What a difference a year makes! Last year, our Honduras Travel Advisory 2019 was focused on safe destinations in Honduras. This year, our Honduras Travel Advisory 2020 will be more focused on Covid-19. How can you safely travel through Honduras during these times? The trend is now on social distancing, and we are now trying to provide you with useful travel tips for post covid-19 vacations in Honduras.
For the last over 120 days, Honduras has been in a lockdown. There is a curfew in effect, and you are not allowed to travel within the country. Officially, we must all stay home during the weekends. We are allowed out once every two weeks to buy groceries, visit the pharmacy and buy anything we need. When you visit the supermarkets, they will ask you for your ID. If its last number does not match the authorized number for the day, you will not be allowed in! So, it is imperative that you travel with your ID. When going shopping, you will need your local ID or your resident card. If you are a foreigner or tourist, your passport will work.
Because of the Curfew, travel between different cities is exceedingly difficult. To do so, you will need a “Salvoconducto” which is a document of safe passage throughout the country. These are hard to come by, and are basically only provided to truckers, doctors, army, police, and official government entities. Unfortunately, there is no clear idea of when this lockdown will be lifted. As such, our first and upmost advice for this Honduras Travel Advisory 2020 is do not plan your vacation trip to Honduras until the curfew is lifted! We will keep you posted on this through this blog. Believe me that we are all waiting for this exciting news, whenever it comes along…
Perhaps the most isolated of all destinations in country at this moment are the Bay Islands of Honduras. The Islands have been in a lock down, and unless you are a legal resident in the islands, there is no way you can get there. I was surprised to hear that the only international airport in Honduras that has not yet been certified to operate Covid free is the Roatan Airport. It happens to be that the island lockdown has not allowed officials from Tegucigalpa to travel to Roatan to certify their process! The ferry is not operating either, only cargo ships can provide much needed supplies for the community. Apparently, they will be there next week to certify the Covid-19 bio security protocols.
Need a Flight to get Back Home?
As for international flights into Honduras, there have been continuous scheduled flights for “humanitarian reasons”. These are operated by United Airlines from Houston International Airport to San Pedro Sula and Tegucigalpa. Spirit Airlines is offering limited service from their hub in Fort Lauderdale, Florida to San Pedro Sula. However only Honduran citizens and legal residents can board the southbound flights. All passengers are subject to a 14-day mandatory quarantine upon arrival to Honduras. This quarantine is usually within government set up centers that in my opinion, are ideal to catch the virus. This because social distancing is complicated within the crowded sports arenas where they have set the centers at.
As for the northbound flights, these are only for US Citizens or citizens that have ongoing tickets to fly back to their countries. Capacity is limited, and prices are not cheap. For northbound flight info, visit the USA embassy in Tegucigalpa social media pages for up to date information. You can also check with the airline directly.
Our Honduras Travel Advisory 2020: Stay home until we flatten the curve.
Regardless of whether I ask the National Chamber of Tourism, or the Ministry of Tourism, nobody has a clear idea of when things will change. There is a concerted effort to flatten the Covid-19 curve in Honduras. However, it has not been successful so far. Because of this, my best Honduras Travel Advisory 2020 is that you stay at home. Remember, the best way to defeat this invisible enemy is staying at home and maintaining social distancing. Travel, whether by bus or air is not a good idea under the current conditions.
It appears as if domestic flights within Honduras will commence soon. However, it is unclear if they will be offering service to the Bay Islands. I imagine that for starters, they will be operating between Tegucigalpa, San Pedro Sula and La Ceiba. Keep in mind though that there are still no taxis out on the street. This means that once you arrive at your destination, you will need someone to pick you up to get you from the airport to your destination in town…
The good news is that the travel industry in Honduras is taking all the necessary measures to keep you healthy once the travel restrictions are lifted. Honduras offers many great destinations where social distancing is extremely easy. Jungle lodges, national parks, secluded beaches, and archaeological parks in Honduras offer ideal conditions to visit safely.
