Don’t Skip Honduras

Throughout our travels in Central America, we have met a lot of backpackers who told us that they skipped Honduras or only visited the Bay Islands. As we headed north towards Honduras, we wondered why everyone was skipping around such a diverse country. Sometimes they even chose visiting El Salvador over Honduras. Having now visited this country over the past three weeks, I can truly say that all of you who skipped it really missed out! Honduras is amazing!

So far, Honduras is our favorite Central American country and we are already planning when we can return. This country gets a bad rap due to political unrest and continual reports from the U.S. embassy that it is unsafe. Their recent elections were fraudulent, so the people were protesting. This happens in most countries with corrupt governments, where leaders find loopholes in order to continue their rule. Most of the world is not immune to this. It doesn’t make me avoid visiting those countries though.

Honduras felt very safe! It is home to some of the most diverse landscapes, similar to Costa Rica, but far less touristy and expensive. It has cloud forests, deserts, highlands, tropical jungle, Caribbean islands, and large cities. It also has something Costa Rica doesn’t have, Mayan Ruins! This country is spectacular!

There are seventeen National Parks in the country. We visited one of them, named Cerro Azul-Meámbar Parque Nacional. It included a loop trail through tropical and cloud forest. There were unique birds at every layer of the canopy. The trails were well maintained and the viewpoints of the largest lake in Honduras, Lake Yojoa, were spectacular. You can stay overnight here in the Panacam Lodge. It’s a great place for bird watchers.

We stayed down in the town of Narajos at the American owned brewery, D & D, which had access to many highlights of the area. You could visit the famous Pulhapanzak waterfall and zip line across 11 cables in front of and above the falls. They also offer bird watching tours and hiking trips to waterfalls and a vista of the lake. You can rent kayaks to take on the canal leading to the lake. They also instructed us on how to get to the National Park on our own. They brew all their beers on site and offer cabins and private rooms to stay on the property.

There are other National Parks now on our list to visit. Outside of the coastal town of La Ceiba, you’ll find Pico Bonito National Park. You can do day hikes there to waterfalls or stay in one of the jungle lodges and enjoy hiking and water rafting. It looks amazing. There’s also Jeanette Kawas National Park on the Caribbean coast above Tela that serves as home to sloths, monkeys, boas, macaws, and jaguars. Outside of Tegucigalpa, there’s the first National Park called La Tigre. Up north below Copán is Celaque National Park. So, you get my point, the country is full of natural protected areas. More than 70% of the country has at least a 25% centigrade. It’s a very mountainous place!

In addition, you have the Bay Islands off the Caribbean coastline. These include Utila, known to offer the cheapest PADI certification in the world and spectacular diving, and the bigger island, Roatan. They both offer pristine beaches, comfortable lodging, and access to the second largest reef in the world. We couldn’t get enough of Roatan and it’s turquoise clear waters!

Our last stop on our tour brought us to the Mayan Ruins in Copán Ruinas. This is a really quaint town with a beautiful tranquility. It’s very dry and comfortable climate in the mountains makes for a great quality of life for the locals. The Mayan Ruins are extensive and fascinating. There’s temples, statues, altars, courts and much more awaiting you. There’s also a large group of colorful scarlet macaws guarding the ruins from the trees at the entrance. The ruins bring the tourism to the town, but it doesn’t ever feel overrun with gringos.

There’s also hot springs at the Luna Jaguar Resort outside of town. These springs that come up naturally from the ground were diverted into natural stone pools. The designs of the pools use the concepts of permaculture well and look very natural. They have a pool with a spiral tunnel that leaves you in a cave. There’s a natural dome sauna heated by the hottest pool’s steam. There’s waterfalls for heated neck massage, a pool with a semi circle of hot and cold waters filled with smooth rocks to massage your feet. They also have natural volcanic mud you can apply to your skin and soak in the pools. It’s thoughtfully designed and extremely peaceful.

In the town of Copán, it is also worth visiting the Tea and Chocolate Cafe that serves native herbal teas used by the Mayan ancestors. They grow everything organically and locally. They make chocolate and Mayan traditional hot chocolate with chilies and water. There’s hot sauces and mole as well as skin creams. They offer free samples and everything is made by the owner and her daughter, who are very knowledgeable. There’s also a great view of the sunset from their balcony.

Last but not least, everyone will tell you to visit the German Brewery in town. This German man and his Honduran wife make German-Honduran food and brew traditional German lagers and Hefeweizen. It’s very popular and busy with locals on the weekends.

There’s just so much to see and do in Honduras and the people are extremely friendly. It’s Costa Rica 30 years ago. We thought we loved Nicaragua, but discovered that it’s already overrun with tourists. Honduras is still quiet and the hostels are practically empty, because everyone chooses to skip over this country. It’s a real shame though because everyone is missing out on a real treasure in Central America.

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