New Years Resolutions, 2019

As 2019 begins, we all have new years resolutions. I believe that one the most important New Years resolutions you can make is to travel. To help you make your 2019 Honduras Travel plans easier, I have put together a list of the towns that you should visit during 2019. I have selected one for each of the 18 Honduras departments. This means that some will be near to you and others not so much.

I challenge you to visit at least 12 of these destinations in 2019. If you do, you will have had a chance to have an authentic Honduras experience!  This experience will make you a bigger fan of Honduras and a better person out of you. Heck, life is meant to be enjoyed, and traveling is the best way to do so! I will list the towns in alphabetical order in reference to the name of the department of reference. I recommend that you read our Honduras Travel Advisory 2019 before you travel throughout Honduras!

Atlantida

New Year resolutions
The Rio Coloradito in La Ceiba. Photo by Peter A Hughes

Home to many Garifuna Villages, Atlantida has a total of 7 protected areas within its territory! It is also the gateway to the Bay Islands of Honduras. I have selected La Ceiba as the city that you should visit during 2019. Yes, I can imagine that most of you have already visited La Ceiba, but did you visit the Cangrejal River Valley, just outside the city? The Cangrejal River Valley is the nature and adventure hot spot in Honduras. You can experience a great white-water rafting trip in the Cangrejal River or fly through the forest canopy in a zip line canopy tour. Need more adventure? How about canyoneering down the face of a tropical waterfall deep in the Nombre de Dios National Park?


the adventure and nature hotspot in Honduras
White Water Rafting in the Cangrejal River near La Ceiba, Honduras.

The river acts as a natural border between two national parks: Nombre de Dios and Pico Bonito. Different trails into both parks provide great hiking alternatives. Although you can stay in any hotel in La Ceiba, I recommend that you select a lodge within the Cangrejal River. There is a total of 8 lodges that are open for business that you can choose from. My favorite Cangrejal River hotel is La Villa de Soledad. This is a charming Spanish Hacienda style lodge with outstanding facilities and service. When you visit La Ceiba, make sure that you visit the Cangrejal River Valley. Plan on at least two full days in the area to enjoy all the options available.


The area offers some of the best birdwatching in Honduras and Central America. There are several local birdwatching guides that you can hire to help you find as many birds as possible. Best of all, you are only minutes away from La Ceiba and a quick ferry ride from the islands of Utila and Roatan.

Colon

Colon is a mostly agricultural department. In the past, it included the department of Gracias a Dios, making as large as Olancho. There is no doubt that the most attractive city to visit in Colon is Trujillo. Trujillo is probably the most historic city in Honduras. It was here that Columbus landed in 1502, making it the first official continental visit by the Europeans to America. It is also the first site where a Catholic Eucharist celebration took place in America.

Trujillo is set in a lovely natural deep bay with spectacular mountains as a background. White sand beaches line the coast, and tropical rainforests cover the mountains. The mountains are home to the Capiro and Calentura National Park. The nearby Guaymoreto Lagoon is a wildlife refuge that has a massive mangrove forest. The refuge is home to many species of birds as well as alligators and even the king of Central American jungles: the mighty jaguar!

William Walker
A view of from the Fortress of Santa Barbara in Trujillo Honduras

Without doubt, the most significant building in town is the old Fortress of Santa Barbara. This fortress was built to keep the British Pirates and from attacking the city. Today, it houses an interesting museum that gives you a view of its interesting history. Some of the downtown streets have been converted into pedestrian walkways and there are some nice restaurants and shops within them. The old Villas Brinkley Colonial Hotel up in the mountains offers one of the best hotel views in Honduras, and arguably, of Central America. The view includes the Bay Island of Guanaja as well as the Cayos Cochinos, both of which are easily seen on a clear day.


new years resolutions
Garifuna Village

The nearby Garifuna communities of Santa Fe, Guadalupe and Cristales offer a great window into this interesting culture. There are several good hotels to choose in Trujillo, and you are sure to find one within your budget. It is interesting to note that with the new highway from Olancho to Trujillo, this destination is now within a short 5 hour drive from Tegucigalpa.


