Honduras with it's Bay Islands is a stunningly
beautiful country, with marvelous beaches, lush green
mountains, the idyllic Bay Islands, and the ancient
Mayan city of Copan - just to scratch the surface.
Honduras is located in Central America bordered by Guatemala,
El Salvador and Nicaragua. Most visitors arrive by air.
Whether you are exploring the Mayan ruins, diving and
snorkeling in the Bay Islands or relaxing on the North
Coast at Tela or La Ceiba, there are great places to
visit and things to do. The people of Honduras are very
friendly and visitors and travellers are most welcome.
If you have a spirit of adventure, make Honduras your
next vacation spot.
Off the northern coast of Honduras, from 12 to 35 miles
offshore, you will find the Bay Islands. They are located
along the largest barrier reef in the Western Hemisphere.
The Bay Islands are Honduras' main tourism attraction
and remain today as some of the Caribbean’s most beautiful,
pristine and tranquil islands. This exotic archipelago
is a divers paradise, boasting clear waters and unspoiled
reefs that are among the healthiest in the Caribbean.
These virgin reefs teem with a myriad of unique reef
creatures and 95% of all species of the Caribbean’s
coral can be found in these alluring waters.
Roatan is the largest island, with the most infrastructure
and the most developed for tourism. It is a long, thin
island, measuring almost 40 miles in length and with
a total land mass of 49 square miles. The island has
a mountainous backbone and is totally surrounded by
coral reefs, offering superb diving.
Utila is just 11 km long and 4 km at the widest point.
It is truly a tropical paradise surrounded by a beautiful
beaches and a diverse coral reef system. The approximately
2500 residents are friendly and helpful and many operate
the local hotels, restaurants and other local businesses.
Don't look for any chain restaurants or stores, they
The tallest of the islands, Guanaja has become the most
elite-oriented, with many of the better hotels on the
Islands located here. Guanaja is a unique island, as
it does not have any roads, and the largest community,
known as Bonaca is not even on the island itself, but
on a small cay a short distance from Guanaja. Guanaja
has a paved runway as an airport, and is forested with
the unique Caribbean pine that distinguishes it very
much from its sister islands.
to Honduras is quite easy, there are four international
airports operating in the country: the most frequently
used airport is the San Pedro Sula airport, which has
regularly scheduled service from New York, Miami, Houston,
Atlanta and Mexico City in North America. Non Stop service
from Belize City, Guatemala City, Panama City and San
Jose, Costa Rica is also available. The following airlines
operate daily into San Pedro Sula: Aeromexico,
Air and United
Flying to Roatan
Ferry service between La Ceiba and Utila aboard the
118' Utila Princess - UtilaPrincess@yahoo.com
Departs La Ceiba 9:30 AM and 4:00 PM Tickets may be
purchased at La Ceiba's main cargo port.
Departs Utila 6:20 AM and 2:00 PM - Tickets may be purchased
at the Utila Municipal Dock.
Getting to Guanaja is only by air only. Aerolineas
Sosa has flights from La Ceiba to Guanaja.
By Ferry - La Ceiba
The ferry, named the Galaxy Wave, is a 152 foot catamaran
yacht, with a 460 person capacity. There is a concession
area onboard which offers snacks and refreshments. Onboard
entertainment is available. Cost is approximately US$28./Adult,
US$15. Children 5 -10 years.
Depart 7:00 am Roatan - Arrive 8:15 am La Ceiba
Depart 9:30 am La Ceiba - Arrive 10:45 am Roatan
Depart 2:00 pm Roatan - Arrive 3:15 pm La Ceiba
Depart 4:30 pm La Ceiba - Arrive 5:45 pm Roatan
The cost for the La Ceiba - Utila ferry is approximately
$22 each way; the ferry is called the Utila Princess.
(subject to change - confirm in advance)
Leave Utila 6.20am
Arrive La Ceiba 7.30am
La Ceiba 9.30am
Arrive in Utila 10.40am
Leave Utila 2pm
Arrive La Ceiba 3.10pm
La Ceiba 4.00pm
Arrive Utila 5.10pm
Passport valid 6 months beyond intended stay in Honduras.
