Things to Do in Honduras
With a coconut palm-lined stretch of white sand and a colorful coral reef just offshore, West Bay is one of the most popular beaches on Roatan and among the prettiest in all of Honduras. The area around the beach offers a wide range of accommodations as well as restaurants, cocktail bars, and shops.
Cross the rope bridges to Gumbalimba Park on the jungle island of Roatan, Honduras, and step into a botanical garden and animal preserve, home to more than 200 rare species of plants and orchids. Cool off in the freshwater swimming pool, wading pool, cave, and sandy beach where you can rent kayaks and snorkeling gear, among other attractions.
The Roatan Butterfly Garden provides a tropical oasis for boa constrictors, parrots, lush tropical plants and, of course, many beautiful butterflies. The 2,992-square-foot (278-square-meter walkthrough enclosure features some 30 types of rare butterflies, as well as colorful birds and plants native to Honduras.
Located in the heart of Tegucigalpa’s historical center, the Museum for National Identity (Museo Para La Identidad Nacional) summarizes the nation’s historical and cultural identity through its collection of art and artifacts from around Honduras. The exhibits, housed within a nineteenth century hospital that once served as the Palace of Ministries, begin with the geological formation of Honduras and continue through to the present day.
Highlights of the second floor permanent collection include a virtual tour of the Mayan ruins of Copán, shown several times throughout the day. The first floor host temporary exhibitions. While informational within the museum is only presented in Spanish, it’s possible to rent an English audio guide or take a free guided tour in English.
El Picacho Mountain, located within the relatively new Parque Naciones Unidas El Picacho, is famous for the 65-foot (20-meter) tall statue of Christ the Redeemer at its peak. Visible from almost anywhere in Tegucigalpa, the statue has been watching over the city since it was erected in 1997. An old white-lettered Coca-Cola sign on the side of the hill has led to the nickname “Coca-Cola Christ” among the less religiously inclined residents of the city.
A fairly easy walk to the top brings visitors past a small zoo, but the main reason to make the journey is for the panoramic views of Tegus from the top.
One of the cleanest and best-maintained beaches on the island of Roatan, Sandy Bay Beach is quieter than the West End, with enough restaurants, shops, and resorts for a comfortable stay. A reef just offshore offers excellent snorkeling right from the beach.
Carambola Botanical Gardens and Trails comprises more than 40 acres (16 hectares of floral gardens and lush jungle trails along the hillside of Carambola Mountain. Parrots and iguanas roam the gardens, where rare orchids, medicinal plants, spice plants, and fruit trees flourish.
Located near the town of Tela on the Caribbean coast of Honduras, Lancetilla Botanical Gardenhas a history dating back to 1925, when it was founded by the United Fruit Company as an experimental garden for plantains and other fruits. Today, it’s one of the largest tropical botanical gardens on the planet.
The garden encompasses 4,151 acres (1,680 hectares) with more than 1,200 species of flora representing four continents. The Wilson Popenoe Arboretum houses the world’s largest collection of fruit plants — 636 species — as well as a germplasm bank for developing fruit cultivars. An experimental plantation grows 60 species of timber and fruit trees and doubles as a laboratory for teaching forestry.
A huge swathe of the gardens is occupied by the Biological Reserve, an area divided into tropical and subtropical humid forest. This is the best area of the park to view wildlife, including 250 species of birds, as well as howler monkeys, deer, puma and several types of reptiles, fish and insects.
La Tigra National Park, also known as Parque Nacional La Tigra in Spanish, is the oldest national park in Honduras. It is named after the female puma, which is called la tigra, and true to its name, there are actually several of the elusive creatures around. Other rare animals that can be spotted with some luck are the iridescent red and green quetzals, ocelots, peccaries, hawks and toucans. The wet cloud forest is the ideal habitat for those animals and the condensed moisture and enveloping clouds allow for a lush vegetation to grow. Bromeliads, ferns, colorful mushrooms, orchids, avocado trees and the great ceibos, the sacred trees of the Mayans, are a common sight.
The park can be explored on eight trails leading through the 240 square kilometer big territory and visitors get to experience the climate as it existed before the spread of the city and heavy logging caused most of the cloud forest in the region to disappear. Today, La Tigra is the largest remaining natural area near Tegucigalpa and covers almost a third of the city’s fresh water consumption. It is not only the most visited national park in the country and a wildlife sanctuary, but is also used to educate about the importance of protecting the environment.
At its peak in the ninth century, the ancient Maya city of Copán was a densely populated agricultural settlement of 20,000 inhabitants across 250 acres (100 hectares). Explore the well-preserved site to see Maya art and architecture, including several temples and pyramids, detailed hieroglyphs, and stone-carved stelae.
More Things to Do in Honduras
Roatan’s Cruise Ports are located off the Caribbean coast of Honduras and offer access to the Bay Islands’ fabulous beaches, beautiful coral reefs, and upland forest. There are two cruise ports in Roatan—Mahogany Bay and Coxen Hole—and each serves different cruise lines.
This beautiful little neighborhood of boat houses on stilts lies on the southern end of the island, just east of French Harbour. A small restaurant, beautiful bay, and a lot of peace and quiet mark the area, where the main pastime is sit back, relax, and enjoy the leisurely pace of island life.
Hardwood trees and native plants provide a lush habitat for birds in this garden-like nature reserve. Hundreds of resident tropical bird rescues are the most colorful attraction, from yellow-naped Amazons to scarlet macaws. The center’s mission to restore Honduran bird populations place it among the country’s top conservation centers.
Ceramics, stone fragments, and other artifacts from the Mayan Ruins of Copan are on display at this small museum. While outdated when compared with the newer—and very impressive— Sculpture Museum, it’s still worth a stop. Highlights include the complete burial of a female shaman, which offers a fascinating glimpse into Maya death rites.
Interactive exhibits invite kids into the world of the ancient Maya at this small, nonprofit museum in Copan Ruinas. Clothing and musical instruments are on display here, alongside history that covers both daily life and elite rituals in Maya cities. Information in Spanish, English, and Mayan helps to illustrate those fascinating stories.
An ancient home for rich and elite Maya people, this archeological site was once joined to the Grand Plaza of Copan via a raised causeway. Remnants of luxurious living quarters in the exclusive compound include intricate reliefs, tombs built into family homes, and a main structure adorned with life-sized figures in feathered headdresses.
Designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1982, the Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve protects one of the last areas of tropical rainforest in Central America — 1.3 million acres (525,000 hectares) in total. The mountainous landscape along the Río Plátano watershed is home to some 400 species of birds, 40 mammals and 120 reptiles and amphibians, a number of which are threatened or endangered.
Travelers hiking the reserve’s mountain trails or rafting along the Río Plátano or Río Seco might spot colorful harpy eagles, colorful macaws, howler monkeys, sloths and maybe even a puma or jaguar crouched in the undergrowth.
Besides its natural attractions, the biosphere reserve is also home to a population of about 2,000 indigenous Pech and Miskito residents who have largely preserved their traditional way of life.
The Garifuna are groups of indigenous people who live along the coast of Honduras. Among the most accessible Garifuna villages is Miami, within the Punta Sal National Park. The people of Miami live along a spit of sand stretched between the Caribbean Sea and a placid lagoon. They reside mostly in straw huts, living off fish from the sea. A visit here offers the chance to learn about the locals and their way of life, as well as nature tours to spot crocodiles, birds and other wildlife. Most visitors also partake in a local meal of fish steamed in banana leaves under hot stones, along with plantains and cassava bread.
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