Honduras is known for its murder rate when it really should be known for its coral reef. Replace Honduras: Murder Capital Of The World with Honduras: Most Beautiful Reef In The World And Central America’s Most Undiscovered and Underrated Land Of Green. Cause that title would more accurately describe Honduras.
But let’s talk about this Murder Capital Of The World business before we move on, cause I know that’s what you’re worried about.
Firstly, these murder stats are per 100,000 people. So 84.6 people are murdered in the country per 100,000 people. This rate mostly pulls from San Pedro Sula, which has 137.5 murders per 100,000 so the rest of the country brings down the rate considerably. Think about that. Almost all of the murders occur in one small area of the country.
Secondly, here are the other 9 countries that make the top 10 murders in 2017:
- El Salvador
- St.Kitts and Nevis
- South Africa
Ya hear. BAHAMAS. What in the damn hell? People regularly vacation in a lot of those places. If you look at these countries, you’ll also notice a lot of them are really small countries. So this may be a product of landmass. Whereas countries like The United States have more land mass, therefore more people to bring down the murder rate.
Thirdly, try Googling how many days the United States of America has gone without a murder. Or Google how many months the United States of America has gone without a mass shooting? Stats ain’t lookin’ good for us, fam.
So yes, it is a fact that 84.6 people are murdered out of 100,000 every year, so stay vigilant like you would in your own country where people ain’t shit.
To describe Honduras as the murder capital of the world is not only disrespectful to the people living there (as if they’re all murderers) it also incites unnecessary fear that allows companies to make an immense profit off of all the excessive safety measures people take when going to Honduras. So let’s move on shall we?
To the wonderful, untouched paradise that is Honduras!
What are the Cayo Cochinos?
Cayo Cochinos is an archipelago off of the coast of Honduras consisting of 2 large islands–Cayo Menor and Cayo Grande–and 13 small ones surround by the coral reef. The name “Pig Island” is from the days of pirates when they would leave pigs on the islands to populate, so that they would be able to eat them when they returned.
None of the islands have roads, cars, or bikes. There is a research facility on one of the islands. To access the islands, everyone must pay a $6 fee to enter because it is actually a preserve. The islands that aren’t preserved by the government are either owned by Garifuna or are privately owned.
This blog post will give you all the info you need to stay on one of those private islands.
Before Leaving America
Americans do not need a visa to enter Honduras. Permission is automatically given to you upon arrival. Also, note that if you’re traveling Spirit Air that your exit fee is not included in your airfare like the other airlines. It is $47 to leave the country, so bring that also.
The Language and What To Pack
English and Spanish are acceptable here. Spanish is preferred but many people speak English.
Bring your passport. If you’re going to Honduras to dive, every island has all the gear you’ll need but bring your own if you don’t want used equipment.
Things To Pack That Will Make Your Life More Comfortable:
- A sweater because when it rains and there’s wind, it does get pretty cold and uncomfortable.
- A raincoat because if the seas are choppy, the waves splash into the island boat transport and you’re sure to get 75% wet.
- A large trash bag to put over your backpack to keep it from getting wet if you have any books or electronics inside.
- Mosquito spray because you’ll be eaten alive
- Bikinis, bikinis, and more bikinis
- Any medications that you normally travel with because some of the islands literally have nothing but a cabana.
Arriving in San Pedro Sula
Going through immigration is an easy process. The officer will ask you a few questions, take your fingerprints, and then you can exit to the airport. The airport has free wifi so you can contact whomever you need to upon arrival. If you need to exchange money, there is a bank in the airport that gives the exact exchange rate you see on Google as do the cambios, or men walking around with money ready to change. The rate we got was $1:23.5 lempira.
By the way lempira means Lord Of The Mountains and is the name of a Honduran indigenous war hero who organized a rebellion against the Spanish conquerors. There are various myths about how he was murdered. You’ll see his picture on the 1 Lempira bill. Hondureños are taught in school that an arrow killed him, but historians say the Spanish actually decapitated him.
There are 3 ways to leave the airport in San Pedro Sula:
Collectivo: the cheapest way to travel. I’m not sure where the bus picks up from but I know it costs $5 and takes 4.5 hours to get to La Ceiba from the airport because it makes multiple stops along the way.
Bus Transfer: an economical way to travel is the Hedman Alas bus. This is the only bus that leaves and drops off at the airport. The other buses drop off at city center and you’d have to cab in. Hedman Alas is a very nice air-conditioned bus with fancy movie theater seats and costs 250 lempira or $11.57 for a one-way 4-hour bus ride to La Ceiba. The times of departure to La Ceiba are at 10:50 and 3:30. Check this website for other destinations.
