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Last Updated on July 24, 2023 by Madison Krigbaum
Honduras is a beautiful country filled with lush jungle, spotless beaches, delicious cuisine and an incredibly diverse ecosystem. On mainland Honduras you can enjoy chocolate made from fresh cacao and locally grown coffee, you can explore ancient Mayan ruins and embark on exciting adventures like hiking, white water rafting and zip lining. In the Bay Islands, you can scuba dive to your heart’s content, relax on beautiful beaches and enjoy some of the clearest snorkeling in the Caribbean.
Unfortunately, due to Honduras’ reputation as “the murder capital of the world” (it’s not by the way), Honduras is often overlooked by tourists in favor of its neighbors Guatemala and Costa Rica. Although the rest of Central America is definitely worth a visit, increased tourism to these areas makes for more crowded cities and more expensive trips. On the other hand, a visit to Honduras will allow you a true glimpse into the Honduran way of life, unmarred by excessive tourist activities and overcrowding. It’ll also only set you back a fraction of the price! Keep reading to learn why a trip to mainland Honduras should be on every tourists’ bucket list.
Protect Your Trip with Insurance
**I receive a fee when you get a quote from World Nomads using this link. I do not represent World Nomads. This is not a recommendation to buy travel insurance.
Whenever I plan a trip, I always make sure to protect myself and my wallet with trip insurance. In the past, I’ve had very good experiences with World Nomads. On my trip to Thailand in 2019, I had an unfortunate ankle-spraining incident that turned into a hospital visit with X-Rays, crutches and physical therapy. When I submitted my claim to World Nomads, I was reimbursed within weeks.
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Parque Nacional Pico Bonito
Located on the outskirts of La Ceiba, Pico Bonito is the second largest national park in Honduras. Covering an area of 1073 square kilometers, it is one of the most biodiverse areas of the country and is definitely worth a visit on your trip to mainland Honduras.
How to Get to Pico Bonito
The easiest way to get to Pico Bonito is by flying into Golosón International Airport in La Ceiba. From there, you’ll need to take a 45 minute taxi ride into the national park.
If you are arriving from Roatán or Utila, take either the Galaxy Wave Ferry (from Roatán) or the Utila Dream Ferry (from Utila) to the ferry port in La Ceiba. If you’re flying into San Pedro Sula, you can take the Transportes Cristina bus to La Ceiba from the Metropolitan Grand Central bus station.
Omega Tours Eco Lodge
When it comes to accommodation in Pico Bonito, the Omega Tours Eco Lodge is the only clear choice. Owned and operated by a German couple that immigrated to mainland Honduras years ago, Omega Tours was started as a white water rafting and kayaking company.
Omega Tours quickly grew to include a luxurious and sustainable jungle lodge with an on-site restaurant and swimming pool. If you plan on booking your stay with Omega, I highly recommend the Beauty View Cabin. Two sides of the cabin are only screens, so you wake up and fall asleep surrounded by sounds of the jungle. On a clear day, you’ll have a beautiful view of the El Bejuco waterfall from the second floor bedroom.
The owners, Udo and Silvia, operate Omega Tours with sustainability as their number one priority. Below are a few examples of how they work to help the environment and preserve the natural beauty of Pico Bonito.
- All the wood used throughout the property is from fallen trees, trees that have been approved to cut or bought from a sustainable tree farm.
- They only use biodegradable cleaning products.
- They only buy food that’s in season and within the current environmental limits. There are also tons of tropical fruit trees on the property and many of those fruits, like rambutans, oranges and starfruit, are used by the on-site restaurant, La Jungla.
- They clean and reuse water bottles as well as reuse old materials around the lodge. As an example, old life jackets are made into chair padding.
Go White Water Rafting
Since Omega started as a white water rafting company, their rafting tours are not to be missed! For $60 per person, you can embark on a 3-4 hour rafting trip on the Rio Cangrejal (River of Crabs). Here, you’ll receive a short rafting lesson before heading out on the water. Surrounded by beautiful views of the jungle, you might even be lucky enough to see a Toucan or two pass overhead.
The rafting trip usually involves a couple occasions to cliff jump into the icy water! On a warm day, it’s a welcome relief. Book your white water rafting trip with Omega Tours here.
