The largest coral reef system in the Western Hemisphere lies off the three Bay Islands, about 30 miles north of the mainland. You can descend as far as 2,000 feet aboard the three-man sub Idabel ($1,600 for two) to see such deep-dwelling rarities as the squat lobster and the six-gilled shark.
A launch whisks you across a mangrove-lined bay to Roatán’s Santé Wellness Centre (one-hour massage $60; doubles from $95), a hotel and spa that offers open-air treatments in a palapa by the ocean. Listen to the waves as your masseuse eases out the knots with a house-made oil infused with fruits of the island-grown noni plant.
The waters off Utila, another Bay Island, are home to a thriving population of whale sharks. The Whale Shark & Oceanic Research Center ($54 per person) conducts four-hour snorkeling trips to observe the gentle, plankton-eating giants, which can grow up to 60 feet long.
Near the mainland town of La Ceiba, the Lodge at Pico Bonito (doubles from $240, including breakfast and two activities) occupies a 350-acre property abutting one of the largest national parks in Honduras. Guests staying at the eco-lodge’s 22 cabins can enjoy hikes along trails through the surrounding rain forests or plunge down the white-water rapids of the Cangrejal River.
Ensconced deep in the country’s mountainous interior, the exquisite little inn of Hacienda San Lucas (doubles from $125, including breakfast) allows you to sway in a hammock and enjoy views out over the stepped ruins of Copán, which more than a thousand years ago marked the southern limit of the Mayan Empire.
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