The Hog Islands, called the Masaqueras by the early colonists, consist of two main islands and 13 small cays surrounded by pristine reef, 19 kilometers off the Honduran coast. The two larger islands are covered with thick tropical forest and ringed by excellent white-sand beaches. All in all, the Cayos are one of the most spectacular collections of islands, beach, and reef in the western Caribbean, yet they are infrequently visited by most tourists, who instead fly or boat right past on their way to Roatán and Utila.
The Cayos were declared a marine reserve in 1994. All marine and terrestrial flora and fauna within a 460-square-kilometer area is protected from fishing, development, or any other harmful activity. From any point of land in the islands, the reserve extends eight kilometers in all directions.
The cays are managed by the Honduras Coral Reef Fund (www.cayoscochinos.org), which has a research center on Cayo Menor. Volunteers are welcome—those interested should send a résumé and cover letter to the HCRF director, Adrian Oviedo, at aeoviedo [at] cayoscochinos [dot] org. Visitors are charged a US$10 fee for a day visit to the islands, or US$5 if arriving with a tour operator (which may or may not be included in your tour price).
The islands are all privately owned, except for Chachahuate, which holds a small community of a couple of dozen Garífuna families who survive by fishing.
Getting to Cayos Cochinos
Rides to Cayos Cochinos are available with Javier Arzú in Nueva Armenia, who goes back and forth daily, charging US$13 per person each direction. Call him at 504/9790-9838 the night before to confirm what time to show up, or talk to his sister Alba at 504/9950-5214. Day trips to the Cayos Cochinos can also be arranged from Roatán and Utila, and sailboats can be chartered from Utila for trips of 2–3 days.
© Chris Humphrey and Amy E. Robertson from Moon Honduras, 5th Edition