La Ceiba, Honduras: Become One with Nature

Now is the perfect time to visit beautiful Honduras, as there are numerous deals on topimg_6706 notch hotels and attractions. Why? In case you haven’t heard, there have been some political issues with the recently ousted President Zelaya, and for awhile, the United States issued warnings against traveling to Honduras. However, while I was there, I never saw one riot or upheaval. The Honduran people are so friendly and eager to tell us how much they have always been peaceful people and don’t agree with Zelaya’s actions. While there have been a few protesters, the best spots for tourists have not been affected. They love Americans and miss the tourism that had been so popular in the past. img_6613 My trip to Honduras was a perfect mix of serenity and adventure. For the first part of the trip, we stayed at The Lodge at Pico Bonito, a quaint group of 22 cabins located on over 200 acres of land that belongs to the Pico Bonito National Park with the striking Pico Bonito mountains as a backdrop. Situated in the rainforest, the property provides endless hiking trails, and if you chose, a guide will accompany you and point out some of the hundreds of types of birds, wildlife, and plants you can see. A visit to the butterfly house and serpentarium on premises is also included in your stay. While walking through the rainforest, you’ll see such vegetation as orange trees, pods of cocoa, and ginger plants. img_6647The cocoa pods were very interesting in taste. Of course since there were cocoa beans inside, I had to try it. Our guide, Jose, broke open a pod and inside were many slimy pieces, which we were told to let sit in our mouth and soon we got to the middle of it, which was the bitter cocoa bean. Definitely an interesting texture! You should be glad we don’t normally have to do that to get to the good stuff! The food at the lodge’s restaurant was fresh, with vegetables and fruits picked from their own garden. The freshly squeezed pineapple and melon juices were delicious, as well as their img_6636traditional Mesoamerican dishes. At night, I fell asleep to the sounds of nature and woke up with the birds. Definitely a nice change from the bussling city life. I woke up refreshed and ready to do some white water rafting with La Moskitia Ecoadventuras. While there are a few companies in La Ceiba that run white water rafting trips down the Rio Cangrejal, they are top notch. Our guide knew exactly how to navigate the Class III and IV rapids so we wouldn’t end up spending more time outside the boat than in. The river borders the mountainous rainforest of the Pico Bonito National Park, so the views along the trip were spectacular. img_6589 When we got back from rafting, we enjoyed a hike on property at the Lodge at Pico Bonito and stopped at the Butterfly House and Serpentarium. My only regret is that we didn’t have more time to spend in La Ceiba, as it truly is a great place to get in touch with nature and unwind. You can include as much or as little adventure into your stay as you’d like.

Roatan: Adventure above and below the water!

On the third day of our trip,  we flew from La Ceiba to the Bay Island of Roatan, off the coast of Honduras.  img_6950You can also take an hour and a half ferry across, depending on your budget and schedule.  This has become a popular cruise ship destination for it’s beauty and magnificent snorkeling and scuba diving.  img_6797The island is surrounded by the world’s second largest barrier reef.   I dove with Anthony’s Key Resort, which is a great place to stay if you plan on spending your trip scuba diving.  They offer various all-inclusive packages which cover your food and shore and boat dives.  While we stayed at the beautiful condo property, Infinity Bay Spa and Beach Resort,  I spent most of my two days in Roatan at Anthony’s Key Resort, did two boat dives with them and had a great divemaster, Jeremy, who pointed out so much to us underwater.  img_6828In addition to the beautiful fish and coral, I saw a lobster, huge king crab, flamingo tongues,  tiny boxfish and huge grouper.  They were also really big on safety, making sure everyone did a check out dive at the beginning.

Anthony’s Key Resort is also one of the  best places to interact with dolphins.  Not only do you get the dolphin experience, which includes taking pictures and playing with the dolphins with an instructor, but jpg_0047also a 30 minute session to snorkel and interact with them on your own.   Underwater, you can hear them communicating through their high pitched sounds and most likely they’ll be swimming past you quite often and looking to play.  If you are a certified diver, you can do a dive with the dolphins down to 60 feet. Antony’s Key also offers Dolphin Scuba camp and a your chance to be a trainer for a day through the Roatan Institute of Marine Sciences, situated on property.img_6907

While I spent most of my time in Roatan scuba diving, there are some great ziplining opportunities, one in Gumbalimba Park, which is  home to many monkeys and macaws.  We had the opportunity to play with one  really cute monkey.  I wasn’t there, but the others in my group were greeted unexpectedly by a  group of monkeys while monkeyexploring, which made for some great photo ops and a lot of fun.

While the Infinity Bay Spa and Resort was a very comfortable place to stay, with each condo featuring a kitchen, living room, washer, dryer and terrace in addition to the spacious bedroom and bathroom, img_7097there are many hotels and hostels in the West End area of the island for every budget.  There are also some great restaurants, bar and shops in West End.  The restaurants also vary by budget, and even the really inexpensive Cannibal Cafe was outstanding.  Their guacamole was perfect, and I judge all Mexican restaurants by their salsa and guacamole!

I would highly recommend Roatan as both a cruise destination and a definite stop if you’re traveling to Honduras.   The diversity of the country is amazing.  One moment you can be one with nature, the next checking out a coffee plantation and the Mayan Ruins and another day, scuba diving and playing with the dolphins.