In times past, almost the entire Pacific and Caribbean coasts of Honduras were lined with a maze of wetlands and mangrove forests, the majority of which have long since fallen victim to the machete. The remaining wetland areas provide habitats for howler monkeys, parrots, crocodiles, manatees, and myriad other creatures that hide in the tangle of vegetation along the waterways. Most tourists will want to take a guided boat trip, either with an organized tour outfit or by hiring a local boat, but it’s totally feasible to explore these reserves independently in sea kayaks or canoes. Only a couple of places on the north coast rent sea kayaks, although with luck that number will increase soon. If all else fails, you could always find a local fisherman willing to rent you a wooden cayuco for a nominal fee.
On the north coast, on each side of the wide bay around Tela, are Parque Nacional Jeanette Kawas (Punta Sal) and Refugio de Vida Silvestre Punta Izopo. Between Tela and La Ceiba is Refugio de Vida Silvestre Cuero y Salado, on land formerly owned by Standard Fruit Company. Though not protected as an official reserve, the wetlands farther east in the Mosquitia are immense and in much better condition than wetlands anywhere else in the country. Boat tours are easily arranged in Puerto Lempira or Palacios.
Tucked into the more isolated fingers of the Golfo de Fonseca is Refugio de Vida Silvestre Bahía de Chismuyo, protecting a singularly dense and tall mangrove forest, well worth a day trip to visit if you’re in southern Honduras. Boats can be found in Coyolito, near Amapala.
© Chris Humphrey and Amy E. Robertson from Moon Honduras, 5th Edition