10 Things to See and Do in Honduras

Honduras has long since been known for its violence and tends not to be at the top of people’s vacation destinations but not everywhere in this wonderful country is dangerous. By taking a little extra precaution and staying away from the bigger cities, visitors can explore the breathtaking landscapes, swim in stunningly clear waters and be privy to exceptional wildlife. From raging white water rafting to serene lakes with hundreds of species of birds to turquoise waters teeming with marine life; there is truly an experience for everyone here. Discover 10 of our favorite things to see and do in the country of Honduras.

10. Visit Parque Nacional Cusuco

It may be the hardest place to reach on this list but the scenery and wildlife in the Parque Nacional Cusuco is worth all the trouble it takes you to get there. Local guides can be hired at the visitor’s center and it is recommended you do so, as they have a wealth of information about the forest and wildlife. There are five different hiking trails that lead from the visitor’s center, two of which lead to waterfalls and swimming holes. The wildlife in the park includes parrots, toucans, and a large population of quetzals; famed to be the loveliest of all tropical birds which are on the brink of extinction. Hikes will also take you to the famous midget cloud forest and introduce you to a variety of frogs and reptiles. Camping is possible right at the visitor’s center and provides early morning wildlife sightings, which are often the best.

Photo by: Joe Townsend
Photo by: Joe Townsend via Flickr

9. Bird at Lago de Yojoa

It is the largest natural lake in Honduras, largely underdeveloped, ringed by tropical forest and over 400 species of birds call this lake and the surrounding area home. Lake tours are the most popular way to see the hundreds of species of birds where experienced guides can take you to the best vantage points. The tranquil waters make it an ideal place to fish or sail, while drinking in the dramatic scenery that surrounds you. Although it is largely still a well-kept secret, there are a number of impressive hotels that have popped up along the lake to stay at. One of the favorite places to stay here is the microbrewery that produces four or five new beers each week. Other activities other than birding include hiking in the mountains, tubing, zip lining and visiting the butterfly farm. Lake Yojoa, Honudras

8. Whitewater raft down the Rio Cangrejal

If you feel like a thrilling adventure, white water rafting down one of the most challenging rivers in Central America is sure to get your heart pumping. From September to January is the best time to raft this river and visitors should expect to raft up to 20 miles of rapids that range from Class 2 to Class 6. Huge drop offs that come out of nowhere, narrow dark passages and mazes of boulders are just normal on this adventure. Count on being surrounded by wildlife including howler monkeys, bright colorful butterflies, jumping fish and many species of birds. Many companies offer half-day shorter trips for less experienced paddlers but still count on it being an exciting ride. Water levels can fluctuate heavily throughout the year so make sure to do your research before you go.

Barna Tanko / Shutterstock.com
Barna Tanko / Shutterstock.com

7. Dive the Waters of Roatan

Thick green forests, white sandy beaches and sparkling blue waters await visitors to Roatan. Unknown to many, this island is a hotspot for divers and snorkelers. The entire island is surrounded by a shallow reef, making it perfect for both beginners and experienced divers. It features thousands of marine animals, many drop offs and canyons, and the Caribbean’s largest variety of coral and sponges. It is easy to get your dive certification here for beginners as native English speaking instructors tend to flock to this island. If diving isn’t your thing, snorkeling is excellent anywhere around the water. For dolphin lovers, head over to Anthony’s Key Resort where you can play and swim with well trained dolphins. Plenty of accommodation choices, marine rich waters and white sandy beaches set the stage for the perfect island getaway. Diving Roatan, Honduras

6. Explore Pico Bonito National Park

It is one of Honduras best known National Parks and features abundant wildlife that enthrall and excite visitors. The landscape here is diverse, ranging from a low tropical rain forest to a high elevation cloud forest to extremely dry forests on the backside of the park. What this means for visitors is a wealth of animals, waterfalls and breathtaking views. The Lodge at El Pino is the most protected area of the entire park, as this privately owned area employs security to ensure laws are followed and that no hunting occurs. This small luxury eco-lodge is on 400 acres with private trails, lookout towers, roaring rivers and the most wildlife in one place. Here visitors are encouraged to hike through the rain forest with a guide, white water raft down the rivers, boat through a manatee reserve and snorkel the clear waters. This is truly a gem not to be missed.

