Highlights are many and include, but aren’t limited to, the endemic Honduran Emerald Hummingbird, Ocellated Quail, Blue-throated Motmot, Lovely Cotinga, Fulvous Owl, White-bellied Chachalaca, and the Green-breasted Mountain-gem. Our local expert birding guides are passionate about their work, and know the terrain perfectly.
Roatan, Utila and Guanaja are the three largest islands on the Caribbean Sea off the coast of Honduras, and together with smaller cayes make up the Bay Islands. The Bay Islands are a popular SCUBA destination, and a great compliment to a Honduran trip.
The Hog Cayes, or Cayos Cochinos, part of the same archipelago are an easy 30 minute boat ride from the mainland and make for a memorable day of sun and snorkel. We can also arrange fro overnight stays in cabins located in the Garifuna community of East End in Cayo Mayor, the largest of the cayes. Cabanas Laru Beya are a community owned enterprise.
At some point during your trip you will eat a Baleada. A tasty, practical, and versatile dish. In the simplest form, a Baleada is a wheat flour tortilla filled with re-fried red beans and fresh crumbled cheese. Nowadays many other toppings are offered including: avocado, crema, fried pork, grilled beef, stewed chicken, pickled onios, and assorted hot sauces. A delicious energy boost enjoyed for breakfast and dinner. Two cities claim the origin of the baleada: San Pedro Sula and La Ceiba, each with a colorful story.
What else can you expect to find on the menu? That depends on where you are in Honduras. Popular dishes include:
Plato Tipico: aka Typical Dish, with a meat, usually grilled beef or fried pork, red beans, plantain chips, corn tortillas, fresh cheese, crema, avocado, and chirmol (the Honduran Pico de Gallo)
In the north coast: the Caribbean Sea and the Garifuna culture have a significant influence. Fresh fried fish with rice & beans, plantain chips, and pickled onions is a must have, as is the Seafood Soup in coconut broth. In communities with Garifuna influence you are in for a tasty treat with influences from Africa and the Caribbean including: Machuca (a plantain mash), Casabe (Cassava bread), Tabletas de Coco (Coconut sweets), and Pan de Coco (coconut bread). The city of La Ceiba is famous for their Bar-b-q pork chops.
Once you move inland, you will notice the dominant influence of corn, in tortillas, tamales, montucas, ticucos, atoles, chicha, and many other dish variations. Hondurans LOVE soups and country specialties include: red bean soup, beef rib soup, Tapado (more like a stew than a soup), Fish soup, seafood soup, and many more.
In the central valleys and western highlands, you will taste the fusion of Spanish influence combined with the Three Sisters of Mesoamerica, corn, beans and squash.
Do you like spicy? Depending on the region there is a hot chile of choice. Scotch Bonnet in the Bay Islands, Habanero in La Ceiba, "Pico de Pajaro" and Jalapeno in most of the mainland and tiny "Chiltepe" peppers in the western highlands. In most places it is offered as a bottled sauce or incorporated in the jar of pickled veggies.
Honduran typical dishes include: red beans, eggs, fresh cheese, plantains, and avocado