Comayagua

safe Honduras destinations
Colonial streets in Comayagua. Photo John Dupuis

The old colonial capital of Honduras is the capital of the department of Comayagua. The city has made a big effort to rescue its strong colonial heritage. The result is outstanding. Most colonial churches have undergone a full restoration. The parks are a pleasure to visit and enjoy. Best of all, there are several museums that are interesting and will give you a view at the early days of Honduras as a colonial province and independent republic.


Honduras Highways
A stretch of the CA5 highway between Comayagua and Siguatepeque

Getting to Comayagua is very easy. It is on the CA5 highway between Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula. Roughly one hour from Tegus and two from San Pedro Sula. I suggest you plan to stay in one of the downtown hotels, as this means that you will be able to walk through downtown. There is good security in town and within the parks, so you can feel free to walk at ease through downtown Comayagua. If you can, take the tour up the Cathedral belfry and enjoy one of the best views of town. You will also marvel at the old clock that still works and gives the time. Reputedly, it is the oldest working clock in America, and was originally manufactured by the Moors almost 1000 years ago!


Comayagua Historical Monuments
The Comayagua Cathedral. Notice the clock on the belfry.

The new in area in town is La Alameda, one block east of the Cathedral. This is one of the areas in town that resembles the glorious old days of Comayagua. Make sure you visit the different Museums in Comayagua! You should plan on a good two full days in Comayagua to get a good feel of the city. The new Palmerola airport that is under construction is to take the place of Toncontin International Airport in Tegucigalpa. When this happens, travelers going to Tegucigalpa will be landing in Comayagua and then traveling by land to the capital of Honduras.


Copan

New Years Resolution
A full size replica of the Rosalila temple can be seen at the Museum of Maya Sculpture. Photo by Peter A Hughes

Copan, in Western Honduras is best known for the magnificent Mayan Archaeological Park in Copan. But there is a lot more than the park in Copan. The town next to the park, Copan Ruinas, is the perfect place to enjoy and get a feel of this lovely corner of Honduras. If you have not visited Copan, then this is the number one destination that you MUST visit in 2019.  The charming colonial town with cobblestone streets and friendly people is within walking distance to the Archaeological Park. There are a total of four museums dedicated to the Maya Culture that you need to visit. If you are traveling with kids, then you MUST visit the Casa Kinich Museum at the Cabañas fort. If you must choose which museum to visit, make sure you go to the Museum of Maya Sculpture.


Coffee shops in Copan RuinasThere are many great coffee shops in Copan Ruinas. There is a good reason for this. Copan Ruinas is famous for its outstanding coffee. Many coffee producers are now roasting their own coffee and even have a coffee shop in town. You can taste their coffee and buy some to take home with you. The must visit coffee shops in Copan are Café Welchez, Café San Rafael and Café Casa Ixchel. The Coffee Casita, at the Macaw Mountain Bird Park offers Café Miramundo. You can even enjoy strolling between coffee bushes while you tour the park.


The Honduras Birdman
Tourists interacting with macaws at the Macaw Mountain Bird Park

One of the must do activities in Copan Ruinas, in addition to visiting the archaeological site is a visit to Macaw Mountain. The Maya city of Copan has many carvings of birds. The most famous are the markers at the Ball Court, which are non-less that fine macaw head sculptures. The bird park has been promoting the repopulation of macaws in the Copan Valley. The results have been outstanding, and you will feel goose bumps as you walk through the park and a flock of noisy, colorful macaws flies right over your head!


Choluteca

Choluteca
A view of Choluteca’s lovely Colonial Cathedral. Photo by Peter A Hughes

This department is one of the two that have shores on the Pacific Coast of Honduras. This is the hottest area in Honduras and the beaches are very popular with the inhabitants of Tegucigalpa. The capital city, Choluteca boasts one of the best-preserved colonial architecture in Honduras. However, the city that I have selected to highlight in Choluteca is not the capital, nor is in the hot dry lowlands of Choluteca. The town of El Corpus is high up in the mountains and offers a respite from the hot dry climate of the Central American Pacific coast.


Things to do in Choluteca
Colonial Church at El Corpus, Choluteca

El Corpus is the site of an old colonial mine. As a matter of fact, to this day, many of the locals work in makeshift, dangerous mines where accidents are common. El Corpus offers the feel a lovely colonial town. The church, which is the dominating building in town has a unique secret to it. Behind the altar is the old entrance to the mine! As with other colonial cities in Latin America where mining was the main activity, the central park is small and irregular in shape. This is because the city was built in the mountains next to the mines, and there is not much flat land where to build the city.