Go Horseback Riding
Although my severe horse allergy prevented me from experiencing this tour for myself, Omega offers a spectacular horseback riding trip through the Cangrejal River valley. On this 4-hour tour, you’ll ride through local villages, learn about nature from a knowledgeable guide, swim in spectacular natural pools and help a sustainable tourism project to progress. Lunch is included in the $60 per person cost of the tour.
Book your horseback riding tour with Omega Tours here!
Enjoy Authentic German & Honduran Cuisine
Authentic German food is few and far between on mainland Honduras, so make sure to eat your fill at La Jungla! Udo and Silvia are from Germany and they taught their kitchen staff to cook delicious German staples like roasted pork, spaetzle and bratwurst. My favorite meal on the menu is the “German Style Roast Pork” served with red cabbage and spaetzle (pictured below).
If you’re looking for a taste of mainland Honduras, don’t fret, there are plenty of traditional Honduran options on the menu as well. I always enjoy the anafre (traditional beans and cheese dip) as well as their fish and shrimp options with fried plantains. And, when you’re relaxing by the pool, don’t forget to try one of the homemade margaritas made with fresh fruit grown around the property!
Enjoy the Hiking Trails
There are plenty of easily walkable hiking trails around the property for you to explore at your leisure. Pico Bonito is a birdwatching paradise so don’t be surprised if a Toucan or Yellow Tail crosses your path. There’s no need to bring snacks, since you can grab fruit off passing trees to keep you energized during your hike!
If you want something a bit more challenging, you can sign up for the jungle hike to El Bejuco waterfall. The 4-5 hour hiking tour will start at Omega and lead you wading across the Rio Cangrejal. Lunch and water is included and you’ll be greeted with spectacular jungle and waterfall views. Click here to book the tour.
Tela is located on the coast of mainland Honduras and is a well-known tourist destination for visitors from the rest of the country. Although the town is beautiful and very affordable, they are not accustomed to many international tourists, so be prepared to attract some stares.
How to Get to Tela
It is fairly easy to get to Tela from both La Ceiba and San Pedro Sula. From both cities, you can book a bus ticket with Transportes Cristina. When you arrive to the Tela bus station, it’s easy to find a taxi to take you into the city center.
Where to Stay in Tela
Maya Vista is widely regarded as one of the nicest hotels in Tela. The hotel is located on the top of a hill and beautiful views of the coast are found from every room and the hotel’s restaurant!
Although the rooms are a bit pricier than other options in the area, the hotel is incredibly safe, the rooms are comfortable and clean and you can’t beat a day relaxing by one of the swimming pools. As a bonus, the Maya Vista rooftop is a great place to relax with a bottle of wine and enjoy a magnificent sunset over the coast.
Visit Tela’s Colorful Stairs
Who doesn’t like a good tourist photo opp? Tela’s colorful stairs are located only a short walk away from the Maya Vista hotel and are definitely worth a visit! There’s no better place to snap some Insta-worthy pics than a colorful staircase covered in marine life murals. Click here for directions.
Enjoy a Night Out on the Boulevard
The Boulevard is the lively site of Tela’s best nightlife! It consists of a long stretch of bars and restaurants packed to the brim with partygoers dancing, drinking and smoking hookah. The stretch is along the beach, so it’s a beautiful place to dance the night away with a tropical Caribbean view.
Go Scuba Diving
Roatán isn’t the only spot in Honduras with a sought after barrier reef! Tela Dive Center is the only PADI certified dive shop in Tela and they specialize in diving the Capiro Banks off of the Bay of Tela. The shop is located inside the Hotel Marsol, a mere two blocks from the beach. Stop by and schedule your dive or reach out on Whatsapp +504 2448-1782 to book!
Visit Tela’s Botanical Gardens
The Lancetilla Botanical Gardens are one of Tela’s most famous tourist attractions and are definitely worth a visit during your time on mainland Honduras. An adult entrance ticket will only set you back 50 Lempiras, or around $2. Founded in 1925 by the United Fruit Company, the gardens are home to 2,800 species of tropical plants.
Unfortunately, since we only budgeted for two days in Tela, we missed out on seeing the Lancetilla Gardens. They’ll definitely be on my itinerary next time I’m in the area!
If ancient Mayan Ruins and colorful Macaw sanctuaries peak your interest, then Copan Ruinas is the place for you. Although I love living in the Bay Islands, there was something so charming about Copan. The cobblestoned streets felt almost European and the people were very friendly to tourists (even if not many of them spoke English).
