Honduras – The Hidden Gem of Central America

Paradise islands, beautiful beaches, lush forests, diverse and unique flora and fauna, and important Mayan sites – Honduras has it all! It’s the most underestimated country in Central America, I find. It has so much more to offer than just the famous Bay Islands ‘Utila’ and ‘Roatan’. This blog post is an ode to a country that amazed us grandly, yet unexpectedly, with stunning natural and cultural sites! Keep reading if you want to know more about Honduras’ highlights and which places impressed us the most! And check out our Video for more images of this gem!

Natural Highlights wherever you look
There are so many beautiful things to see in Honduras!!

Before I started my trip in 2011, travelling to places like India or South America made me nervous. I didn’t know better back then. Most of the info I heard about these places was crime-related and people would always tell me to be careful when they heard I was about to go there alone. Thanks to my curiosity, I visited them anyway. Today, I know that most news is extremely blown up and can have a crucial impact on a country’s reputation. A good example is Honduras: we heard so many bad things about this country that we actually hesitated for a moment…we briefly talked going straight from Guatemala to Nicaragua or even all the way down to Costa Rica, the seemingly safer nearby options.

The tourists' fear of being in danger seems to be the biggest enemy of the tourism in Honduras.
Watch out, there are crocodiles in Honduras! 😉

Why you should visit Honduras

The first remarkable stop when coming from Guatemala is right after the border of Honduras. Make sure to read all our posts about our stay in Copan and our day exploring the impressive Mayan Ruins. From Copan, we went by bus to San Pedro Sula (3hrs, for 140 Lempiras/around 6 USD ). This city appears to be the country’s capital, which is actually the unpronounceable city ‘Tegucigalpa’. In general, I am not a big fan of cities, and since this post focuses on points of interest that are, in my opinion, better than average, I will keep it short: if you stop in San Pedro Sula, make sure you stay in ‘La Hamaca’. This is a centrally located hostel that has an amazing staff, a great vibe, loads of arts and paintings on the wall, and very decent rooms!

'La Hamaca': great hostel in San Pedro Sula
Cool and funky: ‘La Hamaca’ Hostel in San Pedro Sula

Be sure to move on quickly to the more interesting areas of Honduras. Let’s have a look at La Ceiba, the first large stop after San Pedro Sula and a stop-over to get to the Bay Islands. La Ceiba is the third important city of Honduras and is also a great starting point for exploring the destination ‘Atlantida’ which means ‘Atlantis’ in English. This Honduran state has chosen its name wisely. Exploring this area is like hunting down countless hidden treasures. I have been to many impressive places around the world, but in ‘Atlantida’, I’ve seen some of the most virgin nature spots of all.

Beautiful Honduras

La Ceiba and its surrounding area

Most travellers use the city ‘La Ceiba’ to break up their trip to or from the Bay Islands Utila and Roatan. Few tourists stay longer in La Ceiba than one or two nights. The city’s reputation causes most people to skip the nearby national parks and outdoor activities, which is their great loss! We gave it a closer look and were amazed by fantastic hiking trails through the jungle with waterfalls. We spent a gorgeous day Wild Water Rafting on the Cangrejal River.

To read more about La Ceiba and it’s surrounding area, check out our blog post about ‘What to do in Honduras’ Pico Bonito National Park’.

Pico Bonito National Park
Beautiful waterfall in Pico Bonito National Park in Atlantida

When in La Ceiba make sure to walk around the city centre and take a stroll along the old train rails. There you will find countless food stalls that are open 24/7 and offer, amongst other yummy things, one of the most typical dish in Honduras: “La Baleada”. It is a tortilla folded in half to hold a bean paste, shredded cheese and your choice of scrambled eggs, avocado, chicken or simply with the bean paste only. You can add onions, red cabbage or spicy sauces.

Baleadas and fruits of Honduras
Traditional plate: two ‘Baleadas’, two lychees and a Mangosteen, the Honduran super fruit due to its richness in vitamin C, zinc and antioxidants.

The food stalls were one of our favourite lunch places. We enjoyed the fact that they were close to the hostel where we stayed in La Ceiba, which we highly recommend: When you stay in the city, a vibrant place to stay is the ‘Hostel 1877‘! Such a great, modern and eco-friendly place with new facilities and big love for details made us feel absolutely welcomed in La Ceiba. Built in 2015, the hostel is run by two very helpful and super friendly Honduran owners who will make your stay in La Ceiba pleasant and memorable.

