I was born in one of the most underrated countries that I have ever visited...(Haha not that I have been to many, but you know what I mean). When the plane starts to descend, I always get this overwhelming warmth inside. I swear it's like my body knows this is where it all began. I have had some fantastic summers here, but I will share from the perspective of my top two favorite trips to Honduras.
July of 2017, was the first time that a friend from the US comes to Honduras with me. I was so lucky, I didn't have one, but THREE friends that came to see the place I call hometown. I also had the privilege of being trusted with my nieces to explore the Bay Islands, part of the coastal islands of Honduras.
It is a shame to share this, but I did not explore Honduras until I started to come as a visitor. That tends to happen. We all want to see a new place and explore new areas, but sometimes we forget to explore the places right under our noses. So the summer of 2017, I had the opportunity to go to visit in full tourist mode. Our crew consisted of Ameer (Brand New Husband), Oscarito (brother), Khairy (City On A Hill guy), and Corey (Groomsman at the wedding). We did a whole tour in a 6-day trip, that’s to yours truely’s travel agency skills. We visited the city of San Pedro Sula (Industrial Capital), La Ceiba (Beach Town), Roatan (Part of the Bay Islands), and Copan (Mayan Ruins Town). Look that is not even 0.0001% of all the places to see, but these are in the Top 5 places to see, especially for first-timers. Here is why each city and things you should add to your "to-do" list if you get the opportunity to visit.
1. San Pedro Sula:
This is the city. They have FIVE malls in this one city. That’s right, for the shopaholic that like to shop while they travel this is a perfect place to spend some days and $$$. I know this is a third world country, and that might give you the impression that maybe shopping here will not be up to par, but we Europeans stores that aren't even available in Louisiana. You'll find stores like Zara, Pull Bear, and Bershka.
It is both old towns in feel, with city views.
This is for sure best place to fly to when flying to Honduras. There are three airport options for flying international flights, San Pedro Sula, Roatan, and Tegucigalpa. Roatan is the most expensive. San Pedro Sula's Airport has been voted one of the best airports in Central America, so I would definitely recommend it.
You can take a hike up the "Coca-Cola” sign, our version of the Hollywood Sign. If you ask anyone about the Coca- Cola sign in San Pedro Sula, they will point you in the right direction. This hike is newbie friendly, the whole way up to the sign it is semi-paved for you to walk up. You should know that it is a 45min-hour hike uphill, but it is the most fantastic view of the city if you are at the sign for sunset or sunrise. At the very top, you can also find vendors selling fresh coconuts, coconut water, fresh oranges, pineapple and bottle waters. This is my favorite place to go to keep active when I travel and don't have a gym available.
Food is a big thing in the city, so foodies will not be disappointed. I'll make sure to write a blog dedicated to food in the city.
To end your time in the city I would strongly recommend that you end your visit with a souvenir shop that is all locally handmade products. The best prices and variety. Guamilito Artesian Market is the best place to get all your take home gifts.
2. La Ceiba:
This is our Carnival, beach town with some beautiful mountains to visit.
This city is known for their carnival, called the Mardi Gras of Honduras. The costal food is so flavorful. You can white water raft down the mountain, you can stay by the beach, and this is the place to get a $60 ferry to the Bay Islands ($200 round trip flight which only takes 15 min).
You must try the whole fried fish; it is just the best. You can have fresh coconuts at the beach and have a good Carne Asada almost anywhere. Depending on the season mangos are a fantastic dessert.
If you drive up the mountain to El Naranjo, you'll find some nice hotels to submerge yourself in the forest and wildlife. Some of these hotels have activities like zip lining and white water rafting which are pretty affordable. I have to say if you want to relax and detox from the world, Villas De Soledad is my favorite place I have ever stayed in La Ceiba.
This special B&B is a home with Spanish architecture and an open floor plan that lets you soak up nature in the comfort of a hammock. If that wasn’t good enough the host, Soledad, can whip you up the most delicious locally sourced breakfast/dinner. Depending on the type of mental detox you are trying to accomplish, this little slice of heaven is also near Healing Places Church’s Honduras Campus (small world right?). For whatever your intentions are, if you’re looking to connect with nature, God, your adventurous side, or just a book, I think La Ceiba is a good combination of nature and beach town.
3. Roatan, Bay Islands.
Now, this is a magical place. If you are a beach person, if you like to scuba dive, if you want to swim with dolphins, hold monkeys, zip line, snorkel, the options are endless. The majority of this island speaks English, so getting around should be easy for first-timers.
There are many resorts that you can look into some are better for groups, others for activities, but the one that holds a special place in my heart has to be Infinity Bay Spa and Beach Resort. This is where I had the chance to spend 4th of July with the guys and a week with my nieces.
First, off the view every morning is like something out of a magazine. The Beach has white sand, and the water is crystal clear. If you're not a beach fan, there are plenty of pools and sun to soak up. If you're into something more entertaining but are on a budget, you can get a 2-hour snorkeling trip to see the 3rd most extensive coral reefs in the world for $25, through activities at Infinity Bay. You can also take a boat ride, look at the dolphins and get to see starfish up close for under $25. You can also take a romantic walk down the beach or take a water taxi ($25) to the other side of the island to explore some more. If you're on a budget best way to save if to stay in a place with a kitchen and cook, but you're not right in the kitchen you should leave the resort. Most areas outside the resort are more affordable than the options in the hotel. Down the beach from Infinity Bay (right side when facing the beach), there is a yummy pizza place that does 2 for 1 pizza every Thursdays (PizzaRama).
If your budget has a little more wiggle room, then you can always do zip lining, definitely fun, but will cost you between $50-85 per person depending on who you know. Scuba diving is big on the Island. You can get certified for scuba diving in as little as 3-4 days! Certification will cost between $300-400 depending on where you go. Some of these places have stay and scuba certification packages that are definitely worth taking a look at. When it comes to food, there is Gio's Restaurant. Gio’s has seafood for days and it is one of the oldest restaurants on the island. Be aware that you will drop some money if you want to try some of their top plates. There are activities like swimming with dolphins ($90) and glass bottom boats ride. You could also check out some of the wildlife in the area, like iguanas, sloths, monkeys and so much more.
4. Copan (Ruins):
Final I had the chance to visit the Mayan Ruins for the first time in 18 years. The experience is something to remember forever. It is almost impossible to wrap your brain around the history of this place. The entry fee is $15. A guided tour cost $25 per trip (up to 10 guests). The Tunnels cost $12 extra and $10 more, for a guided tour.
Because of the hot weather in Honduras, I recommended that you attend in the early morning. If this is your first time and want to do the most of the visit, I would pay the extra bucks. You'll get to know what you're looking at and would like to get to know more of the history.
I want to be honest the drive from San Pedro Sula is your best route, but the roads are rough and need maintenance so take your time when you drive out there. Once in Copan, you can get around via Tuk Tuk (motor taxis) which are cheap and easy to find.
Lastly going to the small town center is a good ending. You can get yourself grilled corn or fresh fruits for the road. I will confess that I have only been to the ruins and the town and I haven't had the pleasure of staying the night there, but I would recommend it. After the 4 hour drive and walking the ruins, you will find it more enjoyable to stay the night and make it a two-day trip.
Honduras has much to show. I haven't seen it all, but I will be sharing more about the different goal I have set for this year that involve this beautiful place. Ill have something for the foodies, something for the adventurous ones and those who want ideas for their next vacation.
- With Gratitude + Love