Wondering if you should go backpacking in Honduras? We say yes, don’t skip it! We have got you covered for your backpacking trip to Honduras: This blog post will inform you how to get around Honduras, what to do in Honduras, as well as where to find the best beaches, nature, and cities in Honduras.
Honestly, we have struggled with writing up our Honduras blog post for a while - we have even told our newsletter subscribers (go join them!) that we’re not gonna write one at all in April. The reason? Backpacking in Honduras was our least favourite part of our backpacking Central America trip. The country was surprisingly expensive, additionally, we got scammed, the worst hostel of the entire half-year trip was on Utila, and we did not really connect with the locals although we boast Spanish level B1 which was sufficient for basic conversations in other countries. Honduras just did not vibe. We still recommend you to visit though. Here’s why:
You can easily and cheaply shuttle in and out of the neighbouring countries. Shuttles between Antigua, Guatemala, or Santa Ana, El Salvador, and Copan, Honduras run frequently. Additionally, there’s a shuttle between La Ceiba / the bay islands or Lago de Yojoa and Leon, Nicaragua. There’s really no excuse to skip Honduras. Of course, you can also cross the borders with public transport for lower costs and more adventure.
Yes, Honduras has one of the highest murder rates in the world. Drug trafficking, gangs, and corruption are a problem. Still, most of the crime does not affect tourists. Of course, it’s not the safest country to travel to but if you use common sense and stay on the more careful side you can navigate Honduras safely, have a unique experience and form your own opinion on this country independent of what you hear in the news. It does not hurt that travelling Honduras adds to your backpacker street credibility.
Scuba diving on Utila is super cheap, in fact, one of the cheapest places in the world to get certified with prices starting around 350$ including accommodation! To be fair scuba diving in Utila is not quite what it used to be. The mysterious stony coral tissue loss disease has reached Honduras and is quickly killing the reefs here (although you will hear very little about it online). When we went, the conditions were still decent and the prices simply unbeatable.
Although we have visited plenty of Mayan ruins on our half-year Central America backpacking trip in Mexico, Belize, and Guatemala, the Copan ruins were still interesting and unique with their many intricate sculptures. Additionally, Copan is rehabilitating scarlet macaws, which are super cool to observe.
Baleadas are one of our favourite street foods of our whole Central America backpacking trip: It’s a large flour tortilla that has been folded in half with different fillings, mostly cheese, refried beans, eggs, or avocado. They are super cheap and filling and they are unique to Honduras!
At first, we used shuttles to get around the country. Soon we found out that they are crazy expensive and not very reliable. As our shuttle from Copan to la Ceiba was a super convenient way to reach the bay islands in one day, we decided to also shuttle from La Ceiba to Lago de Yojoa. Unfortunately, the driver was speeding like crazy and even driving on the hard shoulder of the opposite lane for a while. Additionally, we were told too late that being dropped off at the “entrance” of the hostel meant 45 minutes away by car. As a solution, we were offered to be kicked out of the shuttle somewhere on the side of the road. You see, shuttles might not be as convenient of an option in Honduras as in other Central American countries.
Unlike with shuttles, our experience using the buses in Honduras was nothing but good. The more luxurious companies like Hedman Alas have a good homepage. It’s harder to find reliable online information about the cheaper companies like Transportes Blanquita or El Mochito so it’s better to confirm your schedule with a local.
We found that local transport is not as cheap and easy as in El Salvador where you can just hop on a bus for under 1$. Bus travel in Honduras requires a bit more preplanning as buses run less frequent and they are also more expensive. Expect to pay around 10$ for your journey.
Most travellers visit Copan to see the Mayan ruins. And they are totally amazing with all of their sculptures - go and see them. You can also spot some wild scarlet macaws here!
The town itself is also quite cute with its cobblestone streets and tasty food options like the Comedor Y Pupuseria Mary.
