Though this region always gets lumped under one "Southern Honduras" heading because of its small size and proximity to Tegucigalpa—we do it, too—you can really think of it as two distinct areas. (Most visitors who do make it to this part of the country take on only one region or the other.) The colonial towns of Yuscarán and Danlí hide themselves away in the cooler hills east of the capital, but both lie a bit too far outside the Tegucigalpa orbit to be easy day trips from there. South of the capital, lowland Choluteca and Isla del Tigre off the Pacific coast in the Gulf of Fonseca enjoy—endure would be a better word—warmer temperatures. Honduras shares sovereignty over the gulf with neighboring El Salvador and Nicaragua; the rest of the islands in that body of water, all visible from Isla del Tigre, belong to El Salvador.
Yuscarán. An enchanting town not too far from the capital wins rave reviews for its efforts to preserve its preindependence heritage. Some 200 tidy whitewashed buildings connected with a network of cobblestone streets around a shady central park form its colonial-era core. The town makes a pleasant place to spend the day soaking up the past.
Danlí. A visit to the town that tobacco helped prosper is a must for anybody who appreciates a fine cigar. Its natural conditions are ideal for tobacco cultivation, nearly identical to those back in Cuba from where a group of cigar manufacturers fled a half century ago to set up shop here. Oh, and Danlí contains a pretty restored colonial sector, too.
Choluteca. Even if the south’s hub city (and Honduras’s fourth largest) is seen by most as merely a way station, Choluteca offers a couple of interesting historical sites, and is revered by Hondurans as the birthplace of one of its independence heroes. It provides a chance to fuel up your car, wallet, and stomach, too, in a region where such services are few and far between.
Isla del Tigre. Honduras’s outpost in the Gulf of Fonseca, the inlet of the Pacific Ocean that it shares with El Salvador and Nicaragua, is the Pacific coast’s beach central. Except for dry-season weekends and Christmas and Holy Weeks, when residents of the capital flock here, the island is pretty quiet and is almost unknown among international visitors. If you seek a quiet, secluded beach—and that’s becoming a scarce commodity on the country’s Caribbean coast—Isla del Tigre might just be your kind of place.