If you’re in the tourist frame of mind when planning your trip to Honduras, three regions are going to come forth as possible locations to visit: The Bay Islands, The Northern Coast and Copan. Each destination serves a special purpose, each a varied look into the prism of Honduras. Let’s take a gander through each area and highlight the benefits – if you’re quick enough you can visit all three in a week long trip.
The Bay Islands (above)
Lauded as one of the best diving destinations in the Caribbean sea, Roatan, Utila and Guanaja make up the three largest and most popular Bay Islands north of Honduras. It’s a great place to book a beach cabana, kick back and enjoy the relaxing Caribbean atmosphere, even if you’re not going to go in the water. The West End and West Bay regions of Roatan are a bit more developed than areas on the other two islands, with multi million dollar resorts spotting the beach, higher prices and a few trendy boutiques. Utila caters to more of a backpacking crowd, while Guanaja, the smallest of the three, is further off the beaten path.
One can fly to Roatan directly from the United States and the two largest islands can also be reached from the mainland of Honduras via either ferry or aircraft. Check out the Hidden in Honduras logistics post for more details on that.
The Northern Coast
As Honduras is just starting to gain steam with its tourism industry, many parts on the northern coast haven’t developed an infrastructure for visitors. But that doesn’t mean that the region is without attraction. Several excellent beaches spot the coast, and if you settle into the right pocket you can find a series of fascinating, relaxing communities.
The northern coast is also a nice alternative to the Bay Islands if you haven’t got enough time to make it into the Caribbean. Connections from the mainland can be time consuming and difficult and if you’re not careful, they can eat up a good portion of your trip.
Whether or not you’re headed to the Bay Islands, the most logical destination to visit on the northern coast is La Ceiba. At about three hours from San Pedro Sula, it’s the third largest city in the country and is fairly well known as a tourism and nightlife hub. Lodging options are widespread, from the all inclusive resorts on the beach to the budget hotels in the city to the eco-lodges in the Pico Bonito national park. Just make sure that if you’re planning on indulging in the wild nightlife that your hotel is close to the bars — several of the eco lodges are pretty deep in the jungle.
Another popular city on the northern coast is Tela, which is about halfway between San Pedro Sula and La Ceiba. Tela hasn’t got the nightlife and numerous fancy activities that La Ceiba has, but the beaches are a little bit more deserted and picturesque. Among Lonely Planet’s teaser photos of the country is a shot taken from Tela.
The Maya ruins at Copan are a magnificently restored tribute to the ancient culture. Situated on the western border of the country near Guatemala, one can reach Copan via bus in a few hours from San Pedro Sula or alternatively stay at the bordering town of Copan Ruinas and walk into the complex. Entry fees are around 15USD per person, with supplemental fees for the museum and underground tunnels.
Read more dispatches from Honduras in the Harnessing Honduras Series