Dear Readers, I’ve survived yet another ambitious itinerary (see Israel) – this time it was 5 nights and 4 very full days in Honduras. From Mayan ruins to rainforests and the island of Roatan, here is how to make the most of this fascinating Central American country.
From the airport in San Pedro Sula, it’s a three-hour drive to the village of Copán Ruinas. Once there, we checked into Don Udo’s – a charming colonial inn, with delicious food, located on a cobblestone street near the bustling centre. If tranquility is what you seek, then your search starts and ends at Hacienda San Lucas. This 100-year old family-owned retreat only employs women (save for the guards at the gate) and offers yoga workshops that incorporate Mayan Cosmology. The lush valley setting also includes ruins so you don’t have to go far to step back to, oh, somewhere between AD 250-900. These particular grounds are blooming with symbolism around fertility and birth, and there is a frog-shaped stone that ladies are supposed to smooch to up their chances. No promises though.
Nature nerds will find their bliss closer to the city of La Ceiba, where rain and cloud forests await. All 270,000 acres of Pico Bonito National Park, that is.
Villas Pico Bonito sits serenely in the Rio Cangrejal valley, and provides large lodge-style accommodations. My favourite was the infinity poolside dinner and breakfast.
For luxury worthy of Michael Douglas and his Catherine, there is The Lodge at Pico Bonito. This boutique eco-lodge boasts well-appointed cabins, each with private deck and hammock, as well as a beautiful restaurant serving savoury Mesoamerican cuisine. Conde Nast Traveler approved, plus it is #1 with National Geographic.
When it comes to island hopping over to Roatan, settle on the serene Parrot Tree Plantation, a beautiful resort residence on the east end of the island, near French Harbour. Or if your style is more beach bum, check in to a Garden Cabana at Bananarama, located on West Bay Beach.
For stopovers in San Pedro Sula, your best bet is the Real Intercontinental. It’s got all of the refined amenities (pool, gym, restaurants) that one expects from the Intercon family, but at half the price! Relax into a lovely suite, order room service (steak fajitas, por favor) and call it a night.
Once in Copan, tuk-tuks will get you where you need to go, including the must-see Mayan Ruins. Our guide, Yobani, expertly took us around the UNESCO World Heritage site – that, by the way, was 24 square kilometres in its glory days (larger that Paris!). Archeological digs are ongoing as four layers of civilization still need to be unearthed (one Mayan king would build his domain over his predecessor’s), but visitors can go inside the temples to understand life between 300 and 900 AD.
If studying Spanish is on your bucket list, then Copan is a lovely spot to disconnect and live the language for a month or two.
The national parks in Honduras are fast becoming some the world’s great eco-tourism destinations. From La Tigra, located just outside the capital Tegucigalpa, to Capiro-Calentura above Trujillo on the north coast, and Barbareta Marine National Park, accessible by boat from Roatan. All are sparsely populated and home to a fantastical array of biodiversity.
EAT + DRINK
Once you’ve breakfasted on traditional baleadas, or had one for lunch or dinner for that matter, there is no going back. Not a taco and not a burrito, my favourite version included bean paste, peppers, eggs and avocado wrapped in a soft tortilla. Ask for them everywhere.
If you are not staying at Hacienda San Lucas, then be sure to at least book a lunch or dinner there so you can wander around the property and enjoy the views. There is only one prix fixe menu served daily, which won’t run you more that $33. We were treated to a lovely ginger-y chicken, the greenest avocados, and fresh handmade tortillas (and by fresh I mean the chefs started grinding the corn when we arrived at 9pm). So. Good.
In Copan vllage proper, try Carnitas Nia Lola, where the waitresses famously carry traditional BBQ dishes (and the drinks) on their heads. Twisted Tanya’s has a rep for hearty local fare and a fun bar scene.
With regard to traveling around mainland Honduras, travelers are best to hire a driver or hop on a bus. The roads would rattle even the most experienced driver. Trust. HEDMAN ALAS runs a superior bus service that covers the major cities and sites. They can even get you to Guatemala. Flights to Roatan (and/or Guatemala) can be booked on Taca Airlines, a Star Alliance member.
As always, you can find more photos on this, and details on many other destinations, at TheTravelPresse.com
The trip to Honduras was generously sponsored by Trujillo Beach Eco Development. However, they did not review or approve this article.