Photo by: Denis Fournier via Flickr
Photo by: Denis Fournier via Flickr

5. Shop at Mercado Guamilito

Get your bargaining skills ready before heading out to shop at Mercado Guamilito, one of the best places to shop in Honduras where everything you could ever want can be found at rock bottom prices. Handicrafts are the specialty at this market including paintings, pottery, hammocks, wood carvings and leather goods, just to name a few. Open year round the market is made up of hundreds of stalls including delicious local food and exotic flowers for sale. Bargaining is a way of life in this country and it pays to work on your skills before heading here as most vendors will try and charge foreigners a higher price. A little Spanish, polite manners and a big smile will go a long way with these locals. Leather is a popular commodity here and expect to pay significantly less than you would at home. Make sure you take the time to explore the whole market, including the food for an authentic Honduras experience.

Street Market

4. Escape to Cayos Cochinos

This group of two small islands and 11 smaller coral cays boast some of the best diving, snorkeling and beaches in all of Honduras. Many visitors choose to escape to Cayos Cochinos as it is located just a short boat trip away from La Ceiba, Nueva Armenia, or Sambo Creek, making it the perfect one day getaway. Large white sandy beaches coupled with sparkling turquoise waters is what you will find here at this exquisite protected nature reserve. There are several companies that offer daily snorkel or dive trips and many that offer multi-day trips with lodging in one of the few hotels. Sea kayaking, snorkeling, soaking up the sun, visits to the tiny villages and a step back in time is what awaits you here. If you are looking for the ultimate relaxation and don’t mind the lack of amenities (electricity and running water are non-existent in many places); the Cayos Cochinos is the perfect getaway.

Photo by: fabulousfabs via Flickr
Photo by: fabulousfabs via Flickr

3. Visit the Copan Ruins

Copan was once one of the great centers of Mayan civilization nearly a thousand years ago and today the beautiful remains have some of the most impressive pre-Columbian art. The ruins are located just outside the modern yet charming town of Copan Ruinas; and can be reached by foot or bus. Visitors should expect extremely extensive ruins with some of the most well preserved hieroglyphics. Along with the ruins is an excellent museum that features Mayan artifacts and a reconstructed temple. Included in your admission is access to Las Sepulturas, ruins that are believed to be the remains of the “Beverly Hills” of Copan. This is where the upper class of Copan lived and their houses were built and decorated accordingly so, this is still evident in the carvings and details found on the ruins. Tombs and burial sites are also found here and it pays to take along a guide who can explain the history and what has been found. Copan, Honduras

2. Dive at Utila

The island of Utila is known all over the backpacking world as the cheapest and best place to learn how to dive in all of Latin America. It also happens to be home to plenty of whale sharks year round, but especially plentiful in the months of March and April. The island itself is tiny and a little rough around the edges, with the entire population living in one settlement. But what visitors come here for are the reefs and the incredible diving. Whale sharks are the world’s largest fish and around Utila tend to be about 20-35 feet and weigh around 20 tons. They tend to travel by themselves as opposed to in a pod but many singular whale sharks are found at one time around the island. The warm waters and clear visibility along with colorful reefs, turtles, dolphins, schools of fish and rays make this the perfect destination to get underwater. Whale Sharks -Honduras

1. Visit the Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve

This amazing reserve encompasses over 5,200 square kilometers of tropical rain forest, complete with over 39 species of mammal, 377 species of bird and 126 reptiles and amphibians, as well as over 2,000 indigenous people. Visiting here is like stepping into another world and getting here can be tricky as there are no roads that lead directly here so you must either take a flight, boat or join with a tour. What visitors can expect is dugout canoe trips up the river, spotting of rare and endangered wildlife and amazing hikes through the jungle. Stay with a local family, use the local tour operators and see how eco-tourism works at its best. This reserve also happens to be home to the site of Ciudad Blanca (White City), one of the most important archaeological sites of Mayan civilization. Unfortunately visitors are not granted access to this site yet as it was just discovered and is heavily guarded.

