Spectacular diving and snorkeling draw visitors from around the world to the three Bay Islands (Islas de la Bahía) – Roatán, Utila and Guanaja – located between 25km and 50km off the north coast of Honduras. Their reefs are part of the second-largest barrier reef in the world, and teem with fish, coral, sponges, rays, sea turtles and even whale sharks.
Roatán is the largest and most developed of the Bay Islands. Long and thin (50km long, but only 2km to 4km wide), the island is (like neighboring Utila) a real diving and snorkeling mecca – virtually its entire coastline is fringed by an astonishingly diverse coral reef teeming with tropical fish.
La Ceiba is known as Honduras’ good-time town: 'Tegucigalpa thinks, San Pedro Sula works and La Ceiba parties,' so the saying goes. Certainly this port city's buzzing nightlife makes it a mecca for fiesta-hungry Hondurans, though nearly all the action is over the estuary in Barrio La Isla, the city’s zona viva (nightlife district).
San Pedro Sula
The business and industrial capital of Honduras, San Pedro generates almost two-thirds of the country’s GDP, with thousands employed in giant maquila (clothes-weaving) factories. It's wealthier and more sophisticated than Tegucigalpa, despite its horrendous reputation for gang violence.
This tiny, traditional mountain town is well worth a stop if you've an interest in Lenca life and culture. Excursions include a trek to La Cascada de los Duendes, which goes through cloud forest and a series of waterfalls, ending with a coffee finca tour; and El Cañon Encantado, a tour of local beauty spots.
The town of Copán Ruinas, often simply called Copán, is a beautiful place, paved with cobblestones and lined with white adobe buildings with red-tiled roofs. It's also one of the most charming and traveler-oriented places in Honduras, with a friendly local population, widely spoken English and some great hotels and restaurants.
The Moskitia, that vast part of Honduras you see on maps with very few roads, is one of the region's last frontiers of untamed wilderness. Huge expanses are virtually untouched jungle, and when combined with magnificent wetland and savanna habitats it's no wonder Moskitia is often dubbed Central America's Amazon.
Santa Rosa de Copán
Santa Rosa de Copán is a workaday mountain town with cobbled streets and some lovely, restored colonial buildings. There's little to see in the town itself, but as a base in the region it's a decent choice. The annual festival day is August 30; the town is also renowned for its colorful Semana Santa celebrations.