Honduras' Top 10 Must See Places
If ten of us were to travel to Honduras on vacation, each of
us would have differing lists of the best vacation places. All
of us travel with different sets of eyes, each seeing our own
realities even as we look at the same event. Here are my “must-see”
places, cities, villages, or scenery from Honduras.
Aerial view of Roatan
A FLIGHT INTO ONE OF THE BAY ISLANDS
When you fly to the Bay Islands (Roatan, Utila, or Guanaja)
out of La Ceiba or San Pedro Sula, you will be treated to
the most spectacular view of the richest blue waters of your
life. The Bay Islands boast of having the 2nd largest barrier
reef in the world. No wonder that scuba divers and snorkelers
from around the world trek here.
What is not to like about Roatan? Take off your shoes and visit the
shops along the beach of West End, stopping every 100 feet for a soda,
a Salva Vida (the Honduran beer, literally Life Saver), or a coffee.
Visit Rudy's for a smoothie. Take a water taxi to West Bay (better
yet, stay there for the quiet). Sit on one of the piers and watch
the sun slowly plunge in the west. Then, visit one of West End's bars
and take in some distinctive island music. Swim, snorkel or scuba
dive the day away at one of the fine beaches at West End or West Bay.
Eat at the Lighthouse Inn (West End) at about 3 p.m. when they are
not so busy, coaxing owner Miss Mavis out of the kitchen. She is one
of the finest storytellers you will ever have the pleasure of meeting.
Copan Ruinas (often referred to by tourists as just Copan, which is
actually the name of the department, not the town). No trip to Honduras
would be complete without a stop at the Ruins. But what would Copan
Ruinas be without them? It would be a delightful, charming village
of 1,200 people that is tourist-friendly while not being overly touristy.
Visit the market (immediately behind the municipal building, off the
square). Spend time in the city square. Evenings bring out entire
families. After dinner, saunter over to the Welchez Cafe (near the
Hotel Marina Copan,same owners) for the apple pie, ice cream, and
espresso coffee. Yep, I said apple pie and it is very good. Pick up
several pounds of coffee to take home. In Copan, as elsewhere in rural
Honduras, make sure you look upwards each evening for a sky amazingly
awash with stars. Unbelievable sight.
SAN PEDRO SULA
Without a doubt, a visit to the Musuem of Anthropology and
History is worth it. The two-story museum is manageable. Arranged
as an inviting series of displays, you will walk through the
history of the San Pedro Sula valley, the arrival of the Spaniards,
the conquest, and the interplay of the Spanish and Indigenous
cultures. Many of the displays have English placards that
enhance the time spent here. Plan on about 4 hours to do the
museum any justice. Open Tuesdays - Sundays.
While San Pedro Sula boasts a large open-air market, it is over-stocked
with $3 tourist items. There are better open-air markets throughout
Honduras so there is no need to spend too much time here. One part
of the market not to miss is the northeast corner where about 100
women each has a small cooking area, making tortillas by hand as they
have been made for centuries. San Pedro Sula residents come in for
their daily 2-dozen To-Go.
Ceiba, as Hondurans call it, has to be my favorite city in all of
Honduras. If asked why, I can not give a definitive answer. This is
a city teeming with life and energy. Find a good, local buffet. Visit
the cathedral for a mass; walk Ceiba's city square. Shop in the open-air
market. Visit the Butterfly Museum. Have fresh fish for lunch. Dance
the night away to Caribbean sounds from the clubs near the sea (1
Calle). Ride the entire city perimeter in a local bus for three lempiras.
Search out that soccer game. Look for a good bottle of Honduran rum
(ron). Flor de Caña Reserva Rum is made in Honduras and Nicaragua.
It is an excellent 7-year old rum. In La Ceiba, a clerk wanted to
sell me a 20-year old Guatemalan rum for $31. That bottle is still
on the shelf.