La Ceiba has one great hostel to stay at: 1877 Hostel
1877 Hostel is your best choice when in La Ceiba

Things to do in Atlantida

  • Have lunch in the Garifuna Community in Corozal

When you leave La Ceiba and start to explore the surrounding area, you cannot miss the little Garifuna community in Corozal, which is about a 20-minute drive east of La Ceiba. There you will find traditional food of the Garifuna, the mixed-race descendants of West African, Central African, Island Carib, and Arawak people. Living off the ocean, most of their dishes include fish and seafood. We had lunch in one of the restaurants called ‘Chamorros‘.

Lunch in Corozal in one of the traditional Garifuna restaurants
Great food and great company!

We tried several dishes that are typically cooked with loads of garlic and include variations of bananas. The main dish was a heavenly mixture of shrimp, sea snails, lobster and fish. Fried bananas and little balls made out of banana to dip in garlic sauce come as a side dishes. To round it out, we tried the traditional ‘Guifiti’, which is a high-percentage digestive made from roots, spices and schnapps. It is also known for its medicinal benefits…

restaurant garifuna - 5

restaurant garifuna - 7

Garifuna Restaurant
Small banana balls as a side…
Mixed fish platter in Garifuna style
‘Mariscada’ is a mixed seafood platter with loads of garlic…yummy!!!
  • Visit the second largest Botanical Garden in the World

‘Lancetilla’ is the name of the botanical garden that is really worth visiting. It lies on the road to ‘Tela’, just a view minutes before you get to the city. It has its origins in the 1920’s when it was a research centre for a banana company. Today, you are able to see trees and plants native to Oceania, Africa and Asia. It is also one of the principal bird watching spots of Honduras, where over 300 species have been identified. The entrance is 2 USD for foreigners. If you go, make sure to walk through the impressive bamboo tunnel and go with a guide in order to learn all about the different species.

Bamboo Tunnel in the Botanical Garden Centanilla
One must-see: The Bamboo Tunnel in the Botanical Garden ‘Lancetilla’
  •  Welcome to Miami!

No, you don’t have to leave Honduras in order to visit Miami! It is the name of a village that is home to another Garifuna community close to the city of Tela. It’s inside the Jeannette Kawas National Park, whose name is dedicated to the ecologist that fought for the eco-balance of this area. The whole village lives in a secluded way, isolated from the rest of the world and society. The locals preserve their culture and keep up with the traditional fishing and way of living.

Small Garifuna community close to Tela
There is a ‘Miami’ in Honduras! 🙂

Miami is also where you can catch a boat to cross the Mikitos Lagoon that separates Miami and little peninsula that houses another hidden gem of Honduras: Los Olingos. If you need a place to recharge your batteries, make sure to stay at this amazing lodge and simply relax in a peaceful surrounding next to the water.

Relaxing at the shores of the Lagoon
Los Olingos have their own private dock where you can sit and relax with a coconut…

The lodge offers six cabin-style houses that are spread out on the property. It feels like walking around in a little village where palm trees are the natural fence to your neighbours. It’s a great place if you go in a big group, or you can soak up the tranquillity on your own. Those who seek action can choose between fun on the volleyball field, kayak on the lagoon, or explore the hills, viewpoints and coffee plantation on the property.

Los Olingos has six houses on the property with several rooms to lodge up to 12 people
Hidden behind palm trees: the small houses of the lodge are spread out on the property in a very idyllic style!
  • Take a train ride to the ‘Cuero y Salado’ Wildlife Refuge

This is a fun half-day tour that you can easily do from La Ceiba on your own or with a tour company. If you want to go bird watching, spot monkeys, and crocodiles then you’ll be right on the Cuero y Salado Lagoon. It is about 30 km east of La Ceiba and borders to the north with the Caribbean Sea. In this protected area, there are a few small communities residing. To get there, you have to jump on a real ancient looking train that takes you to the entrance of the National Park in about 30 minutes. From there, you board the boat and let the guide take you along the shoreline of the lagoon.

The old iron train brings us to our lagoon boat trip
Enjoying the ride on our jungle trip…

If the monkeys, crocodiles, and exotic birds are not enough to convince you, the ‘Cuero y Salado’ Lagoon is also home to the Caribbean Manatee. We weren’t lucky enough to see it that day but have learned that is an endangered species that lives within this protected area of creeks, lagoons, and the coastline.

