Home to one of the top ten islands in the world, Honduras is a complex country with a challenged past.
Today’s Destination Wednesday looks at five days in Honduras mashing up history, rum fun and natural beauty.
I will declare that our trip was an organised tour with Intrepid as part of their Best of Central America tour. At no time did I feel we were in danger and our tour leader went to great lengths to keep us away from suspect areas or dealings. I will aim to share those tips in this post.
Crossing the border from Antigua to Copan – ruins travelling
Prepare yourself for a long day on the road and at the border crossing. We had our own transport minivan and the transit took about six hours. If you are up for a seriously early morning start you could check out Hedman Alas buses that have a 3.30am and 6.00am departure from Antigua to Copan. Expect to pay around $40 for the executive bus. I hear these buses are notoriously overcrowded and worth booking in advance.
At El Florido border crossing, you are so close to Copan (approx. 12 kms away), you can almost taste it. But you have to do the dance at the border.
You don’t know what that is?
Ahh well let me fill you in. First there is the obligatory paperwork with the $3US exit fee and $3US entry fee. Then there is always that little bit extra that has to get paid, so you don’t have to provide your first born to the authorities. Our tour leader ‘knows’ people…trust me it helps. We saw some poor sods spending a better part of the day ‘sorting things out’. Spend this time and get a Port Royal Export beer to initiate this new land. Thanks to Julie for spotting us the beer money until we could get some Honduran Lempiras. Enjoying the cold tinnie we watched large semitrailers get sprayed clean from pests and learnt about a new supreme malaria. Yay! We had four malaria tablets left (again big props to Julie). Rich and I were going to have to scissor, paper, rock this out for our yellow circular friends. Most of our life-changing decisions are decided this way. I should really put that into my recent post on travels tips for couples.
Copan – Marvel at the Mayan ruins
Ever pictured what a thigh master town looks like. That’s Copan. Steep streets shooting off in all directions from the main square where men hang out in the shade wearing cowboy hats.
Getting to the ruins from the main town is about a 30minute walk and the entry fee is $15US. The World Heritage site is the southernmost of all the great Mayan ruins. A complex of temples, plazas, terraces and excavated vaults. The architecture represents the most characteristic of the Mayan civilisation.
You begin to wonder what happened to the civilization given their amazing talents at building, arts, audio engineering. I think it has to do with the steep streets (just saying).
Luna Jaguar hot springs of Copan – saved our weary legs
One of the most beautiful springs we have been to on our travels. Definitely worth the almost hour windy ride through lush jungle to sit in mud baths and pools of different temperatures.
We even found a discreet two-person pool just big enough for us (and our tinnes). We went on an organised tour with dinner and transport for $45US and BYO. Advisable to bring a head torch and appropriate footwear as the ground is wet and slippery. If you don’t have your own transport, travel light as there are no lockers. Perfect before your 8-hour trip to Roatan.
La Ceiba to Roatan crossing – it ruins you
After a 6-hour ride from Copan, we arrived at La Ceiba port excited to visit Roatan Island, one of the main islands of the highly lauded Bay Islands. For the pricey sum of $65US you get your return ticket and a white pill to ride the Galaxy Wave.
Galaxy Wave – sounds nice right? Like a gentle 2-hour ferry crossing allowing you time to ponder the mysteries of the universe.
WRONG! If mysteries of the universe for you are your intestines trying to come out of your nose or wave means riding a pissed off bronco balancing on your nose, then yeah, you got it!
I write this as an observer. I don’t often get seasick, but Rich does and this is my experience of what happened to him. If I never have to see a red and white candy stripe plastic bag, it will be too soon. There are lots of ideas to combat the seasickness; you may be better off paying and extra tenner and going into first class or the indoor a/c cabins. I stood most of the way like a land surfer.
Roatan islands – saved the ferry crossing
It would suck if you endured that blender of a ride and the island was a bit crap.
Luckily it wasn’t. Another Caribbean special Roatan has a laid back atmosphere, gem-like blue waters and an amazing underwater world for divers and snorkellers.
Staying in West End down the road from Woody’s groceries on an idyllic property backing onto an estuary, it was a great three days to unwind. West End is also the more backpacker part of the island away from the resorts.
Any chance to get into the water and we are there. A snorkel trip will set you back about $30US and you go to three sites.
From West End you can walk about 45 minutes to West Beach where the major resorts are. Just be aware when the cruise ships come in as you will be fighting for a spot on the beach along with your pasty-white cruise makers.
Get to the Reef Rider! A floating bar usually positioned at West Beach. After an easy 10 minute swim, you are welcomed with a free shot by the friendly hosts who also accept wet money! Great afternoon of jumping off the boat and frozen cocktails.
Rum – ruins your insides
White sandy beaches, a day in the sun, a promise of a seafood bbq all needs a good beverage to accompany it.
A cocktail-happy island, there are many roadside bar ‘shacks’ set up for a sunset drink for you to enjoy.
What you don’t normally have on holidays is an accidental meeting with 151 proof rum.
We (the tour group) didn’t know the strength. We poured liberally. We thought it was likely to be highly flammable – it was! We thought swimming in the ocean was fun – it was! We thought swimming in the estuary was fun – it was!
What is not fun – the next morning!
That completes our five days in Honduras.
If we had longer, I would have loved to visit La Mosquitia. Whilst I wouldn’t want to run into Harrison Ford during his movie meltdown, the natural beauty of the jungle would have been amazing, but for this we would stock up on Malaria tablets.
Striking a ruin-saved balance listening to Danny Howells’ mix album Balance No. 24.
Got your own story about Honduras that you would like to share? Please do in the comments below.