Honduras for Families
Skip the amusement parks this summer: Honduras has a wealth of activities to keep children from tots to teens active and engaged, and many easy and comfortable enough for grandparents to tag right along.
Carved skulls, a ball court, even a special stone for making human sacrifices! The Mayan ruins of Copán provide not only a riveting history lesson, but also a great pile of rocks for climbing on, and large fields for running through. Elementary-aged kids can learn about Mayan numbering and pose as a carved stela at the interactive Museo Casa K’inich, a children’s museum, while older kids can sign up for a horseback ride, canopy tour or tubing on the Río Copán. A relaxing afternoon at the thermal baths will help everyone to unwind.
The colorful birds and easy paths at nearby Macaw Mountain Bird Park appeal to all ages, and budding entomologists won’t want to miss the Butterfly Garden. Teens will likely enjoy staying in a hotel right in town, while those looking for space where small ones can stretch their legs might want to check out the cottages at Hacienda El Jaral, 20 minutes away, with its central grassy field and neighboring water park.
Who can resist golden sands, lapping waves, and friendly fish? West Bay combines powdery beach with coral reef so accessible that even the most rudimentary swimmer can easily get a good look, while the glass-bottom boat lets non-swimmers get close to the colorful fish. Plenty of accommodations along the beach have two- to three-bedroom units and kitchens where parents can whip up a plate of pasta for picky or tired eaters.
Older teens are likely to be attracted by the lively vibe of West End, with its shops and beachfront restaurants. Sunset Villas has one- and two-bedroom condos with kitchens, and Georphi’s has an entire chalet available. Anthony’s Key Resort is a great place to spend the day, or the whole vacation, with its dolphin encounters that even toddlers can enjoy, supplied air snorkeling for children as young as five, and scuba training for ages eight and up. Treetop canopy rides provide a thrill for any age, and some have children’s harnesses, so little ones as young as four can take the ride (securely hooked to one of the professional guides, of course!).
The North Coast
There are myriad nature and adventure activities in the region surrounding La Ceiba. The Refugio de Vida Silvestre Cuero y Salado is home to 35 mammal species (including jaguars, monkeys, and manatees), as well as countless types of birds and reptiles, accessed by a short ride on a charming antique railcar from the days of the bananeros and then by boat. Since early morning and late afternoon are the best times to spot the wildlife, families may want to spend the night in the simple cabins on-site.
A variety of trails through the lush foliage of Parque Nacional Pico Bonito means that virtually any level of hiking interest and ability can be accommodated. The Lodge at Pico Bonito lodge offers luxury in the jungle, or families can consider retiring to the beaches and laid-back hotels of Sambo Creek at the end of the day, from where they can take a short boat ride to the knockout shores of the Cayos Cochinos the following day.
Older kids may be tempted by the rafting trips on the Río Cangrejal; Omega Jungle Lodge runs reliable tours and has a couple of spacious cabins suitable for families as well as a swimming pool on-site. Punta Sal near Tela boasts fine sand and transparent water, which tours combine with a short and sweet jungle walk dotted with hermit crabs and monkeys, all in an easy day trip from town.
While the Mosquitia isn’t for everyone, it’s surprisingly accessible, and an exciting adventure that can easily be managed by kids as young as 10. Skip the grueling arrival by land and fly directly into Brus Laguna, on the edge of the Reserva de la Biosfera del Río Plátano. Kids will be thrilled tubing down the lazy canals, looking for white-faced monkeys on a jungle walk, and crocodile-spotting at nightfall. Downtime can be relaxing on the beach or napping in a swaying hammock.
An easy three-day trip could include two nights in the wood lodge at Raistá (tel. 504/449-0198 or 504/8927-1928, US$10 pp) and one night in the comfortable cabins at the pine savannah of Yamari (tel. 504/433-8009, US$10 pp). Travel between beach communities is by motorized canoe, which typically takes 1–2 hours and gives plenty of chances for spotting pelicans, terns, and kingfishers.
© Chris Humphrey and Amy E. Robertson from Moon Honduras, 5th Edition