Things to do in Choluteca
Colonial Charm at El Corpus, Choluteca

El Corpus does not have any hotels to speak of, so it is a one-day tour destination from Choluteca. But access from the city is very easy. A newly paved 17 km (11 mile) road will get you there within a few minutes. There are many hotels in Choluteca where you can stay when you visit El Corpus. This area produces cashews, which are exotic fruits native to Honduras. The fruit is actually a false fruit, and the cashew nut is below what appears to be the fruit! It can be round like an apple or slightly elongated, and the color ranges between yellow and a dark orange. The Spanish word for cashew is “marañon”, and you will see many signs with this word along the road. Take your camera to El Corpus, you will find many picture-perfect spots to immortalize your visit to this town!


El Paraiso

Yuscaran
Downtown Yuscaran has a unique Colonial Sense of Place. Photo: Peter A Hughes

This is one of the eastern most departments in Honduras, and borders with Nicaragua. The largest city in the department is Danli, famous for its fine Honduran cigars. Yet, I recommend visiting the capital of the department over the city of Danli. I am referring to Yuscaran, a lovely colonial town that is not far from Tegucigalpa. To get there, take the road that leads east out of Tegus, towards Danli. The route will take you past the Escuela Agricola Panamericana, AKA El Zamorano.


New Years Resolutions
El Zamorano Campus

There is a good market with agricultural and dairy products produced in this university. There is also a great hotel and a restaurant where you can get a bite on your way to Yuscaran. If you live in Tegus, or the rest of Honduras for that matter, you may want to visit their plant nursery and take some nice plants home for your garden.  Although limited, there are some facilities in town where you can eat and sleep in comfort. However, Yuscaran is close enough to Tegucigalpa that you can easily visit in the day.


Francisco Morazan

True Honduras Safety
Plaza de Las Dolores in Downtown Tegucigalpa. photo by Maya Isabel Portillo

This department bears the name of one of the independence heroes of Central America. Francisco Morazan was born in Tegucigalpa and fought to create a Central American Federation. There are many nice cities near Tegucigalpa that you can visit. I am going to suggest the city of Ojojona, that is to the south of Tegucigalpa. Ojojona is a small town at the end of the road. This means there is no through traffic. This has had a profound impact on the development of the town, allowing it to retain its traditional colonial atmosphere.


Valle de Angeles
A night view of the local church at Valle de Angeles

There are two small towns in Francisco Morazan where making souvenirs is one of the economy mainstreams. Valle de Angeles, of course, is one of them, the other is Ojojona. Although both towns are popular with locals from Tegucigalpa, Ojojona is much less crowded on weekends than Valle de Angeles. The old town square has been refurbished together with the old colonial church.


Ojojona is only 36.5 kilometers from Tegucigalpa. To get there, take the CA5 highway from Tegucigalpa towards Choluteca. As you reach the highest point in the highway, you will see a wind mill farm. There is a detour to Santa Ana clearly marked, and you should take this detour. The road will take you through Santa Ana and on to Ojojona. If you are driving your own car, the route will take you less than one hour. There are a couple of small hotels near Ojojona. The best is probably Hostal Las Victorias. Because of the altitude of approximately 4,500 feet above sea level, Ojojona can be quite cool, especially at night.

Gracias a Dios

La Moskitia
Rivers are the local roads in Gracias a Dios. Photo by Peter A Hughes

Gracias a Dios is the most remote and inaccessible department in Honduras. With virtually no roads into Gracias a Dios, it is truly off the beaten path. Palacios is the closest large town in Gracias a Dios, and therefore I have selected it because of this. The easiest, fastest way to get to Palacios is by airplane. There are daily flights there from La Ceiba. However, a much more authentic experience awaits you if you go by land. The best place to start your adventure into the Moskitia, is from the city of La Ceiba in Atlantida.


