Colombus landed in Honduras in 1502, naming the country after the deep Caribbean waters he passed through. (In Spanish, Honduras means ‘depths’). Despite violent protests from the natives, the country became part of the huge Spanish Empire in the new world. Several islands in the bay attracted the attentions of pirates, especially the British, whose legacy remains to this day with English speaking minorities remaining on the islands. Honduras declared independence from Spain in 1821. The country’s economy was dominated by fruit exports to the USA, which exerts a powerful political influence on the country to this day. The most controversial example of this was the use of Honduran bases to train Nicaraguan contras in an effort to overthrow the socialist Sandinista government. Nicaragua is to the southwest of Honduras, Guatemala to the north and El Salvodor to the west.
The interior of the country is made up of picturesque, though rugged forested mountains. The country has Pacific and Caribbean coastlines which feature idyllic beaches and fantastic diving locations.
The vast majority of people in Honduras speak Spanish. In the more isolated communities in the mountains you may find people speaking one of several native languages. As with most of Central and South America, English is uncommon out of the areas of cities travellers frequent and the main tourist destinations.
The unit of currency in Honduras is the Lempira. As of 28th October 06, 1 USD buys 18.9 HNL, 1 GBP buys 35.8 HNL, and 1 Euro buys 24 HNL. In the Bay Islands and some areas of the big cities, USD will be accepted instead of Lempiras. It is usually easy to exchange dollars or travellers cheques for Lempiras at an exchange kiosk or bank.
Honduras is in tropical latitude, so most areas are humid and hot, with little variation and an average temperature around 27 degrees Celsius. It rains all year round, but storms are most common between June and September. Hurricanes occasionally trouble the coastal areas during these months. The mountainous interior has a much cooler, temperate climate, with cooler nights.
The Maya Ruins of Copan is a site of great archaeological interest, and one of the finest examples of Mayan civilization. The site is in a beautiful mountain valley around 2 ½ hours from San Pedro Sula. In the archaeological park you can walk among ancient statues and buildings, and if you have secured the services of a guide, you will gain a fascinating insight into Central America’s most prolific ancient civilization.
The Roatan Islands are a set of islands in the bay that are extremely popular among divers, as they are not only one of the most beautiful and idyllic places in the world to get certified, but also the cheapest. You can complete a PADI approved course for only $130. The islands are surrounding by colourful coral reefs, which mercifully have been preserved the fate of many reefs near to diving centres. British buccaneers occupied the islands for many years, which gives them a very distinct culture from the Honduran mainland. English is widely spoken on the islands, and many people will not even speak Spanish.
Like most people in Central and South America, Hondurans visit their market a couple of times a week to buy fresh food they can prepare that day or the day after. Every town or village has a market, and as well as groceries, you will be able to find all kinds of products. A popular souvenir for people visiting Honduras is pottery made in the traditional Lencan style. The best place to head for this is the ceramic cooperative near Gracias.
In San Pedro Sula, there is now a gargantuan North-American style shopping mall, which contains department stores, hundreds of smaller shops, eateries and cinemas.
There is a vibrant nightlife in the capital, Tegucigalpa, and a variety of establishments to cater for whatever you prefer. Tobacco Road Tavern is a tourist friendly bar owned by an American, and most of the staff speak English. It is located in the centre of town, and also offers cheap hostel-style accommodation.
La Casita del Pueblo is opposite the university and a good place to look for young people. There are frequent live music performances of jazz, funk and rock acts.
El Nilo Al Kap bar is an Egyptian-themed club that is quickly becoming one of the most popular nightlife spots on the island. You will find a mixture of of ex-pats, tourists and wealthier locals in the club.
Roads are not of exceptional quality in Honduras, especially in the mountains, where you will have to contend with large potholes, waterlogged roads and a lack of signage. Drivers are generally slightly more considerate than in other Hispanic countries, although rush hour in Tega or San Pedro Sula is as cutthroat as anywhere.
Food and Drink
Tortillas are the staple food in Honduras, and are eaten in a wide variety of meals, as a side dish with a main course, or a lunchtime meal. They are commonly filled with a wide variety of spicy salsas and bean mixtures. If you find yourself unsure what to order in a restaurant, the Plato Tipico is the most commonly eaten meal in Honduras, and will be served everywhere in the country. It is made with rice, fried beans, plantains, and a creamy or cheesy sauce. On the north coast of the islands, a variety of fresh fish is readily available. Fresh pineapples, mangoes, guavas and bananas are grown everywhere, and provide a cheap and healthy breakfast or snack.
You should not drink the tap water anywhere on the island, as it is unsafe. Bottled water is cheap and easily available.
Tourist InfoCol. San Carlos, Edificio EuropaTegucigalpa, HondurasPostal Nº 3261
- PBX: (504) 222-2124