I had already dipped in and out of Honduras before I visited Belize so this was my second time to enter the country. After a great week in Belize (including touring ATM caves, staying in San Pedro and Belmopan) we decided to get the boat to Honduras which only leaves once a week. So you need to get your timing spot on with this one and here’s an overview of the crossing to ensure your journey runs smooth.
Booking the Boat to Honduras
These days you can make the reservation online and in advance and you don’t have to pay anything to do this. We made the reservation just to be sure. Head to this page for the D- Express and reserve the boat. But to be completely honest, unless it’s really busy you can just turn up on the day, board the boat and off you go. The only slight risk is that if there is say a bunch of 12 backpackers that day, you may well not get on, and as they are only once a week, this would mean an entire one more week in Belize, or do the overland route! We were there in September time.
Currently the boat leaves every Friday morning at 9am from the town of Placencia. The exact details are: Every FRIDAY to Puerto Cortes Honduras
Boarding at 9 a.m.
Departure from Placencia Shell Gas Dock at 9:30 a.m.
Departure from Mango Creek/Independence at 11:00 a.m.
COST: US$65 per person (payable in USD, Belize Dollars or Honduran Lempiras). In Belize Dollars this is 130 BD.
Getting to Placencia
There are chicken buses all over Belize that head to Placencia. We got the 4.30 pm bus from Belmopan which took about 3 hours. The buses are cheap and packed.
Accommodation in Placencia
There are plenty of places to stay in Placencia – it’s a big tourist seaside town in the summer. We had dinner at Omars and stayed in the Seaspray Hotel. It’s a decent tropical paradise this town and a bit less touristy than Hopkins (so we heard anyway).
Leaving Placencia, Belize
In the town of Placencia, head down to the port where the boats leave from. It’s not obvious which jetty or boat is for Honduras initially as there are no signs. But you will see the jetty and the boat. Buy your ticket there and then for $65 US and hand over the cash. Put your bags on board and get in. The boat leaves at 9.30 am but we boarded around 9 am. You can use up the last of your Belize Dollars at the local shop or coffee place near the harbour. Just make sure you have enough cash to pay the departure fee.
Belize Departure Immigration at Mango Creek/Big Creek
The immigration section for leaving Belize is carried out on the boat. You don’t need to leave the boat. You’ll be handed your ticket, the immigration forms and the boat will leave Placencia but you have not yet left Belize. This is because it then stops at Mango Creek to pick up more passengers and complete the departure. We arrived at Mango Creek around 9.55 am. The exit forms are all very simple. There may be some confusion over the name as the passport stamp says “Big Creek”. It’s quite a slow process though and took about an hour before we finally left Belize behind.
There is a fee of 7.5 Belize Dollars payable in cash to leave the country. This is basically twice as much as US dollars, so about 3.75 USD. It’s an official fee for non-Belizeans leaving the country and is classed as a Conservation Fee.
The Boat Journey from Placencia to Puerto Cortes
The Boat journey is fairly fast and rocky. To the point where it has actually been cancelled before. There is no bar on board and no food for sale. You basically just sit there quite cramped passing the time.
I simply read my books and planned the onward travel as well as filling in my Honduras Arrival documents. Panny felt a bit sick on the journey which can be choppy. Having worked at sea, I didn’t feel too bad.
Arrival at Puerto Cortes, Honduras
We arrive on schedule around 2.30 pm. On arrival at Puerto Cortes we get off the boat first of all and then we collect our bags. There is a huge delay for immigration despite the fact that there were only about 30 of us on the boat. During the delay you can change money and organise onward transport. You should aim to swap US Dollars for Honduran Lempira here but not too many – it’s cheaper to swap them in the bigger cities like San Pedro Sula, La Ceiba and Tegucigalpa.
If you’re foreign you’ll also get hassled by a load of taxi drivers trying to offer you onward transport. Kindly refuse saying you already have plans. Most of the other travellers on our boat were heading to Utila or La Ceiba. However we chose to make our way to San Pedro Sula and by bus.
I had already been to Honduras about two weeks earlier when I visited Copan so I had an entry and exit stamp already. I had also paid an entry stamp that day (of around $3 US) at the El Florido border point. When they tried to ask for it in immigration this time I refused to pay it. It’s not law – it’s an illegal payment they try to force on you. I had paid it once before and therefore I refused this time and as I had spoken Spanish to them, they let me off with it, so I didn’t have to pay. If you do get charged – it’s less than $5 US normally. I got a new entry stamp which gave me 45 days in Honduras – it’s was 15 days after my first entry and therefore that’s why they knocked 15 days off the 60.
Onwards Journey from Puerto Cortes to San Pedro Sula
Next up we decided to head to San Pedro Sula for a couple of days. We walked across the bridge towards the town centre of Puerto Cortes firstly and then were looking for the bus station.
From the side of the road, we got a minibus from Puerto Cortes which cost us 50 Lempira ($2.50 US) and this took us all the way to San Pedro Sula. On board we met a local girl who was able to give us a lift direct to our hostel in San Pedro Sula.
Here are some videos I took from the border crossing between Belize and Honduras: