Cayos Cochinos, Honduras : Planting coral and counting sea turtles where there are no cars or roads.

Off the northern coast of Honduras, the Cayos Cochinos archipelago, part of a marine preserve where commercial fishing is banned, encompasses about 300,000 acres [120,00 hectares], two main islands and 13 small cays, with a collective population of about 200 Indigenous Garifuna residents.

Before the pandemic, the nonprofit Cayos Cochinos Foundation, which manages the reserve, derived much of its funding to study and protect its biodiversity from the fees paid day-trippers to snorkel there.

Now, the nongovernmental organization is gently opening itself to tourism, allowing visitors to stay in basic cabins [from $45 a night] that previously hosted exclusively scientists.

Between scuba dives and hikes to see the pink boa constrictors and black-chested spiny-tailed iguanas, travelers can volunteer to propagate new coral or count sea turtles.

Travel to the islands, which are roadless and free of cars, also supports the Garifuna community, which offers guide services, restaurants and tastings of the local root-infused spirit, guifiti. [Elaine Glusac]


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