Spot the monkey!
Next to Manatees and crocodiles, we spotted many monkeys up in the trees!

In total, there are 15 rivers that stream into the labyrinth of lagoons and canals, bordered by mangroves and a tropical jungle vegetation.

What a great natural effect!
When the sun sets, the lagoon turns into a mirror spectacle!

Honduras’ Largest Lake: ‘Lago Yojoa’

Leaving the Caribbean Coast you will still find amazing places that are worth stopping during your travels in Honduras. From La Ceiba, we took a bus back to San Pedro Sula where most of the country’s buses connect. From there, we took a bus to Santa Cruz de Yojoa, a small town just 30 minutes away from the lake. We spent the night before continuing our trip to the village ‘Los Naranjos’, which is right at the beautiful Lake Yojoa. There are few options to stay, but one great place is the D&D Brewery that  (obviously)has their own beer on the menu, great advice for tours in and around the village and several accommodation options.

The main street of 'Los Naranjos'
‘Los Naranjos’ is a small village surrounded by beautiful nature!

From the brewery, you can walk 10 minutes to the village’s river that will lead you to the National Park ‘El Jaral’. The walk to the park is already so beautiful, along the river and crossing the bridge you will get a glimpse of the lake in the distance. The park does not have an official entry point on one side, so you just walk in and if you want to search for the other end to exit and pay you can do so. Friendly armed soldiers will remind you on their patrol that you will need to go and buy a ticket on the other side…

River next to Lago Yojoa
On your way to the park entrance, you’ll cross this gorgeous river…

Inside the park, you can stop and listen to an ongoing concert of birds. It is incredible what sounds come out and how different they sound from the birds where I come from. One, for example, reminded me of dropping water whereas others sound as if someone drums a stick on a bamboo trunk.

View inside the National Park.
Walking through the park brings many different views of this area…

The park makes a small loop, which leads you past some bridges and archaeological sites. You can easily make the full loop in less than an hour, unless, of course, you sit down and enjoy the sounds of the tropical birds…

  • Cerro Las Nalgas

For best views of the whole area, hike up to a viewpoint on top of ‘Cerro Las Nalgas’. It is a bit tricky to find the path, but the locals are very friendly and helpful. Make sure you get at least two or three different opinions on where the trail starts, some people sound very convincing but actually sent us in the opposite direction…

On top of 'Cerro Las Nalgas'
After a hot and humid trail hike, you’ll get a refreshing breeze on top of the mountain ‘Cerro Las Nalgas’ and a fantastic view onto the lake!

After 3 days of hiking and beer sampling, we moved on to our next adventure: Nicaragua. The easiest way to get to Nicaragua is by bus from Tegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras. We took the bus at 6:30 am from Lake Yojoa and got to Tegucigalpa within 3 1/2 hours (150 Lempiras). From there, we hopped on a local bus to the border at Guasaule (another 3 hours from the capital, 100 Lempiras). The bus doesn’t cross the border, but you can simply do your paperwork at the immigration office and walk across a bridge that leads you to Nicaragua… from there, you have several options to get to Leon, one of the first spots of interest according to our research.

Welcome to Nicaragua!
DANGER!!! …and welcome to Nicaragua! 😀

After 3 1/2 weeks in Honduras, we can say that it was one grand trip! For all those in doubt and fear about their safety, hesitate no more, it is as safe as any place in Central America and will strike you with beauty, delicious food and friendly people!



Check out our guide for the islands of Roatan and Utila which you can easily reach from La Ceiba.

If you’re headed to Guatemala and stop by Copan here is what to do while visiting the Copan Ruins!

Or perhaps you’re moving on to Nicaragua? Then make sure to plan a sailing trip at Playa Gigante!

While you’re still in Honduras, don’t skip one of their most beautiful corners, the Pico Bonito National Park!


Thank you Visite Atlántida for this great trip to Atlantida.
Like always, all opinion are MY OWN. So, to everyone else, no worries on biases or BS, you won’t find that here. I keep this real. Thanks for the support!



