Honduras for the Holidays

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Majestic mountains, verdant rainforests, and sun-kissed beaches hugged by the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea. All this and more is in grasp for Angelenos in less than five hours via a nonstop flight to Honduras. So, pack a bag and prepare for adventure in the heart of Central America. Where to start? One suggestion of many–begin by tuning into Honduras’ ancient past in the Copán Valley.

Enter this lush wonderland, and birdsongs signal: this is the Sacred Valley of the Scarlet Macaws. Visit Macaw Mountain Bird Park to learn about the country’s avian species diversity, along with conservation and rehabilitation efforts. The valley is also home to Copán Ruinas, one of the most important sites of the Mayan civilization. This UNESCO World Heritage Site spans over 10 square miles and contains more than 4,500 structures. Step onto the grounds of the Acropolis, built as an elaborate gateway to the underworld, and be on the lookout for the Hieroglyphic Stairway, the longest known text of ancient Mayan civilization.

Copan Ruinas

Ready to explore more? Head to La Ceiba for prime birdwatching in Pico Bonito National Park, or up your adrenaline with whitewater rafting on the nearby Cangrejal River, considered some of the best rafting in the region. A drier option to consider—undertaking a 4.5-mile hike through the jungle that crosses a suspension bridge enroute to the 197-foot-high El Bejuco Waterfall.

Over 500 species of birds can be found in Pico Bonito National Park

Another place for taking in the natural wonders of the Honduran mountains is Nombre de Dios National Park, home to Cacao Lagoon and Sambo Creek Hot Springs. Explore the Cacao’s mangrove forest via kayak, with an eye on surrounding trees to spot howler and capuchin monkeys shouting hellos. Later, relax in the jungle surrounds while soaking in the Sambo Creek’s natural thermal waters.

Ready to dive into waters of another sort? Head to the Bay Islands for top-notch snorkeling and SCUBA experiences on the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, the western hemisphere’s largest coral reef system. The island of Roatán is a favorite with divers due to its close proximity to the reef. Prefer to witness the region’s treasures from the clouds? Myriad zipline tours promise thrills paired with dazzling views.

Freediving in the Bay Islands

Photo Credit: Alex St. JEan

A more laidback way to savor Honduras is by enjoying one of the country’s favorite pastimes—drinking coffee. For over 200 years, coffee has reigned supreme in Honduras. Initially, this beloved beverage was produced by families in their yards for their own consumption. The country’s passion for coffee, spurred by its one-of-a-kind beans, led to Honduras becoming the largest producer in Central America. Sip a cup, and a love affair with Honduran coffee begins.

It’s easy to see how this initial adoration for the country often develops into a long-term relationship with Honduras. Visit just once and you’ll be planning your next trip before you ever return home.