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Home > Destinations > Honduras > Trip Reports > Trip Report

Honduras - Trip Reports

Barcelo Palma Real

Just got back from Barceló Palma Real - quite a nice resort but we had a few problems that were likely due to timing and should not be the norm.

The beautiful resort is well appointed although isolated (although this has benefits for many). You can't simply walk into town to explore. If you want to chill out on a beach for a week with a good book go for it. For the more adventurous, the resort has a tour office that has some neat day tours at costs between $50-75USD. White water rafting, hikes, a great motorcycle tour into the rain forest hills (talk them down from $100 to $75US), snorkeling, etc. if you speak Spanish you can do this stuff on your own without the tour guides at a much lower cost. We enjoyed the included sea kayaks when the waves were rough!! Local buses pass by the resort and are a great way to get around - $2US to La Ceiba one way. The local people are very friendly and seemingly welcome of the tourist. I have traveled a bit and felt very safe in Honduras - common sense is needed anywhere of course. One thing I was surprised at, no one tried to sell me anything! Very nice indeed. I was not bothered by any prowling locals on the beach or in town. It will happen eventually likely, but so far so good. Security at the resort was excellent and yet not very visible (which I appreciate).

The bad and the ugly - we were down with a group of 70 - about 50 of us got violently ill with 24hr flu-like symptoms. None of the locals were affected, so we are confident it was due to food or water. The resort appears to have the best intentions but their kitchen standards may not be up to par regarding hygiene etc. It may be as simple as preparing/washing veggies in local water not sure. When we left they were investigating possible cause to ensure it won't happen again. This occurs in many Latin countries, as our North American stomachs aren't accustomed to their strains of bacteria. Talk to your doctor about stuff to bring down. The resort has competent medical staff available which handled our woes with ease.

Resort staff was fabulous, courteous and helpful, still unaffected by the tourism that is slowly invading their country. The hotel made every effort to address our needs quickly and professionally.

Food at the resort was quite good despite our troubles with sickness. Meal times were timed right and long enough. Snacks were available throughout the day if needed.

Beach: very secure, private and empty, long and narrow, but coarse sand. Not sure if the slightly stormy waters we encountered caused the natural debris on the beach. Away from the resort down the beach look for local kids digging up sand crabs to eat. Watch for mosquitoes at night - repellent came in handy.

Water: the salty Atlantic was warm but cloudy when we went. Might be because of the storms that hit just before we arrived - still enjoyable but not Cancun. The resort has a selection of nice pools for those that prefer filtered and chlorinated water.

Rooms: simple & functional, very clean with nice tiled floors. AC blasts cold air, almost too cold. Bathrooms clean and ample size with tub. Lots of hot water and water pressure in our room. La Ceiba: worth seeing how locals live in Honduras, heavy pollution but has everything one needs if they forgot anything. Not many speak English but they are patient and friendly.

Currency: they have their own - Lempira. Everyone accepts U.S. dollars but I highly recommend getting local currency when down there, it's easier to work with. Forget bringing Canadian currency - useless. Go into La Ceiba and use an ATM to get some Lempira - the machines offer English menus. A few locals are getting on the "rip the tourist off" bandwagon and take advantage of the fact the tourist doesn't speak Spanish - correct 'change' isn't always returned. This doesn't happen very often however. It is easier to catch when working with their currency. Conversion is about 16:1 for USD, 12:1 for CAD.

A handy thing to bring down is a currency conversion chart - whip one up on a spreadsheet with CAD, US and Lempira columns.

The Barceló chain is quite well known. This new addition on the north coast of Honduras will get there eventually - it has lots of potential. Anyone can have a great time - relax on the resort with ease or be adventurous and tour more of Honduras. Bring a Spanish dictionary and go nuts! I did my own thing, but others said the tours were great. I recommend the Cayos Cochinos snorkeling tour. Aside from snorkeling, it's a great afternoon getting away from it all. On the way back we stopped at a fishing village on the beach - great! Ask for Nancy to fry you up some fresh fish, fried banana and rice for $5US or 80 Lempira - fantastic. The Copan Mayan ruins are also something to see apparently, but we weren't up for the 5hr bus ride from the resort.

If you go, be sure to pack the Pepto Bismal and Imodium. Check the weather forecasts too - we had lots of rain in the first week of Jan.

The great thing about Honduras is that it is still "unaffected". Now is the time to go before the locals get tired of the typical tourist. All in all, we had a good time despite rain and a touch of flu!!! That says something about the resort - well done Barceló.

Thanks to Steve for this trip report ...
January 2003

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