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November 23, 2014, 12:26 pm

Maya Ruins, World-class Diving, Rich Wildlife Reserves

People who travel to this magnificent Central American nation will love their time there, for the country is simply loaded with attractions: the fabled Bay Islands (a dive and party paradise), magical Maya ruins of Copán, seductive beauty of the Lenca highlands, wildlife-rich jungle reserves in Moskitia. It is also superb value for money: all the adventure sports that have put Costa Rica on the map are available here at backpacking rates. Honduran landscapes are extraordinary, its cultural sights compelling and its people waiting. Sure, take a little extra care, especially in the big cities... But make the move and discover Honduras for yourself.

Top Things to See and Do

Copán Ruins – These are the ruins of a Mayan city and are one of Honduras’ most popular tourist attractions. It takes a couple of days to see the entire site, so try not to squeeze your visit in to a day trip. The tunnels underneath the ruins are kind of spooky and ‘other worldly’ and well worth the US$11 to see them. Bathe in the warm waters and natural saunas at the hot springs in the Agua Caliente village. Find red and green macaws, parrots, toucans and lots of other domesticated and foreign birds at the Mountain Macaw. Walking trails to the Copan Valley takes one to its many shaded coffee farms.

Hacienda El Jaral – Kind of like a cheap Disneyland, this resort is host to a hotel, a waterpark, a food court, a mini-mall, and a movie theatre. It is located in the Copan Ruins and is home to one of the only Hollywood film theatres in the region.

Utila – If you cannot decide where to go diving in Honduras, consider going to a little rough around the edges Utila, the smallest of the Bay Islands with friendly locals and lively nightlife. A distinctly quirky little island, Utila has a unique heritage: British and African ancestry and live-and-direct cultural influences from Jamaica and the Central American mainland. Stroll along the island's main street and you will hear killer reggae bass-lines from dancehalls, see elderly English-looking couples enjoying the evening breeze from their rocking chairs, and witness some of the most competitive domino games this side of Kingston. Today Utila earns its keep from its reef. There are over a dozen dive schools here, and dive sites dot the shoreline. Whale sharks, regularly spotted around the island, are a huge draw.

Roatan – There are dozens of diving sites here. You can get multi-dive packages from various shops to ensure you see many different spots. Mary’s place is a particularly good site, as the labyrinth of coral formations is beautiful and one of a kind.

Butterfly Garden – also in Roatan, this 1,000 square foot enclosure is home to over 30 species of moths and butterflies, as well as a large collection of orchids, birds, and tropical plants. It is best to visit during the heat of the day or early morning when the butterflies are most active.

Lago de Yojoa – This is the country’s largest lake and is a great place for bird watchers with 375 species of birds. The restaurants on the banks of the lake offer fantastic fish and are an ideal stop-off point if you are traveling from Tegucigalpa to San Pedro Sula. Hide in caves, fly over waterfalls, enjoy the beauty.

Catarata de Pulhapanzak – A 43-meter waterfall that you can clamber behind and explore on your own, or simply admire the crashing white water from the comfort of a picnic spot. To really get the most out of your visit take advantage of the fantastic guided tours which are not for the faint-hearted. They will take you jumping or diving in and out of pools, ducking behind the falls and climbing in and out of the caves behind the curtain of water. The canopy tour is a network of five zip lines that work its way down the river until you are flying through rainbows above the waterfall. A football field inside the waterfall site entrance, an easy, partly uphill, fifteen-minute walk from the village of San Buenaventura, is filled with locals at the weekend.

Parque Nacional Jeannette Kawas – White sandy beaches and fabulous snorkeling in the coral reefs meet howler monkeys in the nearby forest. There are also hundreds of species of birds and monkeys around Laguna de los Micos.

Mercado Guamilito – Located in San Pedro Sula, this huge traditional market is an excellent place to buy handicrafts from Honduras. The food here is amazing, and locals deem it is one of the best places to eat a baleada (wheat flour tortilla with cheese, cream and fried beans – a Honduran specialty).

Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve – This heavily-forested area contains Mayan ruins, over 2000 indigenous people, pumas, jaguars, giant ant-eaters, and even sloths.

Carnaval de La Ceiba – For two weeks in May, the streets of La Cieba are transformed into party central. Bars and clubs are filled to capacity for the entire week before the main event, “La Feria de San Isidro” (the parade), which takes place along Avenida San Isidro. This is the biggest carnival in Central America with approximately half a million visitors each year.

Pico Bonito National Park – Tour the rain forest, kayak, or go whitewater rafting down the Rio Cangrejal – Pico Bonito National Park is the best place in Honduras for outdoor pursuits. The River Zacate trail offers you the chance to catch a glimpse of a keel-billed toucan or a white-faced monkey.

Tegucigalpa – Surrounded by mountains, the capital of Honduras is a maze of bustling streets and charming colonial architecture. The Plaza Central is at the heart of the city with the City Hall and the Cathedral of Saint Michael Archangel just off the square. Take a trip to the north of the city for a fantastic view and a chance to get up close with the giant statue of Christ. Only a few key venues with the vibrant underground scene in the city's happening cafes and bars make it relatively easy to connect with a dynamic young urban scene led by emerging artists and musicians, DJs and designers, if you keep your ear to the ground.

Valle de Angeles – This colonial town is said to offer the best handicrafts in Honduras and is particularly known for its wood crafts. You could head to the Centro de Artesanians to purchase everything from pottery and cigars to tapestries, hammocks, and rum.

Parque Nacional Cusuco – This cloud forest is nestled into the Meredon mountain range and can be somewhat difficult to access. There is an abundance of wildlife here and an excellent visitors’ center. There are several hiking trails to choose from and April-June is the best time to see parrots, toucans, and the quetzals.

Cayos Cochinos – A group of two islands and several smaller coral cays, the Cayos Cochinos, are a great spot to escape from the tourist crowds and enjoy the best that the coast has to offer. There are good opportunities for fishing, snorkeling, and diving here, and it is a lovely spot for a romantic getaway.

San Juan, Intibucá – A five-minute walk from the main square in the village offers options of participating in the roasting of coffee beans, hikes to nearby waterfalls and cloud-forests, and observing the production of traditional handicrafts.

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