Today’s Travel Tuesday destination is Honduras, courtesy of the 1,000 Places to See Before You Die Page-A-Day calendar.
1. The Bay Islands: The lovely coral reefs off the lush, mountainous Bay Islands are the southernmost extension of Belize’s barrier reefs, world famous as the largest after Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. But the unparalleled marine life here seems even more beautiful than Down Under because it is less touristed and less developed (at least for the moment: The islands are poised to become a full-blown tourist destination). Along with the three principal Bay Islands—Roatán, Utila, and Guanaja—there are four lesser ones and 60 small cays, stretching 70 miles in a northeasterly arc, all of which offer countless diving and snorkeling opportunities. Reefs fringing the Bay Islands support the greatest diversity of corals, sponges, and invertebrates in the Caribbean. It’s heaven to divers, from scuba snobs avoiding the over-trafficked destinations elsewhere in the Caribbean to newbies who have heard that these islands are one of the best and least expensive places to earn dive certification.
- Where: Roatán is 35 miles/56 km off the northern coast of Honduras.
- Best Times: March-September for dry season; year-round for whale sharks in Utila.
2. Pico Bonito National Park (pictured above): A mighty mountain that stands outside the port city of La Ceiba and towers nearly 8,000 feet high, Pico Bonito (beautiful peak) is the heart of 270,000 acres of tropical rain forest that represents Honduras’s greatest preserve, much of it wild and inaccessible. Through the mountain is steep and much of it is off-limits, the park that surrounds it offers plenty of hiking trails that went through verdant, varied forests at different elevations. No fewer than 22 rivers carve through this dense habitat, creating spectacular waterfalls; the most popular hiking path leads to La Ruidosa, “The Noisy One.” Pico Bonito National Park is home to more than 400 species of birds, including extravagantly plumped purple and blue cotingas, toucans, motmots, and hummingbirds. Jaguars, ocelots, and pumas roam the hills, through sightings are rare. Tapirs, deer, and white-faced and spider monkeys are more common, as are countless species of reptiles, amphibians, and butterflies.
- Where: 5 miles/8 km south of La Ceiba.
- Best Time: February-April for dry, cool weather.
Read more on 1,000 Places to See Before You Die and the calendar line here.