Getting to Copan Ruinas was not easy. Leaving was not much better.
Copan is a tourist attraction in Honduras. The islands of Utila (and Roatan right next door) are the number one draw to the Central American nation. So one would assume that transport between the two would be available. Beyond that, we expected the route to be easy and straightforward. This is definitely not the case. Don’t you want our tourist dollars Honduras?
The only advertised option is a $36/ person bus, which may not sound like a lot by western standards, but for an only six hour ride, in Honduras, that price is absolute highway robbery. I guess Honduras does want tourist dollars. Just not my backpacker-budget restricted ones.
There is ONE other option, which leaves Copan Ruinas at 7 am and requires changing buses in the super safe murder capital of the world, San Pedro Sula (FACT, Google it). We were not about to blow nearly our whole daily budget on one bus ride, so with freshly baked bread in hand we trudged to the local bus stop early in the morning.
We had been assured that tons of backpackers take this route, but we were the only ones on our bus and the fare-taker tried really hard to Gringo tax the crap out of us. After giving her our money we looked expectantly at her for the change, but she claimed not to have any, so we waited patiently for her to collect fare from the other riders, figuring she would come back when she had correct bills, just like every other fare-taker on every other collectivo or bus had during our entire trip. Ah, the naiveté.
Pulling into San Pedro Sula we had still not gotten our 200 lempira change back, so we asked politely, in Spanish, if we could have our change and she pretended she didn’t understand us. We asked repeatedly for our change, refusing to leave the bus without it, and finally, when the bus driver wanted to leave, she gave in.
The San Pedro Sula bus terminal is gigantic, but there are men everywhere whose entire job is to usher you into their company’s office, so finding a bus headed to where you want to go is super easy.
Our bus to La Ceiba left less than an hour later and we were right on track to make it to the ferry terminal in time for the last boat of the day to Utila. Then we got a flat tire. No ferry for us.
But how often do you get a chance to spend the night in the charming port city of La Ceiba?? Never. And that is how often you should visit this city on the sea. Never. It’s dirty and scary and loud and unfriendly. The only reason this place even makes it into guidebooks is because it is where the ferries to the islands of Utila and Roatan, Honduras’s top attractions, embark from.
We stayed at Amsterdam 2001, which is right on the (trash-filled) beach. It was not a very nice place. It is located right next discoteca and was easily the loudest and most disgusting room we stayed in during our whole nine-week trip. In hindsight we probably should have just stayed at Banana Republic Hostel, where the taxi driver really wanted us to stay. We refused since we figured his insistence was part of a scam (it probably was), but on Utila we talked to lots of other travelers who had ended up staying there and it sounds much nicer than the crap-hole we stayed in.
After checking in we tried to go for a walk along the beach, but it was so disgusting and we honestly didn’t really feel very safe so we ate dinner at the first restaurant we found and headed back to our crappy room for a long night of pretending to be asleep.
All the suffering was worth it as soon as we set foot on Utila and began our scuba escapades.
Dollars and Sense
Copan to San Pedro Sula bus – 140 lempira/ person
San Pedro Sula to La Ceiba bus – 120 lempira/ person
Hostel in La Ceiba – 50 lempira/night
TIP: If you didn’t gather, we did not think La Caiba was a nice place to stay, however, if you cannot avoid it, try to stay on the main street. There really isn’t much down by the water there we stayed.