After flying in to San Pedro Sula airport, take a taxi to the first-class bus station for a three-hour drive to Copán Ruinas, near the Guatemalan border. Once there, get a room at the Hacienda San Lucas, an old farm now converted into a fine guesthouse with excellent homemade food.
Spend the next day in the Mayan city of Copán, taking time to visit the Museo de Escultura Maya (Mayan Sculpture Museum) and to stroll along the nature trail and through the lesser-visited side site of Las Sepulturas.
Set aside day 3 for visiting admiring the lush valley and relaxed little town, letting yourself slip into the tranquil rhythms of Honduran life. Take a guided horseback ride to a hidden Mayan ceremonial site in the hills, go visit the Macaw Mountain Bird Park, full of parrots, toucans, and other tropical birds, or take a soak in the nearby thermal springs.
Take an early bus to San Pedro Sula, and from there on to Lago de Yojoa, the largest lake in Honduras. Stop at the 43-meter-high Pulhapanzak Falls, where you can take a dip in the Río Lindo as well, before heading on to the lakeshore for your room (options range from a backpacker hostel to higher-end hotels).
Get up early to spend two or three hours boating on the lake, strolling around the pre-Hispanic ruins of Los Naranjos or bird-watching in the Parque Nacional Santa Bárbara. Then hop a bus back to San Pedro and on to the coast city of La Ceiba (four hours travel time, roughly), staying at one of several ecolodges built at the edge of Parque Nacional Pico Bonito and along the Río Cangrejal.
Adventure day. Either go white-water rafting down the jungle-lined Río Cangrejal, or go hiking up to see one of the waterfalls tumbling off the flanks of Pico Bonito. Another option is to tour the mangrove wetlands at Refugio de Vida Silvestre Cuero y Salado. If you’ve still got some energy after nightfall, hit the disco scene in La Ceiba for some drinks and dancing.
Fly or take a ferry from La Ceiba out to Roatán, the largest of the Bay Islands. Proceed directly to West Bay, a picture-perfect white-sand beach with coral reef literally right offshore. Beach addicts will want to stay right here, while night owls might opt for a room in one of the low-key hotels of West End.
Spend the next three days getting a strong dose of the Caribbean: as much sun, seafood, snorkeling or scuba diving, and general chilling out as you can manage until it comes time to head home, via plane or ferry to La Ceiba and on to the San Pedro airport.
When You’re Short on Time
If a week is all you’ve got, spending your days among the impressive ruins of Copán and the charming nearby village, then heading to the powdery beaches and crystal waters of any of the Bay islands, makes for an unforgettable trip.
Excerpted from the Sixth Edition of Moon Honduras & the Bay Islands.