Photo by: Rainforest Alliance
Photo by: Rainforest Alliance

The 10 Best Scuba Diving Locations in the World

There is no better way to explore the underwater world of marine animals, shipwrecks, fascinating coral towers, limestone formations and schools of colorful fish than scuba diving. Whether you are a beginner or an expert with decades of experience, the amazing underwater world you can discover around the planet is absolutely mind-blowing. From hammerhead sharks to manta rays to ancient cenotes; these 10 locations around the world are the best of the best.

10. Cozumel, Mexico

Divers will certainly have their choice of dive operators on this island as there are more than 100 offering everything from deep dives, wreck dives, night dives, and underwater photography dives. This world-class diving site offers everything from swim throughs to tunnels to walls of coral to cenotes to sharks to rays. It is best to dive here in the summer when the water temperature is warmer and the hotel prices are cheaper. Cozumel is also known for its incredible visibility and deep dives. Divers can expect up to 100 feet of visibility. There are plenty of dives both for the beginner and advanced but visitors should be aware that the current can be especially strong in some sites and diving experience is recommend for these. With the 600-mile long Maya Reef that stretches from Cozumel to Central America, and boasts an abundance of colorful fish and coral, it is easy to see why Cozumel is a premier diving spot.

Cozumel, Mexico

9. Hawaii, U.S.A

This Pacific paradise attracts divers from all over the world, both beginners and experienced. The remoteness of Hawaii means fewer fish species than waters like the Caribbean, but offers the chance to discover marine life found nowhere else on earth. One of the most popular dives in the world occurs off the island of Kona, the manta ray night dive. Divers descend into the darkness while giant manta rays swim overhead, most describe it is as truly magical. Diving off Lana’I is popular amongst those looking to discover new fish and rare invertebrates while Moloka’i offers divers the chance to catch a glimpse of the rare Hawaiian monk seal and hammerhead sharks. Kaua’i is home to an abundance of collapsed lava tubes and huge green sea turtles that aren’t afraid to get their pictures taken. Divers who are in the water from December to April may be able to hear the song of the humpback whales as they migrate through these waters.

Kauai Sea Turtle

8. Great Barrier Reef, Australia

The Great Barrier Reef is so large that one can actually see it from space and has been known over the years for being one of the world’s most premier diving spots. It stretches 1,430 miles along Australia’s northeastern coast and offers over 4,000 separate reefs, cays and islands. It could truly take more than a lifetime to explore this entire reef which features over 1,500 species of fish and shipwrecks. It is the world’s largest and healthiest coral reef system that teams with biodiversity and an array of species you won’t find anywhere else. Divers here will come face to face with large sea turtles, reef sharks, sea snakes, barracudas and dolphins. The size and variety of this reef makes it perfect for any type of diver and visitors won’t be hard pressed to find an operator in one of the many seaside towns.

Great Barrier Reef

7. The French Polynesian Islands

It has long been known as a destination for honeymooners and other species of lovebirds, but besides the gorgeous white sand beaches over the water bungalows and framed palm trees lays a world to discover under the water. There are over 118 islands and atolls throughout this vast area and with 11 of them offering diving centers; it is easy to be overwhelmed with choices on where to dive. Fortunately there is an array of varied dives, from the shallow lagoons for beginners to the drop-offs and passes for the advanced divers. Moorea Island is also known as ‘Shark World’ and is famous for its hand-fed shark and stingray dives. The atoll Rangiroa is also known for both its calm lagoon that teems with marine life and it’s thrilling passes that feature sharks, big fish species and turtles. These waters explode with colorful coral, fish, sharks and other marine species that proudly show themselves off. No matter where you dive, this promises to be unforgettable.

