Honduras is the 2nd biggest country of Central America in size. Still, Honduras has only 7 million inhabitants. The capital is Tegucigalpa, a city that has little to offer to tourists. Honduras owes its name to Christopher Columbus who, on his fourth and last trip, landed near Trujillo. He thought the waters before the coast were very deep (in Spanish ‘hondo’) and named the bay ‘Golfo de honduras’: de deep bay. This was his first and only journey where he set foot on the main land of Central America. Most of the sights in Honduras can be found in the north east of the country. That is why tourists often fly to San Pedro Sula and not Tegucigalpa. The beautiful Caribbean coast with the Bay Island and the town of Copan near the Guatemalan border are the highlights of Honduras.
Copan has special Mayan excavations. From Guatemala many travelers will only ‘hop’ over the border to see the Mayan ruins in Copan. That’s a shame, because the Caribbean coast of Honduras is unsurpassed and more beautiful than de Caribbean or the Pacific coasts of Guatemala. Honduras still has a lot of unspoiled rain forests. The biggest part is called Mosquitia and is located in the south east of the country. There are no roads to Mosquitia. To get there you would have to fly or reach the area by boat. One big piece of unspoiled nature, only for the adventure seeker!
Honduras has a big biodiversity, almost comparable to that of Costa Rica: 700 species of bird, 245 species of reptiles and 110 species of mammals. The Garifuñas, the original inhabitants of the coastal area have kept their colorful clothing and music, see picture below. Trujillo, the place where Columbus landed has impressive cathedrals and squares from the 17th century.
La Ceiba is the main spot for eco tourism in Honduras with 4 national parks in the area. La Ceiba is an ethnic melting pot with people descending from the original inhabitants of the coastal area of Central America (Garifuñas). People that originally came from the Bay islands the Miskito’s and a good part foreigners. It is known for its Cangrejal River with perfect wild water rafting and kayak possibilities. There are also various hot springs in the area. This small town on the Caribbean coast has 180.000 inhabitants and tourism is not very developed yet. This has the advantage that hardly anybody speaks English and you will be exposed to Honduran culture. A great place to practice your Spanish with locals! Another plus: for a beach destination it is a very cheap place to learn Spanish. Not just because of the prices of the courses and the accommodation but having dinner in a restaurant or going out for a beer is also very affordable. For transportation within the city you use taxis. There is a fixed price of $1.20 within the city so transportation is cheap and fast. La Ceiba has a lively night life with lots of nice little restaurants, bars and discotheques. At the end of May they hold their yearly carnival, a big spectacle that attracts half a million people from all over the world.
Utila is located twenty-nine kilometers from La Ceiba, the main land of Honduras. The island is 11 kilometers long and four kilometers wide at its widest point. It has 3500 inhabitants. It is surrounded by coral reef which makes the underwater world very special. You don´t have to dive to see gorgeous brightly colored fish. The water is crystal clear and sky blue because of the white sandy underground, picture perfect Caribbean, see right. Utila is mostly known under backpackers for being the cheapest place to get your PADI, worldwide! The reef surrounding Utila is part of the Meso American barrier reef which makes it the second biggest reef in the world after the great barrier reef of Australia; it stretches from Cancun in Mexico to the most southern tip of Honduras. Utila has at least 60 different diving spots to choose from. There are several shipwrecks like for example the Halliburton wreck which is well known among divers. Also very special is the presence of whale sharks, the biggest fish in the world, they can reach lengths of 40 feet (12 meters) or more. Whale sharks are not dangerous, they only eat vegetation.
Honduras, once a British colony, has also known Spanish colonial rule. The inhabitants of Utila are mainly dark skinned. Around the island you will find many keys, some are privately owned and you can’t visit them, but others you can visit. These are those typical bounty-islands as you know them from commercials and cartoons: sky blue water, white sandy beaches and a tiny island with a few palm trees and simply nothing else. Make sure you take a trip to one of those keys. What to bring? Drinking water, a snorkeling set, sun tanning oil and something to eat, maybe a good book. But be careful: don’t just sit under a palm tree, because a coconut on your head you might not survive……
The ‘siesta’ is a Spanish custom, which is not common in Latin America, however Utila is an exception. Nowhere else you will see so many people sleeping in a rocking chair or hammock between noon and 3 pm. Even the local street dogs have taken over this habit! On the main square in the village a pack of street dogs will be taking their siesta. They lie on their backs in the shadow of the trees with their legs up in the air. Nowhere have I seen such relaxed street dogs as on Utila, even outside the siesta time! But then again, the street dogs do tend to take over the behavior of the local people…….
Go back to the homepage to see how our site is build up into Spanish Courses, volunteer work, and travel with or without Spanish courses. Or go back to the page with the description of Spanish courses in the different places in Honduras.
- Lonely Planet Honduras
- Weather: weather.com
- Vaccinations: http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/traveler/none/honduras
Spanish courses on line:
Honduran Newspaper (Spanish):