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

Visiting Pico Bonito National Park was an unexpected highlight of my time in Honduras. However, it seems that most travelers don’t know about this amazing place. There is not a lot of practical information out there for tourists planning their visit to Pico Bonito Park. That is why I am writing this guide!

Below, you will find everything you need to know about this wonderful park, including my recommended hotel, how to get there, and of course the best things to do in Pico Bonito National Park. Let’s get to it!

Sarah on bridge into Pico Bonito National Park
Walking across the bridge into Pico Bonito National Park!

About Pico Bonito National Park in Honduras

Pico Bonito National Park is one of the largest national parks in Honduras, and also the most biodiverse. It is also quite convenient for visitors to get to, as it is very close to the city of La Ceiba. This makes it an ideal addition to your Honduras itinerary!

Here are some interesting facts about Pico Bonito National Park:

  • Its elevation ranges from sea level to over 8,000 feet.
  • It is spread across 218 square miles.
  • There are 11 mountains within the park.
  • It was established in 1987.
  • At least 400 species of bird can be found in the park.
  • Many animal species call the park home, including jaguars, white-tailed deer, howler monkey, white-faced monkey, pumas, agouti, anteater, and more.
  • It is the final frontier: most of the park is still unexplored!
Rio Cangrejal Honduras
Rio Cangrejal – a beautiful river that runs along the border of Pico Bonito National Park.

Why Visit Pico Bonito National Park?

I really recommend that you visit Pico Bonito National Park during your time in Honduras. I spent weeks exploring Honduras during my year in Latin America, and my time in this largely unexplored national park always comes to mind as a favorite memory.

Yes, most people associate snorkeling and scuba diving in the Bay Islands with Honduras. But I would challenge you to go a bit off the trodden tourist path, and discover the jungle side of Honduras.

Tourism has yet to explode in Pico Bonito National Park, so you can really feel at one with nature here. Below, I’m sharing everything you need to know to plan your trip.

Sarah at Hotel Rio
Looking out at Pico Bonito from Hotel Rio!
Pico Bonito National Park Honduras
Rio Cangrejal.

How to Get to Pico Bonito National Park

There are three entrances to Pico Bonito National Park, but the most popular and accessible is in the Cangrejal River Valley. This is only about a 20-minute drive from La Ceiba (one of the biggest cities in Honduras, home to an international airport as well as the ferry ports to the Bay Islands).

The best way to get to Pico Bonito National Park is to book a local lodge, and arrange transport through them. When Dan and I visited, our lodge charged $400 HNL / $16 USD for the journey. We also gave a $100 HNL tip.

This is cheaper and more direct than booking a random taxi in La Ceiba, because the driver actually lives near the park!

Our driver, Byron, picked us up at the ferry port, after we returned from Utila. On the way to our lodge, he even stopped for us to buy groceries!

After our stay another driver, Edward, drove us back to La Ceiba and dropped us off for our shuttle to Guatemala. Easy peasy!

Pico Bonito Park
Pico Bonito National Park – a must visit in Honduras!
Bridge into Pico Bonito Park
The bridge entry into Pico Bonito Park.

Where to Stay Near Pico Bonito National Park

Visitors to Pico Bonito National Park should base themselves at a lodge in the Cangrejal River Valley throughout their stay.

My personal recommendation is Hotel Rio – an incredible ecotourism hotel set on the banks of Rio Cangrejal.

This hotel is really special. It was the original white water rafting operator on the river, and the owner, Pepe, is a prominent environmentalist in Honduras. You will learn a lot and directly support the conservation of the local area by staying here!

Not only was the location great (walking distance to the Pico Bonito National Park entry) and the hotel extremely comfortable, but they also went above and beyond helping us organize tours, activities, and transport. Read more about our stay in my review of Hotel Rio.

Check availability and book Hotel Rio here.

Mountain lodge at Hotel Rio
Hotel Rio – my recommended accommodation near Pico Bonito National Park.
View from Hotel Rio
Stunning views into the park from Hotel Rio!

How to Enter Pico Bonito National Park

To enter Pico Bonito National Park, you first need to go to the visitor center which is located here (10 minute walk from Hotel Rio).

Once there, you have to pay an entry fee. Unfortunately, at the beginning of 2024 they raised the entry fee quite a bit. The current fees should be as follows:

  • 370 HNL / $15 USD for entry per person
  • 600 HNL / $25 USD for a mandatory guide (cost is split among your group; I recommend organizing your guide with your lodge, though)

Do please let me know in the comments if you notice any changes in entry fees, and I will update this post accordingly! I believe that the community is currently in talks about the rise in entry fee and it’s possible it may be lowered.

Sarah and Dan explore Pico Bonito in Honduras
Dan and I at the entrance to Pico Bonito National Park!