How to Get to Copan Ruinas
If you don’t have a rental car, it can be a bit difficult to get to Copan Ruinas. But trust me, it’s definitely worth it! The cheapest way is by taking a bus from the San Pedro Sula bus terminal. If you arrive before 11:00AM most days of the week, you can book a ticket on the Hedman Alas (also known as the bougie bus). However, if those times don’t work for you, you’ll have to settle for a spot on the Casasola or “the Chicken Bus.” For more details on getting Copan Ruinas, head to this blog post.
Things to Do in Copan
When it comes to things to do, Copan Ruinas definitely doesn’t fall short. Picture locals in cowboy hats, rolling hills with gorgeous views, locally grown coffee on every corner and a flock of bright red macaws flying over ancient Mayan Ruins. Although there are countless things to do in this historic town, my favorites are pictured below.
First, the Mayan Ruins are an obvious must-see during your time in Copan. Make sure to book a tour to learn more about Mayan history! Second, make sure to visit the famous Copan Bird Park, Macaw Mountain. Here, fostered macaws are cared for until they are ready to reenter the wild. They also foster a wide variety of other species like toucans, owls and parrots. Last, but not least, Luna Jaguar Spa is a beautiful natural hot spring about an hour outside of Copan Ruinas. It’s the perfect place to spoil yourself and enjoy the natural beauty of Honduras.
To learn more about these activities and for other things to do in Copan Ruinas, head to my Copan travel guide.
Where to Eat in Copan
Along with fun activities, there is no shortage of tasty food in Copan! Our favorite restaurant (by a landslide) was Sol de Copan, the only authentic German brewery between Mexico and Colombia. Stop by for a home-brewed black IPA and some delicious schnitzel and spaetzle.
Besides the random, but delicious, German food, Copan Ruinas has tons of tasty restaurants that serve traditional Honduran cuisine. Along with yummy eats, the restaurants in Copan are filled to the brim with ambiance! For a list of my favorite places to eat in Copan, click here.
The largest lake in Honduras, Lago de Yojoa is widely known for its kayaking, birdwatching and magnificent hiking trails. The area is a nature-lovers paradise and it’s the perfect conclusion to your trip through mainland Honduras.
How to Get to Lake Yojoa
You can get to Lake Yojoa from both San Pedro Sula and Tegucigalpa. From both cities, you can purchase a ticket on El Mochito bus for 50 Lempiras or $2. The first bus leaves around 5:50AM and they run roughly every 30 minutes until the last bus at 5:30PM.
D&D Brewery Lodge & Restaurant
Thankfully, accommodation is an easy choice in Lake Yojoa! Located in the village of Los Naranjos, D&D Brewery is the perfect host for your time on Lake Yojoa. The property includes an open-air restaurant, on-site brewery, comfortable cabins and relaxing massages…all surrounded by a lush, jungle canopy. As a bonus, the lodge also offers hostel accommodation for those travelers looking to visit mainland Honduras on a budget.
D&D Brewery offers tons of exciting activities and tours during your time in Lake Yojoa. Choose from any of the exciting guided activities below during your stay!
- Lake Yojoa overlook hike
- Waterfall Trail day hike
- Birdwatching on and around Lake Yojoa
- Kayaking and stand up paddle boarding on Lake Yojoa
If you choose D&D as your host during your time in Lake Yojoa, make sure to give the El Mochito driver your final destination. For specific instructions on getting to D&D from the rest of mainland Honduras, click here.
Eat & Drink Your Fill at D&D’s On-Site Restaurant
D&D’s open-air restaurant is widely considered one of the best around Lake Yojoa. They serve tons of tasty Honduran and American cuisine alongside 4-6 tap beers brewed on-site. They usually offer a pale ale (my personal favorite), a porter and a couple fruit-infused options at a time.
Recently, D&D’s restaurant started serving wood fired pizza with tons of delicious toppings! The pizza is only offered on weekends, so make sure to grab a slice when you can.
Go Kayaking on Lake Yojoa
Kayaking on the lake was my favorite activity that I experienced during my time in Lake Yojoa. D&D made everything very easy by setting up my tour and even giving me a ride to the starting point!
Since I visited during low season, I was the only tourist kayaking that day. My kayaking guide also ran birdwatching tours, so I essentially got two tours for the price of one! The lake itself is absolutely stunning and kayaking or stand up paddle boarding around it is a wonderful way to spend a day on mainland Honduras.
