The earliest signs of human habitation in the Bay Islands are the Paya, or Pech, who were present at the time of Christopher Columbus' landing in 1502. Before that, we have no indications of any residents on our beautiful islands. The mainland of Honduras, however, has ample indications of civilizations centuries before Europeans arrived. The Mayan Ruins of Copan in northern Honduras are an incredible site to visit to understand the history of our region.
About the Mayan Ruins of Copan
The Mayan Ruins of Copan was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1980 for its "Outstanding Universal Value." This large site boasts a multitude of building ruins, including a unique hieroglyphic staircase. Intense research has been conducted since the site was excavated, now offering us insights into the lives of Mayan people over the centuries.
Many tourists visit the bigger Mayan ruins at Tikal in Guatemala or Teotihuacan in Mexico, but overlook the cultural center of the southern Maya civilization. Copan hosted a prominent Mayan community from around 427 A.D. until the early 10th century. The sculptures and hieroglyphs left behind show us the artistic and mathematical advances made here.
The museum at the Copan ruins offers insights into what life was like there over the centuries of Mayan residence. Several of the original sculptures have been moved inside the museum for protection and preservation.
Get to the Mayan Ruins of Copan
Located near today's border with Guatemala, the Mayan Ruins of Copan are situated just outside the current village of Copan. To get there from the Bay Islands, you could fly straight to Copan. Alternatively, you can fly to San Pedro Sula and then take a bus to Copan. Or take the ferry to La Ceiba and then either fly to Copan or take a bus to San Pedro Sula and switch to a second bus to Copan.
Backpackers in Central America regularly include the Mayan Ruins of Copan in their itinerary between Antigua, Guatemala, and La Ceiba or the Bay Islands of Honduras. A regular bus runs between Antigua and Copan.
It's important to note that the Mayan Ruins of Copan are located in the mountains. If you're visiting straight from the Bay Islands, be sure to pack cold weather clothes to handle the mountain air!
Near the Mayan Ruins of Copan you'll now find the village of Copan. The town is a picturesque mountain village built around the main square, where locals and tourists gather throughout the day and night. Cobblestone streets lead out from the square up into the hillsides surrounding the village.
Copan is a quiet and an incredibly friendly town, welcoming visitors throughout the year to explore the nearby ruins and to enjoy the fresh mountain air. You won't find major chain hotels or restaurants here, but there are plenty of locally owned and operated options for a more authentic tourism.
Nearby the Mayan Ruins of Copan
Outside of Copan, another popular site to visit is Macaw Mountain. This bird sanctuary provides protection for a variety of tropical birds, offering visitors the opportunity to interact with some residents and to enjoy walking around the beautiful grounds.
Other attractions nearby include a mountainside hot springs and plenty of opportunities for horseback riding tours.
Have you visited the Mayan Ruins of Copan in Honduras? Tell us what you thought of your experience using #go2Roatan on social media!