Personal Take: A Family Adventure in Honduras
Not long ago, UK-based tour operator Steppes Travel reached out to Viaventure’s co-director Becky Harris with a question. The company knew that she had taken a recent trip to Honduras with her daughter, Casey, and Casey’s grandmother, Bonnie, and wanted to know: How did the country stand up as a family destination? Here’s what Becky had to say:
“Honduras might not be the first country you think of when you’re planning a family holiday, but my recent two-week trip 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 traveled 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 to 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 and 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 Posada de Don Juan Hotel in particular.
Hacienda San Lucas, overlooking the Copán valley and ruins, will always be my favorite place to stay, though. Going there 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 and exploring the gardens. Bonnie, who is really into meeting new characters, enjoyed the dinner we had there one night with David Sedat, a renowned local archaeologist. In the evenings, we sipped chilled white wine and watched the sunset over the valley and the top of the Copán temples.
I love the Copán area around Hacienda San Lucas, too. In addition to the ruins (which are a UNESCO World Heritage site), you’ll find the Macaw Mountain Bird Park (a reserve for rescued birds), coffee farms, and great local villages to visit. It’s really authentic. We toured Finca El 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 that his mom 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 at the foot of Pico Bonito National Park), you can go whitewater rafting, horseback riding, and hiking, plus the wildlife is great. We’ll never forget the extraordinary sound of frogs and the thrill of watching Casey hold a live snake. The coast is nearby, too, so scuba diving and snorkeling trips are easy to arrange. 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 zip-line, look for iguanas, snorkel, fish, scuba dive, or read a book on the beach. At Barefoot Cay, we had a private beach to play on just steps from our door. One of our most surprising Roatán discoveries was the dolphin encounter experience at Anthony’s Key. To be honest, 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 five-course set menu for dinner, which kids can dip in and out of, and parents will love; 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. That’s a good rule of thumb for getting off the beaten track and finding new adventures in Honduras: Talk to locals.
I’d say that traveling with Casey through Honduras really showed me that you don’t have to provide lavish, expensive, and specifically designed “kid” activities on a family trip. Children are so great at making friends and creating their own fun. Sometimes, just hanging out with great people in a beautiful place like Honduras is enough.”