Honduras is situated completely within the tropics—south of the Tropic of Cancer and north of the Tropic of Capricorn—and as in most tropical countries, temperature is defined more by altitude than by season. Generally, temperatures change little from month to month in the same location, apart from slight cooling during the rainy season. January and February are the coolest months, while March and April are the hottest, although temperatures rarely vary more than 5°C on average throughout the year.
The Caribbean and Pacific lowland regions are both known as tierra caliente (hot land), where average daytime high temperatures hover between 28° and 32°C (82–90°F) throughout the year. Rain and strong ocean breezes offer some relief and are often present on the north coast, the Bay Islands, and the islands of the Golfo de Fonseca. Interior lowland regions, such as the Valle de Ulúa or the Valle del Aguán, are often extremely hot and humid, and the Choluteca plains are downright scorching for much of the year, particularly during the dry season, with daytime temperatures occasionally hitting 40°C (104°F).
Much of central Honduras, between 500 and 1,800 meters elevation, is tierra templada (temperate land). Here temperatures usually stay comfortable throughout the year, pleasantly warm but not overly hot during the day and cool in the evening. Tegucigalpa, in a sheltered valley at about 1,000 meters elevation, is a classic example of such a climate zone; daytime highs average 24°C (75°F) in January and 29°C (84°F) in April, while lows in those months average 14°C (57°F) and 18°C (64°F), respectively.
The mountain country, above 1,800 meters elevation, is called tierra fría (cold land), where temperatures average 16–20°C (61–68°F) during the day and can drop to freezing at night. Strong winds, mist, clouds, and tree cover help keep temperatures down. The highest, cloud forest–covered peaks are the coldest locations in Honduras. Hiking these forests can be pleasantly cool during the day, but be ready for the evening chill. Regions particularly known for their cold weather are in the departments of Intibucá, Lempira, and La Paz, in the mountains of southwest Honduras.
© Chris Humphrey and Amy E. Robertson from Moon Honduras, 5th Edition