Ticket for return or onward travel.
Departure tax US$37.00.
Citizens of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, UK, USA
and most Western European countries can stay 30 days
without a visa. Nationals from most other countries
not mentioned above must obtain a visa, please check
ahead with the Honduran embassey before traveling.
Information and Tips
Around on the Mainland
There are car rental agencies at the airports and in
the larger towns. An international or foreign driving
license is all you need. Roads in the city and on the
highways are in fairly good condition but not so in
the rural areas. Driving is to the right. If you prefer
to let someone else do the driving, you can hire a taxi.
But taxis are unmetered so remember to fix the fare
before you step into one.
The cheapest option is the local buses. The signs on
the buses indicate the direction they are headed in.
Getting Around on the Islands
There is little need for transportation on the smaller
islands. Roatan with it's 60 miles of roads, offers
cars, trucks, bikes and scooters for rent.
Medical care in Honduras varies in quality. Although
doctors are generally well trained, support staff and
facilities are not up to U.S. standards. Facilities
for advanced surgical procedures are not available.
The islands of Roatan, Utila, and Guanaja do not have
a general surgery hospital. There is a decompression
chamber on Roatan for divers. Travelers carrying prescription
medicine should ensure that the medication is clearly
Spanish is the official language of Honduras. English
is spoken in the Bay Islands and in most tourist areas.
Traditional languages are still used in some remoter
areas of the country such as Olancho and the Mosquitia.
Money and Banking
There are banks in all major towns and cities ( Hours
- Mon-Fri 0900-1500 (some banks open until 1800). Some
branches open Sat 0900-1200 ). However, banks only exchange
US dollars and very few exchange travellers’ checks.
Even exchanging currencies of neighbouring countries
away from the border is difficult. There are a number
of ATM machines around but most of them accept only
Honduran cards. Cashing a personal check is very difficult
as is wiring money to Honduras. The best alternative
is to carry US dollars before you enter Honduras and
exchange to Lempira once you’re in Honduras.
When you first arrive in Honduras, San Pedro Sula and
Tegus airports have exchange cages where you can exchange
enough to hold you until the next day, when you can
visit the bank. Shops and hotels usually charge hefty
commissions to exchange currency.
American Express, Diners Club, MasterCard and Visa are
accepted. Check with your credit or debit card company
for details of merchant acceptability and other services
which may be available.
Local craftsmanship is excellent and inexpensive. Typical
items include woodcarvings, cigars, leather goods, straw
hats and bags, seed necklaces and baskets. General shpping
hours are Mon-Fri 0800-1200 and 1330-1800, Sat 0800-1700.
The sweet tooth of the Hondurans is obvious in their
variety of desserts. If you like sweets, try the sweet
rice that is soaked in coconut milk and sugar. Coconut
milk is a common ingredient used frequently in Garifuna
cuisine. There is so much to sample, so much diversity,
and so many dishes. And what may be called ‘baleada’
(something like a burrito) in one region may just turn
out to be a tortilla stuffed with fried beans and onions
in another. The staple food is combination of rice and
beans and tortillas. But rice and beans may not always
be just rice and beans - it may be cooked in animal
Lots of fresh seafood is available, especially around
the coastal areas. Grouper, snapper, tuna and barracuda
are what you’ll find on the menu. Most fish dishes are
liberally sprinkled with spices.
Honduras offers a fair selection for the vegetarians
as well. The choice is somewhat limited but there’s
much to sample and savour.
Wash down your food with Salva Vida beer, the most popular
drink among the Hondurans.
A 12% value added tax is added to the price of all services
and merchandise. Also many restaurants or hotels will
add an additional 10% service charge as a tip. This
is not compulsory to pay. Check your bill before tipping
as it may have already been included.
Water is not safe to drink anywhere in Honduras. This
goes for the ice as well. Ask for agua purificada -
purified water. In restaurants always check with the
waitress to make sure it had been boiled.
High speed internet connections are available at cyber
cafes throughout Honduras. Ask at your hotel's front
desk for the cafes with the fastest connections.
