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Did You Know…?
- Roatan’s resident dolphins can earn their owners $4,000 an hour appearing in TV and film productions.
- Christopher Columbus made his first mainland Central American landfall at Trujillo (1502).
- American short-story writer O. Henry, running from the law, lived in Honduras in the 1890s.
- Honduras and El Salvador fought a 100-hour war in 1969 called the Soccer War, reflecting the ostensible cause.
- One city is called Gracias, supposedly because fatigued conquistadors were thankful to find flat land.
Honduras is one of Central America’s poorest countries, but rich in opportunities for adventurous travelers willing to deal with often-basic amenities and undeveloped infrastructure.
Back in the day, the country was the quintessential Banana Republic, with its economy and politics under the thumb of American fruit companies. Today, the term Banana Coast, applied to the 433-mile Caribbean shore, has much pleasanter connotations. Most recently, developers have created the Banana Coast cruise port at the colonial town of Trujillo.
The country, with a Pacific coast as well as Caribbean and rugged mountains crisscrossed by rushing rivers in between, invites visitors to choose their preferred combination of activities, such as birding, fishing, hiking, scuba diving, snorkeling, whitewater rafting and ziplining.
Tour operators facilitate trips to Mayan ruins, particularly the outstanding Copan site; visits to colonial mountain towns; nature-focused adventures in national preserves, as well as opportunities to interact with a contemporary indigenous culture.
Shopping encompasses some handicrafts but, more interestingly, visitors are attracted to the primitive style of local painters.
Honduras was a Spanish colony, but its offshore Bay Islands — on the Caribbean side — were a British colony, so English is the islanders’ common language.
The country is not noted for luxury resorts, but there are resorts on the Bay Islands catering to a special clientele. Divers rate these dots in the Caribbean as one of the world’s top places to strap on scuba gear and explore the depths. The islands are home to part of the world’s second-largest reef system. By extension, the Bay Islands are popular for other water-based activities, fishing, sailing, snorkeling and more.
The islands have a cruise port, but the new Banana Coast facility will bring more cruisers inland, too.
Colonial towns are appealing, but the largest cities — Tegucigalpa, the capital, and San Pedro Sula — can be skipped due to crime and a paucity of attractions. The U.S. State Department, in a travel warning, says crime and violence are serious problems across the country, though less so in tourist areas. It says tourist police are in service at Copan and Roatan. Tourists must consider these issues when planning itineraries and touring Honduras.
Things to do for Venturers
- Touch the waters, literally, while sea kayaking. Or, opt for a day of sailing.
- Explore Copan and other Mayan ruins on horseback.
- If a diver, take advantage of Honduras’ Bay Islands, which offer some of the world’s best diving. The surrounding waters harbor abundant marine life, caves, undersea mountains and part of the world’s second-largest barrier reef.
- From the port city of La Ceiba, head to the Cangrejal River for Class III and IV whitewater rafting.
- Schedule a rain forest hike into the Bonito National Park, which encompasses seven ecosystems in terrain that rises to 7,300 feet. It also is home to an ecoresort.
- Ride a zipline in order to look down on some of Honduras’ natural wonders. Ziplines are available in or near such places as Copan, La Ceiba on the Caribbean coast and Roatan, the best known of the Bay Islands.
Things to do for Centrics
- Put one or more of Honduras’ pretty colonial mountain towns — for example, Comayagua or Gracias — on the itinerary.
- Join a guided visit to indigenous communities that are near the Copan Archaeological Park. Learn about traditional methods for processing cocoa.
- Take scuba diving lessons.
- Anglers have options for days out, fishing for big ones in the deep waters.
- On a river trip through the mangroves in the Cuero y Salado Wildlife Refuge, enjoy the abundance of colorful bird species. Look for manatees, too.
- For shopping, consider the Guamilito Market, a top handicrafts market, if you go to San Pedro Sula. Also, Valle de Angeles, near Tegucigalpa, is considered the country’s handicraft center.
Things to do for Authentics
- Buy local art, noted for primitive paintings of mountain villages, and quality reproductions of artifacts recovered at Copan.
- For another kind of memento, bring home Honduran cigars, which rival those from Cuba.
- Take a guided tour of the Copan Archaeological Park, site of one of the most important Mayan sites and now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Archaeologists have detected 4,509 buildings and structures at Copan. See the related museums as well.
- Spend quality downtime on white-sand beaches.
- There are anthropology museums in at least three cities — Comayagua, San Pedro Sula and Tegucigalpa. Explore one if your itinerary includes enough urban time.
- Come to Honduras on a cruise ship and join a sightseeing excursion.
For more information, consult the Honduras official tourism site at www.honduras.travel and choose your language if necessary.