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Honduras remains a bit of a Central American secret when it comes to tourism. The result is a destination less than three hours flight from Miami, that boast fewer tourists than its neighbors, pristine beaches and world class diving. It's also culturally diverse with numerous indigenous and mixed origin language groups, a rich heritage of art and music and a friendly welcoming population. English is widely spoken in cities and in resort areas. Eco-tourism is on the rise here with local companies trying to maintain the country's lush jungles and pure environment. This relative secrecy won't last too much longer as Honduras is experiencing a tourism growth period with a 78% increase in visitors over the past three years.

Thirty-five miles off the coast of Honduras lies the Bay Islands, renowned for its coral reefs (second only to Australia's Great Barrier Reef) and abundance of marine life. It's a snorkelers', fishermen's and divers' paradise. Although there are nine islands and over 60 largely uninhabited islets in total, three large Islands offer the most attractive resorts and diving amenities -- Roatan, Utila, and Guanaja. If you haven't dived before, this is also one of the least expensive places in the world to get your diving (PADI) certification.

Capricorn Leisure Corp (tel. 800/426-6544; www.capricorn.net) has a number of Honduras vacations on offer. The "Maya and Bay Islands" package includes round-trip airfare from Miami, ground transport to Copan, two-nights' accommodation at the Marina Copan Hotel, escorted tour of the Mayan ruins of Copan, airport transfers, round-trip airfare to Roatan and five-nights' accommodation at Half Moon Cabins. This trip is priced from $1,219 per person based on double occupancy and is valid for travel between May 1 and November 30. Their eight-day "Palma Real All Inclusive" package includes round-trip airfare from Miami to La Ceiba, seven-nights' accommodation at the four-star Palma Real Beach Resort and Casino on Playa Roma, all meals, snacks and local alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks and non-motorized water sports. This trip is priced from $1,219 per person from May 1 to December 9, 2006.

Combine the Cloud Forest, mountains and beach with the "Pico Bonito and Roatan" package priced from $1,599 per person staying at Fantasy Island on Roatan or Half Moon Bay Cabins frm $1,179. The package includes round-trip airfare from Miami, transfers to Pico Bonito, two-nights' accommodation at the Pico Bonito Lodge, transfer to La Ceiba airport, round-trip airfare to Roatan and five-nights' accommodation at your choice of hotel. Add approximately $60 for departures on all packages in July and August, 2006.

Anthony's Key (tel. 800/227-3483; www.anthonyskey.com) is a resort known for its. Their 2006 "Low Season Dive" package is valid for stays from August 26 to November 18, 2006 and from November 25 to December 23, 2006. Prices start at $675 per person based on double occupancy in a hill standard room. This includes seven-nights' accommodation, air tanks, weight belts and weights, three single tank boat dives per day, two single tank night boat dives, buoyancy control workshop, a full American meal plan (three meals daily), daily dolphin presentations, tropical picnic on Tabyana Beach, island Fiesta Night on the Key, horseback riding, hiking, kayaking and canoeing, entrance to Roatan Museum and Roatan airport transfers.

Their 2006 "Low Season Snorkel" package is valid for the same dates and also costs $675. It includes seven-nights' hotel accommodation, fish and coral under water ID cards, two snorkel trips daily by boat with guide, one dolphin encounter, reef ecology lecture and fish ID slide show, full American meal plan, daily dolphin presentations, tropical picnic on Tabyana Beach, island Fiesta Night on the Key, horseback riding, hiking, kayaking and canoeing, entrance to Roatan Museum and airport transfers. Additional nights cost $96 and there is an additional $35 per person fuel surcharge plus a 16% hotel tax.

Responsible Travel (www.responsibletravel.com) features a 15-day land-only "Honduras Adventure Holiday" with two start dates -- July 10 and August 14, 2006. It's priced from $1,813 per person (depending on the group size) and includes 14 nights accommodation in hotels and guesthouses and most meals plus the following jam-packed itinerary: a guided tour of the Mayan Ruins of Copan and Sculpture Museum, a trek to Ruby waterfall, the cloud forest of Celaque National Park , Lenca village of La Campa, Pulhapanzak waterfall, Lake Yojoa, Tela, Garifuna dinner and dancing, Boat tour to Punta Sal National Park, Kayak trip to Punta Izopo, Rio Platano, beach picnic and Garifuna village, village of Miami, boat ride to Los Micos Lagoon and Cayos Cochinos, the manatee wildlife refuge of Cuero y Salado, a domestic flight to Palacios, dugout canoe to Misquito community of Raista, butterfly farm, Mosquito-Pech Village of Las Marias, Garifuna Village of Plaplaya, alligator and turtle viewing on the Plaplaya Beach, rock art sites, domestic flight to La Ceiba, a farewell dinner and transfer to San Pedro Sula airport for flight home, experienced staff of bilingual naturalist guides

For the fishing enthusiast, Team Marin (www.teammarinhondurasfishing.com) offers Honduras fishing tours in Brus Laguna, located on the Caribbean coastline of the Moskitia (eastern) region of Honduras. This area is home to the largest remaining area of tropical rainforest in Central America. The "Brus Laguna Ultimate Fishing Experience" is a nine-day/eight-night adventure that is priced at $1,950 per person. This price includes airport transfers, round-trip airlines tickets from San Pedro Sula to La Ceiba and Brus Laguna, seven-days of fishing in the regions best locations, and return airport transfer, all meals at Brus Laguna Hotel (breakfast, lunch, and dinner), local guide in San Pedro Sula and La Ceiba, a local English speaking fishing guide for all fishing excursions and boat transport including fuel for all fishing excursions in Brus Laguna. Tours start from San Pedro Sula on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays to coincide with available flights the following day from La Ceiba.

For a shorter stay, the three-day "Brus Laguna Fishing" trip is priced at $889 per person. It includes three-nights' accommodation in Brus Laguna, three-days' fishing, all meals at Brus Laguna Hotel (breakfast, lunch, and dinner), round-trip airlines tickets from La Ceiba to Brus Laguna, a local guide in La Ceiba, a local English speaking fishing guide for all fishing excursions, boat transport including fuel for all fishing excursions in Brus Laguna and airport transfers. Tours depart from La Ceiba on Fridays and return on Mondays. Two-day quick getaway packages departing on Mondays and Wednesdays are priced at $689 per person.

For more information about Honduras, plus a selection of accommodation and land-only packages and tours, visit the official Honduras government tourism website at www.letsgohonduras.com.

Join the discussion on our Honduras Message Boards to learn more about this less-traveled gem.