Honduras, an undulating, jungle-filled country fringed by coral reefs and steeped in colonial and indigenous ancestry, relishes its tropical personality where bananas are served with every meal, wildlife abounds and adventure is always on the horizon.
Located in the heart of the Central American isthmus Honduras stretches from the Pacific to the Caribbean, its interior a mixture of gargantuan national parks, Mayan relics and colonial towns.
The country’s tourist appeal is undeniable. It is most well-known for the Bay Islands, a group of small outcrops and even smaller islets (or cays) located a mere one hour from the coast of La Ceiba in the twinkling Caribbean Sea. Roatan, with its international airport, cruise ship terminal and low-key resorts gets the lions’ share of visitors, who come to scuba dive, swim with dolphins and bask in the hot and humid climate, while next door Utila has long been a favourite of the backpacking crowd who come to test the waters as they learn to scuba dive or swim with the World’s largest fish, the whaleshark. While the Bay Islands, with their idyllic, relaxed tropical characters are a big draw, the mainland is no less enticing.
Along the north Caribbean coast sweeping beaches are home to towns such as Trujillo, steeped in pirate history. Traditional Garifuna villages line the coast, their culture an integral part of Honduras’ national identity. The great Pico Bonito towers above the national park of the same name, whose mangrove fringes are home to manatees, anteaters and countless species of rainbow-coloured birds. The true adventurist can head into the heart of the wilderness that is the Rio Plátano Biosphere Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage Site teeming with wildlife.
Heading inland, through rolling green hills blanketed in banana, coffee and tobacco plantations evidence of Mayan ancestry is everywhere. The great archaeological remains at Copan are amongst the most significant in the entire Central American region, immaculately preserved and providing insight into the history and people that shaped the country. The cobbled-stoned streets of Copan itself are home to colonial buildings and bohemian artists’ shops.
For nature-lovers and thrill-seekers Honduras is a playground of ecoadventure. From water sports in the Bay Islands to white water rafting the Cangrejal River, from canopy tours in cloud forests to fishing in the great Lake Yojoa, Honduras is unbridled and untamed.
In the midst of all this nature, Honduras’ cities are easily forgotten. While soaring crime rates and social instability in cities such as San Pedro Sula mean that visitors should be extremely cautious, it would be a shame to miss out on the colonial architecture of the capital Tegucigalpa, the Semana Santa celebrations in Comayagua or the lively carnival in La Ceiba.
Honduras is a passionate country, where religion, tradition and family are the backbone of society and where love for the national football team can unite even ardent enemies. It is a country where tortillas and beans are served with every meal, where pumping Latin music gets hips swinging and where the local beer is called Salva Vida (lifesaver). For despite its troubles, Honduras is a country of untamed, unadulterated tropical adventure.