Checking In | An Ecotourism Adventure at Hotel Rio in Honduras

Our stay at Hotel Rio was a highlight not just of our time in Honduras, but our entire Central America backpacking trip. I had not heard much about the Pico Bonito National Park area of Honduras until I stumbled upon Hotel Rio – an ecotourism hotel on the banks of the Rio Cangrejal.

After reading about the hotel’s focus on conservation and immersion in nature, I knew that I wanted to stay there. I’m so happy that Hotel Rio brought me to this area of Honduras because it ended up being, by far, my favorite place I visited in the country.

I recommend you read my full guide to Pico Bonito National Park, in combination with this review of Hotel Rio, to best help plan your trip!

PLANNING YOUR HONDURAS ITINERARY | Add Pico Bonito National Park to your Honduras itinerary if it’s not already there. Base yourself at Hotel Rio, who will help with transfers from La Ceiba, and explore the park from there.

Hotel Rio
The upper balcony restaurant at Hotel Rio’s mountain lodge.

We were hosted at Hotel Rio throughout our stay. There was no expectation of writing a positive review. As always, all opinions are my own.

Review of Hotel Rio in Honduras

I really enjoyed our stay at Hotel Rio. You will also love Hotel Rio if you:

  • Value sustainability and conservation
  • Enjoy getting off the beaten path
  • Want to spend time in nature
  • Appreciate peaceful, relaxed settings
  • Are adventurous (think: hiking, swimming, rafting, and more!)

Below is a little bit of history and information about this hotel, plus some photos.

How to Get to Hotel Rio in Honduras

Most travelers to Honduras will pass through the city of La Ceiba at one time or another – whether you are traveling on to the Bay Islands (Roatan or Utila) or flying in or out of the country via the airport here.

Well, Hotel Rio is located by the stunning Pico Bonito National Park, just a short 20 minute drive from the La Ceiba. How could you not tack on a couple extra days in the gorgeous place?!

The staff at Hotel Rio can easily help organize transport (they picked us up from the Bay Islands ferry, and dropped us off for our shuttle to Guatemala after our stay!).

Sustainability and Conservation at Hotel Rio

A major thing that drew me to Hotel Rio is its connection to conservation in Honduras. This is thanks to the owner, Pepe Herrero, a Honduran scientist, activist, and hotelier who is a leader in the conservation movement in Honduras, particularly protecting the Rio Cangrejal water shed.

You all know how I feel about protecting manatees, sea turtles, and all manner of wildlife and nature through tourism. I come from a family of marine biologists and conservation researchers, and always try to keep this in mind when making my travel choices.

Staying at Hotel Rio, I knew that I was supporting an ecotourism business that truly does good in the world, and protects its local environment.

Saving Rio Cangrejal

Notably, Pepe was integral in the movement that stopped a hydro-electric project that was going to redirect and drain 93% of the water from the Rio Cangrejal to generate electricity. This would have not only destroyed the stunning river, but killed the animals and plants that depend upon it – not to mention the local Honduran people.

Now, thanks to Pepe and other environmental activists, you can visit Hotel Rio on the banks of a still beautiful, healthy, and powerful Rio Cangrejal.

In addition to running Hotel Rio (and Honduras’ first rafting company), Pepe also founded Fundacion Cuero Y Salado, which is the oldest environmental organization in Honduras and the region’s most important manatee reserve.

The Two Lodges: Mountain or Riverside?

Hotel Rio is made up of two separate buildings: the mountainside lodge, and the riverside lodge.

Mountainside Lodge

We stayed in the apartment room within the Mountainside Lodge.

This building is set back from the river by about 400 meters, up a small hillside blooming in tropical plants (and if you look closely, birds and other wildlife!).

It features a restaurant which, when we visited, was not operating but did mean that we got access to a private kitchen to cook our meals! The restaurant area is huge, and also has lounge chairs and a stunning view out over the trees and into Pico Bonito National Park.

Riverside Lodge

The Riverside Lodge is located 60 meters from the Rio Cangrejal, and features a private kitchen as well as an open-air lounge area with hammocks and couches.

You can rent individual rooms here, or if you’re a group you may prefer to rent out the whole house! There are beautiful views over the trees, river, and waterfall – especially at sunset.

Activities at Hotel Rio

A huge reason to stay at Hotel Rio is for the access to activities in the surrounding area. Pepe and the other staff do an incredible job of organizing these during your stay.

The hotel actually originated as the first rafting company on the Rio Cangrejal, so many people come here to do that. We did – even though I’m a bit scared of white water rafting – and I have to say it was so much fun. The guides here are internationally accredited, and it felt very safe (but still exhilarating). I share more in my Pico Bonito National Park guide.

Here are more activities you can do while staying at Hotel Rio:

  • White water rafting
  • Bouldering
  • Swim in the Rio Cangrejal (right from the hotel!)
  • Kayak
  • Hike in Pico Bonito National Park
  • Visit the Honduras Chocolate Factory
  • Go hiking straight from the hotel
  • Horseback riding
  • Mountain biking
  • Day trips for snorkeling, diving, hot springs, and even the Cayos Cochinos

As you can see, there is a lot to do at Hotel Rio. But perhaps my favorite thing of all: JUST RELAX!

RELATED | 11 Fun Things to Do in Pico Bonito National Park in Honduras

The Details

What? Hotel Rio, a hotel that pioneered rafting ecotourism and conservation in Honduras.

Where? On the shores of Rio Cangrejal and Pico Bonito National Park, near La Ceiba, Honduras

Vibes? Relaxed, peaceful, and quiet with friendly staff and a focus on ecotourism.

Room types? There are two different buildings. The mountainside lodge has multiple private rooms with 1-3 beds per room, and a restaurant. The riverside lodge is rentable as a whole or as separate rooms, and has two bedrooms and a private kitchen.

Cost? Prices start from $1,100 HNL / $45 USD per night. Check rates and available room types here.

Amenities? Restaurant or shared kitchen, hiking trails, river access, kayak launch, bookable activities, wifi, parking, and more.

Book your stay at Hotel Rio here.

Ready to visit Hotel Rio in Honduras? Check out my complete guide to things to do in Pico Bonito National Park next.

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