Taxi: the most expensive and fastest way to get to anywhere is by taxi. To La Ceiba is $130 one-way for the entire cab. So if you can split the fare between four people its $33/each. The drive is 2.5 hours. I highly recommend enjoying the ride by stopping at fruit stands and plantations along the way. You’ll see mountains of green, pineapple, banana, and rambutan plantations along the way. Absolutely stunning landscape.
I recommend Mario Alberto Diaz Membreno +504-9976-6060 who did all of our taxi drops and was incredibly reliable.
For example: I asked him to meet us in 3 days in the same spot that he dropped us off from at 1PM. He was waiting there as soon as we got off the ferry, without any communication in between. He was also incredibly informative and friendly. The entire 2.5 hour from La Ceiba to San Pedro Sula airport, he pointed out monuments and landscapes and explained Honduran economy. At one point, after pointing out a rambutan plantation, he literally stopped on the side of the road to buy a bag of rambutan after I told him I had never had one before and he decided I must try one NOW.
What To Do In La Ceiba
The Hedman Alas bus stop drops you off 3 blocks from the beach. People will advise you to cab to your host, but we walked and felt safe. Our AirBnB hosts were incredibly friendly and professional. Loved them so much I stayed there twice! Here’s the link to Glady’s house.
La Ceiba is a cute town with a free outdoor wifi park that backs up to the beach called Paseo De Los Ciebenos. There are also fried chicken and plantain stands, pupuserias, and the malecon. At night, the main street turns into 3 clubs of reggaeton music blasting from the speakers and a crowd of people starting around 11PM.
But the best part of La Ceiba is really just walking around. There are virtually no tourists and every house is super colorful. Pay attention to the metal workings on the gates because every gate has a different design and is hammered into irregular shapes. It’s as if the neighborhood was having a gate contest on who had the cutest gate. Also the tropical plants lining the street make for a Caribbean neighborhood mezcla that I spent hours walking around.
But normally, people usually use La Ceiba as a jump off point to the islands of Roatan and Utila.
How To Get To Roatan, Utila, and Cayo Cochinos From La Ceiba
Well, idk how to get to Roatan or Utila because I never went to either of those places. MOST tourists will go to either of those islands because it’s world-renown for being the cheapest place to get your diving certification. But I don’t really enjoy underwater sea-creatures at close proximity like that, so I don’t know anything about that. But the ferry leaves from La Ceiba
However, I can tell you how to get to Cayo Cochinos, arguably the most beautiful islands in Central America.
From La Ceiba:
- You’ll need to get a taxi to Sambo Creek, where the boats leave. It is a 30-minute drive and $25.
- From Sambo Creek, you’ll need to arrange a ferry. The company is called Tourist Options (they are the red boats) OR you can source another local company in the area (the blue boats). Whichever company you go through, negotiate your price ahead of time and only pay for one-way. It is advised not to pay for round trip because a couple we were with reported not being picked up on their return.
You don’t necessarily have to arrange all of this yourself. Actually I recommend your hotel/airbnb book for you over the phone because they don’t respond to email. The price should be around $35/person if you’re doing the Garifuna and snorkel tour.
Regarding this “ferry”. That’s a very generous word for the fishing boat they use. But sure. You can put your hand in the water if you want, that’s how close you are to the sea. During rough seas, your luggage is sure to get soaked in water. Bring a rain jacket and a trash bag to put your backpack in if you have electronics or paperwork.
- The tour on the way to your private island includes a snorkel tour, stop on Cayo Cochinos Menor, lunch on the island of Cachuate with the Garifuna, and then a drop off on our private island. It’s important to note that you need to pay the Garifuna up front for your meal, and the prices range depending on what you want. Bring Lempira. Also remember to access the archipelago, it costs $6 which you’ll pay at Cayo Menor and goes into doing biomarine research on the island.
- Transport back to La Ceiba should be $25/person for the ferry and $25 total for the taxi ride. We pre-arranged for our same taxi driver to meet us there when we came back.
Who Are the Garifuna?
The Garifuna are an ethnic group comprised of a mix of indigenous and African influence. During slave revolts on other islands, the British exiled the Garifuna to Roatan off of the coast of Honduras. And now they’re an Creole-English-Spanish speaking group of people who live on the islands off Honduras. Their skin is known to be “immune” to jellyfish stings, amongst Hondurans.
If you’re a Black traveler, it may be easy to be mistaken as a Garifuna. Which isn’t a bad thing. But may be irritating when people assume you’re going to Garifuna-populated islands and that’s not actually where you’re going.
