When some think of Honduras, they think of missionaries and the Peace Corps. Indeed, we shared our flight there with athletes on a mission to give back and a Christian group from Texas looking to educate locals, share their faith and build houses. But clients will find that this country has an abundance of natural beauty and rich gifts to offer any tourist with a sense of adventure and an appetite for Honduran culture.
We flew to San Pedro Sula, the second largest city and financial capital of Honduras, now the main hub for international flights. After a quick overnight at The Real InterContinental San Pedro Sula, we hopped a van to Copan. The road was surprisingly pleasant and the aesthetics were stunning. As we drove, we passed an endless stretch of lush greenery and rolling hills similar to Bali.
The ruins at Copan are designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
There are a few small towns, as you get closer to Copan, well worth a stop to absorb the local culture. No one appears to be in a rush to go anywhere or do anything, and even the pace of travel will slow down, as drivers stop for cattle crossing, random hens or stray dogs running alongside horses. It’s a different rhythm.
After two hours on the road, we arrived in Copan. Bike rentals are available as a means of accessing the ruins, but we explored largely on foot — hiking through hills, ruins and parks and walking around town.
The Copan ruins, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, are nestled in the foothills of western Honduras, a mere seven miles from Guatemala.
The artistry and details found at the ruins are exquisite, and it seems like each and every detail of personal and political history in the colonial town was carved on the stones. The one-hour walking tour offers great vistas and looks into the unspoiled countryside of Guatemala and down into Copan.
The colonial town is a step back, a look back to another time with cobblestone streets and red-roofed adobe houses. A stroll through the town square gives one a feel for the local flavor where bare feet, bikes and micro-mini taxis are the transports of choice.
A few miles above downtown Copan is Macaw Mountain, a beautiful Bird Park and Nature Reserve. The park, carved out of a canyon formed by Sesemil Creek is a natural oasis and home to Central American macaws, toucans, parrots and owls recovered from captivity. The best part of the walk was handling the birds that take respite on your shoulders and limbs.
The perfect cap off to the Maya adventure is a night’s stay at Hacienda San Lucas. This century-old eco-lodge is the first of its kind in town. Once accessed only by donkey, it’s now a rustic drive up the hill, but well worth the trip.
Tell your clients to make it up to Hacienda San Lucas before the day’s light leaves, as it is a scene they will not soon forget. Guests can kick back on lounge chairs on the sprawling lawn with a glass of chilled wine and overlooking the valley and the Copan ruins.
La Ceiba, once touted as the tourism capital of Honduras, has been rivaled by other up-and-coming locales, but has recently been coined by the Honduran government as the ecotourism capital.
Driving into La Ceiba, where the picturesque and seemingly endless Sierra Nombre de Dios Mountains meet the beach, it’s easy to see why locals stay here and why many reside in the cloud forests.
The Lodge at Pico Bonito, located at the foot of the slopes of Pico Bonito Park, is a hot spot for celebrities like Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta Jones. There are endless options for activities, from horseback riding on the beach to night hikes in the rainforest.
For a quick cool down, clients can hit the resorts’ natural crystalline pool or one of the many nearby pools, streams or waterfalls in the rainforest. Many visitors also opt for whitewater rafting down the Cangregal River, a big draw in the area.
Any snorkeler or diver worth their salt knows that Honduras has one of the world’s largest barrier reefs in the world. The Mesoamerican Barrier Reef is second only in size to the Great Barrier Reef in Australia and is home to parrot fish, whale sharks, bottlenose dolphins and manta rays, among other creatures.
The best part is that, unlike other Caribbean locales, clients don’t have to take a 30-minute boat ride to get into the thick of it. Merely put down your pina colada, leave the cabana, strap on some flippers and off you go. It’s that simple. Twenty yards later and your clients will be in awe.
The Infinity Bay Spa & Beach Resort in West Bay is a good jumping-off point for a tour to Roatan, an island off the coast. Visitors are a quick water taxi away from Anthony’s Key Resort; a divers club and resort on Roatan. Serious divers from around the world have long been coming to Anthony’s Key, run by Julio Galindo, the godfather of Roatan tourism. This adventure park is set up for serious divers and novices alike, with school certifications and guides available on site.
Expect a busy breakfast at the resort, as most guests are off to get certified, swim with dolphins or go out with a dive guide by late morning. It’s a one-stop shop for the adventure market.
If above-ground action is more your clients’ thing, it’s a quick hop to Gumbalimba Park, where they can hit the pirate caves, botanical gardens and animal preserve or grab hold of a zipline and fly through the forest and down to the beach.
Before bidding adieu to this Caribbean gem, clients should sip a local drink and enjoy the island breeze at The View restaurant on Roatan. Here, visitors will be reminded that sometimes the most adventurous move one can make is no move at all.