Easter in Honduras
During the weeks leading into “Semana Santa” it is common for different organizations, churches, companies and neighbors to organize day trip to the beaches. Thus, residents of SulaValley (San Pedro Sula, Villanueva, La Lima and El Progreso) flock to the beaches of Omoa, Puerto Cortes, Tela, Trujillo, and La Ceiba). Residents from Tegucigalpa go to the Pacific coast to the beaches at Cedeño, Punta Raton, Coyolito Amapala, and San Lorenzo. This is something to take into consideration, because you can run into over 100 buses going or coming to the beaches on any given weekend during the “verano” summer leading to Easter “Semana Santa”. If you are going to be travelling on the roads on weekends during this time, do your best to do so really early in the morning, not only will you save time, you will also avoid many hair raising experiences on the Honduran roads! (Please do not Drink and drive, you need to be fully alert while driving in Honduras.)
Easter, “Semana Santa”, is the one time of the year when you MUST have reservations to stay at a hotel before you depart. Hotels really fill up, and if you do find a hotel, it will probably be twice the price it usually is! Another important factor to take into consideration is the fact that there is NO public transportation, whether by air, sea or land, operating within Honduras on Good Friday. This includes the ferries to the islands, all air service, and of course all intercity bus companies, including the premier lines, such as Hedman Alas or Viana. If you do not consider this you might end up having to pay for a private taxi to drive you between cities, and this will be expensive!
As mentioned before, Hondurans flock to the beaches during Easter Semana Santa. This means that places like Tela, Trujillo, La Ceiba, Omoa and Puerto Cortes, all on the Caribbean coast will be packed! The same can be said for the Bay Islands, especially Utila and Roatan. Although by tradition the folks from Tegucigalpa go to the Pacific Ocean beaches, the longer Easter Travel and Vacations allow more time and therefore many venture out to the more attractive Caribbean coast. Honduran families will reserve a double room and manage to fit a whole family of 6 into the same room! Beaches are so full that you will not find any bit of shade, because whatever shade is to be found was taken by someone who arrived early. (I happily admit it; I like a nice beach to myself and always try to avoid the crowds) However, night life in all of the beach cities does become really lively. No matter where you are spending your Easter Week in Honduras, if you are on the beach, you will find many different options to party till sunrise!
Since I have already confessed that I hate crowds, I will give you some advice for Easter Semana Santa holidays in Honduras. Instead of going with the crowd, go against it! Tegucigalpa, the capital city, empties out during this week. This means that there is no traffic, and you can walk the city and enjoy its parks without crowds. Furthermore, you get a chance to feel the real Semana Santa, that commemorates the most important dates in the Christian faith, the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Christ. There are many different representations, and the streets of downtown Tegucigalpa are closed to traffic because traditional and very colourful sawdust carpets are set up in street in preparation for the processions that commemorate the Passion of Christ. These carpets are the result of a mix between the Spanish Catholic traditions and the native American beliefs, and offer a very colourful view of traditional central American folklore.
Another site in Honduras that has some world class Semana Santa celebrations is Comayagua, the old colonial capital of Honduras. Here, over 30 different family of church groups work months ahead of the holidays in the design of their sawdust carpets, competing between each other to see who makes the most colourful, most artistic carpet. These carpets are rushed to completion between Thursday and Good Friday, prior to the religious processions that take place. To see these carpets, you must be there early on Good Friday, when the artists are finishing their work and before the processions trample over these magnificent, short lived pieces of art.
For many years, tourists have flocked to Antigua Guatemala for the Semana Santa processions, which include these colourful sawdust carpets. Visiting Comayagua will give you the same results, without the huge crowds you will have to endure in Guatemala. I thoroughly endorse the idea of visiting Comayagua between Thursday and Sunday of Easter Week!
Another good option is the ruins of Copan. Although the town does fill up, its not excessively crowded like the beaches, and there are also some sawdust carpets that are made here, they are not as big, artistic or colourful as those made in Tegucigalpa or Comayagua, but they will give you a feeling for a true Central American tradition.
I know that I have basically said you should stay away from the beaches, however, in all honesty, I must state that if you are looking for a good festive atmosphere, where you can enjoy a beach party from dusk to dawn, at affordable prices, then you must go to the beach towns. La Ceiba is by far the liveliest; however Tela, Trujillo, Puerto Cortes and Omoa on the Caribbean are all well known for their Easter Week parties. On the PacificCoast, San Lorenzo has the most fame for a good party scene, although even small quiet towns, such as Amapala can get into serious party mode! If you are looking for the party scene, have fun, make sure you get a designated driver in your group if you are driving you car, or find a taxi to get you back to your hotel when you are done with the party! Enjoy yourself and have an excellent Easter Week vacation!
Editors Note: We the Honduras.com Utila Team have to interject in Jonathan’s “What to do in Honduras during Easter (Semana Santa article), and say that the party scene is also extremely at its best in Roatan West End, and of course Utila, anywhere you go!
However, in our opinion, having been to all of the above for Easter Week in Honduras, there is no part of Honduras that beats Utila.
Be sure to stop in to Skid Row (earn a free T Shirt in their guiffiti challenge, as well as enjoy a game of pool and great food) and party until the sun comes up every single day of the week anywhere on the Island, but in particular, do not miss Tranquila Bar! Both are world renowned for their unique touches. Another recommendation we have if you enjoy truly good food, is to treat yourself to an evening at Driftwood Bar and Grill . They are right on the ocean, and have amazing dinners – you won’t leave hungry! No one leaves Utila with out having had a good time! Enjoy Semana Santa, and as Jonathan said, Please do NOT Drink and Drive (yes, even on a mo-ped!
We wrote the Honduras Travel Guide Book on Honduras back in 1994! [The second one, a follow up to the first one by Brad Martin R.I.P (who rode it on a bicycle, travelling to Honduras from Silicone Valley every year that he could.) (Now during our Honduras 2013 goals we are doing it again from scratch with a combination team of 20 year old and us old folk ; so look forward to the latest on Honduras Travel with Honduras.com - a volunteer organization ]
In La Ceiba, stay at LaVillaDeSoledad.com, designed and built by one of our travel experts, after 15 years of travel in Honduras. Oh and did we mention, he is also the President of the La Ceiba Chamber of Tourism (CANATURH “Camara Nacional de Trurismo en Honduras” ). Escape the noise and get a good night’s rest. You’ll have a pleasant awakening, and see Toucans within reach at L a Villa de Soledad in La Ceiba. If you are interested, there is the opportunity to have your ear bent with all kinds of travel in Honduras stories. This is where we all stay . Stop by our office and ask for help if you are in need. Semana Santa is special in Honduras, make the best of it and be safe. - Honduras.com