Guanaja, once populated by the Paya people, has rolling hills covered with evergreens. The easternmost island measures around 18 km (11 miles) long and 5 km (3 miles) wide. Christopher Columbus named it Pine Island when he came across it in his fourth and final voyage to the Americas in 1502. Guanaja Town, also known as Bonacca, is on a small key off the mainland. In earlier years, boats negotiated shallow canals, earning Bonacca the title of the "Venice of Honduras." Today, many waterways have been replaced by narrow concrete alleys, making the entire key accessible by foot. Although the winding roads and bridges make Guanaja Town seem like a maze, the town is so small you can't get lost. There are no cars here, making the island seem as removed from civilization as you can get.
In the 1990s, Guanaja was primed to become the next hot tourism spot in Honduras. But after Hurricane Mitch spent a few days ravaging the island in 1998, much of what had been built was lost. Today, just a few dive hotels remain, and most local eateries open and close with shrimping season. The seclusion, however, is one of Guanaja's biggest selling points.