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The Beaches, Ruins, and Jungles of Honduras

People travel all over the world on their backpacking trips, and Central America is often on the list of places to go.

Mexico draws in people for its array of beaches, Guatemala pulls in those looking for an insight into its Mayan past, and Costa Rica offers jungles and pristine beaches side by side.

But Honduras is rarely mentioned and often used as a simple stopover as backpackers work their way down through the continent.

The beaches of Roatan.
The beaches of Roatan.

This is a significant oversight. For all its recent political difficulties, Honduras has many stunning places to visit, most of which are yet to be tainted too heavily by the tourist development brush.

There's plenty to keep the backpacker entertained in this troubled country, from beautiful beach destinations to historical monuments.

The Bay Islands

The Bay Islands are usually atop the traveler's list, with Utila and Roatan the most popular of the three.

Utila is the place to go for your scuba diving exploits but offers little else outside of happy hour. 

If it's the paradise island experience you're after, then you should head to Roatan.

It's beginning to get more developed as American tourists become increasingly aware of its idyllic setting, but that is for a good reason.

Stunning beaches, crystal clear waters, and incredible marine life make it the perfect beach getaway.

West End is where backpackers flock to, and this is where most of the hostel accommodation is found, though it's worth venturing to the eastern end of the island at some point to soak up some of the Garifuna culture.

This is characterized by brightly colored local dress, the beating drums, maracas, and outrageous, hip-shaking ‘punta' dancing.

You won't believe how high the Garifuna girls can shake it!

Horseback riding around Copan Ruinas.
Horseback riding around Copan Ruinas.

Copan Ruinas

Outside of the Bay Islands, Copan Ruinas is another common destination.

Home to Mayan ruins worthy of a day's exploration, its real beauty is in the surroundings; rolling hills that play host to coffee plantations and hot springs, amongst others.

There's plenty to explore, and the best way to do it is on horseback.

I'd never ridden a horse before I visited, but before I knew it, I was knee-deep in a gushing river and galloping along the banks!

It's a real adventure and one I'd recommend to any traveler who has stopped in to see the ruins.

The town itself is beautiful as well; a labyrinth of cobbled streets and pristine monuments, you could sit out for hours on end with the best coffee you've ever tasted, watching the world and its horse go by.

On the 'cayuco' in La Mosquitia.
On the ‘cayuco' in La Mosquitia.

The Eastern Jungles

But the real diamond in the rough is a road rarely traveled by tourists' feet.

The eastern part of the country comprises near-total jungle: the area known as “˜La Mosquitia' (“˜the mosquito').

This is a place that is borderline inaccessible and has no roads. All transport is via the interlinking rivers flowing between the trees.

To get there, you have to fly in a small biplane that touches down on a strip of grass hidden in the foliage.

On my visit, there were kids playing football on the runway as we came into land!

From there, you jump on a “cayuco” (a dugout canoe) and head into the jungle on the river, not knowing when you'll next step on dry land. 

As you chug along the vast waters, you can see monkeys jumping from tree to tree, hear birds singing, and very occasionally see a crocodile's eye sparkle in the undergrowth of the riverbank.

After what seems like an endless amount of time, you come across villages dotted along the rivers, populated by people who haven't been outside the jungle walls.

They know the 30 people who live in the huts around them and have seen a few other faces in their lives.

Depending on the length of your trip, you'll stay in various villages along the way and get further into the jungle, getting to know the people and feeling more like an explorer every day.

It's an enriching place, and I doubt that I'll ever visit anywhere as remote again.

So there you have it, Honduras should be on your list! And that's just the half of it.

There are great towns sprinkled across the country, National Parks that will take your breath away (“˜La Tigra' to name but one), and beach towns littered along the north coast.

Find the adventurer in you and give Honduras a go.

Planning a trip? Go Backpacking recommends:


Tuesday 29th of May 2012

Honduras is a must!! I went to the CASS (Central American Spanish School) in Aug of 2009 in La Ceiba. It was amazing!! I did the Jungle Eco trip, so 4 hours of spanish lessons in the morning followed by a different activity everyday after class.I had such a good time in Utila, and Sambo Creek, But didn't make it to Cayos Cochinos due to the weather. I went to Roatan this past January which was also beautiful! I am going back to Honduras this Aug, I will have a short time since I will be backpacking down from Cancun to Panama in only a months time. So it will be a few nights in each place we stop more than likely, but looking forward to it!

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Saturday 30th of October 2010

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Tuesday 31st of August 2010

Who would've thought? I'm planning a trip to Guate and Nica, was going to pass over Honduras for political/safety reasons - Now I'll definitely reconsider. Thanks! This is our project if you're interested ~

Backpacking Tom

Tuesday 14th of September 2010

Certainly worth a trip Kristin, you'll be missing out otherwise.

Love the site by the way!


Backpacking Tom

Monday 2nd of August 2010

I never got to Cayos Cochinos but heard great things about it - it's on my list for the next time i'm over there!

Totally agree, it's certainly worth the trip even if you only have a few weeks


Backpacker Insurance

Friday 30th of July 2010

Went to Honduras last xmas and loved it. People couldn't believe cam all the way from England to just go to Honduras on a 3 week holiday.

Copan Ruinas is a amazing and went to La Ceiba and did a 2 day horse riding trip through the Jungle and along the beach. If you haven't been then go. Also in the bay islands get to the Cayos Cachinos if you want a stunning beach to yourself.

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