Island Tripping to Utila and Roatan

Utila and Roatan are probably the two main reasons that most people travel to Honduras. We wanted to check them out to see if they match what their reputations promise…Both islands are part of the so-called Bay Islands (Guanaja, Utila and Roatan) and enjoy proximity to the second largest reef in the world, the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System. Needless to say, both Utila and Roatan attract many divers and snorkelers from around the world. We couldn’t resist, either and went diving on Utila. The weather on Roatan interfered our plans so we were unable to dive there. But, we had a great time driving around in our rental car and we enjoyed the island’s beauty in the rain…

Here are some useful tips for your next time visiting Utila and Roatan.

Arriving at Utila harbour...

Things to do on Utila:

  • Rent a motorbike or a scooter to explore the island:

Utila is the smallest of the three Bay Islands of Honduras and it was our first stop when visiting Utila and Roatan. With a length of 45 km and a maximum elevation of 74 meters, it is very easy to get around in one day on a scooter or motorbike. At least, that’s what we were told. In our case, though, it turned out to be quite a challenge: partially because we planned our trip on the motorbike at the very last minute, just before we were supposed to take the ferry to leave the island again. And partially because halfway through our exploration drive, we ran out of gas. It was only then that we noticed the rental company had not filled up the tank. Silly us, we only realized it when it was too late. Since there was no petrol station anywhere nearby, we had choice other than pushing our bike back to the rental place. Gah…!!! Once we arrived back, we had no time left to fill up the tank and explore more of the island because our ferry was about to leave. At least they refunded us the money and we got some free exercise on top of that 😉

Running out of gas while exploring Utila
If you love your bike, you push it, right?! 🙂
  • Go Diving or Snorkelling

A little bit more successful, yet not entirely smooth was our dive trip with Parrots Dive Centre. The company took us out to the North Coast of Utila, which is one of the more popular dive spots of the island. In the morning, we prepared our gear, which they told us was recently renewed. At 6:30 am we were ready to board the small boat with a group of fellow divers and head up the coast of Utila. The trip to the actual dive spot took about 30 minutes and was one of the worst I’ve ever had: the ocean was rough that day and we constantly got waves of water splashed into our boat. By the time we arrived, we were all soaking wet and freezing cold from the strong wind that blew that morning. Shivering and ready to get off the rocky boat, we jumped into the water and were instantly got rewarded for the rough trip: the corals that we were about to see made us forget the uncomfortable start of the day.

Out on the ocean, it got a bit rocky on our trip to the North Coast of Utila...
Calm and smooth: the ocean looked very peaceful in the harbour…

We happily surfaced after a 45 minute dive filled with many fish encounters along a beautiful reef. Luckily, the sea had calmed a bit, and we could enjoy the sunshine on the boat and warm our bodies up before diving a second time. This time, we went to Spotted Bay and saw fewer fish, but the dive site was pretty and had a few swim throughs to entertain us. After 40 minutes, we hopped back onto the boat and traveled to a tiny island for lunch. The ride back was smooth and very pleasant, the sun finally won over and we returned dry and happy. All in all, a fun half-day trip we are glad to have taken.

Trying on the equipment of the Parrot Dive Center.
Getting ready for our trip!
  • Just sit back and relax!

As with most islands, the best thing to do is simply enjoy the relaxed vibe. On Utila and Roatan you can have a laid-back time sitting on the many benches, enjoying the ocean view. If you want a day at the beach, you’ll be better of on Roatan. Utila has only one beach which is tiny but still good enough to go for a swim.

Places like this make up for the lack of beaches on Utila...
Some places are just inviting you to sit back and relax!

Utila’s beautiful sister Roatan

Utila and Roatan are competing in the area of tourism against each other: Utila is known to be cheaper, smaller and a bit less touristy. Roatan, on the other hand, has better beaches (well, in fact, it HAS beaches) and offers a broader net of tourist activities. Therefore, it is a bit more expensive, too. So, I’d say, both islands have something for each type of tourist. Perhaps the backpackers and budget-conscious travellers would be happier on Utila whereas the resort-type tourist can enjoy Roatan’s standards a bit more. Here is what we did:

Utila and Roatan have both great sides
On the way from West End to West Bay you get to cross this super cool bridge connecting two beaches…
  • Explore the bay area between West End and West Bay

One popular tourist area is West End. This is where you find bars, restaurants and shops lined up next to each other in front of the ocean. It is also where most of Roatan’s hotels and resorts are located. West End connects to Roatan’s most beautiful beach, West Bay, which you can reach by water taxi (costs around 3 USD), a taxi (approx. the same price but not as scenic!) or by foot. We chose to walk along the beach (about 45 minutes) and took a water taxi back to West End.