11 Fun Things to Do in Pico Bonito National Park

You are probably wondering about things to actually do once you get to Pico Bonito National Park and its surrounding area… don’t worry! I have all the details on lots of activities below.

The short answer, though, is that Pico Bonito is an amazing place for nature lovers. Hiking, swimming, rafting, you name it. It is also great for just relaxing and soaking up the fresh air.

1. Cross a 400-Foot Swinging Bridge

In order to enter Pico Bonito National Park from the visitor center, you need to cross a 400-foot swinging metal bridge across the rushing Rio Cangrejal.

It’s exhilarating to cross the bridge (and don’t worry, it’s quite safe). This is a great spot for a photo, too!

Sarah on bridge
Dan on bridge
Sarah on bridge
Bridge into Pico Bonito National Park in Honduras

2. Hike to Cascada El Bejuco Waterfall

The most famous hike within Pico Bonito National Park is to the epic waterfall called Cascada El Bejuco.

This hike is pretty straight uphill and does require some fitness. Here are some stats:

  • 4.5 miles roundtrip
  • 2,280 feet of elevation gain
  • 4 hours hiking roundtrip

Once at the top, you can enjoy some swimming holes. I recommend dedicating a whole day of your time in Pico Bonito National Park area to this hike.

Do You Need a Guide to Hike to Cascada El Bejuco?

Most people do this hike with a guide, which you can book through your lodge (I believe that in 2024 it is also now mandatory to have a guide to enter the park).

The benefit of going with a guide is not only to keep you from getting lost, but they can also keep you safe from venomous snakes, clear brush, and teach you about the local area along the way.

3. Hike the Other Trails Too

There are other trails within Pico Bonito National Park, and the Cangrejal River Valley, that are also worth your time!

Trails within Pico Bonito National Park include:

  • Unbelievable FallsAn easier hike to a beautiful waterfall with a swimming hole at its base (3.5 miles, 780 feet elevation gain, about 2 hours).
  • Cascada Zacate: The first trail built within Pico Bonito National Park. It leads to a stunning, tall waterfall but swimming is not allowed (1.5 miles, 500 feet elevation gain, about 3 hours).

The local lodges and guides can provide more information about other hiking trails within Pico Bonito National Park.

You can also hike in the Cangrejal River Valley. There was a beautiful 1-hour hiking trail directly from Hotel Rio, where we stayed.

Sarah on walking trail Honduras
Dan hiking Honduras
Road in Cangrejal River Valley
So many good hikes in and around Pico Bonito National Park!

4. Go White Water Rafting

White water rafting is one of the most well known things to do in Pico Bonito National Park. The Rio Cangrejal is a powerful river that cuts along the park perimeter, and has class II, III, and IV rapids.

Look, I am a bit scared of white water rafting but Dan convinced me to try it. After all, we were staying at Hotel Rio, the original rafting company along the river!

I am so glad that I went out of my comfort zone because our white water rafting experience was SO MUCH FUN. We had two guides, Ocny and and Pablo. Ocny rode in the raft with us and Pablo kayaked ahead of us for safety (and also took photos!).

I laughed the whole time (when I wasn’t screaming) and it was my favorite day we had in Honduras. There are multiple lodges and tour operators in the area, but I recommend booking with Hotel Rio.

White water rafting Rio Cangrejal Honduras
White water rafting Rio Cangrejal Honduras
White water rafting Rio Cangrejal Honduras
White water rafting Rio Cangrejal Honduras

5. Try Bouldering and Jumping

The Rio Cangrejal is also a perfect place to try bouldering. Bouldering is basically a type of free form rock climbing, where you scramble over large boulders.

This river is lined in huge boulders, that are quite easy to explore. You can try bouldering on your own, or go with a guide.

Honestly, I recommend the guide for safety, at least at first. Our guide, Ocny, helped us find some spots to jump into the river where it was deepest, which I LOVED.

We did this with Hotel Rio, as the first part of our white water rafting tour and it was so much fun.

RELATED | How to go Cliff Jumping in El Salvador With El Salvatours

Dan jumping into river honduras
Bouldering Rio Cangrejal Honduras
Bouldering Rio Cangrejal Honduras
Bouldering Rio Cangrejal Honduras

6. Swim in Rio Cangrejal

Wild swimming, anyone? The Rio Cangrejal is extremely clean. It’s much cleaner than other rivers I encountered during my time in Central America, thanks in large part to conservation efforts (read more about that in #11!).

That means… it safe to swim in!

We swam in the river every day, thanks to direct access from Hotel Rio to a nice calm swimming spot. It was especially fun to swim at sunset, when the views were stunning, the water surprisingly warm, and the locals also came out for some evening cliff jumping.

