This is where the Honduran shoreline meets the sea in the heart of the Caribbean coast. Here soft sand beaches and stunning national parks strung like jewels along the shoreline make for the ultimate relaxing tropical getaway. The temptation to stay on the beach is strong, but venture further afield and a world of adventure awaits.
Listen for howler monkeys in the trees and spot manatees on the aquatic trails of the Cuero y Salado Wildlife Refuge. Challenge the rapids on a rafting trip down the mighty Cangrejal River, or fly above it on a zip-line. Snorkel in a coral reef or in a secluded jungle river; or try your luck at hand-line fishing with a local expert.
Chase waterfalls and walk in the footsteps of Jaguars and Ocelots along the lush tropical rain forest hiking trails of Pico Bonito National Park, or discover some of the mainland’s best beaches – beyond the dense mangroves and rain forests – at Punta Sal National Park.
Spend the day in the ultimate tropical paradise with a short boat ride out to Cayos Cochinos, a group of tiny, beach-ringed islands and small cayes. Be part of a Garifuna drum session as you arrive in East End, snorkel amazing coral reefs, or just relax on sublime beaches.
Tired of playing castaway? Pay a visit to one of the many Garifuna villages along the mainland coast to discover the delicious wonder of fresh baked cassava and coconut bread. Get spoiled by the taste of the freshest fruit: pineapple, mango rambutan, guava, mangosteen, lichee, and many more.
Abandoned in the early 10th century, rediscovered by Spanish explorer Diego Garcia de Palacio in 1570 and unexcavated until the 19th century, the vast public squares, citadel, temples and ballcourts of the Copan Archeological Site are considered one of the most important sites of the Mayan civilization. Recognized for its outstanding universal value, the area was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1980.
While Copan is the most famous, there are many other remaining and important Mayan sites in Honduras including El Puente, Rastrojon, Las Sepulturas, Grupo Nunez Chinchilla, and Los Sapos, which you can explore in the surrounding valley. Additionally, the region of Copan is home to three of Honduras’ most respected museums: the Mayan Sculpture Museum, entered through the stylized mouth of a mythical serpent, the Regional History Museum, filled with jade treasures and even a real tomb, and the new Copan Digital Museum which offers a spectacular virtual visit to the archeological site.
Further west, the hillsides outside of Santa Rosa de Copan are dotted with coffee farms and offer a great place to see how shade grown coffee is farmed and processed. In town enjoy a great cup of coffee in the many independent coffee houses, or indulge yourself with a delicious, traditional wood-fired roast pork meal.
Gracias and the Colosuca region
For a time in the 16th century, Gracias was the Capital of Spanish Central America and today remains the gateway to the Colosuca Region, renowned for its beautiful Colonial architecture, breathtaking landscapes, and vibrant culture. Baroque churches dating back to the 17th and 18th century remain, along with examples of colonial era architecture.
Explore the many villages – populated mainly by indigenous Lenca people – and discover that each has its own flair. In La Campa, for example, they are experts at making classic utilitarian pottery; while San Marcos de Caiquin is all about independent, small-scale coffee farming. Make your way up the mountains to San Manuel de Colohete and prepare to be amazed by the architecture of its baroque style church.
Gracias is also the gateway to Celaque National Park, home to Cerro Las Minas, the highest peak in Honduras, where the most adventurous visitors will want to take the 3-day trek, complete with mules for carrying gear and local guides to show the way, to see the cloud forest up-close. After a day exploring, relax in the secluded hot springs on a hillside a few minutes outside of town.
Marcala and Intibuca, the Lenca Highlands
The stronghold of the Lenca people, the largest indigenous group in Honduras, the region abounds with quaint villages and breathtaking mountain views. Explore local markets filled with pottery, colorful fabrics, and woven goods. Ancient pictographs and red hand-prints mark the wall on “The Cueva del Gigante,” one of the earliest known dwellings of humans in the country.
Is it any surprise that one of the world’s most delicious libations comes from one of its most beautiful destinations? The lush, green hills and mountains that surround the town of Marcala are home to Central America’s first Denomination of Origin Seal for the rich, prized coffee they produce. Taste an array of coffees being produced by local farmers and entrepreneurs. Further up, deep in the Guajiquiro cloud forest, broadleaf trees soar skyward above moss and orchids. This is the home of Blue-throated Motmots, Fulvous Owls, and pumas.
Lake Yojoa, created in the basin of an extinct volcano, is ringed by high mountains and is literally surrounded by National Parks. To the east is Cerro Azul, 478 square kms of rainforest, waterfalls, and flowers. To the west, Santa Barbara, home to the majestic Montana de Santa Barbara, the second highest mountain in all of Honduras. The limestone hills to the south provide a great opportunity to explore natural caves. The area is known for its tasty, fresh whole fried fish dishes.
Several kilometers of hiking trails wind around the lake and all through the surrounding parks. Here you can spot nearly 400 species of birds including the Resplendent Quetzal, one of the world’s most beautiful birds.
Palm trees and white sand beaches strung between the warm, azure waters of the Caribbean: that’s Roatan. The largest of the Bay Islands, Roatan is home to Punta Gorda, the first Garifuna settlement in Honduras and a famous destination for its lively Sunday afternoon Punta music drum sessions.
On the East End, venture out to Camp Bay for secluded beaches and a more relaxed and laid back vibe, or explore the mangroves channels of St. Helena on your way to the stunning, secluded beaches of Pigeon Cay.
For livelier company, dive shops galore, and a little nightlife, visit the island’s West End. Take a water taxi to West Bay where beautiful beaches lead into some of the best snorkeling and scuba diving around.
Whatever your pace, make time for some delicious, fresh fish – silk-eye snapper is a real treat – and a sip of Guifiti, the traditional Garifuna herb-infused rum-based drink.
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