There are other nice things to do in town, like going on a horseback ride, visiting hot springs, hiking to Hacienda San Lucas, and of course, more Mayan ruins.
Copan is well connected to Santa Ana, El Salvador, Antigua, Guatemala, and La Ceiba, Honduras by shuttle buses.
Hostel Berakah is cheap, nice and central. They also offer shuttles to La Ceiba.
No Honduras itinerary will be complete without a visit to the Bay Islands Utila and Roatan. They are your quintessential Caribbean islands with turquoise water and white sand. If you ask us, they are the highlight of your Honduras backpacking trip.
Utila is great for Scuba diving (and partying to some extent). The island is small and there are limited things to do, which include mostly ocean-based activities like hanging out on the beach, island hopping, or kayaking. Our favourite beach was Chepes Beach with its free umbrellas.
If you don’t want to scuba dive, Roatan is the better choice for you. The island is bigger, featuring more beaches and activities. You can zipline, hang out with sloths, and even visit a botanical garden.
If you want to skip San Pedro Sula, the murder capital of the world, you can shuttle directly to La Ceiba, which enables you to catch the late ferry to Utila. There are currently two ferries from La Ceiba to Utila (9:00 am - 4:30 pm) and one from La Ceiba to Roatan (9:00 am).
Stay at a dive school! The only hostel on the island is not worth the extra money. Dive schools let you stay for free even if you only do fun dives as well as on days you don’t dive.
Let’s be honest, the main reason to visit Lago de Yojoa is the D&D Brewery and Lodge. As Germans, how could we say no to sleeping at a place that brews its own craft beer? Apart from that, the lodge is nice as well.
The main activity is to take a boat out on the lake. You can also explore coffee plantations, caves, and waterfalls - the area is definitely worth a visit.
There is no need to take an expensive shuttle. You can simply take a local El Mochito bus from San Pedro Sula. They should leave every 30 minutes from 5:50 am to 5:30 pm. You also have the option to take an Uber for around 50$.
D&D Brewery and Lodge!
San Pedro Sula is dubbed the murder capital of the world with an average of 1.1 murders per day. That fact alone was enough for us to skip this place. We have interviewed travellers who went and none of them could name a good reason to go while the majority reported that they felt unsafe.
We have only been to Tegucigalpa to change buses and must say this experience was quite stressful. We tried walking from one bus stop to the next and people were constantly shouting at us to watch out and be careful so we ended up taking a taxi.
Again, we have interviewed travellers who went to the capital of Honduras. None of them reported any incidences but neither of them said the city was particularly interesting for sightseeing.
Some blogs do list this colonial town and former capital as a viable alternative to Tegucigalpa. We have not met anyone who went there and frankly we were not brave enough to go without any first-hand information.
This beach town is one of the main Garifuna towns in Honduras. We have visited Garifuna towns in Belize and Nicaragua and felt like we did not necessarily need to visit another one. Furthermore, we got plenty of beach time on the islands.
Additionally, accommodation prices were super high, starting at 50$ per night and person.
We skipped La Ceiba for the reasons as San Pedro Sula and Tegucigalpa. We would have liked to visit Rio Cangrejal / Pico Bonito but again, accommodation prices started at 50$ per night and person which was way over our budget.
The two main activities here are rafting and hiking and we did not feel like going out of our way because we had plenty of other opportunities on our half-year Central America trip.
Of course, the time you ”need” in Honduras depends heavily on your interests. A minimum of one week is enough to see the main attractions of Copan, the bay islands Utila and Roatan, and Lago de Yojoa. Of course, you need more time if you want to go scuba diving or explore more off-the-beaten-path locations in the country.
Easy to incorporate into your Central America itinerary and great if you’re short on time:
For the divers, beach bums, nature enthusiasts, and explorers who like to venture off the beaten path!
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We compiled a comprehensive backpacking Central America route – 8 countries, 1-3 months, 28 stops, no flying (just public transport).
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