Astride the giant coral reef which extends into Belize lie the Bay Islands of Roatán, Utila and Guanaja. Fringed with palm-shaded beaches and lapped by warm, glass-clear Caribbean waters they attract divers, snorkellers and barefoot holiday-makers in large numbers. The islands have a vivid history. Once the base for European pirate attacks on shipping, they were colonised by Carib Indians, former African slaves, and Garifuna communities, creating today’s cultural melting pot to which Honduran Latino immigrants are now adding their influence. It’s a laid-back ambience, beloved of budget travellers and sun-worshippers alike. On the mainland opposite are a few agreeable resorts: Tela, within reach of glorious beaches, is the most significant.
When to go
The coastal lowlands have a hot tropical climate all year round with temperatures peaking over 30oC. On the islands, Oct - Feb is the season when rainfall may be heavy and hurricanes are possible. The best time to visit the islands is Mar - Sep when the water is clear and untroubled and there is plenty of sunshine during the day.
Spanish, English, smatterings of French and Garifuna. Many people on the islands speak a version of Caribbean creole.
Getting local currency
Lempira. You can change US dollar cash or travellers cheques locally in banks and may be able to obtain cash advances at one or other of the banks on Roatán. You are, however, advised to acquire lempiras before heading to the islands, though US dollars cash are accepted in some places.
GMT -6 hours.
A few days at the eco-lodge in Pico Bonito National Park; further diving experiences across the border in neighbouring Belize.
There are domestic flights (less than 25mins) to all the islands from La Ceiba and daily flights from the capital Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula to Roatán. Tela is accessible by road (93 km) from San Pedro Sula (1 hour 20mins).
Semana Santa, Easter. Celebrated from Thursday through to Easter Sunday.