When skies are clear, you can see the Cayos Cochinos, or Hog Islands, off the north coast of Honduras -- that's how close to the mainland they are. Thirty kilometers (19 miles) northeast of La Ceiba, these two small islands, 13 coral cays, and a few tiny sandbars -- almost all privately owned -- are as close to paradise as one could imagine. The two main islands, Cayo Menor and Cayo Mayor/Grande, are home to just one luxury eco-resort, a few private homes, a research station, and one small Garífuna community. That's it. If isolation is what you want, then look no further. The vibe here is highly similar to the laidback San Blas Islands off the coast of Panama.
The coral reefs surrounding the islands are some of the most undisturbed on the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System and were designated as a Marine Protected Area in 1993 and a Marine Natural Monument in 2003. No commercial fishing is allowed in the 489-sq.-km (189-sq.-mile) reserve, and rules are strictly enforced, which has allowed the reefs and the fish that live on them to flourish. Wildlife on the land -- which is also protected -- includes pink boa constrictors, iguanas, sea turtles, and tropical birds, among other amphibians and reptiles. The islands were actually named, at least as legends go, because pirates planted hogs there for a convenient food supply during their travels.