All too often, Honduras receives short shrift on travellers’ Central American itineraries: most visitors either race to see the Maya ruins at Copán or the palm-fringed beaches of the Bay Islands, and skip the rest of the country. And while these are two beautiful, worthy sights, there’s much more to Honduras – from the wetlands of La Mosquitia to the subtropical shore of the Golfo de Fonseca, this is a land of inspiring, often untouched natural beauty – and a longer visit will pay ample rewards.
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The country’s development, however, has been held up by political instability and the (largely unchecked) violent activities of international drug cartels, which use the country as a staging post. Security in Honduras is a serious issue.
Where to go in Honduras
The capital, Tegucigalpa, is somewhat underwhelming, but home to the best facilities and services in the country, while 100km south of the city lies the volcanic Isla El Tigre, a little-visited but worthwhile getaway. An essential detour on the way north to the city of San Pedro Sula is the Lago de Yojoa region, which offers birdwatching, caves and a 43m waterfall. To the west, colonial towns like Santa Rosa de Copán and Gracias offer fantastic restaurants, hot springs and access to indigenous villages, while the sparsely populated region of Olancho – Honduras’s “Wild East” – and the Sierra de Agalta national park has the most extensive stretch of virgin cloudforest in Central America. On the Caribbean coast, Tela and Trujillo are good-sized towns with great beaches, while La Ceiba, larger and with thriving nightlife, is the departure point for the Bay Islands, home to world-class diving and a rich cultural mix.
Gradually, Honduras is waking up to its potential as an ecotourism destination – its network of national parks and preserves is extensive – as well as the likely benefits of an increased tourist infrastructure for the country’s struggling economy (it’s the second-poorest country in Central America, with more than half the population living below the poverty line). The pick of Honduras’s natural attractions is the biosphere reserve of the Río Plátano in La Mosquitia. Encompassing one of the finest remaining stretches of virgin tropical rainforest in Central America, the region is largely uninhabited and a trip here really does get you off the beaten track.
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