I personally would recommend skipping the Garifuna island all together. You come into contact with enough Garifuna as it is on these islands, so no real need to visit this voyeuristic island of Cachuate. The “tour” means you just walk around people’s shacks and see them live their regular lives in poverty without any meaningful exchange or interaction. It didn’t make me feel comfortable. But if you’d like to eat and contribute to their economy, that might be nice.
Things To Do In Cayo Cochinos
And finally, for the most important part is where to stay.
The private island we stayed in is owned by a Canadian named Daryl who was very helpful in arranging everything. Here is the link to his above water cabanas that as of this blog post, cost $23/night (the price goes up per additional person). However, the real treat of the island were the island caretakers: Jose and his wife who live on the island full time. Some of the nicest and most helpful people I’ve ever met! But be aware that although it may be cheap, every meal is about $15 on the island, doesn’t include drinks, and there’s no other options for food. American dollars can be used to pay this.
With that said, TOTALLY WORTH IT! The cabana is over the water so you fall asleep to the sounds of the ocean. There is a dock with hammocks and a bar, so you can take your blanket and watch the stars above or the electric fish below during the night. And then get up early to watch the sunset. Pelicans dive for fish and the ocean comes alive beneath you.
This island also offers games, paddle boarding, canoeing, and beach volleyball. Really everything you need for a relaxing time. There are also multiple cabanas on the island if you need more space. I believe he said it fits up to 27 people, but when we were there, there were only 4 other people.
Two things though: the bathrooms are shared and the wifi was only good for about 1-hour a day. So if you have an online business like me, just be aware of that and plan ahead.
Also, don’t be limited to just this island. The archipelago is made up of a ton of islands with places to stay for an incredibly economical price. On Cayo Mayor, there is a Garifuna village where you can rent villas for $100/night and it includes the diving service. Contact Lucy at email@example.com. Or once you land in Honduras, you’re bound to find somebody who knows somebody who can reserve a room for you on one of these islands. In addition, all of these islands are within paddle-boarding distance. If the seas are calm, you can easily paddle board, canoe, or take a fishing boat to visit all of the islands.
There is another island directly across which took about 30 minutes to paddle to and is owned by an older American man from LA who greeted us with juice when he saw us reaching his island. Not only that, he welcomed us to swim on his beach front property for the rest of the day! So everyone is really friendly and welcoming!
Another cool island is Cayo Mayor, which you can get to by fishing boat for a small fee and go for a guided hike with the Garifuna. Highly recommend! The jungle is beautiful and is the only place in the world you can see pink boa constrictors. However, they say they only turn pink in the sun. Others say they only turn pink when you make them angry. Not sure if any of them are true, and never got to find out since none of the boa constrictors we found were pink.
Why I Didn’t Dive
So everyone assumes, IF you’re going to Hondruas, you’re going to dive. Well now you know you can also go to just be basic and lie on a beach for a few days without having to participate in underwater activity.
I didn’t dive because there was no need to. I saw octopus, jellyfish, squid, manta rays, needle fish, electric fish, and schools of fish that were so large the whole sea turned black, JUST FROM THE DOCK. I didn’t even stick my head below the water. From someone who has snorkeled in Hawaii, Cuba, Belize, Thailand, and Egypt, I think I’d say the waters in Honduras were the clearest and most alive I’ve ever seen. So I can’t really imagine what it’s like to dive.
Life and Culture
Honduras is a key trading partner with the United States, with most of its economy coming from trade, specifically fruit. So much so, that it was called The Banana Republic for a really long time. However, the U.S. has given very little back to Honduras. Except for maybe the highways, which are pretty well built out and I felt it was the most developed of the Central American countries I’ve been to (excluding Panama and Costa Rica). There was electricity full time, good sewage systems, but no hot water. However, you will see U.S. presence in the form of fried chicken and Dunkin Donuts, which was odd to see! The U.S. also used Honduras as a place to base when they were fighting a war with Nicaragua and has also used it to be near to El Salvador should they need it. It’s a pretty one-way relationship, to be honest.
For this, the 2017 presidential election reached some unrest as the previous president usurped the vote once he realized he wasn’t going to win, resulting in protests and five deaths. All seems to be good now.
I won’t pretend to know too much about Honduras and the culture it carries since I came into very little contact with human beings on an island in the middle of the ocean; except that the mainland was founded by the Mayans and the islands were occupied by Tainos. There are Mayan ruins in Copan that you can visit and is actually the place where the first cigar in the world was found. Other than that, I can only confidently recommend this little paradise that I’m so blessed to have found and you can bet I’ll be returning.
For flight, accommodations, meals, and transportation, total spent for a week was $550