While not an overly attractive town, Gracias is so rich in history,
it should not be missed. Stand in the village square and imagine the
area, as it might have looked when Captain Juan de Chavez entered
the area in 1536. (In 1544, Gracias became the administrative center
for all Spanish matters within Central America.) Stroll the town,
taking in the colonial architecture, seen clearly in the the 3 churches
in town. Mosey on up to Guancascos Restaurant for a dinner on the
terraced patio. Magnificent view of the surrounding area. Catch the
stars after dark. Celaque National Park is a mere 9 kilometers from
Gracias and has hiking trails even for the casual hiker. The cloud
forest holds Honduras' highest peak at 9,350 feet. Celaque is the
sacred heart of Lencan (the indigenous people of the area) spirituality.
Hikers should ask at Guancascos or Hotel Erick for transportation
ideas because a bus does not make the trek to the park
View near La Esperanza
This city lies about 60 km east of Gracias, in the department
of Intibuca - an area heavily populated by the Lenca people.
The trip, on the road from Gracias to La Esperanza, takes you
through some of the most beautiful scenery in all of Honduras.
Adobe brick construction dots the landscape; bananas can be
found growing at 4000 feet (sweeter than coastal bananas) and
small plots of corn are perched on a 50-degree slope. You will
see some deforestation, but nothing like the deforestation of
Western Guatemala. Visit the open-air market. While at the market,
buy tamalitos (small tamales but the best are made from fresh
corn - jilote) and a small amount of cream (crema). That crema
gets lathered onto the tamalito. Swill coffee. Slowly stroll
the market for an hour and soak in the real Honduras experience.
Stop and have another coffee.
Soccer fans will be pleased to know that soccer is alive and
well in Honduras. While the best Honduran players move on
to Europe, a very competitive league of 10 teams exists. Your
hotel front desk can direct you to the stadium. Watching the
fans roar is as much fun as the game itself. The La Ceiba
area is the easiest to navigate if attending a game. You can
also catch a professional game in Tegucigalpa or San Pedro
Sula (multiple stadiums). An amateur game is always going
on - just keep your eyes open around schools and open areas.
SANTA ROSA DE COPAN
Find a building with an accessible roof or any high place surrounding
the city and take in a sunset dipping below the horizon of the hills.
Breathtaking. Visit the Don Melo cigar outlet next to the Hotel Elvir
for hand-rolled cigars at less than 1/3 the retail cost in North America.
(You can bring 100 cigars back into the U.S.) You can watch cigars
being rolled by hand out at the factory near the bus stop. Contact
Max Elvir of Lenca Land Trails (504) 662-1375 for 1-day to multiple-day
tours of the Western Highlands. Five blocks east of the square is
Pizza Pizza, a restaurant owned by Warren Post. Warren is an ex-pat
who has done a great deal to promote tourism in the Western highlands
and serves as an invaluable source of information about the area.
Oh yes, have some pizza at his place while you are there. Holy Week
procession is a phenomenal time in Santa Rosa. If you opt for wonderful
event, advance reservations are really needed. Get them early.
ROAD BETWEEN SAN PEDRO SULA AND TELA/LA CEIBA
This leg of the trip is marvelous just for the miles and miles
of bananas, cacao, sugar cane, pineapples, citrus and African
palms. The Nombre de Dios mountain range juts up to the east
and south of you as you travel through the lush tropical region.
Keep an eye out for the llama del bosque (flame of the forest),
a tall tree crowned with gorgeous red flowers.
Even before leaving Miami, spend some time in the concourse
where the Latin American/Caribbean airlines originate. Take
in the variety and beauty of the diversity of peoples. Before
your eyes is a human rainbow. The bright, vibrant color schemes
of the airlines are a welcome change from the dull pastels
of North American airlines.
Whoops. That makes 11 things that are 'must-see.' Couldn't
narrow it to just 10.
Dave Borton has been a frequent visitor to Central America and Mexico.
Among these numerous trips are two to Guatemala during its civil war
and Nicaragua for the 10th anniversary of the Sandinista Revolution
during the Contra War. Borton usually finds himself off the beaten
path in Central America (often in the front of a chicken bus), as
far away from Cancun as possible. When he isn't visiting Central America,
he can be found in Wisconsin, where he lives with his wife. Healthcare
human resources work has kept him busy for over 25 years. Borton is
currently busy researching a chapter on the Lencas for his website,
planning his next Central American visit - the Chiriqui and Bocas
del Toro provinces of Panama, and trying to learn how to use a digital
camera. To see more of Davids work visit his website