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This article originally appeared in the Central & South America Guide. It has been extracted from its original format. To read the full guide, visit the digital edition.

Honduras is blessed with a trio of essential superlatives not to miss. For a place in the sun on tropical beaches, plus fishing and Technicolor scuba diving, book into the Bay Islands, a pristine archipelago that spreads over 92 sq. miles. The major islands—Roatan, Utila and Guanaja—float along the world’s second largest barrier reef. Roatan, the largest of the Bay Islands, draws beach-lovers and with some 40 dive sites, is the Holy Grail for divers, while Utila’s biggest draw is diving with whale sharks. On the mainland, head for the La Ceiba area on the north coast and enjoy Pico Bonito National Park, the second largest park in the country. Its many habitats—rainforest, cloud forest and dry forest—shelter a grand variety of birds and wildlife. A 20-mile network of trails follows the Zacate River, and the churning Rio Cangrejal offers some of Central America’s most exciting white-water rafting. And Honduras has the Mayan World wonder, the ruins of Copan, a 3-hour drive away from San Pedro Sula. The archaeological site of Copan is one of the most spectacular in the Americas, and the visitor bonus here is a stay in the charming and lively village of Copan Ruinas. (www.letsgohonduras.com)

What’s New in Honduras

✘ On Roatan, the 7,064-yard Black Pearl Golf Course, located just outside the town of French Harbour and designed by Pete Dye and his son Perry, made its official debut this year as host to the Central American Golf Championship. The course is part of the Pristine Bay resort complex, which also includes Las Verandas Hotel & Villas, opening this month with 36 luxury rooms and suites, plus 11 free-standing villas (most with private infinity-edged pools or pools with waterfalls). Amenities range from a private 1,000-ft. beach to two restaurants and bars. In the future: total complex development calls for 60 luxury rooms and suites and 30 villas. (pristine-bay.com)

✘ Also on Roatan, Infinity Bay Resort, located on beautiful West Bay beach, has added dive shop operations. Additionally, just opened is a new administrative building that includes a full-service spa; a new restaurant will be coming soon. The owners are expanding their domain along the beach to a 14-acre plot whose centerpiece property is the 281-unit Grand Roatan Resort. The units will be similar to the 1- to 3-bedroom suites at Infinity Bay. (infinitybay.com)

Up next: Nicaragua