Weights and measures
The Metric system is in use here
sight seeing to scuba diving, Honduras has a range of
attractions within a short distance of all major Honduran
cities. Country clubs have swimming pools, tennis courts
and golf courses. Lake Yojoa, an uncrowded volcanic
lake with world class bass fishing, is only a few miles
from the main Tegucigalpa-San Pedro Sula highway. The
National Energy Company arranges visits to an other
beautiful lake, created when the El Cajón hydroelectric
project was build.
Mayan archaeological sites are scattered throughout
the country. The most renowned is Copán, a two
hour drive from San Pedro Sula. This uniquely preserved
site, in a sylvan setting, presets not only the Mayan
monuments and stele, but also the living areas and life
style of the ancient Mayas.
Caribbean beaches are an hour's drive from San Pedro
Sula and the Bay Islands are only a twenty minute flight.
These verdant Caribbean islands are noted for their
barrier reef, second in length only to Australia's.
Well-equipped resorts provide excellent scuba diving
The Copan Ruins are located in the western part of Honduras,
about 60 kilometers from the border with Guatemala.
Copan - known as Xukpi to the Maya - was the dominant
Mayan city in the south of their territory. Its rich
stone sculptures and intricate hieroglyphs make Copan
a feature attraction along "La Ruta Maya".
This beautiful village with cobbled streets passing
among white adobe buildings with red-tiled roofs is
1km from the famous Maya ruins of the same name. The
village has a lovely colonial church and an aura of
timeless peace. The archaeological site at the ruins
is open daily and includes the Stelae of the Great Plaza,
portraying the rulers of CopÃ¡n, dating
from 613; the ball court and hieroglyphic stairway;
and the Acropolis, which has superb carved reliefs of
the 16 kings of CopÃ¡n. There are hot springs
a one-hour drive from the village, and the nearby picturesque
mountain village of Santa Rita de CopÃ¡n
has a beautiful plaza and a peaceful colonial church.
There are plenty of attractions around Tegucigalpa,
including the huge Gothic BasÃlica de Suyapa,
7km (4mi) southeast of the city center. The Virgen de
Suyapa, patron saint of Honduras, is believed to have
performed hundreds of miracles. Santa Lucia, 13km (8mi)
east of the city, is a charming old Spanish town with
meandering lanes and a beautiful church. Valle de Angeles,
11km (7mi) past Santa Lucia, is an old Spanish mining
town restored to its 16-century appearance. La Tigra
National Park, northeast of the city, is one of the
most beautiful places in Honduras. Located at an altitude
of 2270m (7446ft), the pristine 7482-hectare (18,480-acre)
park preserves a lush cloud forest that is home to ocelots,
pumas, monkeys and quetzal.
Comayagua was the capital of Honduras from 1537 to 1880,
and retains much evidence of its colonial importance.
The cathedral in the center of the town is a gem. Built
between 1685 and 1715, it contains much fine art and
boasts one of the oldest clocks in the world. The clock
was made over 800 years ago by the Moors for the palace
of Alhambra in Seville, and was donated to the town
by King Philip II of Spain. The first university in
Central America was founded in Comayagua in 1632 in
the Casa Cural, which now houses the Museo Colonial.
The museum has religious art spanning four centuries
of colonial rule. Comayagua's first church was La Merced,
built between 1550 and 1558; other fine churches include
San Francisco (1584) and La Caridad (1730).
Tela is many travelers' favorite Honduran Caribbean
beach town. It's a small, quiet place, with superb seafood,
several good places to stay and some of the most beautiful
beaches on the northern coast. It's basically a place
for relaxing and enjoying the simple life. There are
plans to boost tourism in the area, so see the place
while it's still unspoilt and quiet. The best beach
is east of the town, in front of the Hotel Villas Telamar.
It has pale, powdery sand and a shady grove of coconut
The small town of Trujillo has played an important role
in Central American history. It was near Trujillo on
August 14, 1502, that Colombus first set foot on the
American mainland. The town sits on the wide arc of
the BahÃa de Trujillo and is famed for
its lovely beaches, coconut palms and gentle seas. Though
it has a reputation as one of the country's best Caribbean
beach towns, it's not usually full of tourists, except
during the annual festival in late June. Apart from
the attractions of the beach, there is a 17th-century
fortress, the grave of William Walker and a Museo ArqueolÃ³gico.
