The second-largest country in Central America, Honduras is a sprawl of mountains, islands, coastal plains and tropical lowlands. But despite the distances involved and the varied topography, getting around is relatively straightforward.
The country is well covered by a network of flights and bus routes, with boats running to outlying islands and local variations on the taxi plugging any gaps.
However, travel can be weather-dependent – on top of occasional earthquakes, during the rainy season (June to October), you may be slowed down by landslides and mudslides, so give yourself extra travel time.
Weather patterns in Honduras are less predictable these days – canceled transportation during the September to November hurricane season is possible. Here’s everything you need to know about getting around Honduras by plane, bus, boat, bicycle and taxi.
Hop on the plane if you’re short on time
You may prefer to avoid flying for environmental reasons, but for those on a tight schedule, Honduras’ largest airport in Tegucigalpa connects the capital with regional destinations such as San Pedro Sula, La Ceiba, Tela, Choluteca and Puerto Lempira. There are also airstrips on the three Bay Islands of Roatán, Utila and Guanaja.
Domestic flights are provided by Avianca, Aerolíneas Sosa, CM Airlines, Aerocaribe, Aviatsa and Lanhsa. Popular routes such as Tegucigalpa to Roatán, La Ceiba to Roatán, Guanaja and Puerto Lempira are served by multiple airlines. There are also daily flights to Utila with CM Airlines and Aerolíneas Sosa from San Pedro Sula.
While ideal for international travel, Palmerola International Airport in Comayagua does offer some domestic flights as well.
Honduras rewards “slow travel” on two wheels
Cycling around Honduras is an extremely eco-friendly way to get around; the main roads are paved and generally in good condition, and distances between towns are not so long that you’d need to worry about camping wild.
Be prepared for sweltering conditions in the lowlands, carry plenty of water and expect torrential deluges during the rainy season.
Traffic outside the main cities and towns is pretty light. Most main roads have hard shoulders and drivers are generally respectful of cyclists. While long-distance cycle touring is fairly unusual in Honduras, you’ll see many locals cycling in the countryside to get from A to B.
A touring bike with good tires is essential, as is a comprehensive repair kit, as you may find it difficult to source spare parts for anything other than mountain bikes and bicycle repair shops are few and far between.
Most local flights, some long-distance buses and the La Ceiba to Roatán ferry will stow bicycles in the luggage compartments at extra cost.
Tour the Bay Islands and La Moskitia’s remote waterways by boat
The island of Utila, the closest Bay Island to the mainland, can be reached from La Ceiba via the small and rather basic Utila Princess catamaran ferry. The crossing takes around an hour and seating is on benches along the sides of the boat.
The pricier (and vastly more comfortable) option is the Utila Dream – a modern catamaran yacht that connects Utila to La Ceiba (45 minutes, four to five daily), with connections on to Roatán (one hour, twice daily). There's also a single daily sailing between Roatán and La Ceiba.
You can also reach Roatán – the largest and most popular of Honduras’ islands – from La Ceiba on the twice-daily Galaxy Wave, a modern, two-deck ferry with a cafe and comfortable seating.
Galaxy Wave also has daily sailings between Roatán and Guanaja, the most remote and basic of the three Bay Islands. There are also irregular boat connections between Guanaja and Puerto Cortés, and Guanaja and Trujillo.
The lagoons, rivers, untouched jungles and little-visited settlements of the La Moskitia region in eastern Honduras represent one of the remotest parts of Central America. The area can only be reached by colectivo boats departing from Batalla (reachable by bus and pickup truck from Trujillo and Tocoa).
Save money by using the bus to get around Honduras
It’s very easy to get around Honduras by bus. Long-distance services are divided into three categories: servicio a escala or parando (local buses that make many stops and are packed to the brim with people and assorted luggage); servicio directo (faster, pricier and more comfortable services) and servicio de lujo (air-conditioned European- and Brazilian-made buses with reclining seats).
Directo or lujo buses are best for comfort and safety; reputable bus companies include Viana Transportes and Hedman Alas. Many buses tend to depart early in the day; it’s best to avoid overnight journeys as they are more prone to accidents and occasional holdups by robbers.
It can be quicker to reach your destination aboard a local minibus, but they tend to drive at breakneck speeds compared to the more sedate journeys on full-sized buses.
Rent a car for the greatest flexibility while exploring Honduras
Hiring a car or bringing your own motorbike gives you the most flexibility when it comes to getting around Honduras, but it’s unlikely to save you money.
You’ll need a license from your home country to rent a car; international car rental companies have offices at airports in Tegucigalpa, San Pedro Sula, La Ceiba and on Roatán. Starting rental costs tend to be around US$45 per day, or up to US$90 if you’re looking to rent a 4WD.
There's usually a mandatory Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) that can more than double your daily car hire costs. Main highways, including the Panamericana, are paved and in reasonably good condition, and tolls apply on some roads.
Elsewhere, roads may be unsurfaced and road conditions can vary wildly, depending on recent rainfall; a 4WD is an asset.
There's no Uber in Honduras, but taxis are inexpensive
Global rideshare companies don't operate in Honduras, but taxis in larger cities and towns are ubiquitous and inexpensive. They come in two types: cooperativas and independientes. The cooperativas operate along fixed routes, indicated by a sticker or sign on the windshield and fares are non-negotiable.
You can hail independientes on any street and they will take you wherever you want to go; prices depend on your bargaining skills. In rural towns, taxis are almost invariably of the three-wheeled variety, known either as “mototaxis” or “tuk-tuks.”
Why I adore boat travel in Honduras
No two boat journeys are ever the same in Honduras. Sometimes it’s a smooth ride, with the sea breeze whipping through your hair as the catamaran glides through calm, cerulean waters.
Other times, you’re looking up at the stormy skies and thinking that maybe the shortish crossing to Utila won’t be so bad, only to find yourself clutching the wooden bench you’re sitting on for dear life and wishing you had a barf bag handy as the boat bounces on house-sized waves.
Then there are the river-boat rides through the jungle in the La Moskitia region that drift sedately between Honduras’ remotest settlements. Smooth or rough, boat travel here is never ever boring!
Accessible travel in Honduras
Honduras doesn't provide much support for travelers with disabilities, other than in upscale hotels and resorts. Wheelchair users will find it difficult to get around because of poor-quality sidewalks and cobblestones.
Public transportation is not geared to less-able travelers, though the ferries to Roatán do offer wheelchair access. For more information on accessible travel, see Lonely Planet's Accessible Travel Resources.