For your upcoming trip to Honduras, I suggest that you seek out specific destinations that are ideal for social distancing and in close contact to the great outdoors. My top selections for this Honduras Travel Advisory 2020 are:
This is without doubt the premier Nature and Adventure Hub in Honduras. Many consider it part of La Ceiba, but it is in itself a very complete destination. Offering access to two National Parks, Pico Bonito National Park and Nombre de Dios National Park, you can choose between many different trails, both public and private. The spectacular Cangrejal River offers outstanding alternatives for a variety of activities. These include white water rafting, white water kayaking and river hiking. For more adrenaline pumping through your body, check out the zip line canopy tour at Jungle River Lodge or do some canyoneering at Las Cascadas Lodge. This last activity includes rappelling down the face of pristine waterfalls within Nombre de Dios National Park.
Best of all is the fact that this area has a total of 10 small lodges and inns. These are all unique and you are sure to find one that fits your needs like a glove! They all offer between 3 and 8 rooms, and either offer activities directly or through one of the 4 tour operators in the area. They offer bird watching tours, horse back riding tours, visits to the local communities and even mountain biking. If you just want to unwind and enjoy nature, you will love relaxing in your hammock and reading your favorite book. Most of the rooms in the area have great cross ventilation and do not require air conditioning, so you need not worry about any nasty virus being spread by the a/c.
Pico Bonito National Park
Pico Bonito National Park is one of the largest national parks in Honduras, and for that matter, Central America. The name comes from the majestic peak locals’ call Pico Bonito. It is a triangular peak that reaches above 8000 feet! This is the highest peak along the Atlantic coast between the Labrador Peninsula in Canada and the Sierra Nevada in Colombia. Access to the peak itself is complicated and grueling. La Moskitia Ecoaventuras, one of the local tour operators in the area had conducted expeditions to the peak. These are usually a 7-day experience, with 4 days used to hike up and 3 for the downhill return. I know a couple of young adventurers who made it in tree days. That was two days to the summit and one day back down. But they were young and fit!
There are basically two areas within Pico Bonito National Park that you can enjoy. The first is along the Cangrejal River Valley. A second area is west of La Ceiba, within the community of El Pino. Here you will find two different hotels. This is where you can find the World-Famous Lodge at Pico Bonito. This is the premier bird watching lodge in Honduras. They also have many camera traps along their trail. There is evidence of Jaguars roaming the trails at night! Just imagine, the same trail you went hiking on in the morning is used by a Jaguar to find his prey after dark! Unfortunately, your chances of sighting a jaguar are extremely slim, but just knowing they are there makes for an exciting hike!
Lake Yojoa is the largest natural lake in Honduras. It is on the main road that connects San Pedro Sula with Tegucigalpa. As such, it is easy to get to. Surprisingly, despite its easy access, it is not a crowded destination and offers many hotels that are ideal to enjoy nature and where social distancing is very easy. The Lake has two different National Parks that surround it. Parque Nacional Azul Meambar, AKA Panacam is on the south east end of the lake. Parque Nacional Santa Barbara is on the north west end of the lake. Sitting at approximately 2000 feet above sea level, the lake offers a very pleasant climate. The area is also outstanding for coffee growing, and therefore, you will find many small coffee farms in the area that you can also visit.
There are many different hotels to choose from in Lake Yojoa. Most are small and ideal to be in close contact with nature. Explore an extinct volcano, hike to a lovely waterfall, visit Pulhapanzak falls and zip across this magnificent waterfall in the unique zip lines that crisscross the falls. Visit the El Naranjo Eco Archaeological site and learn about the ancient Lenca Culture. Finally, explore the lake in a kayak and get up and close to the local birds. You can even visit some magnificent caverns at Taulabe, and look for a hidden ransom reputedly hidden there by an airline hijacker almost four decades ago! Lake Yojoa is a perfect destination for your first post Covid-19 trip! Lake Yojoa offers many different activities to enjoy!
