Travel - Honduras

  • I only spent a short period of time in Honduras and realistically only spend 3-4 of those days actually doing anything meaningful as I was trying to get rid of that flu. The quick things I'll say is that it's not particularly cheap and it's something I'm noticing throughout all of central America so far. It just doesn't feel as cheap as travelling through South America.

    So as I mentioned in my previous blog, I was getting the bus to La Ceiba in Honduras.

    I got a little lucky with this. It's not a particularly nice trip (and 15-16 hours to go with it) but everyone else on the shuttle was getting the ferry to Utila. Unfortunately due to traffic the shuttle just missed it, it was literally leaving the dock as we arrived. But due to this they paid for the first night of accommodation in La Ceiba which was nice.

    Unsurprisingly, not that many photos as I spent a lot of my time diving so I only really used my camera at the ruins in Copan Ruinas.

  • La Ceiba

    So this is where I stayed to recover. I stayed at hostel 1877 and it's a really nice hostel if you have nothing to do. Lots of places to chill out, good wifi, really nice dorms and beds but as I was mentioning, things aren't cheap. That hostel was $12 a night. But it's definitely a handy place to base yourself if you're coming from or going to Utila or go to Rio Cangrejal.

    As for La Ceiba itself, I genuinely did nothing there and I haven't heard much of things to do there. I only ventured out the shopping malls for food.

  • Utila

    Two Ferries leave La Ceiba daily. At 9:30 am and 4:00pm for $25. It's only a 45 minute to one hour journey.

    I'd heard good things about Alton's Dive shop from a few people so I decided to just go straight there. So I was thinking of just doing fun dives because I was a little worried by the toothache I got when diving in Taganga and I assumed I'd be risking it even more if I went deeper (Advanced allows you to go to 30m below sea level). However they explained that's not necessarily the case and that we can see how I get on and change the plan depending on how things go. So with that I went with the advanced course because it was really good value. For $275 I got accommodation there (nothing special but totally fine) and 7 dives - 5 for the advanced course and 2 fun dive and I was able to go diving the day I arrived and leave in two days (I wanted this just because I wasted so much time already).

    So after being a bit nervous about it, the very first dive I did was a shipwreck dive which was 30m! So straight into it! After shaking off the rust in terms of setup we jumped in and we seemed to go down really fast. It just felt like we went about things a lot slower in the beginner course but the great news was everything was fine. In fact it was a lot better. In Taganga I always felt these kind of pressure headaches during and after the dives but I was perfect here. I'm guessing I was just sick and had some sinus issues there so I was thrilled about that and exploring the shipwreck was amazing! We went around it, went into the cargo (open area leading to a closed roof area and back to open so not extremely dangerous). Inside you could see the bubbles gathered at the ceiling, creating this mirror effect which was really cool.

    Here's a video on the planned sinking of that shipwreck too

    Youtube Video

    The next dive was a navigation dive, so we had to do some work with a compass and also we (2 of us on the course) had to get us back to the boat afterwards using the compass and references. This was a really cool dive as we saw a bunch of cool animals, specifically a turtle swimming by us and a stingray just hiding in the sand. Also visibility here is so good!

    My second day involved three dives, two in the morning and one in the night. The two in the morning were a deep dive and buoyancy performance. The deep dive wasn't much really since I'd already done a deep dive but we did see the effect it has on colour and pressure while down there. We cracked open an egg and passed the yoke around since the pressure kept it together. We did play a numbers game too. On the boat and at 30ms to see if nitrogen narcosis had taken effect (basically you feel a little tipsy).

    I picked the buoyancy dive because it sounded fun but it actually turned out to be a little frustrating. We think I was overweighted but even with that my control was a bit all over the place at times. Still it was good to do, going through hoops with different swim patterns, knocking over weights with our regulator, things like that.

    It was the night dive though that was truly memorable. You go out at around sunset so that by itself is very cool but just seeing this vast blackness around you when you're diving is kind of surreal. It's like being in an abyss. So you go around with your torch, just generally checking out the active life of the nocturnal aquatic animals but the absolute best part is when you put the light to your chest, blocking it out. Even though it's extremely dark, you can just about see the other divers (depending on what they're wearing) if you stick close. You'll begin to see these little flickers of lights around you just from whatever organism it is but the incredible thing was these string of pearls that would light up vertically. It's kind of liking seeing a line of the matrix pop up. It was honestly very very cool, I absolutely loved the experience.