Honduras to Nicaragua through the Moskitia
The Adventure trip from Tocoa to Batalla

4X4 pickups depart from the Uno Gas station that is on the corner of CA13 highway and the detour to the ferry terminals. The pick up trucks depart at 6:30 am sharp, so be there early. Make sure you bring a hat, long sleeves, lots of sun block and some water. The route leads past Tocoa and through the junction town of Corocito and into Bonito Oriental, all of this is a good asphalt or concrete road. However from there on, the road is a dirt highway that follows the old railroad tracks. After a full day on the road, under the sun and or rain, you will arrive at Batalla, where you can take a boat to Palacios. Since you will need one day to get there, and another to get back, you should plan on at least 3 nights in Palacios to see anything.


The Ultimate Expedition
Stoping at some Petroglyphs along the Platano river

Palacios, or Black River, as it was called during the British occupation of the Miskito Coast Protectorate was the heart of a fledging logging industry. Its Spanish name comes from the impression that the Honduran authorities got when they saw the large homes and buildings built by the Brits. These were all wooden buildings, and therefore, there is nothing left of them. Palacios is a good hub to visit the petroglyphs on the Rio Platano, near las Marias. There is also good fishing in the lake and magnificent bird watching. Accommodations are available, but they are far from fancy. As a general rule, food and beverage will be expensive and of low quality in Palacios.


Intibuca

The Lenca Route
The Central Park in La Esperanza, Intibuca

This is one of the departments with a higher percentage of indigenous people. The Lenca people inhabit this area and you will enjoy seeing them at work in the fields or at the local markets. I have selected the city of Yamaranguila as the place to visit in Intibuca. Yamaranguila is high in the mountains, and you will find that it is cool there, especially at night. There are two really nice hotels where you can stay in Yamaranguila. One of the them is the Hotel Huella Lenca and the other is Zabalanquira. Both offer full service facilities.


If you prefer to stay in a larger city and visit Yamaranguila for the day, you can stay at La Esperanza. This city is only 6 miles from Yamaranguila and it will take you less than half an hour to be at Yamaranguila. The area is ideal to explore the pine forests, mingle with the locals, enjoy an evening in front of a fire place and some horse back riding tours.

The Lenca Route
Alcaldia de la Vara Alta is the Lenca Authority in Intibuca.

Yamaranguila is a traditional town, and it is proud of its heritage. The indigenous authority has a big influence on the people and is called the Auxiliary Mayor of the High Rod. There are also several rustic, hand and foot operated looms in the area that weave the colorful head scarfs that the local women use. The area is within the highlands of Western Honduras and offers many scenic views and is part of the Lenca Route.


Islas de la Bahia

Visit Utila
Utilians ready to greet passengers arriving on the local ferry

Or as the locals call it “The Bay Islands” has a distinct heritage with a strong British influence. You can find this heritage is the older towns that have less influence from both Honduras and foreign investors. Perhaps the best and most accessible of these small towns with a traditional heritage is the Utila Cays. This a small community that is built on two Cays that have a bridge connecting them. The town has a population of under 500 persons and quite isolated. This is a traditional fishing community that is tightly knit and relatively untouched by tourists that visit Utila.


Getting to Los Cayitos is quite easy. You must first go to Utila. The fastest and easiest route is via the Utila Dream ferry from La Ceiba. From Utila, you must take a small boat to the cays. The trip will take between 20 and 40 minutes, depending on the boat you are on. Please note that you will not be able to get to the Utila Cays on the same day if you arrive on the afternoon ferry.  There are a couple of hotels in the Utila Cays where you can spend the night. There are also several restaurants. Then of course, you can stay in Utila Town and visit the cays for the day!

La Paz

The city of Marcala has carved a name for itself with its high-quality coffee. There is even a coffee denomination to refer to the coffee that originates there. Café de Marcala. Marcala is also in an area where there were some important pre-Columbian Lenca settlements. The area offers outstanding bird watching and is one of the birding hot spots in Honduras. The city is close to the border with El Salvador, and the easiest route to get there is from Comayagua. You should take the highway to La Paz, the capital of the department and then continue to Marcala. Travel time from Comayagua will just over one and a half hours.

Marcala has limited hotel facilities, but outstanding coffee shops and coffee tour experiences. For downtown lodging, you can stay at the hotel Frissman, basic, but with clean rooms. If you prefer a more rural experience, you can stay at Hotel La Casona, a home that is now a small hotel. Again rooms are For basic, but comfortable and clean. For tours in the area, I suggest you check with Choose Honduras, a Honduran tour operator that specializes in tailor made tours and coffee estate visits.

