Honduras was our least favourite country in Central America but it’s still worth a visit – find out what to see & do in this land of Maya ruins, world-class diving, waterfalls & colonial cities.
We here at DIY Travel HQ travelled slower than usual in Honduras, spending about 1 month in 8 cities. The weather was unpredictable due to Hurricane Otto, so we ended up spending about a week waiting it out for good weather to dive in Utila Island & go white water rafting in La Ceiba.
Travellers with limited time need only to visit the Copan ruins. If you like island life & diving, Utila is worth the trip though in the region you also have:
- Caye Caulker
- Glovers Resort Atoll
- Little Corn Island
- Big Corn Island
- Bocas del Toro
- San Blas Islands
Otherwise, Honduras is best suited to those who like to travel under the radar, off the beaten track. There aren’t many tourists, even in the most popular places.
Honduras certainly has a bad reputation & violent crime is an issue, but it doesn’t have to deter you from visiting. As with elsewhere in Central America, we took local transport, ate local food & stayed in locally owned budget accommodation, without any safety problems. Just be aware of your surroundings & use your street smarts.
Anyway, without further ado, here are the Top 9 Places to Visit in Honduras, in the chronological order of our visit:
If you only visit one place in Honduras, it’s got to be Copan. It’s one of the top Maya archaeological sites in the world, famous for the artistic craftsmanship of its stelaes & stone heads.
Don’t miss the Hieroglyphic Stairway – made up of more than 2,000 carved blocks over 72 steps, it’s the longest Maya hieroglyphic text.
And be sure to get there early too for the daily macaw feeding at 8:30am.
The entrance fee also covers the Sepulturas ruins, 1.5km away. It’s nothing amazing but won’t cost you anything extra, so why not?
The Museum of Sculpture is worth the additional fee, but we gave the tunnels a miss – most reviews generally say they are not worth it.
Entrance fee: $15.00 (you can also pay in Honduran Lempiras)
Museum of Sculpture: $7.00
* We recommend staying at Iguana Azul in Copan Ruinas
#2. Santa Rosa de Copan
We stopped at Santa Rosa de Copan on the road between Copan & Gracias, hoping to visit the Flor de Copan cigar factory but it didn’t work out.
It is located 2km outside the city centre but less than 1km from the microbus station.
Apparently tours in English are conducted at 10:00am & 2:00pm on Monday to Friday, but you should make a reservation at least 1 day in advance. Our host in Copan told us this wasn’t necessary but it is.
We simply arrived at the door & while one of the workers there made enquiries to try to accommodate us, there wasn’t an English-speaking guide around.
You must also wear pants & closed-toe shoes for the tour.
Good luck! We would’ve loved to compare it to our Fabrica de Tabacos Francisco Donatien Tour in Cuba so if you’ve been, let us know in the comments how it was!
Flor de Copan Cigar Factory Tour: Free
Reservations: +504 2662 0185
There’s not much to see & do in Gracias but we stopped here to break up the journey between Copan Ruinas & Marcala.
It’s a small, cobblestone town that was impressively once the capital of all Spanish-conquered Central America – there was a lot of construction on the streets so perhaps it’s being returned to its former glory.
The main attraction is Fuerte San Cristobal, a small fort on a small hill. We didn’t visit but the entrance fee of Lps/60 (US$2.50) can be negotiated, or so the ticket seller tried with us!
For fantastic, free views of the city, climb up to the bell towers of San Sebastian church instead.
We visited Marcala for La Cueva del Gigante, or The Cave of the Giant.
It is believed to be the site where the 1st settlers of Honduras lived, and maybe all of Central America.
But for a place with such lofty claims, there’s little information on how to visit, even from the tourist information office.
However, it’s actually very easy. Just take a taxi or microbus to the town of La Estanzuela & ask locals for directions once there. There are also a few signs around.
First, you’ll come across a beautifull waterfall, Cascada La Estanzuela. Climb to the top for awesome views.
La Cueva del Gigante is further up ahead, it’s not marked so you’ll probably get lost a few times before finding it.
There’s a sign that prohibits climbing the cave, so if you follow rules like that, there’s not much to explore…
Microbuses are limited so heading back to Marcala; we took a shared taxi for a reasonable fare.
The Honduras Institute of Anthropology & History are trying to get a UNESCO World Heritage listing for La Cueva del Gigante, so get here before the tourists come.
La Cueva del Gigante Entrance Fee: Free
We stopped at Comayagua for a couple of hours on the road between Marcela & Lake Yojoa.
The bus terminal is 800m from Plaza Colonial, the heart of the city with the impressive Catedral de la Immaculada Concepcion, one of the oldest cathedrals in Central America. The clock on the cathedral is said to be the oldest in the Americas.
We took turns sitting in the square watching backpacks & walking around the city, a ghost town on a Sunday afternoon. Comayagua seemed pleasant but apart from the Cathedral, there’s no real reason to visit.