Take a Bird Watching Tour
Mainland Honduras has amazing birdwatching around every corner, and Lake Yojoa is no different. Although birdwatching it not one of my personal passions, I loved learning a bit about it on my kayaking tour. If you love watching tropical birds in a beautiful, jungle setting, Lake Yojoa is the trip for you.
Explore the Finca Plantation
Right around the corner from D&D Brewery, hiking the trails of the Finca Plantation is a great way to enjoy the beauty and serenity of the region. This loop hiking trail goes through a functioning coffee plantation that doubles as a nature reserve. An entrance ticket will only cost you 80 Lempiras (a little over $3) and you can explore all day!
Visit the Pulhapanzak Waterfall
The Pulhapanzak Waterfall is one of the most famous tourist attractions in the area for good reason. These falls are located only 15 km from D&D Brewery and are not to be missed during your time on mainland Honduras. You can either make your own way there on El Mochito bus (approximately 30 Lempiras) or you can arrange a private transport through D&D for $30 (max. 4 people). You could try to take a Tuk Tuk to the falls for roughly 100 Lempiras, but most drivers won’t be willing to make a trip that far.
Pulhapanzak is the perfect place for thrill seekers! You can zip line above the falls or hire a guide to take you behind the raging waters.
The largest of the Honduran Bay Islands, Roatán is known to have some of the best scuba diving in the world and has a large community of expats. If you have extra time after visiting mainland Honduras, I definitely recommend taking the ferry over to Roatán to enjoy the island life!
How to Get to Roatán
The easiest way to travel to Roatán is by flying into Juan Manuel Gálvez International Airport (RTB). You can usually find affordable direct flights from Houston and Miami as well as San Pedro Sula and La Ceiba airports on the mainland.
If you’re in La Ceiba, you can also take the Galaxy Wave Ferry over to Roatan. The ferry usually costs around $30 each way and takes around two hours.
Things to Do in Roatán
There are plenty of exciting things to experience in Roatán! After spending time traveling on the mainland, Roatán is the perfect spot for a relaxing beach vacation. Spend the morning sipping Monkey La La’s (Roatán’s special blended drink) in the sand on West Bay beach and then head over to West End to scuba dive one of the most beautiful reefs in the Caribbean.
Where to Eat in Roatán
Roatán has no shortage of restaurants selling both traditional island cuisine and tasty international fare. Two of my favorites are pictured below: Loretta’s Island Cuisine in Half Moon Bay selling fresh seafood, fried plantains and yummy rice and beans and Sandy Buns Bakery serving some of the best brunch on the island.
For my full list of restaurants you can’t miss on Roatán, head here.
Utila is the third largest of the Bay Islands and is an extremely popular destination among young backpackers due to its lively nightlife scene and lower prices. Although Utila is not far from Roatán, the islands are very different and I highly recommend visiting both if you have the time.
How to Get to Utila
Getting to Utila is fairly easy from both Roatán and La Ceiba. Simply book a ticket on the Utila Dream Ferry from either location. The journey takes 45 minutes from La Ceiba and one hour from Roatán.
Utila has a small airport but it tends to be expensive to fly into. Chances are you’ll have a layover in Roatán anyway, so I would suggest taking the ferry instead.
Things to Do in Utila
There are plenty of exciting things to do in Utila including scuba diving, beautiful beaches and experiencing Utila’s famous nightlife scene. For a complete list of my favorite Utila activities, head to my blog post here.
Where to Eat in Utila
Like Roatán, Utila has tons of tasty options to satisfy your island food cravings! Mango Tango (pictured below) is widely considered one of the best restaurants on Utila. It’s more expensive than most restaurants on the island but, since Utila is so cheap, it’s still very affordable. If they have Lionfish Ceviche, I would highly recommend ordering it! Paired with an ice-cold Salva Vida and an island sunset, it’s the perfect way to spend an evening in Utila.
For my full list of restaurants to try in Utila, click here.
After reading my guide to visiting mainland Honduras, hopefully you’re tempted to book a ticket and start exploring this beautiful and biodiverse Central American country for yourself. Don’t let Honduras’ reputation for danger keep you from seeing some of the prettiest and awe-inspiring sites that Central America has to offer!
If you enjoyed this guide to mainland Honduras, you may enjoy my related posts below. And don’t forget to subscribe and follow along for the adventure on Instagram @madisonsfootsteps!