The Most Beautiful Spots in Honduras

Scarlet macaws fly through Copan, where the ruins of a long-abandoned Mayan city are one of the biggest attractions in Honduras
Scarlet macaws fly through Copan, where the ruins of a long-abandoned Mayan city are one of the biggest attractions in Honduras | © Diego Grandi / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Courtney Stanley
12 April 2021

Whether you are interested in the ancient Mayan ruins at Copán, hiking through the Pico Bonito National Park or freediving in the Bay Islands, these are Culture Trip’s pick of the best things to do in Honduras.

While Honduras’ crime stats are frequently published all over the media, those that venture to Central America’s second largest country will be pleasantly surprised. Friendly locals, diverse wildlife and pristine scuba diving in Utila await, plus there are far fewer touts swarming around tourist attractions in Honduras.

Copán ruins

Ruins
Map View
Central Plaza, Copan, UNESCO World Heritage Site, Honduras, Central America
© robertharding / Alamy Stock Photo

The Copán ruins are an ancient Mayan site, discovered in 1570 by Diego García de Palacio. This area was deeply important as a political, civil and religious center of the Copan Valley. The city was occupied by the Maya for around 2,000 years, and it was abandoned in the 10th century. It’s now a Unesco World Heritage site, and you can wander at will through the vast area and learn about the history of the ancient civilization. Explore the Maya citadel, where you’ll see portrait-style stone monuments called stelae, overlapping step-pyramids, and many ruined buildings.

Pico Bonito National Park

Park, Natural Feature
Map View
La Ceiba, Honduras: kayaker on the Canrejal river in the pico Bonito national park
© Barna Tanko / Alamy Stock Photo

Pico Bonito National Park is located in the Nobre de Dios mountain range, bordered in by pineapple plantations, cattle farms and the Rio Santiago and Cangrejal rivers. Inside the park is a mountain peak that reaches up to 2,435m (7,988ft) above sea level. Pico Bonito’s plant and wildlife vary from tropical forests in its valleys to high-elevation cloud forests on the peaks. A popular destination within the park is The Lodge at Pico Bonito, a privately owned ecolodge that is surrounded by lush wildlife and forestry. Pico Bonito is regarded as one of the best parks for outdoor activities in Honduras, and there are tours and other outdoor adventures such as kayaking or whitewater rafting.

Utila

Natural Feature
Map View
A boat is suspended above the Caribbean Sea on the island of Utila in Honduras
© Phil Gates / Alamy Stock Photo
Utila is one of the Bay Islands of Honduras that built its reputation on affordable and abundant diving facilities. Although the prices aren’t quite as good as they used to be, it’s still the best place to go to spot young whale sharks and swim majestic coral reefs. Utila is a popular tourist destination with young backpackers because of its relatively cheap accommodation – the small island is filled with all kinds of hotels, restaurants, and bars along the few designated roads. Much of this lovely island isn’t developed and to access those areas, you’ll need to travel by sea.

Jeannette Kawas National Park

Park, Natural Feature
Map View
White Faced Monkey,
© Lesleyanne Ryan / Alamy Stock Photo

This park is named after the environmental activist Jeannette Kawas who was murdered in 1995 after fighting to get this land protected status as a national park. It’s bursting with wildlife, from howler and white-faced monkeys on land to manatees and marine turtles in the sea, plus more than 100 species of birds in the air. The surroundings are just as varied, with lagoons, coral reefs, tropical rainforests, swamps and wetlands, making it a key tourist attraction in Honduras. Boat trips along the Río Ulúa are available to give travelers a chance to see the wildlife close up. Extreme adventurers might want to rent their own boat or hike solo, but more relaxed travelers can stick to an organized tour or ramble along the beautiful sandy beaches.

Roatán

Natural Feature
Map View
Roatan Island, Honduras. Panoramic view of the island.
© Sorin Colac / Alamy Stock Photo

Roatán is a long, thin Bay Island that has become a popular Honduras tourist attraction in recent years. Diving and snorkeling among the abundant coral reefs attract most visitors, while West Bay is a popular place for travelers to stay – hotels range from budget options to more exclusive pricey stays. Although its beaches are the main draw, Roatán also has pine-forested mountainous areas, and the east side of the island is still relatively remote and unexplored.

Lake Yojoa

Natural Feature
Map View
Lake Yojioa
© Donal Caliz / Unsplash.com

Lake Yojoa, located in a cavity formed by volcanoes long ago, is the largest lake in Honduras, with a surface area of 79sq km (30sq mi). It is one of Honduras’ major tourist attractions. The lake is conveniently located along a highway that travels between Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula, two of the country’s largest cities. Sadly, the lush landscape is threatened by deforestation, cattle ranching and development. From here, you can hike to a remote waterfall and visit nearby coffee plantations. Keep your eyes peeled for rare birds (nearly 500 species have seen around the shoreline).

Comayagua

Architectural Landmark
Map View
Cathedral of Comayagua, Honduras
© Jim Zuckerman / Alamy Stock Photo

The former capital of Honduras, Comayagua is a high elevation city found along the highway between Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula, and famous for its Spanish colonial architecture. The city was an important place for politics and religion until it lost its title as the capital in 1880. Wander through the small city to view the stunning architecture; the cathedral has the oldest clock in the Americas, and the 16th-century neoclassical city hall is also impressive. During Easter, it is a great place to watch the traditional Catholic celebrations.

Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve

Natural Feature
Map View
green iguana, common iguana (Iguana iguana), sitting on a tree, Honduras
© Blickwinkel / Alamy Stock Photo

This Unesco World Heritage site is one of the best places to see the plants and animals of Central America’s tropical rainforest. Along with thick rainforests, open savannahs and mountainous regions, Río Plátano is home to more than 2,000 indigenous people and many important archeological sites. The best way to explore is on foot – book a guided hiking tour along the mountain trails and you might spot harpy eagles, colorful macaws, sloths and maybe even a jaguar hiding in the undergrowth. River rafting tours are also available for adrenaline seekers.

The Mosquitia (or Moskitia)

Natural Feature
Map View
children of Miskito people at a river bank, Honduras, La Mosquitia, Las Marias
© Blickwinkel / Alamy Stock Photo

The Mosquitia biosphere reserve is one of the country’s last fully undeveloped areas. This area of swampy mangroves, untouched rainforests, and wild coastlines makes up almost a fifth of the entire country, and yet it only has two real roads and a modest population of indigenous peoples. You’ll find incredible wildlife, fantastic views and a thriving local culture. Far from your regular Honduras tourist attraction, a stay in Mosquitia is extremely basic – with no electricity or toilets – but it is an eye-opening experience for those with an adventurous spirit.

Cusuco National Park

Natural Feature, Park
Map View
An emerald toucanet, Aulacorhynchus prasinus, in a cloud forest tree.
© George Grall / Alamy Stock Photo

This national park is another well-conserved area of Honduras, located behind the city of San Pedro Sula. It’s no easy task getting into the park, because many roads can be inaccessible, but you can get the most out of your trip by hiring a local guide to help you navigate the forest as well as find tropical birds and other wildlife. More than 260 species of bird have been spotted in the park. The best time to see them is early morning; if you visit between April and June, you’re more likely to catch sight of parrots, toucans, and quetzals.

These recommendations were updated on April 12, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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