Most budget travellers in Honduras depend on the bus, though there are security issues to be aware of. To reach the popular Bay Islands you will need to fly or take a boat.
Bus services in Honduras are fairly well organized, with frequent departures from the main transport hubs of Tegucigalpa, San Pedro Sula and La Ceiba, as well as a network of local services. These local, or “chicken” buses are the cheapest, but also get packed and stop frequently, so can be quite slow. Rapiditos also serve local routes. Usually minibuses, they are much quicker but a little more expensive than chicken buses. On the longer intercity routes there’s usually a choice of services, with an increasing number of luxurious air-conditioned express buses (ejecutivos or lujos), plus comfortable services with a few scheduled stops (directos). Fares are extremely low on most routes, at around US$1–2 an hour or less, though they can triple on some of the really smart services – travelling between Tegucigalpa and La Ceiba can cost as much as US$37. For the express buses (notably Hedman Alas, the smartest operator: hedmanalas.com), you should buy tickets in advance when possible; if you are getting on at smaller destinations the conductor will come through and collect the fare. The frequency of buses slows down considerably after lunch, so you should try to be at your final destination by 4pm to avoid getting stranded.
If your budget will stretch, renting a car can open up the country’s more isolated areas. Including insurance and emergency assistance, rates start at around US$45 a day for a small car, and US$90 for larger models and 4WDs. The highways connecting the main cities are well looked after, but the numerous dirt roads in the highlands can be impassable at certain times of the year, so always seek local advice on conditions before starting out. Rental agencies can be found at the airports in San Pedro Sula, Tegucigalpa and Roatán as well as in San Pedro Sula and Tegucigalpa towns. As with bus travel, however, it’s important to be aware of the safety issues: car-jackings and armed robberies are not uncommon; inter-city routes are not safe after dark, and it’s important to seek local advice before setting off.
Taxis are generally the safest way to travel around the bigger towns and cities, and should always be used after dark; they can also be hired for longer journeys – negotiate a price up-front. They operate in all the main towns, tooting when they are available. Meters are nonexistent, so always agree on a price before getting in. Expect to pay US$2–3 for a city ride in Tegucigalpa or San Pedro, or around US$1in smaller towns. Three-wheeled moto-taxis (similar to tuk-tuks or auto-rickshaws) are available in some parts of the country.
Hitching is very common in rural areas, but – as everywhere else in the world – carries inherent risks and is not advisable.
Internal flights in Honduras are fairly affordable. A small number of domestic airlines (not all with the best safety records) offer competitive fares, with frequent departures between Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula, La Ceiba and the Bay Islands; the most established airlines are SOSA (als.aerocrs.net) and Isleña/TACA (flyislena.com). A one-way ticket between Tegucigalpa and San Pedro costs around US$110, while La Ceiba to Utila or Roatán is US$75. There’s a departure tax of US$2.50 for internal flights.
Boats are the most budget-friendly option when it comes to reaching the Bay Islands: La Ceiba is linked to Roatán and Utila by daily ferries; Trujillo has less regular services to/from Guanaja.
It is important to be aware of the security situation when travelling by bus in Honduras. In some of the bigger cities, notably San Pedro Sula and to a slightly lesser extent Tegucigalpa, local buses are not safe to use. Inter-city buses have been subject to armed robberies to such an extent that many services have a soldier on board. Always take a taxi to/from bus terminals, and don’t travel on any buses after dark.