Some 30 kilometers northeast of La Ceiba is a coral archipelago known as Cayos Cochinos (“hog islands” — legend has it that British pirates planted pigs on the larger islands to ensure they would have a supply of meat the next time they were in the neighborhood), made up of two hilly and lush islands, Cayo Grande and Cayo Menor, and thirteen small sandy cays, all surrounded by surreal teal-colored water and white, sandy beaches. Located within the Meso-American Barrier Reef, the entirety of Cayos Cochinos has been designated as a marine reserve by the Honduran government, and the surrounding coral reef environments are perhaps the most pristine in all of Honduras, making it a prime diving and snorkeling destination. The islands are minimally developed, isolated, and quiet; they are accessible only by boat and there are no vehicles on any of the islands. A handful of resort-style accommodation options are available on the two main islands, while more adventurous souls might opt for slinging a hammock in the Garifuna fishing village of Chachahuate, which takes up every square inch of its namesake cay.
On our visit to Cayos Cochinos, we departed the mainland coastal Garifuna village of Sambo Creek twenty minutes east of La Ceiba early in the morning. After our tour stopped at one of the smaller outlying cays to swim and take pictures, we cruised to a quite beach on Cayo Grande to snorkel, hopped to another beach where the group was supposed to go hiking (Brie and I sat in the warm, crystal clear water instead), then moved on to Chachahuate for lunch (again bucking what were were supposed to do, we drank some Salva Vida beers instead of eating), before making the forty minute journey back to the mainland.