While the typical route to get from Belize to Honduras would be via some time exploring Guatemala, we’d already spent 2 months in the mighty G the year before, and being tighter on time this year we were keen to speed on to Honduras to see what it had to offer. We spent houuuuurs poring over maps and blogs to find the best way to get from Belize to Honduras by boat, and eventually decided that the easiest thing to do would be to go from Placencia to Puerto Cortes, since we wanted some beach time too.
When you’re done here, I have some more useful reading for your time in Central America:
To get to Placencia from Belize City, we had taken a chicken bus to Dangriga from the city’s main bus terminal. From Dangriga, there were buses every few hours to Placencia (except for Sundays when the timetable gets difficult – check my Placencia guide for the full scoop).
Belize to Honduras by boat
Step 1: Placencia to Puerto Cortes
Really, organising this once in Placencia felt more difficult than it should be, but we got the gist after asking maybe 4 different locals how to catch the boat, and our host at Lydia’s Guesthouse was able to confirm the info. The company that runs the service from Belize to Honduras by boat is called Hokey Pokey, and it has a tucked-away office right around the back of the Uno petrol station.
The boat sails from Placencia to Puerto Cortes once a week on Friday, returning from Honduras every Monday. It departs Placencia at 9am, but they say you need to be there by 8:30am to get checked in and buy a ticket (which costs 130 BZD). All big luggage goes down under the deck, so don’t forget to take your passport out before giving your stuff to the boat people.
The first stop on the boat is Mango Creek/Independence Creek, then another long stop at Big Creek, at which an immigration officer jumps on board and does the world’s most relaxed passport checks. There is a 7.50 BZD exit fee for Belize, you need to pay it in cash to this immigration man or there’s no stamp for you.
At 11am, the boat finally leaves Belize for Honduras, taking around 2 hours. Prepare for some bumpiness on the waves; the people running the boat will usually come round and hand out some anti-seasickness tablets for free, which we recommend you take. Try and get a seat in the middle bench and near the back of the boat if seasickness is a problem for you – but make sure you’re under the cover of the boat if it looks like it could rain!
Step 2: Honduras Immigration at Puerto Cortes
Once you get to Puerto Cortes, Honduras, the real fun begins! The boat guys will help you collect your luggage, then you’ll be asked to join the line for immigration in a fish market. Yep. Being the first off the boat can really help you here, as the lines take a loooong time. They invite people into the overly air-conditioned room in batches of 8-10, then 2 people go up at a time to speak to the immigration officers.
They’ll ask you lots of questions about why you’re there, and how long you’ll be here – give yourself some leeway just in case as they will only give you a visa for as long as you say you need. Keep in mind also that a few countries – Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Guatemala – are in the CA-4 zone, so it’s one visa for all of them from your first touchdown in that area. Tell them your future plans if you want to visit more countries in CA-4! You are allowed up to 90 days across these countries at no cost (as a British citizen).
When you’re in the immigration line, use this time to negotiate a taxi price with one of the drivers loitering. They will target you first as tourists, and then take locals for way cheaper if you don’t give them any success. Knowing Spanish is going to bring your price down by about 10729x, so do yourself a favour and study up. We still probably got rinsed for 50 Lempiras each (£1.60) with 4 of us, but these guys are the only option to get to the Puerto Cortes bus terminal quickly.
Step 3: Puerto Cortes to San Pedro Sula
Puerto Cortes isn’t really a town you’d want to stay and explore as a regular tourist, so most people coming from Belize to Honduras by boat into Puerto Cortes head straight the bus terminal to pick up the road to San Pedro Sula.
In the end, we didn’t even go all the way to the bus terminal, as our taxi driver was able to point out a bus heading to San Pedro Sula that was already out on the road. He flagged it down, hurled our bags in and waved us on our merry way. The bus cost 52 Lempiras each, and we were charged an extra seat for our backpacks. It was a minibus rather than a classic chicken bus, but a crazy uncomfortable 90 minute ride all the same. Note that with traffic this can be a 2 hour journey – yay!
Step 4: Heading elsewhere from San Pedro Sula
While lots of people choose to stay in San Pedro Sula (former murder capital of the world!) and explore the sights, it’s also an easy hub to get to other parts of Honduras, such as La Ceiba or the Copan Ruins. We went straight from San Pedro Sula bus terminal (which is pretty nice, by the way) to Peña Blanca on Lake Yojoa. All internet info told us that the last bus was at 5pm, but when we arrived just after that time there were still several small offices selling tickets for chicken bus departures that don’t necessarily make the official timetables online. Our transition was simple, and we had time for a lovely cappuccino and chocolate muffin in a café. Our Hedman chicken bus to Peña Blanca cost 50 Lempiras. It took a couple of hours and dropped us straight outside our hostel after the driver asked where we needed to go.
Prepping to get from Belize to Honduras by boat
We recommend stocking up on water and food the night before as there’s nowhere to buy stuff on the journey itself. Not too much water though – you won’t find a decent toilet for a long, long while. I managed to hold it till I got to the bus terminal in San Pedro Sula, which I am still to this day horrendously proud of.
You can exchange money from BZD or USD to Honduran Lempira very easily with the taxi drivers at the Puerto Cortes immigration office. They gave us a more reasonable rate than we were expecting.
Alternative routes from Belize to Honduras by boat
From Puerto Barrios
There are a few other ways to get from Belize to Honduras. By boat, you can take another option from Punta Gorda in Belize to Puerto Barrios in Guatemala, then take a bus over the Honduran border to San Pedro Sula via Puerto Cortes (the lack of roads makes routes pretty limited). The good thing about this option is that the boat from Punta Gorda to Puerto Barrios leaves every day, with several departures a day, so it’s a better option if you’re very limited on time and don’t happen to be in Placencia on a Friday morning.
From Caye Caulker or Belize City
You can also apparently get a slightly more comfortable boat from Caye Caulker or Belize City down to Puerto Cortes, which is the boat lots of expats take to restamp their passports. However, we really struggled to find out much info about this boat, and coming all the way from Caye Caulker we imagine it’s pretty pricey.
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