The Bay Island of Guanaja
Few people have heard of Guanaja. It is the easternmost of the Bay Islands of Honduras. Guanaja is one of the most pristine island paradises in the Caribbean. Getting there is not that hard, as they have an airstrip with regular service between La Ceiba and Guanaja Island. There are also some scheduled flights from Roatan’s Juan Manuel Galvez RTB airport. Resorts in Guanaja are all small. The largest property, Grahams Place has a total of 25 private waterfront rooms. This property sits on its very own on Josh Cay in Guanaja. Around the island you will find other smaller, intimate properties, such as the End of the World Resort. Diving in Guanaja is spectacular. And most of the properties offer their own dive services or will be happy to help you arrange for the activity.
Guanaja offers a true “Robinson Crusoe” feeling. You may not see any other tourists other that the few staying at your same hotel. If you want to get a feel for local culture, head on down to Bonacca Town. This is the largest community on the island. It is set on several small cays that have are interconnected by small bridges. It is known as the Caribbean Venice because of the canals that still exist between the cays.
Guanaja is the only Bay Island that has a creek flowing down the mountains. One of the popular activities for tourists is to take a hike up the mountain to visit the waterfalls. Oh, and did I mention that Christopher Columbus himself landed in Guanaja on his fourth and last voyage to the “Indies”? This is where Europeans first encounter with cacao, which is the main source of the chocolate we all love took place!
The East End of Roatan, the Largest Island in the Bay Islands of Honduras
Personally, I think that Roatan has seen better days. It has become an exceedingly popular port of call for cruise ships, and therefore, has lost a lot of its original charm. The good news is that the East End of Roatan is still relatively untouched, and you can get away from it all. Spectacular white sand beaches at Camp Bay, charming towns with a strong Antillean architecture, friendly folks, and some small intimate hotels where you can truly get away from it all. Most tourists that visit Roatan never come close to the East End. If you are looking for glitzy resorts, touristy towns, and crowded beaches, then the East End is not for you. Head on to the West End as most tourists do.
For an intimate, uncrowded beach vacation in Roatan, head on over to the East End. Social distancing, open spaces and beautiful beaches are the perfect post Covid-19 getaway for you!
This small archipelago, just off the coast of the Garifuna community of Sambo Creek in La Ceiba offers a pristine setting. There are few options to spend the night here, but if you want to get away from it all, this is the place. It is interesting to note that four of our top 10 selections for a post Covid-19 are in Atlantida. A magnificent destination were Central America and the Caribbean meet and is home to the Garifuna culture. Atlantida is the perfect destination to get away from the crowds and get up close with nature!
Most people visit Cayos Cochinos as a day tour, but like I mentioned above, there are some unique alternatives. You can rent a room or a cottage at Daryls Place in Cayo Largo Arriba, or stay at the only diving lodge in the Archipelago for some World Class diving. Another great option is to stay at the tiny Garifuna community of East End. They have a community operated lodge which they call Cabañas Laru Beya. Fewer that 100 persons live in this unique Garifuna Village.
The Beaches between Trujillo and Santa Fe on the Caribbean Coast of Honduras
Trujillo is a sleepy, funky town on the Caribbean Coast of Honduras. Up until recently, the only paved highway leading to Trujillo was CA13 from La Ceiba. However, a new fine road now exists between Trujillo and Juticalpa, in Olancho. This means that it is much easier to get to from Tegucigalpa. It also means that you can plan for a round trip to Trujillo using different routes, getting to see more of Honduras. The new highway takes you between two national parks: Sierra de Agalta and La Muralla. Both are spectacular and under visited.
Trujillo itself offers some nature of its own in the Capiro and Calentura National Park as well as at the Laguna de Guaymoreto Wildlife Refuge. Trujillo´s history includes a landing by Christopher Columbus, as well as visits by pirates that led the Spanish Conquistadors to build a fortress to defend the port. Is was also the headquarters of the Trujillo Railroad Company during the heydays of Honduras as a Banana Republic. American writer, Sydney Porter wrote his famous short story titled “Of Cabages and Kings” inspired by his time in Trujillo. Truly an interesting window to life in Honduras at the beginning of the twentieth century.
