Bay Islands and the Cays
If you have to pick just one beach in the country, it’s hard to argue with West Bay, Roatán. A couple of kilometers of powdery sand fronted by turquoise waters, with a coral reef just a few meters offshore, West Bay is a tropical daydream. Also beautiful, and certainly less crowded, are other beaches and hidden coves in places like Sandy Bay, Milton Bight, and Paya Bay. Divers may be most drawn to the equally stunning reef and quirky scuba culture of Utila.
Farther afield, the smallest Bay Island, Guanaja, continues to be the least-visited but offers equally extraordinary (or perhaps even better) sea life for divers and snorkelers. Those who prefer to really get away from it all can choose from a stay in Cayos Cochinos’ single resort, camping on Water Cay for a nominal fee and having a fish cookout, or actually renting their very own island, Sandy Cay or Little Cay near Utila.
North Coast Beaches
Probably the nicest beaches on Honduras’s north coast are around the bay of Tela, lapped by the warm waters of the Caribbean. A short boat ride takes visitors to the unspoiled beaches of the national park at Punta Sal, where a powdery beach with turquoise waters is backed with tropical jungle and mangrove wetlands.
Right in the town of Tela, in front of the Telamar resort, is a clean and safe beach open to the public. A few kilometers east of La Ceiba, near Sambo Creek, are a few modest hotels along a breezy stretch of sand, a good spot to spend a day or three.
A couple of hours’ drive east along the coast takes you to the sleepy town of Trujillo, on a broad bay near the edge of the Mosquitia jungle. The cabins at Tranquility Bay or Casa Kiwi (which also has backpacker dorms) are ideal for soaking up the glorious natural setting and mellow vibe.
Garífuna Beach Towns
This unique group of people, of both African and American indigenous origin, populate numerous towns and villages along the north coast of Honduras. The smaller villages in particular can be magically remote spots, seemingly disconnected from anything but the easy rhythms of the Caribbean. Tornabé, just west of Tela, makes a great place to stay for a couple of days, or you can head out to the more isolated Miami, a village entirely of thatched huts, at the edge of Punta Sal.
Near Trujillo are Santa Fe and, farther along, San Antonio, both quiet little spots with good seafood and plenty of beach.
To really get out there, take a day trip with a tour or an expensive charter boat from La Ceiba, or a less expensive slow boat from Nuevo Armenia to Chachahuate, a Garífuna settlement on a tiny island in the Cayos Cochinos, off the north coast. If you come by slow boat, plan on spending a couple of days at least, camping out.
Off the Beaten Path
The beach west of port town Puerto Cortés is surprisingly nice and has a reasonable variety of seaside accommodations, well-located for a visit to the massive Spanish-era fortress in nearby Omoa. The Cayos Zapotillos, reachable by charter boat from Omoa, are half a dozen blissfully unspoiled islets where it’s possible to camp out.
Excerpted from the Fourth and Fifth Editions of Moon Honduras & the Bay Islands.