Honduras: Choose Your Own Adventure
By Allison Neves
Even with the current state of the economy, Honduras is a quick and affordable get-away– one that feeds your soul and eases your mind…
Budget Traveler (4-6 Days)
You fly into San Pedro Sula and transfer to the town of Copán Ruinas by bus (Hedman Alas, www.hedmanalas.com) approximately 2.5 hours of beautiful rolling hills and lush tropical landscape – and check into the Luna Jaguar Resort (www.lunajaguar.com) for two nights. Rooms start at $60 per night. Eat dinner in town. Try Momo’s for a delicious dinner of “pinchos” (meat and veggie kabobs) served with beans, fresh pico de gallo and tortillas. Dinner should run you no more than $12 per person.
The next day, grab a traditional Honduran breakfast (desayuno tipico) of eggs, beans, cheese and tortillas at Café Welchez or Via Via Café (www.viaviacafe.com) ($4) and don’t forget to try the local coffee! You can burn off that hearty meal with a 2 kilometer walk to the ruins of Copán, where you can see the remains of an ancient Mayan city and even visit underground tunnels. After what is sure to be an excellent self-guided tour, go back to grab a quick bite from a local street vendor – Try baleadas, a typical Honduran snack, and spend the afternoon exploring the quaint little town, its shops and outdoor merchants… and yes, haggling for deals is totally cool OR head to Finca Santa Isabel (www.cafehonduras.com) for the Copan Coffee Tour ($25-30, includes roundtrip transportation from town, a bilingual guide, and breakfast, snacks or lunch). There you will get an excellent tour of their stunning property and coffee facilities and learn about the company’s sustainable practices. Save money on a month of Starbucks runs by leaving with a bag of fresh-roasted Welchez Coffee for $5. Make your way back to town where you are free to explore and indulge in more of the town’s cheap eats.
Sleep in and walk approximately 8 kilometers OR find $5 in the pocket of the hiking shorts that you’ve had packed away since your last vacation and take a cab ride to visit the Macaw Mountain Bird Park ($10 entrance fee), a reserve that houses injured and abandoned tropical birds including parrots, pygmy owls and a variety of beautiful macaws. (www.macawmountain.com)
Walk back to your hotel and have them arrange a trip to the Eden-like setting of Aguas Calientes (Owned by the same folks who own Luna Jaguar), for a relaxing dip in the natural hot springs. $25 includes roundtrip transportation and entrance fee to the spa and hot springs. Besides, you’re gonna need it after all that walking! (If you stay at Luna Jaguar, you get a discount to their hot springs. Cha-ching…more money in your pocket!)
Stay one more night in Copán Ruinas before you head home….
You find an un-cashed expense check issued by your company for your business trip to Walla Walla wedged inside your wallet. BONUS! — Add 2 nights in either La Ceiba or Roatán for a little more budget friendly R&R.
La Ceiba is home to the 265,000-acre Pico Bonito National Park (www.picobonito.org) rainforest. Book your room at the Omega Jungle Lodge – $50 a night www.omegatours.info/junglelodge) or the Jungle River Lodge for $24-60 a night (www.jungleriverlodge.com). In La Ceiba, choose to visit a Garifuna village, take a rainforest hike or go white water rafting. Any of which can be arranged through your hotel. Eat at Mango Tango or Playa Taty’s or Lulo’s for tasty affordable meal options.
Roatán includes sun, snorkeling and beach time and definitely add a visit Carambola Botanical Gardens (www.carambolagardens.com) for a guided tour and hike to the top of their mountain for a beautiful view of the island. While on Roatán spend two evenings at Las Rocas Resort, located in the West Bay area of the island (www.lasrocasresort.com) which will run you $69 a night or look into two different affordable West End options Posada Las Orquideas (www.posadalasorquideas.com) – $50 a night – or Posada Arco Iris (www.Roatánposada.com) – up to $65 per night. Affordable food options are easy to find on the main strip in the island’s West End. Depart directly from Roatán airport for your home in the states.
Luxury Seeker (8-10 Days)
Before you leave, make sure to arrange all of your flights, tour guides and private drivers and transfers through MC Tours or Mesoamerica Travel, both well-known and reputable tour operators with main offices in Copán Ruinas and San Pedro Sula, respectively. Once that’s all settled, fly into San Pedro Sula and transfer to the town of Copán Ruinas by bus – approximately 2.5 hours of beautiful rolling hills and lush tropical landscape – and check into the Hotel Marina Copán (www.hotelmarinaCopán.com), a family-owned hacienda-style hotel located a half-block from Central Park in the center of town.