But in addition to history, Trujillo offers spectacular beaches, lovely Garifuna towns and friendly folks. The area between Trujillo and the Garifuna Village of Guadalupe has miles of pristine beaches. Chances are that you will be that you and your party will be the only persons on the beach!
The Bay of Tela
Tela is without doubt the most popular beach destination in mainland Honduras. As such, there are some large resorts to be found here. However, there are also many smaller hotels on the beach, or with access to the beach that have charm and are away from the crowds you will find in the resorts. Tela, together with Trujillo offer the best beaches in mainland Honduras, and probably of all Central America.
In addition to the main city of Tela, there are several Garifuna communities along the bay. Many offer outstanding small hotels right on the beach. For instance, you can find several hotels in Triunfo de La Cruz. On the opposite end of the Bay you will find Tornabe. Here is where the luxurious Indura Beach Resort can be found. The setting there is perfect for a relaxed beach vacation. Don´t forget that there are two national parks within Tela Bay: Jeannette Kawas National Park, AKA Punta Sal, and Punta Izopo National Park. In addition, the Lancetilla Botanical Gardens offer you an insight to the rich Banana Republic heritage of Honduras. This is the largest botanical garden in the Americas!
I can´t imagine a more inspiring spot for a vacation with social distancing in Honduras than Copan Ruinas. This magnificent Archaeological Park is part of the Maya Heritage that Honduras offers to the World. You will be surprised to find that there is a lot more than the main archaeological park in Copan Ruinas. There are several other sites nearby that will paint a more complete story about this ancient, advanced civilization!
There are several great hotel alternatives if you prefer not to stay in town. For one, Hacienda San Lucas offers a magnificent vantage point from where you can see the entire Copan Valley. Sunsets are spectacular, and it is common for scarlet macaws to fly around their grounds. Don´t forget, the valley markets itself as the Sacred Valley of the Scarlet Macaw. You will not be disappointed. Another great option for a hotel with ample spaces between its rooms is Hacienda El Jaral, just 9 km outside of Copan Ruinas.
And speaking of macaws, you will not want to miss the lovely bird park at Macaw Mountain. This has become the most successful reproduction center for Macaws in Central America. It is certainly the most successful effort to liberate macaws back into the wild. The macaws flying around the valley are living proof of this success! After the lockdown, you be in search of a spa with natural hot springs to revitalize your body and soul. The Luna Jaguar Spa is located in the mountains near Copan Ruinas offers the ideal setting. Oh, and did I mention that the new hydraulic concrete highway leading to Copan is a pleasure to drive? Getting to and from Copan Ruinas has never been easier.
The Miskito Coast of Honduras
If you are looking for an adventure of a lifetime, while practicing social distancing, consider an expedition through the Rio Platano Biosphere Reserve in Honduras. This is one of two World Heritage sites in Honduras. (The other is the Copan Ruinas Maya Archaeological Park). This expedition can take between 8 and 10 days. La Moskitia Ecoaventuras offers this unique adventure, where you will go days without seeing another human, other than those on your expedition! Marvel at the tropical rain forests here. Discover the petroglyphs on the boulders within the river, this is centuries old art left to us by Paya Indians.
Although you will technically be “roughing it out” on this experience, you will have all the basic comforts, eat great meals and be up close to nature. As you silently flow down the Rio Platano, you be lucky enough to sneak up on some of the local fauna. Travelers have reportedly spotted the majestic jaguar, as well as white lipped peccary and Bairds tapirs. All three species of macaw that are native to Honduras are regularly seen here. This is truly an adventure of a lifetime. Best of all, you will be effortlessly complying with all the protocols of social distancing for several days!
As you can see, there are many great places where you can enjoy tourism safely and comfortly in the upcoming post Covid-19 World in Honduras. Honduras is still a low key, fairly unknown travel destination. Take advantage and visit it soon, as it will eventually become a high volume, trendy destination. I trust that our Honduras Travel Advisory 2020 has made you comfortable about travel in Honduras and helped you define your best vacation alternatives within this country.