Can you really love and hate a country in equal measure? Well you can. I can and I do and my love hate relationship is with Honduras.
Why I went to Honduras?
It’s not exactly a country on the everyday holiday wish list or on every travelers itinerary. As my mum kindly pointed out its also pretty high up on most lists of places NOT to visit. I’m not one to be put off by the NOT to visit lists unless there is of course an actual travel warning or a real live war happening. In fact some of the not so “hot list” destinations have turned out to be some of my favorite places like Cape Verde and Nicaragua (way way back in the day, pre-Christmas yoga detox retreats). Anyway I digress. On a serious note Honduras has one of the highest murder rates in the world. If you do travel to Honduras be cautious, book your accommodation in advance and be sure to know your routes, pick up points and travel company names / contacts etc. The reason I chose to visit Honduras was because I wanted to go here…..
The Bay Island Honduras
Where we visited in Honduras?
I have a felling that listing the names of most of the places in Honduras we visited might be as good as listing the names of a galaxy far far away, here goes anyway. We crossed the border with Guatemala at Entre Rios in Izabal and drove to Omoa, Puerto Cortez, La Ceiba, Roatan in the Bay Islands (we did not take the car here) and the Copan Ruins. We didn’t take any public transport and yes I drove a car. Not sure I would recommend this to others the roads are pretty nuts but more about this another time. My Central American road trip guide is in the making. In the meantime you can always read my post on The 10 craziest things that happened on my Central American road trip.
The coastal road from Omoa to Puerto Cortez is actually very interesting. You get a real sense of the local life passing by small shacks, fishing villages and Garifuna communities. Garifuna are the local name given to the Black Caribbean community who have thought to have reached Central american shores from St. Vincent. In 1635 a slave carrying vessel shipwrecked of the Caribbean Island and its locals rescued and integrated its passengers thought to be from West Africa. There descendants are the present day Garifuna. If you are interested in naval history or would like to see a fort the fort in Omoa is pretty cool to see and grabbing a bite to eat at one of the fish barbecue shacks on the seashore is a great way to watch the sunset. We didn’t stay in Omoa but decided to sleep in Puerto Cortez. Why?
Dont rush to do that. We stayed in a hotel costing 61$ the single most expensive hotel during my entire Central American trip. This was also the single most depressing hotel during my Central American trip. Oh and the sand flies, they actually drew blood. Let me make one thing clear the staff at this hotel were exceptional but it was just weird, sorry Hotel Costa Azul. Our dinner here cost 25$. Ahhh I can’t, I’m still mad at myself that I didn’t stay at a hostel in Omoa except it wasn’t even there anymore! Puerto Cortez = nothing to see here. Big shipping port end of.
My 25$ meal. Ugh
La Ceiba and the Island of Roatan
We did not love it. Roatan is beautiful but caters to cruise ships and this really tarnished its charm for me. $16 for a pasta dish? We were lucky to get a room at Roatan Hostel though. A very welcoming and community spirited set up where travelers seem to stay on a more long-term basis. Many of the guests were volunteering at the local hospital and a few were taking advantage of the cheap diving prices. Both the houses have a kitchen and the bigger house has a great little pool and a bird nest rooftop with a stunning view. Maybe the lack of quality budget accommodation means that the travelers we met here really seemed surer friendly and helpful? Anyway I highly recommend it. The island beaches are stunning the sand is fine and the sea is crystal clear and every shade of blue. You don’t need to be a diver to appreciate the sealife either. Just a snorkel and mask brings you into another kaleidoscope world. The surface life is somewhat different. The locals are very money orientated, tours are very expensive as are restaurants, supermarkets and taxis which are often the only way to get from point A to B. We used buses as much as possible which are small and cramped but regular. I don’t know whats missing exactly but the carribean laid back, tropical atmosphere I was expecting was not to be found on Roatan for me. Sorry.
Driving from La Ceiba – Copan
If you can avoid doing this I would. Most of the road is ok but then it might become a dirt track or a single lane railway bridge with no lights and no railings. It really is the stuff of nightmares. This road also takes you through some real back routes and rural communities. Maybe I went to wrong way who knows but its tough going. I couldn’t do it in a day and had to spend the night what turned out to be only a 30 minutes drive away from Copan itself. It was exhausting and dusty and grueling.
Copan Ruins and Macaw Mountain
The highlight of Honduras for me were the Copan Ruins and the wonderful Macaw Mauntain Park. We stayed at the outstanding La Casa De Cafe in Copan town. Its hosts are house proud and knowledgable. Two qualities more hosts around the world should possess. The views are beautiful and the breakfast outstanding. This was one of my favorite places we stayed in Central America. Copan is also a charming town. We ate in the local street market however I hear that there are lots of great restaurants here too. We took a tuk tuk to both the ruins and to one of my favorite place in Central America the Macaw Mountain Bird Park and Nature reserve. Do not miss this beautiful piece of pure love. The passion that has gone into building, designing and maintaining this place is clear from the start. The plants around the entire sanctuary are stunning and I just wish I knew more about tropical flowers to even start to tell you whats there. The award wining coffee shop complete with a plaque honoring one of the most beautiful dog stories I have ever read is charming and its proximity to all the bird calls magical. I could go on. We also visited the Copan ruins. We didn’t take a guide and in retrospect I wish I had. They were amazing but I didn’t really get to know a lot about them just wandering around alone.
I wanted to end this journey on a positive note but my love hate relationship with Honduras continues. In my opinion the accommodation choices and standards are low low low. The roads are bonkers totally perfect in one area and then just disappear. Bye bye road. What the roads don’t lack is police. Officially the land of the most police stops ever. No less than 6 times in 3 days of driving. I wasn’t stopped in Guatemala or El Salvador. Not one bribe paid though, so I guess it was good to find out that one of Central Americas most crime ridden countries has a stand up police force. The food in Honduras was not exactly inspiring or for that matter cheap. 5$ for an home made empenada on Roatan was another low. If you’re not up on your empanada prices then about 50c is more the going rate. I’m not sure Honduras was my bag maybe it will be yours I would love to hear what you thought? Did I miss something?
What I would have done differently in Honduras.
I would not go to Omoa or Puerto Cortez
I would not drive in Honduras
I would have gone to Guanaja not Roatan in the Bay Islands.
I would have got a guide at the Copan ruins.
I would have stayed in Copan town longer and visited The Luna Jaguar hot springs.
My love hate relationship with Honduras.
Oscar Chang not really loving it!