#6. Lake Yojoa
D&D Brewery, Lodge & Restaurant has single-handedly put the Lake Yojoa region on the map.
We weren’t sure how remote it was & didn’t want to have to have all our meals there, so we stayed in Pena Blanca instead for town conveniences. However if you want to stay at D&D Brewery, know that there are a few local shops around & it’s just a walk or short bus ride to Pena Blanca.
The highlight of the area is Pulhapanzak Waterfall. It’s an easy bus ride + walk to get there & back.
Just seeing the massive waterfall is impressive enough though we’d also recommend the “Behind the Falls” Guided Tour. It’s a little expensive & short on time but the experience is unique, as you literally get to go behind the falls – it’s deafening!
Other amenities at Pulhapanzak include a ziplining canopy tour, restaurant & cabin accommodation.
Lake Yojoa is a good base for other eco-adventure activities though we didn’t do anything else. We tried to hike to a lookout point near D&D Brewery but we got lost, so ask for directions if you plan to do the same.
Pulhapanzak Waterfall Entrance Fee: Lps/70 ($3.00)
“Behind the Falls” Guided Tour: Lps/250 ($10.65) – say you’re staying at D&D Brewery for a Lps/50 discount
Trujillo was a long bus journey to get to & we can’t really say it was worth it.
The beach was a disappointment as there was no golden sand or turquoise water as the guidebooks promised, but this may have been due to the coming onset of Hurricane Otto.
Trujillo is home to the native Afro-Caribbean Garifuna people so the culture is different from elsewhere in Honduras, though similar to what we experienced in Hopkins, Belize.
You can visit Fortelza Santa Barbara or simply wander the grounds & check out the crumbling walls, cannons & views of the sea before a guard asks you to leave.
The Trujillo Cemetery is free, although it’s often locked. Here lies the grave of William Walker, the American adventurer who took over Honduras in 1856 with an army of 60 men (+110 locals)! His rule lasted 1 year before he repatriated back to the States. A few years later he sailed back to Honduras to try to conquer it again but this time he was captured & executed by firing squad – a crazy piece of history.
Fortelza Santa Barbara Entrance Fee: Lps/100 ($4.25) or $3.00 (unsure)
Utila Island is promoted as one of the cheapest places in the world to learn to dive – and with PADI Open Water courses from $269.00, that may be true. Diving on Pulau Weh in Indonesia is also just as affordable.
However, fun dives start at $35.00, which isn’t that cheap ($25.00 on Pulau Weh) though discounts are offered for multiple dives.
Gunter’s Ecomarine Dive Shop are the cheapest on Utila but their laid-back style might not be for everyone.
Most of the dive centres also offer accommodation, so shop around. In the off-season, you can negotiate excellent deals.
We weren’t that impressed with the dive sites on Utila but no doubt Hurricane Otto affected the conditions & visibility.
We’d like to go to nearby Roatan Island, the diving is said to be better though the cost of everything there is more expensive.
Utila is very backpacker-friendly, with prices to match. Apart from diving, there are other things to see & do such as kayaking, hiking, fresh water caves & visiting the crash site of a drug smuggling plane. It’s also a lovely place to enjoy the slow pace island life, with lots of good cafes & restaurants.
Ferries to Utila Island depart from La Ceiba & cost Lps/575.00 ($25.00) each way.
#9. La Ceiba
La Ceiba is the base town for ferries to Utila Island, so chances are you may have to spend a night or 2 here. Nothing more is really necessary as there’s not much going on, though the nightlife is apparently some of the best in Honduras.
We went white-water rafting with La Moskitia Ecoaventuras on the Rio Cangrejal which was awesome.
We wanted to snorkel & search for pink boa constrictors in Cayos Cochinos but that didn’t work out. Day trips start from $39.00 + $6.00 entrance fee.
Hiking in Pico Bonito National Park is also worth considering for the nature views & wildlife spotting.
Most travellers end up spending a night in Tegucigalpa on the road between Honduras & Nicaragua but it’s not a bad idea to stay longer if you have an extra night or 2 to spare.
You can get a good feel of the capital with a couple of hours in the colonial centre, with its numerous churches, museums & plazas.
Take a taxi or microbus to El Picacho for an escape to nature, with fantastic views of the city & a statue of Christ at the top of the mountain – since we visited Cristo Rey in Dili, East Timor we like collecting them in our travels.
Parque Nacional La Tigra is a popular day trip from Tegus, for hiking, waterfalls, birdwatching & cloud forest highs.
* We recommend staying at Palmira Hostel in Tegucigalpa
*** The Final Word: Honduras is a low-key country with small-scale attractions – visit for Copan, Utila & more if you have time ***
Have you travelled in Honduras? Would you consider it?
Accessible DIY travel to more distant locations via multiple connections or longer forms of transport
Visited in October 2016