Ports of Call
Honduras © Denise Clarke
Exuding an air of paradise with its exotic palm-fringed beaches, clear turquoise waters, majestic mountains, verdant jungles and beguiling Mayan ruins, the laid back way of life and relative obscurity to the tourist market makes Honduras an ideal holiday getaway for those who enjoy getting off the beaten track.
Honduras has all the right ingredients for a tourist hotspot; pristine beaches, great hotels and a rich cultural history. Despite this, the country has scarcely registered on the Western radar in the past, other than its 15 minutes of fame in 1998 when it was ravaged by Hurricane Mitch. These days it is enjoying a boom in popularity as a relatively unknown, unspoilt and undeveloped destination, recognised for its Ecotourism opportunities, affordable scuba diving, mountain treks and river rafting, as well as its appeal to the rich and famous eager to escape the prying eye of the paparazzi.
Toucans pose alongside orchids in the humid cloud forests and mountains, while banana plantations cover the rest of the aptly named 'Banana Republic', famous for its banana cake, banana pancakes, fried plantain and banana chips. Many ancient Mayan and Lenca ruins can be found hidden away from civilisation in lush jungle landscapes, ready to enchant the most seasoned of travellers. One of the country's most breathtaking Mayan archaeological sites is the Copan Ruins, a UNESCO World Heritage Site set in a verdant valley in the far western region of Honduras, reminiscent of something out of an Indiana Jones movie.
In contrast to the wild beauty of nature, Honduras has a number of cities where you will find many modern amenities, including Tegucigalpa, San Pedro Sula, and La Ceiba. And colonial towns like Gracias and Comayagua have scenic examples of Spanish architecture including forts and castles.
The once-thriving port of Trujillo has an intriguing pirate history and exquisite tropical beaches, while the region known as the Mosquito Coast, which extends towards the Nicaraguan border, is the largest tract of tropical rainforest north of the Amazon and is one of the most popular spots in the world for ecotourism. The country also boasts 373 miles (600km) of Caribbean white sand beaches, and the offshore Bay Islands such as Utila, Roatan and Guanaja are an extremely popular destination, particularly for divers and snorkellers. There is plenty more to discover in this exciting country, however, and the warmth and hospitality of the Honduran locals is bound to lure first time visitors back time and time again.
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