When in Marcala, you must taste a cup of their World-Famous coffee. The best places are Exoticos Café and Aroma Café, both in town. They can even offer you a coffee tasting experience that will enhance your knowledge of coffee. Both coffee shops are owned by local coffee farmers that can offer a tour to their coffee farms.

Lempira

New Year Resolutions 2019
La Campa, in Lempira

The rugged highlands of Western Honduras offers many interesting surprises in Lempira. The largest city and arguably, a popular destination is the city of Gracias. This city offers many different things to do and see. Nearby, are lovely, picturesque towns, and we have set our heart on proposing that you visit La Campa, a small town nestled at the bottom of a deep canyon, only 30 minutes from Gracias. Although you can certainly stay in Gracias and visit La Campa, I suggest you spend the night in La Campa.


Things to do in Gracias
Zipping over the La Campa Canyon. Photo by Delmer Membreno

There is a charming new hotel in La Campa. The Real Camino Lenca La Campa offers comfort, great views of the canyon and friendly staff. La Campa is the center of an active rustic ceramic pottery that will make your trip worthwhile. The lovely colonial church has a backdrop of a massive cliff that forms the canyon. I love the old city hall, which is reminiscent of how most of the city halls in Honduras were during colonial times. Most municipalities have taken down their old buildings and come up with modern solutions with no charm.


New YEars Resolutions
Colonial Church at San Manuel Colohete

At La Campa, you can experience the zip line which is probably the most extreme zip line experience in Central America. You will literally fly across the deep canyon. Certainly not and experience for the weak of heart! There is also an old school building that has been converted to an exhibition hall. Here you can learn about the local ceramics and how they are produced. Finally, if you like charming rural villages, you can visit some other nearby villages. One of my favorites in all of Honduras is San Manuel Colohete. Here you will find one of the best-preserved colonial churches in Honduras.


Ocotepeque

New Years Resolutions
The Colonial Church of San Andres in Antigua Ocotepeque

One of the most remote departments in Honduras is also an important border crossing area in Honduras. Its Capital city, Nueva Ocotepeque is a short distance from both the border with El Salvador at El Poy and the one with Guatemala at Agua Caliente. The city is in a green valley that is surrounded by lush green mountains. If you are traveling overland into or out of Honduras you may be passing through Nueva Ocotepeque.


There are several good hotels in town. The best are the Maya Chortis and Sandoval, both in town. The original city in the area was Ocotepeque, but this city was destroyed by a flash flood that took them by surprise. Miraculously, the only building in town that escaped was the old colonial church. After the floor, the city was moved a couple of kilometers away. The original site still has its old church standing and is well worth a visit.

Nearby, the Reserva de Vida Silvestre El Huisayote offers a cloud forest experience. The CA4 highway that leads from El Salvador to San Pedro Sula goes through Ocotepeque. This highway is the highest paved highway in Honduras, reaching an altitude of 7000 feet above sea level at El Huisayote. On the road, you will se local producers selling their agricultural products along the highway. Fresh lettuce, tomatoes, cabbages, etc. are all available here at great prices.

Olancho

The Talgua Caves
Majestic formations at the Talgua Caves in Olancho

The department of Olancho is the largest in Honduras. It is larger that the country of El Salvador! Olancho is a world of its own, and is considered an agricultural and forestry giant. I have chosen the city of Catacamas as the one to include in this list of suggested towns to visit. Catacamas offers the perfect location to visit different nearby attractions. Without doubt, the most outstanding of which are the Talgua Caves, and eco archaeological park about 5 miles from downtown Catacamas.


back to Olancho
Lovely old tree in Catacamas Central Park

The Talgua Caves were used as a sacred burial ground for an ancient culture that we do not know much about. The site was exposed to the world a few years ago after a significant article by National Geographic. It turns out that after being exposed to centuries of limestone leaks within the caverns, the remains of these enigmatic people seem to glow when exposed to light. Hence the name of the Cave of the Glowing Skulls, that references this site.


El Pedral Restaurant in a great oasis stop after the hike into the Talgua Caves

Although you cannot have access to the cave where the remains are, there is a good trail that leads into the caves that is worth exploring. There are local guides in the area. A small hotel and restaurant at the entrance to the archaeological park provides ideal conditions for the adventurer. The establishment is El Pedral, and Don Javier, the owner runs it personally together with his family. He lived in the USA for many years before coming back and investing in his property. He speaks English well enough to communicate with you and is very helpful.


