Cayos Cochinos Marine Park is a pristine and ecologically diverse Marine Protected Area along the Caribbean coast of Honduras. It comprises two main islands, Cayo Menor and Cayo Grande, 13 smaller cays, and part of the world's second-largest coral reef system, known as the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef.
Cayos Cochinos Marine Park
Cayos Cochinos Marine Park is a protected biological reserve located in the Caribbean Sea, encompassing 460 sq km (184 sq mi) along the Caribbean coast of Honduras. It comprises two main islands, Cayo Menor and Cayo Grande, and 13 smaller cays.
The Cayos Cochinos, or Cochinos Cays, consists of two small islands (Cayo Menor and Cayo Grande) and 13 more small coral cays situated 30 km (19 mi) northeast of La Ceiba on the northern shores of Honduras. Although geographically separate, they belong to the Bay Islands department of Honduras and are part of the municipality of Roatán.
The islands, a pristine and ecologically diverse Marine Protected Area established in 1993 to protect the reef system, are managed by the Honduran Coral Reef Foundation.
The reef found here is part of the world's second-largest coral reef system, known as the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef. There is a scientific research station on Cayo Menor, the smaller of the two main islands in the system.
In addition to the coral reef, Cayos Cochinos Marine Park is home to various other ecosystems, including rainforests, mangroves, and beaches. The rainforests are home to a variety of wildlife, including monkeys, sloths, and toucans. The mangroves are essential breeding grounds for fish and other marine life. The beaches are popular for swimming, sunbathing, and fishing.
The Cayos Cochinos archipelago has no roads, cars, or bikes. There is a hiking trail that connects residences and beaches on Cayo Grande. There is a lighthouse on the island's highest point, which can be hiked to through scenic jungles, which are home to the only pink Boa Constrictors in the world.
The islands' only inhabitants are Garifuna fishing villages (Chachahuete and East End), a few private homes on Cayo Grande, and the 13 more minor keys. The islands are accessible by boat from La Ceiba or sailboat charter departing from Utila or Roatan.
The actions taken to preserve the underwater environment have left the Cayos Cochinos waters the healthiest and most pristine marine life in the Bay Islands. The Honduras Coral Reef Fund is responsible for upholding the environmental restrictions protecting the marine park.
Map depicting Cayos Cochinos Marine Park, Honduras