PONANT is always seeking out new destinations to thrill and inspire. Places whose magnificent natural beauty and traditional cultures are untouched by the modern world. We were amazed when our Expedition Experience Director, José Sarica, told us about Honduras. He recently visited its Caribbean coast to make connections with its people – and to preview the breathtaking wilderness that waits for you on a brand-new luxury expedition, Belize & Honduras: Unexpected Encounters and Nature. Our inaugural voyage sets sail this November, so if you’re looking for an enlightening and soul-stirring expedition, now’s your time to reserve!

Imagine a tropical paradise where the modern world never took hold. Gurgling rivers and streams rush through lush primeval forests as howler monkeys call from the canopy. Palm trees sway in a warm breeze on soft-sand beaches. Caribbean waters, all shades of blue, wash over pristine coral reefs and kiss at mangrove stands. And tiny fishing villages live way off the grid, keeping time with the tempo of the sea.

These are the islands and coastlines of northern Honduras, a brand-new PONANT destination we’re proud to add to our portfolio of immersive explorations.

We’ve paired Honduras with Belize to give you a comprehensive view of the western reaches of the Caribbean Sea – its spectacular marine wonders, its warm welcoming cultures, and its dense forests that transport you back to a pure and primitive time. Here, we want to share with you what drew PONANT Expedition Experience Director José Sarica to this very special corner of Central America – and what will surely draw you, too.

The World’s Second Largest Coral Reef Is Only the Beginning

A centerpiece of our expedition is the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System. Second in size only to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, it stretches 700 miles along the coasts of Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, and Honduras. Ideal for snorkelers and scuba divers – both of which PONANT provides equipment for – it is rich with colorful coral, some 500 species of fish, and more than 1,000 manatees. You’ll have several opportunities to marvel at the life aquatic in Les Cayos Cochinos (hailed as the least disturbed reef in the Bay Islands) and at Water Caye of Isla Utila.

During his reconnaissance trip, José discovered ample wildlife closer to land, too. Honduras boasts an extensive network of national parks and refuges on the mainland and offshore. And because they are so isolated, the parks only see a trickle of visitors. In Tela Bay at Punta Sal National Park, which was renamed for beloved environmentalist Jeannette Kawas, crystalline waters and sandy coves surrender to dense jungle, where an untold biodiversity thrives in rivers, mangroves, lagoons, and trees. A Zodiac excursion takes you deep into the forest, where you might spot capuchin monkeys, iguanas, or American crocodiles. In Cuero y Salado National Park, witness the remarkable meeting point of the Cuero and Salado rivers as they spill into the sea. This massive estuary and its adjacent mangrove forests attract an impressive array of birdlife – from the great blue heron to the yellow-beaked, yellow-capped northern jacana – and is a sanctuary for the endangered Antillean manatee.

PONANT Gives You the Most Intimate View of These Secluded Islands

Respecting the lands and the people we visit during our expeditions is the foundation of PONANT’s philosophy. A critical element of José’s reconnaissance trip was connecting with the villagers and inviting them to help us shape your itinerary and your experience. “Explore to Inspire” was his mantra throughout his trip, and he certainly worked with the locals to create moments of inspiration.

The privilege of visiting these remote locales was not lost on him. “No other vessels have been authorized to dock in these places,” he explains. “It’s a high privilege to be given permission.” After working with members of the coastal communities, he says, “I feel as if we really unlocked some unique explorations.”

Cheerful warmth followed him wherever he went. For instance, when he and his team arrived in La Ceiba, a crowd of people greeted them, including the mayor. In the islands, too, residents opened their ways of life to him. They are sure to do the same with you.

On this eye-opening expedition, you’ll learn firsthand the traditions of the Caracoles people of Guanaja. And on the Cayos Cochinos islets, local Garifuna children island-hop to school. Men untangle their nets each day in preparation for the next dawn fishing expedition, while women prepare meals from the day’s catch. There are no cars, roads, or bikes on Cayos Cochinos– just walking trails that connect homes.

All excursions during this one-of-a-kind expedition have been planned in close collaboration with local bilingual guides, so you’re sure to get the most intimate view of these remote reaches of Honduras. To enrich your understanding even further, we’ve invited these guides to spend a couple of days on board to work closely with our PONANT Expedition team. In the spirit of giving back to these generous communities, PONANT has committed to supporting the area’s Garifuna families with drinking water and restoration of their school buildings.

Honduras As You Never Imagined It

We’re thrilled to offer you such an up-close view of Honduras’ magnificent beauty and rich culture during this brand-new expedition. Like José, we think you’ll be “..blown away by the wealth of treasures that far exceeded our expectations.”

Our Belize & Honduras: Unexpected Encounters and Nature aboard Le Dumont-d’Urville sets sail weekly in November and December 2023 and 2024, starting November 14; don’t miss this exciting new itinerary!