Back in town, there are many different hotels to choose from. One thing you must do is visit the Central Park. I found it to be one the nicest parks I have seen in Honduras.

Santa Barbara

This is one of the original colonial departments in Honduras. There are many nice small towns and cities in Santa Barbara. Access to the department is easier from San Pedro Sula, taking highway CA4 leading West out of the city. Take the detour at “Ceibita” a junction town about 20 miles out of San Pedro Sula on km. 32. Because of its mountainous terrain, Santa Barbara has some of the best coffee in Honduras. The Montaña de Santa Barbara is the second highest peak in Honduras and home of a National Park.

Chimeneas Gigantes de Trinidad
Photo courtesy of Edwin Meza.

I have selected the town of Trinidad de Santa Barbara as the one you should add to your bucket list for your travels in your New Year resolutions for 2019. Trinidad is about 1 ½ hours outside of San Pedro Sula and less that an hour from Lake Yojoa. The biggest claim to fame in Trinidad are their “furnaces” a unique tradition to build huge statues made of paper and wood that are then lit and burnt. The best place in the area to spend the night is at Estancia El Pedregal, one of the first true rural hotels in Honduras.

If you plan to visit Trinidad for their traditional fair and to see the furnaces, you should plan well in advance. The event takes place during the celebration in memory of the Immaculate Conception of Mary. The specific date will vary to accommodate it being on a weekend, so plan and make your reservations for the 6th and 7th of December. This is a lovely and unique tradition that you will love!

Valle

Amapala and Isla de Tigre
Arriving at the Historic Port of Amapala. Photo by Juan Carlos Paz

This is other department that is on the Pacific Coast of Honduras (the first one is Choluteca). Valle borders with El Salvador and has several nice colonial towns. It also has the two largest Honduran islands on the Pacific. These are Amapala and Zacate Grande. But I have selected the town of Langue, towards the western end of Valle, as the one to promote this year. The reason is that Langue has one of the best-preserved colonial churches in Honduras. If you have an interest in colonial architecture and the Spanish heritage in Honduras, this town is worth visiting!

Langue is a few miles off the CA1 Highway and is only 21 miles from Jicaro Galan. There are some basic facilities in Langue, but you can also stay in Nacaome or San Lorenzo, where you will find many more lodging options. Few people have heard of Langue, but it is truly a nice little town. The Catholic Church building is well kept and a joy to visit. Along the route to Langue, on the CA1 highway you will see many souvenir stops along the way. The most common souvenir here are huge bright red or yellow ceramic roosters. They are very much the identity to this region. Remember that the climate in Langue is very hot year-round. Bring a hat to protect yourself from the heat, especially in the summer months.

Yoro

A trip to Siguatepeque
The old railroad station at the railroad museum in El Progreso

Yoro is one of the least visited areas in Honduras. Other than El Progreso, which is close to San Pedro Sula, few travelers come close to Yoro. It is a mountainous area that is behind Atlantida and not very easy to get to. I chose Olanchito as the city to visit in Yoro because it has decent infrastructure and is fairly easy to get to. Olanchito calls itself the Civic City of Honduras. Many of the leading poets and writers in Honduras were born in Olanchito. It is also one of the oldest cities in Honduras, dating back to the early XVII Century.


Olanchito is the largest city in the Aguan Valley and was an important part of the Banana and citric production in Honduras.  To this day, the Standard Fruit Company still has plantations in the valley, very close to Olanchito. The biggest claim to fame that Olanchito has to offer is the Honduran Emerald Hummingbird. This is the only endemic bird in Central America and it is native to very dry tropical forest habitats. In the old days, Olanchito was at the end of the railroad tracks of the Standard Fruit Company Railroad. You can still see some traditional banana architecture buildings in town.

There are many different hotels in Olanchito that you can stay in. Getting there is quite easy, as there are regular buses from San Pedro Sula and La Ceiba to Olanchito. If you are driving, take the CA13 highway east from La Ceiba. When you cross over the Aguan River bridge at Sava you will soon get to a junction. Take the option to the right and you are within 30 minutes of Olanchito.