Waling towards West Bay is such a great way to experience this area of Roatan.
West Bay is a big strip of bars, restaurants and swimming pools right at the beach…
  • Go snorkelling at West Bay

West Bay attracts not only beach bums and cocktail sippers, but it is also known for it’s easy accessible reef. We took our snorkel gear, walked in from the beach and enjoyed colourful corals and fish, just a short swim from West Bay. It’s also the place to catch a pretty shot when the sun goes down…

Sunset at West Bay on Roatan
West Bay is the place to enjoy a beautiful sunset!
  • Stay at a budget place and save your money

If you think Roatan explodes your budget, don’t worry, there are still a few cheaper options besides five-star hotels or resorts. We stayed at Roatan Backpackers’ Hostel which is a fun place in Sandy Bay. The Canadian run hostel is a bit hidden away, but if you get off the ferry and tell the driver to bring you to Sandy Bay at ‘Solgas’ you’ll find it! We enjoyed it a lot, because there is a great little pool, the Lizard Lounge (which is the place to be if you want to enjoy a fast internet connection on a rooftop veranda overlooking the neighbourhood) and because of Mel, the owner who is a walking ‘Lonely Planet’. Even without asking, you will get everything you need to find your way around the island, and she’ll give you a self-scribbled map that has great advice for your exploration trip.

Roatan Backpacker's Hostel: a great option for your stay on Roatan
If you are too lazy to go to the beach, just take a dip in the pool!
  • Rent a car and explore the island

On the third and last day of our stay on Roatan, we woke up to a rainfall that would not stop until the next morning. We decided to not let it ruin our plans to drive around and see the rest of the island. We went to the airport where all the rental car companies are located and rented a small Kia that would be our home for the day, since we hardly left the car due to the heavy rain. We stocked up on snacks and drove around, all the way up to Camp Bay, which is on the Northeastern tip of Roatan. For the sake of adventure, we decided to sleep in the car and awoke the next day at 6 am in order to catch the ferry at 7 am to take us back to La Ceiba.

Sunset at West End of Roatan
Just one night before, we had a beautiful sunny day and a gorgeous sunset again.

Which ferry to take when visiting Utila and Roatan

Getting back to La Ceiba from Utila.
It looks like a house, but it’s actually our ferry! 😀

When you want to go to Utila and Roatan, both times you will have to start your journey from La Ceiba. This is a bit of a pain because it means you cannot get directly from Utila to Roatan, and have to spend double your time and money on the ferry. Unless you go with a private company that takes tourists to Roatan, if the weather is fine and there are enough people to fill the boat. Apparently they are discussing a direct ferry connection between Utila and Roatan, at least, we heard that when we were there (Feb. 2016). The ride from or to Utila takes about 45 minutes and the cheaper of the two ferry companies, ‘Utila Princess’, costs around 25 USD. See the official website for the actual ferry schedule and updated prices.

La Ceiba to Utila: 

  • Depart La Ceiba for Utila: 9:30 am
  • Depart Utila for La Ceiba: 6:20 am
  • Depart La Ceiba for Utila: 4:00 pm
  • Depart Utila for La Ceiba: 2:00 pm
Utila Princess and Utila Dream are the two ferry companies for your trip to and from Utila.
This COULD have been our boat if we would have cared to pay the double price of the ticket…

The trip from La Ceiba to Roatan is a little longer, about 1 hour 20 minutes and is recommended to take in the morning as the ocean gets rough in the afternoons. We had no other choice than taking the 4:30 ferry in the afternoon. It was a bit funny how you were immediately handed a plastic bag after boarding the boat. Yet, when we saw that quite a few people were actually making use of their bags, I stopped laughing and was grateful how prepared they were… 🙂

La Ceiba to Roatan:

  • From La Ceiba To Roatan: 9:30 AM & 4:30 PM
  • From Roatan To La Ceiba: 7:00 AM & 2:00 PM
Utila and Roatan are not connected by ferry.
Waiting for the ferry and enjoying a quick browse on the internet…

All in all, we think both islands have their charm and are worth checking out. Yet, keep in mind that both Utila and Roatan are slightly more expensive than the rest of Honduras, so cash-up before you go and dive into a great island experience.

Have you been to Utila and Roatan? What were your highlights?