For backpackers and budget travelers, Honduras travel is hard to beat. The country's attractions – from rainforests to Caribbean islands, Mayan villages and ruins to bustling modern cities – are practically endless, and best of all, they're inexpensive. Here's a selection of our favorite backpacker destinations in Honduras, Central America.
1. Copan Ruinas
Copan Ruinas – the village bordering the Copan Mayan ruins – is lovely. There's no better word for it, except maybe charming. The town's tilted, cobblestone streets, colorful houses, lush greenery and friendly, mostly-Mayan residents make up one of my favorite destinations – not only in Honduras, but in all of Central America. Budget accommodations are plentiful. Simply put, the kind of place you fall in love with and never want to leave.
2. UtilaUtila is hands-down one of Central America's best backpacker destinations. Part of the Bay Islands, Utila is smaller (though still pretty big) and much, much more inexpensive a destination than Roatan. It's frequently advertised as the cheapest place to achieve PADI Open Water Diver certification in the world. Whether or not that's still true, dive classes on Utila are undoubtedly a fantastic deal, usually including budget accommodations in their prices (I was certified through Utila Dive Center a while back, and stayed at The Mango Inn), and the diving is some of the Caribbean's finest. Even if you're not a diver, all the perks of backpacker culture are widespread on Utila, from cheap eats and drinks to a general lack of pretension.
3. TelaTela is located on Honduras's northern Caribbean coast, and is home to a number of Garifuna settlements. Its location – and hour's drive or short bus ride from San Pedro Sula – and its sleepy charm has made it an emerging favorite destination for many Honduras backpackers.
Roatan, the largest of Honduras's Bay Islands, is more famed for its luxury accommodations and cruise-centric attractions than its backpacker haunts, and with good reason. However, budget travelers will still find plenty to do and see, just at a higher cost than on Roatan's little sister island, Utila. Budget accommodations are limited, but available; try Roatan Backpackers' Hostel in Sandy Bay, Camp Bay Adventure Lodge, or midrange accommodations at West Bay Best & Breakfast.
5. La MoskitiaThe La Moskitia (La Mosquitia) rainforest is one of the largest in the Americas, covering the majority of eastern Honduras. It's been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Though travelers have been visiting La Moskitia for a long time, it's still quite undertouristed, the quintessential example of Honduras off the beaten path. In many ways because of its limited infrastructure, traveling to and through La Moskitia is somewhat pricey – but the region's wildlife and pristine natural attractions are beyond worth it.
6. La Ceiba
La Ceiba is a medium-sized, busy town on Honduras's Caribbean coast, with quality (mostly) beaches and outstanding nightlife – some of Le Ceiba's bars are huge! It's also a waystation between mainland Honduras and the Bay Islands, as boats to Roatan, Utila and Guanaja leave from here. A host of nearby outdoor activities also make La Ceiba a great spot to spend a night or more before heading off to oversea adventures.
7. San Pedro SulaThe second-largest Honduran city after the capital, Tegucigalpa, San Pedro Sula is a bustling, modern destination many travelers will fly into (often to avoid Tegicigalpa's notorious international airport, Toncontín). The city boasts giant malls, markets, museums, and numerous outdoor attractions reachable on day trips.
Cayos Cochinos – aka, the Hog Islands – are a small archipelago in Honduras's Bay Islands. They include two larger islands (Cochino Pequeno and Cochino Grande, or Little Hog and Cayo Mayor/Big Hog) and eleven tiny islands. One of them, Chachauate Key, is home to a Garifuna village travelers can visit, and even stay on. Accommodations are ultra-basic, but won't phase a seasoned backpacker, and the scenery is knock-you-over stunning. There is also a dive hotel on Cochino Grade, called Plantation Beach Dive Resort.
There isn't much to do in the tiny fishing town of Omoa, but if you're seeking mainland relaxation – especially on your way overland into Guatemala via Puerto Cortes – Omoa is an ideal spot. It's most famed for its 18th century Spanish fortress, San Fernando, which you can walk to from town.