To the west of the town is the Barrio Cristales, where
the GarÃfuna people live; this is the place
to go for music, dancing and revelry.
The Bay Islands
Thirty miles off the northern coast of Honduras, the
Bay Islands group is an oval chain of eight islands
and 65 small cayes forming the largest and most southerly
chain of Caribbean islands at the end of the barrier
Utila is a low sandy piece of land and the cheapest
of the Bay Islands to visit and basic budget accommodation
and facilities predominate. It has caves you can walk
to, one of them reputed to have been the hideout of
the notorious pirate Henry Morgan. But the only real
reason to visit Utila, unless you happen to like being
bitten by sand fleas, is to go diving. It's a half-hour
boat ride from the town of East Harbor to a chain of
small islands called the Cays and a bit further to Water
Cay which is surrounded by some of the best coral reefs
in the Caribbean.
Roatan is the largest and most popular of the
Bay Islands, also the most expensive. It has some interesting
places to visit, including Oak Ridge, built on a caye
around a deep inlet, Port Royal and French Harbor. Some
of the resorts here rank among the best sun and sea
destinations in the world - perfect for honeymooners
or anyone who likes to be totally pampered while doing
not much of anything.
But again, the main reason people come to Roatan is
to dive and all parts of the island feature hotels large
and small with excellent facilities for exploring the
region's marine wonderland.
Guanaja, the easternmost of the group, was declared
a forest reserve in 1961 and is now also a marine national
park. Diving and other aquatic activities again are
the main attractions.
Getting to the Bay Islands
You can fly direct to Roatan from Miami, Houston and
New Orleans or take connecting flights from Tegucigalpa
or San Pedro Sula. All three islands are serviced by
regular flights from the mainland port of La Ceiba,
with connections from Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula.
Unlike neighboring Guatemala, Honduras is not known
for its textiles. But it is gaining a reputation for
its mahogany and cedar wood carvings (the small chests
are especially beautiful) and for its primitive paintings
of mountain villages. (The beauty of the paintings is
often enhanced by hand-carved mahogany frames.) In the
gift shop at the Copan ruins, you'll find small replicas
of stelae, carved in stone, that are quite well done.
You can also purchase jade jewelry, statues and other
carvings that local artists have faithfully reproduced
from artifacts recovered by archaeologists.
Expertly woven baskets and hats also are available throughout
the country, as are quality leather goods. Honduras
factories now make brand-name purses and other leather
items and ship them to the U.S. Many name designers
have their leather purses assembled in San Pedro Sula,
where they are sold for reduced prices -- without the
designer name, of course.
You can also buy Honduran cigars, which rival those
from Cuba in taste and quality. Cigars are made at the
Royal Tobacco Factory, which was founded in 1765 and
is not far from the town of Copan Ruinas. Cuban cigars
also are readily available in many parts of the country,
but do not try to take them back to the U.S. It is illegal.
Haggling over prices is not as popular in Honduras as
it is elsewhere in Central America. Where prices are
marked, a request for a precio mejor (better price)
is likely to net at best a 10% descuenta (discount).
If prices are not marked, expect to haggle for a somewhat,
but not greatly, lower price. Be aware that the local
shops recommended by tour operators and taxi drivers
generally pay for the privilege. Prices at those shops
may be somewhat higher than others.
There are festivities in just about every town to celebrate
saint's days. The fair for the Virgen de Suyapa, patron
saint of Honduras, is celebrated in Suyapa, 7km (4mi)
southeast of Tegucigalpa, during the first two weeks
of February. Services and festivities attract pilgrims
from all over Central America. Carnaval at La Ceiba
is celebrated during the third week of May with parades,
costumes and street music. There are other popular fairs
in Copán Ruinas, Tela, Trujillo, San Pedro Sula
and Danlí. The Feria Centroamericana de Turismo
y Artesanía, a Central American international
artisans' and tourism fair, is held annually in December.
Another cultural fair is held in Copán Ruinas
which is also in December.