Diving French Polynesia

6. Roatan and The Bay Islands, Honduras

This popular diving spot has been attracting divers for decades as it feature amazing shipwrecks and endless colorful coral. It is here that the world’s second largest barrier reef is located and divers will be privy to swimming with eagle rays, schools of colorful fish and the all mighty whale sharks. Utila is where divers will head if they want to swim with these majestic creatures and it is one of the only places year round that the whale sharks can be seen. This destination is inclusive for all levels of divers and whether you are just getting your feet wet, or you have been diving for years, there is an experience here for you unlike anywhere else in the world.

Whale Sharks -Honduras

5. Malaysia

It is blessed with some of the richest waters and diving here offers experiences unlike any other in the world. Sipadan, the little island off the east coast of Borneo is what most divers come to experience. It lies in one of the richest marine habitats in the world and boasts an extremely high number of turtles, grey and whitetip reef sharks, and large schools of bumphead parrotfish, barracuda and trevally. Layang-Layang is another reason to dive in these waters as this little speck of an atoll is fringed by some of the best coral fields in the world along with its huge schools of scalloped hammerhead sharks. Where you want to dive and what you want to see will determine the best time of year to visit these waters as different seasons bring different water conditions.

Diving in Sipadan

4. Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

It is where Charles Darwin came up with his theory of evolution, a place where countless mammals, reptiles and birds thrive and its waters are some of the most pristine areas left to dive in this world. These waters work best for experienced divers as currents are strong and conditions are often choppy. The tiny Darwin Island is an excellent choice for divers as the waters are full of fur seals, sea lions, whales, marine turtles, marine iguanas and schools of sharks. Isabela Island, the largest island in the Galapagos is home to penguins that shoot by you, sea lions, sea turtles, and a challenging underwater volcano that is swarming with Galapagos sharks, along with schools of hammerheads and barracudas. July to November is when divers choose to head here as the sharks tend to be the most active and plentiful. These waters deserve at least two weeks to explore and promise to surprise you at every twist and turn.

Diving Galapgos Islands

3. Turks and Caicos

It boasts some of the clearest water in the world and with so many islands that are uninhabited; it makes for a perfect place to escape the crowds of the Caribbean. Turks and Caicos is not only known for its brilliant turquoise water but also for its incredible wall diving. It is here you will dive into the world’s third largest coral reef system and find drops that plunge hundreds of feet into the deep. The Columbus Passage, a 35-kilometer channel that separates the Turks Islands from the Caicos Islands is a water highway for migrating fish, rays, turtles, dolphins and Humpback whales from January through March. With incredibly calm waters and an abundance of marine life, every dive here promises to be thrilling.

Turks and Caicos

2. Belize

Belize is most widely known for its famous dive spot the Blue Hole, an underwater sinkhole that descends over 400 feet. To dive the Blue Hole it is recommend that you are an experienced diver and you are well prepared for this magical experience. The Blue Hole doesn’t teem with colorful fish or coral; in fact the only marine life you might see deep in the depths of this hole is a hammerhead or reef shark. Instead you will dive into an ancient geographical phenomena complete with an array of limestone formations and bizarre stalactites. If you want colorful fish and coral, Belize offers plenty of that along the reef and is home to many species of sharks, rays, barracudas and many species of fish. Belize is known as a destination for the more adventurous divers and you will certainly benefit if you have some experience under your belt before you travel to this country.

Pete Niesen / Shutterstock.com
Pete Niesen / Shutterstock.com

1. The Red Sea, Egypt

For many people, Egypt is known for its incredible above the water attractions and although one should not discount the ancient monuments and pyramids, it is below the water that is the real jewel of the country. Divers here are privy to hundreds of miles of coral, millions of fish, warm water, great visibility, sheltered reefs, walls, coral gardens and wrecks. This destination is also known for having an excellent availability of instructors which makes the Red Sea a perfect spot for learning how to dive. Drift dives are quite common in the Red Sea due to currents as are night dives amongst towering coral and schools of fish. Whale sharks, moray eels, barracudas and tuna are all spotted throughout these waters. The warm water temperature year round makes diving here at anytime an unforgettable experience.

Diving Red Sea, Egypt