Here, you'll find one of the least explored and most adventurous destinations anywhere in Central America. Honduras offers up a little bit of everything: Caribbean beaches and spectacular coral reefs surrounding the Bay Islands; lost Mayan ruins like Copán; indigenous cultures like the Lenca or Pech; colonial mountain retreats like Gracias; rainforest canopy tours; colorful festivals; and more types of birds and wildlife than your local zoo.
Honduras' capital, Tegucigalpa, is a contrast of past and present, dancing between colonial churches and a pulsating set of modern restaurants and nightlife. San Pedro Sula is the country's commercial center, with shopping malls and American-style amenities, but still within earshot of national parks and beaches. La Ceiba on the North Coast plays a backdrop to Pico Bonito National Park and Garífuna villages, while the century-old buildings in the sleepy backwater of Tela recall the city's days as a capital of banana production.
Soak in natural hot springs in the jungle-clad mountains near Copán and Gracias in the western reaches of the country, then stop by a coffee plantation or cigar factory to pick your senses back up. Tiny coastal villages and Spanish forts dot the north coast of the country, from Trujillo to Puerto Cortés. Just off shore are the Bay Islands of Roatán, Utila, and Guanaja; three unspoiled Caribbean paradises of swaying palms, sandy white beaches, and clean coral reefs.
From a refreshing bowl of ceviche to a simple bean and cheese baleada at a street-side stall, culinary gems are everywhere in Honduras. The western part of the country loves their chuletas, or pork chops, while beachside seafood shacks on the North Coast are fond of serving tapado, a hearty coconut and seafood stew, and garlic shrimp served with rice and banana. Cool off from the heat with mango juice or, better yet, a Monkey La-La, a creamy cocktail made on the Bay Islands.
Before dawn, hard-core (some might say loco) birders are crawling through the cloud forest mud of Celaque, La Tigre, or Cerro Azul Meámbar national parks to listen for the first calls of quetzals, toucans, motmots, and trogons. Down on the coast, canals through patches of mangroves, in places like La Mosquitia's Rio Platano reserve or Cuero y Salado near La Ceiba, reveal abundant wildlife ranging from howler monkeys and manatees to crocodiles and iguanas. In the dense forests of Pico Bonito, endangered species are as common as eco-lodges and adventure tour operators.