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About 44 miles off the northern coast of mainland Honduras, sits the small island of Guanaja. A member of the Bay Islands and an increasingly popular tourist destination, Guanaja is far less known or visited when compared to its sister island of Roatan. But this anonymity looks good on Guanaja; as it is both well preserved and untouched by the hands of many tourists and eager resort developers.
Mesoamerican Barrier Reef
Also known as the Great Mayan Reef, the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef stretches from the tip of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula south past Belize and Guatemala, before concluding in the Bay Islands. The reef itself is the largest of its kind in the Northern Hemisphere and presents some of the best diving in the world. Aside from numerous colorful tropical fish, divers often come face to face with sea turtles, reef sharks, and the occasional whale shark.
The Venice of Honduras
While the majority of tourists stay in dive resorts on the mainland or other islands, then visit Guanaja during the day, its city is a must-see. Guanaja Town, known to locals as Bonacca, occupies its own little island where buildings are jam-packed together along a winding series of canals, hence the nickname. No-one will call Bonacca the most beautiful place in the world but its surroundings, interesting web of community, and friendly locals make it unforgettable.
Hey, history buffs! Ever want to stand in the same place as the OG colonizer Christopher Columbus? Well, Guanaja is your chance. Columbus personally discovered Guanaja on his fourth and final voyage to “The New World”. So yes, that means he did not think he was in India this time.
Good vibes and better weather. That can be said about this small Honduran island. While rain is always a factor in the Caribbean, the temperatures really never dip much lower than 75 degrees Fahrenheit and do not exceed 88.
Latin American Vibes, English-Speaking People
For those travelers who want a taste of the passionate, friendly, and festive personalities stereotypical of Latin America, but are nervous about busting out their Spanish, Guanaja is the place to be. While the only official language of Honduras is Spanish, the primary form of communication in the Bay Islands is English. Just get ready for some Creole slang.
While we have mentioned the city and the sea, we have yet to mention how wild Guanaja is. The government has dedicated about 90% of the island and its surrounding cays as national marine parks and national forest reserves. This means there is plenty of opportunity to explore, on foot, the area that is a collision of tropical flora and numerous pine tree species. Outdoorsmen who have visited Guanaja before have said they love the experience of climbing to the summit of the island to gaze upon the island and the pale blue waters and reefs from a different perspective.
Hit the Beach
With the majority of tourist traffic being whisked away to other islands or to the sea for snorkeling or diving, that means the majority of beaches on Guanaja are not dwelled upon for very long. This presents a prime opportunity for those wanting to relax and sunbathe in peace. Our favorite beaches include Michael Rock, Soldado, and Big Gully on the north side of the island.
Proximity to Roatan and Utila
The Bay Islands as a whole are some of the most stunning places in the world. There are plenty of things to do on Roatan, and Utila is one of the top dive research hubs in Central America because of its pristine waters. Both are well worth a visit, and luckily for those heading to Guanaja, they will likely have to make a pit stop at one or both of the islands to reach the final destination.
Off the Beaten Path
Those who make it to Guanaja are instantly endowed with bragging rights. Honduras’s safety concerns remain a topic of debate amongst casual tourists, and while the Bay Islands are safer they are not as well-known. Guanaja is the least visited of the three biggest islands. Also because of its remoteness, it’s not a common spot for backpackers because it’s a bit more expensive. Additionally, accommodations on Guanaja can be difficult to come by but check out Clark’s Cay, another chance to get that unique Instagram photo.