Covering 111,369 sq. km (43,000 sq. miles), Honduras is the second-largest country in Central America (Nicaragua is the largest) and the only one without volcanoes. It borders the Caribbean Sea, Pacific Ocean, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and El Salvador, and is only a short ferry ride from Belize. Like points on a compass, the country can be divided into four major geographical sections: the lush forests and coastline of the north; the impenetrable jungles of La Mosquitia of the east; the mountains and pine forests of the western and central parts of the country; and the dry, dusty south. Forty percent of Honduras is made up of rainforests, while the coasts comprise nearly 965km (600 miles) of beaches. Apart from the coasts and between San Pedro and the capital of Tegucigalpa, highways and paved roads are severely lacking, even to national parks and tourist attractions. In and around La Mosquitia and to/from the Bay Islands, transportation by water or air is your only option for getting around.
The South -- The country's 100km (62-mile) Pacific Coast separates Honduras from El Salvador in the west and Nicaragua in the east, and marks the western boundary of the southern region, which extends up to the sprawling capital of Tegucigalpa (called Tegus by locals). Tegucigalpa is the cultural center of the country and home to several excellent museums, great restaurants and markets, and a smattering of luxury hotels. Just outside town, you will find small craft villages and one of the best national parks in the country, the La Tigra National Park.
The West -- Mountains, cowboys, Maya ancestors, ancient ruins, cloud forests, Catholic festivals, and the largest lake in the country all join together to create western Honduras, one of the most diverse regions of the country. From the economic hub of the country, San Pedro Sula, you'll move southward across the fertile Sula valley to the Mayan ruins of Copán; passing the bird-watching hotspot of Lago de Yojoa; the onetime capital of Central America, Gracias; the cigar and coffee center of Santa Rosa de Copán; and the colonial town of Comayagua.
The North Coast -- The North Coast is an eco-dream of lush tropical forests, 805km (500 miles) of empty white sand beaches, fruit farms, and enough adrenaline-pumping sports to keep you busy for months. Near La Ceiba, the country's official capital of ecotourism, you'll find the Cuero y Salado Wildlife Refuge, raging white water on the Río Cangrejal, the waterfalls and hiking trails of Pico Bonito National Park, and easy access to the Bay Islands and the Cayos Cochinos. Tela, with even more natural attractions, like the Lancetilla Botanical Garden and Los Micos Lagoon, is set to become the site of a major tourism project that could soon drastically change this laidback banana town. Elsewhere in the region, you'll find friendly Garífuna villages and the once-happening beachfront and Spanish fort in Trujillo.
The Bay Islands -- Stilted island houses, turquoise water, Garífuna settlements, and some of the best diving on Earth make the Bay Islands one of the leading attractions in the country. While you'll find a growing number of cruise ports and luxury resorts on Roatán and a number of hostels and cheap restaurants on the backpacker-paradise that is Utila, these two islands still retain their laidback charm. The least visited of the three Bay Islands, Guanaja, is practically untouched.
La Mosquitia & Olancho -- La Mosquitia, the largest tract of wilderness in Central America, is often called a mini-Amazon. The region is as wild as they come and is made up of indigenous tribes, rarely visited biological reserves, and tiny coastal communities where electricity is a rare luxury. Tour groups are increasingly exploring the Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve via rafting trips, though they are facing competition from new community-based ecotourism projects to the reserve along the coast. Neighboring Olancho is packed to the rim with undisturbed national parks, cave systems, whitewater rivers, rural villages, and scenic vistas of every sort. However, bad roads and a history of highway robberies and drug trafficking have kept many away. Things appear to be on the upswing, with greater police control and the ongoing paving of several stretches of highway.
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.