    I'd already completed my knowledge transfer type thing earlier so that was the advanced course sorted! On my final day, we just did two fun dives where without doubt the most memorable thing was seeing a gigantic stingray glide around the seabed. It was incredible, I'd no idea they even got that big.

    The other cool thing about the dives was inbetween dives, you'd generally go out in search of Whale sharks. This is something really popular in Utila and it's also something that the captain of the boat really looks for as it give's them a significant pay day. So we went out looking everyday I was there and we actually did spot one (first one in 3 weeks) and I tried to go for a swim with it but every time we got nearby it'd dive pretty quickly so it didn't work out. However, we did get some curious dolphins one day so I did get to snorkel with them which was pretty great.

    As for the island itself, I was expecting more of a party lifestyle from what I'd heard but Altons was pretty chilled out so it was totally fine. Now people absolutely do party there but if you want to avoid that, you can. I would have liked to stay an extra day actually (for one reason because I wasted another day in La Ceiba thinking I could get a bus but it didn't leave that day) because you could just swim around or take out a kayak at Altons for the day. So overall I liked it here, I didn't think it was any more expensive than La Ceiba and if you've any interest in diving, it's totally worth going!

  • Copan Ruinas

    I was advised to get the shuttle so I waited in La Ceiba an extra day. It turned out to be a bit of a miss as there was an issue getting to Copan that day so they dropped me off at the San Pedro Bus station, paid for my ticket and I made the rest of the way on that bus. Which was fine really.

    So the Copan Ruinas town is a nice small area. I would say it's relatively nice to walk around. It has that old touristy town feeling, marbled roads, colourful buildings, friendly locals and surrounded by trees and hills/mountains.

    The main draw for me were the Ruins. It cost $22 dollars to enter. The entrance itself where you actually hand over your ticket is where things do get interesting. I had no idea there was a macaw preservation area here so once you walk in, your surrounded by the majestic colourful bird and they are really chilled out too. I was only a meter a way from them watching them eat. So that was already the highlight realistically but the ruins themselves are very cool too. You'll find plenty of statues that appear to be in random places but you'll also find these huge arena type areas that are still preserved to a high level. With anything like this kind of place, it's always really interesting to see how nature has reclaimed areas around it so you get these nice lush spots that will have a set of steps coming from one place or a tree literally sprouting over the steps.

    There is also another small area you can go to, you need to leave and walk about a kilometer away from the town. Honestly it was nice but there wasn't anything particularly different there. That said you'll be in no rush as both areas can be covered very comfortably in a few hours.

  • So that was my short trip in Honduras. In terms of food, Belidas were the big thing in Honduras. These were tortillas with beans and whatever else you wanted, in my case it was usually scrambled eggs as I'd have it for breakfast. Other than that, I'm kind of finding central american food to be relatively similar in general and it's slowly getting more and more mexican. I've gotten to the stage where I'm probably getting a little fatigued and places are so americanised that I'm able to get that when I'm sick of it.

    Something I'm not sure I've mentioned is that Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador and Guatamala all use the same 'visa'. The 90 days you get are for all those countries, so you don't get an exit stamp really, just the one stamp that says how many days you have left. My understanding is it's not very difficult to extend that another 90 days and if you need to restart it, you can just go to another country (like Mexico) for 72 hours and get a new stamp.

    I've exactly one month left in Central America now. I've decided I'll spend that time in Guatamala and Mexico. I decided that Belize probably wasn't worth it, I was only going to go there to dive and apparently the blue hole itself isn't really worth diving (epsecially at the cost).

    Next stop, getting a shuttle directly to Antigua in Guatamala.

  • @tokeeffe9 I'm applying to grad schools for marine bio, glad you had such a great time diving! My friend did his thesis research in Honduras during the summer of 2015, though he was based in Utila. If you have the chance, definitely hit up some dive sites in the coral triangle (my research was in Palau, which houses some of the most biodiverse reefs in the world :D ). You'll see colors you didn't even know existed, it's amazing.

  • @naltmank That sounds awesome. I'll have to add that to the bucket list as that area has a lot of countries I'd like to check out!