Though only slightly larger than Tennessee, the Central American country of Honduras offers multiple landscapes, from cloud forests to lush mountains to white sand beaches  to ancient Mayan ruins. Once an “undiscovered” destination, Honduras is no longer a secret and is visited by an increasing number of tourists each year.

Because of political upheaval in Honduras in 2009, it is advisable to check the U.S. State Department’s latest travel advisory before visiting the country.

1. Copan Ruins:
Located near the Guatemalan border, Copan was once a cultural center of the ancient Mayans, and was considered the cradle of the Mayan civilization in the 7th century. The ruins consist of more than 4,500 structures. Highlights include the “acropolis,” a complex of plazas, palaces and pyramids, and the hieroglyphic stairway, with steps illustrating the royal history of Copan.

2. Mosquito Coast:
The Mosquito Coast is located in northeastern Honduras and continues along the coast through Nicaragua. This remote area, consisting of mangrove swamps, beaches and jungle, contains some of the most unspoiled wilderness in Central America and is popular with hikers and naturalists. The Rio Platano Biosphere Reserve, located within the Mosquito Coast and encompassing approximately 2,000 square miles, includes several endangered species such as the jaguar and giant anteater, a vast array of flora and fauna and indigenous tribes.

3. Roatan:
The island of Roatan is part of the Bay Islands off the north coast of Honduras. With lovely beaches, mountains, an abundance of coral reefs and a laid-back atmosphere, Roatan has become one of the most visited beach destinations in Central America. Though Roatan only has a population of 30,000, approximately 250,000 tourists visit the island each year. Roatan is surrounded by the second-largest barrier reef system in the world, making it an excellent jumping off point for snorkeling and diving expeditions.

4. Santa Rosa de Copan:
Nestled in the western highlands of Honduras, Santa Rosa de Copan is a historic city of colonial architecture and cobblestone streets. Its picturesque downtown has been named a national monument and has been carefully preserved and restored. It is also famous for its hand-rolled cigars. Its beautiful architecture, sweeping vistas and central location make it an excellent base from which to explore the Copan ruins and other sites.

5. Lago de Yojoa:
Lago de Yojoa is the largest natural lake in the country. It covers 110 square miles and is bordered by two national parks, Santa Barbara National Park and Cerro Azul Meambar National Park. It is a popular fishing destination, particularly for black bass, and offers some of the best bird-watching opportunities in Central America, with nearly 400 different species of birds. The lake is located off the highway that connects Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula, the country’s two largest cities.

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