If you are looking for a little more seclusion, drive 15 minutes outside of town to Hacienda San Lucas (www.haciendasanlucas.com). This small, eco-friendly hacienda has an on-site restaurant that features authentic, organic Mayan cuisine. Before dinner, enjoy a glass of wine and the sunset with the Hacienda’s charismatic and charming owner Flavia as you gaze down upon the majestic Copán Valley. Stay in Copán Ruinas for two or three nights.
Eat breakfast in your hotel, have a driver take you to the ruins of Copán where you can secure a1.5 hour private walking tour of the ruins with an English speaking guide. Ask for Yobani Peraza or Mike Valladares.
After your exploration of the ancient Mayan world, have your driver take you to Finca el Cisne (www.fincaelcisne.com), approximately a 45-minute drive, for a farmhouse lunch made from food grown on-property, a horseback ride through the countryside, and a brief tour of the coffee facilities.
Spend one more night in Copán Ruinas, transfer back to San Pedro Sula airport and check in for flight to La Ceiba (The only domestic airline that can be booked online is Islena. Visit www.flyislena.com). Check in at the Lodge at Pico Bonito (www.picobonito.com) whose guests have included A-listers like Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones. Enjoy a 4-star dinner at the Lodge at Pico Bonito’s restaurant, featuring mouthwatering Mesoamerican cuisine.
Spend your next two or three days communing with nature, starting with an amazing white-water rafting trip down the Río Cangrejal. Return to the lodge for lunch and a day of lounging poolside.
On your last day in La Ceiba, take a guided hike through Pico Bonito National Park (on trails managed by the Lodge). This will include stops at observation towers and natural pools for swimming. Eat lunch at the lodge before your guided tour of the on-site butterfly sanctuary and serpentarium. After dinner embark on a 2-hour guided night hike. End the night with a nightcap at the bar while you watch a locally produced film about the exotic birds of Honduras.
The next day, take 15 minute flight from La Ceiba airport to the island of Roatán, a Caribbean paradise and one of the world’s diving Meccas.
Your driver will meet you at the airport and take you to your three nights of accommodation at Mayoka Lodge (www.mayokalodge.com), a 6,500 square foot private home that comes equipped with a driver, personal chef, tennis court and your own scooters for getting around the island. Once there, settle in and enjoy a Salva Vida, the local beer, on your deck that overlooks the ocean or take a dip in your infinity pool. Enjoy a traditional seafood dinner prepared by the chef. Relax and be lulled to sleep by the sound of the waves. Tomorrow a Caribbean adventure awaits you.
In the morning, make your way to Anthony’s Key Resort, for a fun and informative lesson about dolphins, and partake in a snorkel with the majestic creatures. Grab an oceanfront lunch at Bite on the Beach before partaking in a relaxing afternoon of driving your scooter around the island, playing tennis or going for a quick paddle in one of the kayaks provided for you at the Mayoka Lodge.
Awake refreshed and take a tour of Carambola Botanical Gardens (www.carambolagardens.com). Enjoy a leisurely day on the beach before booking a 3-hour private sunset sail around the island, courtesy of Roatán Sailing & Catamaran Charters (www.sailroatan.com). The trip includes snacks, drinks and a stop to snorkel.
Live in the lap of luxury for one more night before departing directly from Roatán airport for your home in the states.
Honduras has a little something for everyone from ruins to rainforest to reef there is plenty to be experienced and enjoyed. Whether you’re a Budget Traveler or a Luxury Seeker the country is an excellent option for all those in search of adventure, beauty and culture.
Most major airlines (American, Delta, Continental, Spirit, TACA) fly to major cities within Honduras. Rates are affordable from the US. Check TACA Airlines web site: www.taca.com for regular specials. American also frequently has specials to Central America. Visit www.letsgohonduras.com or call 800.410.9608 for more information on vacation options within Honduras.
Photos courtesy of Travis Cooke – La Luz Images
Allison Neves is a freelance travel and fitness writer from San Francisco, California. With parents from San Salvador and Hong Kong, she’s made a personal commitment to re-connect with her roots by traveling extensively through out Latin America and Asia. When she’s not trying to save the world one press releases at a time, Allison spends her time traveling, stretching her limbs in a pilates studio, scuba diving and spending time with best friend and husband, Travis. More information on Allison can be found at: www.operationink.com
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