The second largest country in Central America, Honduras - considered by many to be the quintessential banana republic - is a friendly, if little-visited, country with several splendid natural attractions. While the capital Tegucigalpa is in the south of the country, most visits focus on the central mountainous jungle scenery, archaeological treasures, Caribbean coastline and tropical islands to the north and east.
The country’s beautiful national parks are outstanding and offer rewarding wildlife viewing and bird-watching in swathes of protected rain and cloud forest. There are some excellent walking trails through the untouched tightly wooded highlands, so rugged as to make road transport difficult and circuitous: rural communities here are isolated with a slow-paced and traditional way of life. Honduras also hosts one of the Mayan world’s most impressive sites, the ruined jungle city of Copán, close to the frontier with Guatemala.
Along the sultry Caribbean coast there are some divine palm-fringed beaches, such as those at Tela, and small communities of Garifuna (descendants of African slaves and indigenous indian tribes) along with a swashbuckling history of piracy. Offshore are the relaxed coral Bay Islands – a Mecca for divers and snorkellers, with a good tourist infrastructure on the main island, Roatán.
Our insider tips for Honduras
Learning to dive in Roatán, the largest of the Bay islands, it’s one of the most economical places in the world to enjoy undersea reefs in warm, mirror clear Caribbean waters.
Avoiding the crowds with an early morning visit to the jungle-stifled Mayan ruins at Copán. Wander in peace among the intricately sculptured stelae and altars dotting the grand plaza and the hieroglyphic stairway which climbs the side of a pyramid.
A dawn exploration on foot of the Pico Bonito National Park, in which tropical cloud forest, both broadleaf and pine, shelter birdlife and howler monkeys.