Sarah swimming in Rio Cangrejal Honduras
Sarah swimming in Rio Cangrejal Honduras

7. Visit the Honduras Chocolate Factory

One afternoon, we visited the Honduras Chocolate Factory. This is such an interesting experience and quite different from all the other, nature and adventure-focused things to do in Pico Bonito National Park.

The factory is a short walk from Hotel Rio. We went with Walter, who was kind of like the concierge at Hotel Rio (always around and very helpful). We ended up having a short tour of the factory and seeing how they process the cacao by hand and transform it into chocolate bars.

While there, we also bought a few chocolate bars (how could I not?!) for 70 HNL / $2.80 USD each which were quite delicious to eat during our time in Pico Bonito Park.

Honduras chocolate
Cacao pod
Honduras chocolate factory chocolate bars
I definitely wanted to get ALL this chocolate, but we settled for two bars.

8. Get a Massage

Visiting Pico Bonito National Park is all about becoming one with nature, relaxing, and finding peace. What better way to do that than a massage?

It is easiest to organize this through your lodge.

Hotel Rio can arrange a massage at the hotel itself. Their current rate is 1,000 HNL / $40 USD for one hour.

9. Do Some Bird Watching (for Toucans!)

Did you know there are over 720 bird species in Honduras? Bird watching is definitely one of the best things to do in Pico Bonito National Park.

The park is actually known as one of the best places to see toucans in the whole world! We saw tons of toucans; there are three species that live in the area.

Some other birds that you may spot within Pico Bonito National Park include:

  • Great Curassow
  • Resplendant Quetzal
  • Montezuma Oropendola
  • Yellow Crowned Parrot
  • Muscovy Duck
  • And more!
I am obsessed with toucans and we saw SO MANY in Pico Bonito National Park and the Hotel Rio property!

10. Dip in a Hot Spring

The Pico Bonito National Park area is also home to hot springs!

They are called the Sambo Hot Springs. There are 15 natural hot springs, all with waterfalls. While there, you can also get a massage or hot mud treatment.

We did not get a chance to visit these, but I really wish we had because I am such a lover of natural hot springs and anything wellness-focused.

Hotel Rio can help arrange a visit (it requires a 40-minute drive). Alternatively, check out the Sambo Hot Springs Facebook page for more information if you have your own mode of transport.

11. Learn About Conservation in Honduras at Pepe’s Farm

Finally, take some time during your visit to Pico Bonito National Park to learn about the local environmental conservation movement.

Honestly, the best way to do this is by chatting to Pepe Herrero, the owner of Hotel Rio. He is a fascinating person and I learned so much from him.

Thanks to Pepe and other environmental activists stopping a dam that would’ve destroyed Rio Cangrejal (and Pico Bonito National Park!), you can visit a still beautiful, healthy, and powerful Rio Cangrejal and thriving national park.

During your visit, Pepe can also take you to his 300-acre black pepper and tropical tree farm and teach you all about agroforestry. Hotel Rio itself was actually built from trees grown at this farm!

Plant in Pico Bonito National Park
Pico Bonito National Park in Honduras at sunset over river
Sarah walks bridge into Pico Bonito National Park
Pico Bonito National Park white water rafting

How Long Should You Visit Pico Bonito Park For?

With all those activities near Pico Bonito National Park, you may be wondering how long you should visit for.

I recommend, at a minimum, three nights and two full days. This gives you time to:

  • Arrive
  • Spend day 1 hiking to Cascada El Bejuco in Pico Bonito National Park
  • Spend day 2 on a white water rafting tour of Rio Cangrejal and visiting the Honduras Chocolate Factory
  • Depart

With additional days, you would have time to visit the hot springs, get a massage, do the many other hikes, bird watch, visit Pepe’s farm, take a day trip to the Cayos Cochinos, go horseback riding… the options are endless!

Sarah on Pico Bonito National Park bridge
Sarah at Hotel Rio
Absolutely loved the views from Hotel Rio.

Pico Bonito National Park: Final Thoughts

There you have it: my complete guide to the incredible Pico Bonito National Park in Honduras.

If you are like me, you will fall in love with this side of Honduras that is quiet, deeply natural, off the beaten path, and at the cutting edge of environmental conservation in Central America.

I really hope that this article is helpful in planning your own trip, and organizing your Honduras itinerary. If you have any questions or updates, please leave me a comment below!

Check out these related posts…

Checking In | Hotel Rio in Honduras

How to Get From Honduras to Guatemala

How to Get to Copan Ruinas, Honduras From Guatemala

Paddle Boarding Lake Atitlan in Guatemala: Everything You Need to Know

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This practical guide includes things to do in Pico Bonito National Park in Honduras, as well as where to stay, how to get there, and more.
This practical guide includes things to do in Pico Bonito National Park in Honduras, as well as where to stay, how to get there, and more.

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