Honduras has unjustly been overshadowed by its neighbors for decades. For some time, divers have passed over Honduras to go to Belize, nature and beach lovers have traveled to Costa Rica, and culture and history buffs have headed to Guatemala and Mexico. This is beginning to change, though, as more and more tourists are coming to realize that all of these attractions can be found in Honduras, and that even though large crowds and over-development threaten other Central American countries, Honduras is still practically untouched and unscathed, with more cloud forests and unexplored tracts of wilderness than anywhere in the region.
Much of it may still be taken up by banana cultivation, but few other countries in the world today can lay claim to such lush natural beauty. About the size of Tennessee, Honduras is home to 20 national parks, a couple of biosphere reserves, and nearly 100 other protected ecological areas. Cultural diversity is also abundant here. The country has almost 8 million people, mostly mestizos (mixed descendents of the Spanish and Ameri-Indians), as well as another 10% divided among eight main indigenous groups: the Lencas, the Chortís, the Tolupan, the Garinagu, the Miskitos, the Pech, the Tawahkas, and the Bay Islanders. Several of the groups have maintained many of their cultural traditions, even with the overwhelming forces from the outside.
Adventure has been woven into the very fabric of this country over the past 400 years. Christopher Columbus set foot on the Bay Islands and the North Coast on his fourth and final voyage to the Americas in 1502, but that may be the most boring tale. Consider also that the country's history involves pirates raiding gold from Spanish ships and hiding the booty in caves on the Bay Islands, archeologists searching for Mayan ruins and crystal skulls, and a North American named William Walker launching a raid on the country with his own small army. Throw in conquistadors, indigenous warriors, multinational fruit corporations, whale sharks, and indigenous land rights, and you have one of the most exciting environments on the planet.
While political instability in 2009 put a temporary hold on most developments that were already underway, things are slowly coming back together. Until just a few years ago, Honduras's tourist infrastructure had been limited, but the country is in the midst of a tourism revolution, and there's no telling exactly what the future has in store -- only that you can expect more variety, better hotels, and a far greater range of wild and wonderful tours and attractions than has ever existed here before.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.