(Published in the Cayman Compass, Friday, 22 May, 2015)
Sitting in my cabin overlooking lush tropical foliage and relaxing to the soothing sound of a nearby cascading waterfall, I wonder what has taken me so long to visit this jungle oasis.
I’m at Las Cascadas Lodge, a stunning resort in Pico Bonito, just a 40-minute trip from Honduras’s La Ceiba airport – a short hop from Cayman on Cayman Airways.
My partner and I were on a “mini-moon,” and Las Cascadas Lodge offered the ideal retreat to unplug from a rather stressful few weeks of wedding craziness.
The stunning 15-year-old resort was designed by award-winning architect David Sellon and is named after the five waterfalls which cascade down the private mountainside on the property.
Nestled amid tropical rainforest, the resort is situated along the meandering banks of the scenic Cangrejal River, which is filled with turbulent currents that cut through the mountainous area and rush down toward the Caribbean Sea. The resort’s idyllic location is the perfect spot to do as little, or as much, as you please.
With just three cabins (two attached to the Great Lodge), Las Cascadas offers ample privacy. Indeed, we were lucky enough to be the only guests, so we had the 84-acre property entirely to ourselves.
We booked the Bejuco Cabin, a stand-alone thatch-roofed cabin set just a few yards from the main lodge. The beautiful cabin comes with an outdoor shower for two, stunning large stone bathtub, four-poster canopy bed, and spectacular views of a tumbling waterfall just yards away. I could have happily whiled away our three-night stay here, but my adventurous spirit was keen to check out some of the sights.
There are plenty of organized tours to keep even the most ardent adrenalin junkies happy, including whitewater rafting, horseback riding, mountain biking and waterfall canyoning.
Ryan, the resort’s friendly and always eager-to-please manager, suggested we first check out the upper falls on site.
Armed with sunscreen, water, camera and bug spray, we set off on the 30-minute walk which would take us to the upper falls. The path is easy to navigate for anyone with a modicum of fitness, but trainers or good walking shoes are a must as the path can be slippery in some areas. It’s some 660 steps to the upper falls, but the effort is well worth it as the reward is a breathtakingly beautiful waterfall cascading into a freshwater swim hole surrounded by nature at its very best. The cooling water was the perfect way to rinse away the heat of the day.
On our second day, we set off early with our tour guide Peter, a German native who has called Honduras home for the past decade. Our first stop was Cacao Lagoon, a scenic oceanside lagoon surrounded by mangroves. During an easy kayak around the lagoon, we spotted a host of wildlife, including tropical birds and howler monkeys.
Afterwards, we headed to the Sambo Creek Canopy Tour & Spa – an exhilarating and somewhat hair-raising 17 zip-line tour. The longest zip line runs at a staggering 0.62 miles long. With this high-speed thrill, I’m sure my shrieks of delight could be heard for miles.
The tour also included a visit to the natural hot springs where you can sit back and enjoy the bath-like water. The hot springs are said to have healing qualities and each visitor is provided with a pot of bright orange lava mud to rub on their skin. Covered from head to toe in the thick mud, we looked like oompa loompas.
Be warned though, the mud stains clothing, which I found out, much to my dismay, when I returned home to find my once pristine nautical-striped bikini now stained with bright blotches of orange.
The finishing touch to our stay was a luxurious and therapeutic massage set in the picturesque grounds of the lodge. A local masseuse offers a wide range of massage styles, and this is the ideal way to fully relax and unwind.
Foodies will delight at the wide range of treats served at Las Cascadas Lodge. All meals are included in the price and are cooked to perfection by the resort’s private chef. A native Honduran, chef Olvin prepares each meal to order and can cater to individual tastes, from internationally inspired to more traditional Honduran cuisine.
Both my partner and I love experiencing local dishes, so we let chef Olvin cook up a storm. Dishes included black bean soup and salads as appetizers, melt-in-the mouth steaks, gently poached freshly caught fish, and a fragrant coconut-infused chicken curry on the final night.
You can dine wherever you please on the resort, but we chose to enjoy our meals at a table in the Great Lodge with stunning views of the waterfall just yards away. And, since we were the only guests, we enjoyed our leisurely fully cooked Honduran-style breakfast every morning in our white fluffy bathrobes. Utter bliss.
Visit lascascadaslodge.com for more details.