Honduras might not be the first country you think of when you’re planning a family holiday, but having just spent 2 weeks there with my four-year-old daughter, Casey, and her grandmother, Bonnie, proved that it can be a really great place for the whole clan.
We travelled to Honduras partly because we always go somewhere fun in January and partly because of my job. I love to meet new people, visit new places, and stay ahead of the curve.
What I discovered was that Honduras is an incredibly easy place to travel with family. It’s one of the most economical destinations in Central America and you really only need eight (maybe 12 days) to see the main sights. It’s also incredibly diverse. You’ll find colonial towns, beautiful scenery, ancient Maya ruins, incredible wildlife, rainforests, and some gorgeous Caribbean islands. There aren’t many places where you can experience so much at such a great price.
Of course, Honduras is a developing nation, but the tourism infrastructure is surprisingly good and I was pleasantly surprised by how nice the hotels in more remote areas were. There were quite a few boutique accommodations, particularly around the colonial mountain town of Gracias in western Honduras, I really liked Hotel Don Juan.
Hacienda San Lucas, overlooking the Copán valley and ruins, will likely always be my favourite place to stay and is like going home. Flavia Cueva, who is like a second mother to me is the owner and painstakingly restored the place a few years ago, turning it into an incredible eco-lodge. Casey loved running around, exploring the gardens. Bonnie, who was really into meeting new characters enjoyed the dinner we had there one night with David Sedat, a renowned local archaeologist. In the evenings we sat sipping chilled white wine while watching the sunset over the valley and the tops of Copan temples fade into the dark.
I love the Copán area, too. In addition to the ruins (which are a UNESCO World Heritage site), there are coffee farms, Macaw Mountain, a reserve for rescued birds (and plenty of wild ones flying around, too) and great local villages to visit. It’s really authentic. We toured the Finca Cisne, a coffee and cardamom farm with cattle ranching, on horseback along with Carlos the finca owner’s son. Afterwards, we went to the Finca’s Hacienda and ate an incredible lunch his mum had prepared.
It seems like every spot in Honduras offers a ton of things to do. There really is something for everyone. At Pico Bonito Lodge (located in Pico Bonito National Park), our residing memory was the extraordinary sound of frogs and Casey holding a live snake! You can also go whitewater rafting, horseback riding and hiking, as well as tons of wildlife opportunities. If you want to scuba dive or snorkel the coast is close by, so it’s easy to do that too. Plus, the staff at Pico Bonito really loves kids; they showered Casey with attention – which she loved, of course.
Even on the Bay Island of Roatán, it’d be hard to get bored – you can zipline, hunt for iguanas, snorkel, fish, scuba dive, or read a book on the beach. We played on our own private beach just feet from our door at Barefoot caye. One of the most surprising Roatán discoveries for me was the dolphin encounter experience at Anthony’s Key. Casey had been so excited about doing this we had to count down the ‘sleeps’ since leaving the UK! I was expecting a real tourist trap and only went for my daughter but it’s really well done. You’re with a guide, groups are small, and they don’t rush you through. You get a lot of time to touch and play with the dolphins. It doesn’t feel too touristy or cheesy. We all loved it.
In terms of food, it really seemed like hotels go out of their way to please; they try to take a weight off parents. There were plenty of kids menus, and so long as you ask, most places will do their best to accommodate special requests. Hacienda San Lucas has a 5 course set menu for dinner; which the kids can dip in and out, but parents will love it – it’s really fresh, authentic food. One of our most fun meals was totally unplanned. We had tilapia and fried plantains in this tiny comedor (local eatery) called La Bendición just outside of La Chompa village near Gracias, and we only found it because our guide asked around.
And actually, that’s a good rule of thumb for getting off the beaten track and finding new adventures in Honduras. Talk to locals. It’s the best way to get the inside scoop on things and create fun family memories. What I also discovered was how amazing kids are, their ability to make friends and make fun is endless – one doesn’t have to provide lavish, expensive, specifically designed kid-type activities necessarily… often it’s the most memorable to just hang out in a beautiful place with great people and see what they come up with for themselves. Just having 2 full weeks to enjoy with my daughter and her American Grandma and share everything together was priceless.
For more information on setting off on your own family holiday to Honduras please contact our Honduras specialist for first-hand information and advice.