We depart Sambo Creek at 8:00am and travel by boat for approximately 45 minutes before arriving the pristine waters of the Cayos Cochinos Marine Reserve where we'll spend some time snorkeling, exploring the reef, where we're likely to find an amazing abundance of sea creatures, the likes of which can be seen nowhere else in the Caribbean. We'll then spend some time exploring the various cays by boat where we could possibly see a dolphin or two...or 3, playfully swimming near our boat. We'll then dock at Chachahuate Cay where we'll embark on a nature hike in to the island jungle in search of the pink boa constrictor which is a rare snake indigenous to Cayos Cochinos. By this time you'll probably have built up an appetite so we'll stop for lunch in a Garifuna fishing village where you'll enjoy the local food of the Garifuna people.
Our knowledgeable guide will provide information about the Cayos Cochinos Marine Reserve, utilizing video, printed charts, natural artifacts from the local area, and other educational materials in our orientation.
Snorkeling in Cayos Cochinos is an amazing experience! The coral reef here is part of the world's second largest coral reef system known as the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, and here you'll find the reef in pristine condition.
We'll eat lunch (paid seperately from the tour) in an open-air restaurant in the Garifuna village on Chachauate Cay where we'll enjoy traditional Garifuna cooking. This tiny fishing village is the center of most activity in Cayos Cochinos.
After eating lunch you'll have about an hour to swim or snorkel in the ocean, walk on the beach, explore the island, socialize with the locals, or just relax, before meeting back at the boat and heading back to Sambo Creek.
"The waters around this collection of coral cays are a marine biologist's dream: protected by the government, off-limits to commercial divers and fishermen, and busy with creatures that may not yet have names."
Dr. Matthias Hammer, founder of Biosphere Expeditions:
"The Cayos Cochinos reefs are the least disturbed ecosystem in the Bay Islands."
"The tour was so much fun, the guide was so funny, I've never seen ocean water that was so clean and clear, and the reef so alive with beautiful creatures. I'm sure that I will be coming back to this amazing paradise."
"I've been to the other Honduras Bay Islands, Roatan, Utila, and Guanaja, which were all great, but nothing compares to the beauty I found in Cayos Cochinos both on the islands and at the reef."
❶ Cayos Cochinos Orientation - Cayo Menor
We'll arrive Cayo Menor, which houses the scientific research station, for our Cayos Cochinos orientation presentation. Our knowledgeable guide will talk about the Cayos Cochinos Marine Reserve, the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System, how to conduct yourself while swimming at the reef, and a variety of other important topics to get you acquainted with the area and how to protect it and yourself, using charts, natural specimens from the surrounding area, and an interesting educational video. You'll learn alot about the area and have an opportunity to ask questions and see the various displays in our orientation center so that you'll become more knowledgeable about the cays, the reef, the fauna and flora, the local wildlife, and reef system. The orientation lasts about 15 minutes, so sit down, relax, and enjoy the informative presentation which is sure to be interesting and educational. After the orientation you'll have an opportunity to use the bathroom before we go back to the boat, moving on to the next part of our tour, exploring the cayos, and snorkeling at the reef.
❷ Explore Cayos Cochinos By Boat
During the tour we'll be traveling by boat where you'll have an opportunity to see a variety of interesting sights, which vary from tour-to-tour, but often includes the shorelines and forests of a variety of different cays, the lone bonzai tree growing atop an ancient rock, and sometimes dolphins swimming playfully near our boat. No two tours are the same, and every Cayos Tour is an adventure, so be ready for some thrills! We like to pass by some of the smaller, lesser known cays, along with the larger ones, so that you'll have a real good idea of how Cayos Cochinos is laid out while enjoying the breathtaking beauty of the pristine turquoise colored waters and the almost undisturbed natural beauty of the cays. Feel free to use this opportunity to take some photographs and the boat captain may from time-to-time stop the boat if a tour member would like to take advantage of a particular photo opportunity, and there will be many, in this beautiful paradise. Enjoy the ride as we make our way to the next part of the tour, snorkeling at the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef.
