Honduran Hideaway

Save big this summer at the lodge at Pico Bonito

The Big Easy, Honduran-style     Photo: courtesy, the Lodge at Pico Bonito

SCORE ONE POINT for politicians keeping promises: Honduran President Ricardo Maduro has achieved his goal of increasing tourism, and he hasn't even been in office a year and a half. Maduro supports foreign investment and hotel construction, and he set up a tourism police force and increased advertising in the United States. The number of visitors to Honduras grew 20 percent in 2002, to 600,000 travelers.

Even with the increase, Honduras still gets half as many tourists as nearby Costa Rica, which is also half its size—good news for families who need room to roam. Honduras has more rainforest and cloudforest than Costa Rica and ecological offerings like those of Belize, not to mention crystalline beaches and Copán, one of the world's premier Mayan archaeological sites, so don't expect the throngs to stay away for long.

One fab option is the Lodge at Pico Bonito (888-428-0221, www.picobonito.com), a 200-acre hideaway on the Caribbean, outside La Ceiba, adjacent to the rainforest, rivers, and waterfalls of Pico Bonito National Park. Mention Outside Traveler and receive a package deal this summer: Two adults and one or two kids up to age 21 can stay in one of 15 standard cabins for four nights at $1,553 for three people or $1,827 for four (not including taxes and service charges, about $300). The package includes all meals; a rafting day trip on the Class II-IV Cangrejal River; a naturalist-led trek on the flanks of 7,985-foot Pico Bonito for bird-watching and swimming; a motor skiff ride through the Cuero y Salado wildlife refuge where you can look for alligators, manatees, and herons; and a tour of the lodge's butterfly sanctuary. A family of four can save as much as $730 with this package.

Pico Bonito can also arrange for your family to visit the ruins at Copán, the ancient city in the lush jungle near the Guatemala border.

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