GETTING THERE: Getting to Honduras is easy, although moving around once you get there can be difficult and expensive. There are no direct flights to Honduras from Washington, although Eastern Airlines has just begun service to Tegucigalpa from Miami; the current round-trip economy fare from Washington is $473. In addition, the Honduran national airline, Tan-Sahsa, has flights from Miami, New Orleans and Houston. Most stop in Belize before arriving in San Pedro Sula -- Honduras' second largest city, about 30 miles from the Caribbean coast -- and then fly on to Tegucigalpa.
For those interested in the Bay Islands, Tan-Sahsa has occasional direct flights from the United States to La Ceiba, the islands' gateway city on the mainland. From there it is necessary to fly in smaller planes to the islands themselves. An international airport has been built on Roata'n, but it is literally necessary to move a mountain off one end of the runway before it can accept international jet traffic.
Passports are required for U.S. citizens visiting Honduras. Visas can be purchased for $5 upon entering the country. Or, to avoid paying at the airport, one can get tourist or business visas at the Honduran Embassy in Washington or any consulate in the United States.
GETTING AROUND: Public transportation in Honduras is safe and inexpensive, although it can be uncomfortable. The larger intercity buses are comfortable and efficient. The local buses are generally overcrowded, and passengers frequently have to share space with chickens and other livestock being transported by the locals.
Cars can be rented in the larger cities, but they are expensive. The regular charge is comparable to U.S. rates, but a hefty per-kilometer charge adds up fast. Expect to pay $100 a day.
WHERE TO STAY: In Tegucigalpa, probably the best place to stay is the Hotel Honduras Maya, not far from downtown, at about $80 a night. The rooms in the 10-story tower have spectacular views, and the hotel features such amenities as a casino, pool, sauna, bars, restaurants and conference rooms. The Hotel Alameda, about a 10-minute drive from downtown, is a little more tranquil. Both the Hotel Prado and Hotel Plaza downtown are full-service hotels with comfortable rooms, at about $40 a night.
In San Pedro Sula, the Hotel Copantl Sula runs about $50 a night double; the Hotel Bolivar, about $30; and the Hotel Sula, off the Central Park, about $70.
On Roata'n, Anthony's Key runs about $75 a day, meals included.
On Guanaja, La Posada del Sol costs about $100 per day; Bayman's Bay, about $75 a day.
In La Ceiba, the gateway to the Bay Islands, the Hotel Paris, on the town square, runs about $25 a night.
In Tela, the air-conditioned Hotel Villas Telamar, right on the beach, costs about $50 a day. Further up the beach is the Hotel Paradise, with small cabins, for about $25 a day.
WHERE TO EAT: Restaurants in Tegucigalpa range from the expensive -- such as the Jardin de Paris, where you can expect to pay about $60 for dinner for two -- to the affordable, at one of the myriad of comedores, where a meal costs about $2. There are a number of excellent steakhouses: El Arriero and Gauchos, both serving Uruguayan-style beef, are my favorites. El Rincon Espanol ($40 for two) and Don Quixote ($25) both serve excellent Spanish food.
In San Pedro Sula, Pat's Steakhouse, run by a Honduran-American, offers good meals for about $30 for two.
On Roata'n, Romeo's charges about $60 for a seafood dinner for two.
In Tela, dinner at the Maribu Hotel costs about $50 for two, wine included.
HEALTH: For health precautions, see the Fearless Traveler column, Page E1.
INFORMATION: For general information about traveling in Honduras, contact the Honduras Information Service, 501 Fifth Ave., Suite 1611, New York, N.Y. 10017, (212) 490-0766. Or in Honduras, contact the Institituto Hondureno de Turismo, Apartado 154-C, Tegucigalpa. Information on specific regions may also be obtained from:
Honduras Copa'n Tours, Edificio Comercial Maya, P.O. Box 1373, Tegucigalpa, Honduras.
Bay Islands Diving Resort Association, 3126 Bahia Mar, Fort Lauderdale, Fla. 33316.
For the small cays off the island of Utila: George Jackson, Utila Keys, Utila Bay Islands, Honduras; or Val deBeausset, Apartado 1151, Tegucigalpa, Honduras.