❸ Snorkeling at the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef
When we arrive the reef a ladder will be lowered into the water for easy access. You'll have an opportunity to experience the largest coral reef in the Western Hemisphere and the second largest barrier reef in the world, after Australia's Great Barrier Reef. This is the most beautiful, most pristine part of the Mesoamerican barrier reef system in all of Honduras, which provides a home to, or a place to visit, for a wide variety of sea creatures including more than 65 species of stony coral, several types of sea turtles, 350 species of mollusk, more than 500 species of fish, and one of the world's largest manatee populations moving about seemingly without a care in the world. We often find colorful parrot fish crunching hard corral in their mouths, blue tang fish congregating in and around the corals, an occasional puffer fish swimming cautiously just in the distance, and a huge variety of creatures, some of which, as National Geographic said "may not yet have names."
❹ Nature Hike - Search for the Cayos Cochinos Pink Boa Constrictor
The highlight of our nature hike is the search for the Cayos Cochinos Pink Boa Constrictor which is a very rare subspecies of Boa Constrictor Imperator which is found only in Cayos Cochinos and nowhere else in the world. Cayos Cochinos also contains flora and fauna that is relatively distinct from that which can be found in the rest of Honduras. The forests of Cayos Cochinos are home to (or a visiting place for) 43 species of birds. There are two small colonies of Brown Pelicans representing Honduras' Caribbean coast first breeding location for the species. There is a group of Royal Terns breeding within the Cayos which confirms that Royal Terns are actually nesting in Honduras. There are at least eight species of mammals and at least six bat species, some with densities that are quite high compared to populations found on the mainland. Our knowledgeable guide will point out various items of interest during the hike and provide information on what we find, which, with some luck may include the Pink Boa Constrictor, which oftentimes is found resting on top of tree branches in the forest.
❺ Lunch in the Garifuna village on Chachahuate
Now that you've probably built up a good appetite get ready for a deliciously traditional Garifuna meal in the open-air restaurant in Chachahuate, where you'll not only enjoy the food but also enjoy the restaurant's relaxed atmosphere and amazing ocean view. Whether you order fried fish, shrimp, lobster (lobster is seasonal), or machuca (a traditional Garifuna dish which consists of mashed plantains served together with fish soup), the meal will usually include plantains and rice and beans. The cost of lunch is not included in the tour and is paid separately, to the restaurant: $7.00 for the fried fish dish, $7.00 for fish soup, $9.00 for machuca, and $23.00 for lobster. Soft drinks cost $1.00. We'll eat and relax while we watch the locals play in the ocean, paddle their canoes and cayucos and enjoy Cayos Cochinos peaceful island atmosphere. Remember that you'll make your food menu selections when we first arrive the Cayos so that we can give plenty of time for the preparation of the food so that it will be hot and ready for us by the time we arrive the restaurant.
❻ Swim, Snorkel, explore Chachahuate, or just relax on the beach
After lunch you'll have approximately one hour to relax and enjoy the tranquil beauty of Chachahuate. You may decide to put on your mask and snorkel and enjoy swimming in the clear turquoise water around the island, or take a leisurely walk along the beach, exploring the small cay, which would take less than 20 minutes to walk around the entire perimeter of this small island. At certain times of the year, when the ocean's water level has gone down, you can even walk from Chachahuate to the neighboring island, as the ocean floor between these two cayos has become exposed, joining them with a small strip of land. Whatever you decide to do with this relaxing part of the tour we're pretty sure that you'll find this Caribbean paradise to be one of the most tranquil, unforgettable places in the world! After about an hour we'll all meet back at the boat for the approximately one hour boat ride back to Sambo Creek, and then continue on to our final destination, La Ceiba, where we'll leave you with fond memories of this amazingly beautiful place which you've enjoyed with Cayos Tour.