Here’s the Skinny:
We have found that taking a bus in Honduras to help get to and from Utila is an affordable, safe way to travel.
As noted on our travel planning page, many people coming to Utila will either fly into San Pedro Sula (SAP) and then fly to Utila direct 2pm on Mon, Wed, Friday or Saturday. But due to timing, costs, etc, the bus is a really nice option too! Personally, we frequently get a late flight arrival into SAP, stay at one of the San Pedro Sula Hotels and then get a free ride to the Bus Terminal the next day to take bus to La Ceiba where we catch the ferry.
There are 2 main options for bus types that you’ll want to look at- the local directo and the nice private “Exective” (Ejecutivo) busses, such as our friends at Hedman Alas. Viana is another nice private Ejecutivo bus line. The private bus lines (Hedman Alas or Viana) take about 3 to 3.5 hours to get from San Pedro Sula to La Ceiba. On the local buses (make sure they are directo!), it will take 4-5 hours with a stop at bathrooms and food along route.
Connecting to Utila from San Pedro Sula Via Bus:
- Hedman Alas has a 5:50 am bus -arrives in La Ceiba at approx 9am/9:30am so you can connect with the 10am ferry to Utila. From the terminal in La Ceiba when you arrive, there will be taxi cabs waiting, and its about 100 lps ($5) to the Utila Ferry. If you split the ride, your price goes down, but make sure you go direct.
- Viana has a 6am bus that should let you make the connection to the Utila Ferry as well – you will just have to hustle when you get to La Ceiba and get a taxi direct to the ferry (about 100 lps- $5 usd)
- Local “directo” are also called First Class which means “more or less directo”. These are NOT the executive busses like Hedman Alas and Viana, but they are NOT the school busses- they are the older models of Greyhound style busses, no AC. Leave hourly from SAP, but it would be tough to take a morning SAP departure on one of these buses and make the morning 10am ferry. You can take a later one and connect for the 4pm ferry out of La Ceiba.
- Hedman Alas also has a 10am bus will get in around 2pm (and Viana has a 10:30am ), both which you can connect with the 4pm bus.
- From the SAP airport, there is a shuttle service by Hedman Alas to SAP Terminal. If you get the airport bus/shuttle at 9:30 a.m. you can connect with the 10:10 a.m. bus to La Ceiba
- There is also another Hedman Alas bus at 10:50 a.m. from the SAP Airport to Tela and then from Tela to La Ceiba. (This bus is the same that you will catch at the bus station in San Pedro Sula at 10:10 a.m.)
They call these “first class” or “directo” local buses- they are the old greyhound style. Some can get a little “dinghy” but in general fairly clean and arne’t bad at all. Certainly not the “chicken bus” that you read about. Those are the school busess. Diana Express and Tranpsortes Mirna others. Cost about 90 lempiras ($5usd) one way from La Ceiba to San Pedro Sula or back. NO AC, No bathrooms, but they stop mid-way between La Ceiba and San Pedro Sula at a really nice rest stop. When they say “directo” for local buses, its “more or less” directo- they will stop on their way out of town at various spots to pick people up, so it add about 1 hour to your trip versus the private direct bus like Hedman Alas.
The local directo leaves from La Ceiba Terminal (different than the Hedman Alas Terminal) about hourly, starting about 5:30am. Off the Utila Princess morning ferry from Utila, you should be able to catch the 8:30 am directo local bus, getting you into SAP Terminal at about 1pm.
We’ve taken the local directo busses many times from La Cieba to SAP and back- its definately comfortable enough in non-summer months. However, be advised, there is no airconditioning (Hedman Alas has AC), so in the summer months, it really can get hot, hot, hot in the local bus!
Hedman Alas and Viana Bus Lines:
These direct private busses Hedman Alas and Viana from San Pedro Sula to La Ceiba are quick (3.5 hours) and an affordable option at $23 USD one way. These reliable companies service Tegucigalpa, San Pedro Sula, the Copan Ruins, La Ceiba, and other parts of Honduras and Hedman Alas also serves Antigua, Guatemala. They are very clean, accommodates lots of luggage below, shows movies and the seats recline nicely; not a bad way to travel!
We’ve taken the Hedman Alas many times from SAP Terminal to La Ceiba and return, and its always been a comfortable ride.
Utila Guide Tip: The Hedman Alas carry on requirement is super small- smaller than normal carry on. So plan accordingly.
Location of the Terminals:
San Pedro Sula Terminal:
There is a LARGE “Terminal Central” that has most of the bus lines. Also a food court, shopping.
Utila Guide Tip: Note that in San Pedro Sula, there is the main bus “Terminal” (same word in English and Spanish) and the “bus station”. These are NOT the same things. The SAP bus station is an outdoor stop, with some food stands, etc. Its where you get on/off for the center of San Pedro Sula. The Terminal is a HUGE concrete sprawling center- its like a mall, complete with food courts, clothing stores, etc. The TERMINAL is the one you usually want, and is where Hedman Alas is. The local directo buses stop at both
San Pedro Sula Airport Terminal:
There is also Hedman Alas Terminal at the airport. This is a substation of sorts. From there, they have a scheduled shuttle service where you can connect to the San Pedro Sula Terminal, and then to all points from there (La Ceiba, etc). To see schedules for taking the bus from La Ceiba to the SAP Airport, or reverse, look below.
Utila Guide Tip: We’ve found that the airport schedules don’t really connect so great with flight times coming into or out of San Pedro Sula, so we don’t really push this airport connection option so much. But still its nice to know about.
Coming from LCE, the connections to airport aren’t great for departing flights, but you can take the bus from La Ceiba to San Pedro Sula Terminal, and then a taxi ($12usd per car) to the airport from the Terminal
La Ceiba Terminal:
Hedman Alas: You will need to take a taxi from ferry dock to “Hedman Alas” bus station, which is right near the Mall. At Hedman Alas, there is a snack counter, but its just across from the Mall too, so you can leave your luggage and head off for a bit.
Viana Bus lines: La Ceiba Gasolinera Esso Miramar- The are NOT in the Terminal. Cab drivers will know
Local Directo Busses: If you are taking the public bus, to the Bus Station, you’ll ask for the “Terminal”. Its an outdoor bus station near the new Ace Hardware (Ferreteria Moderna) . All taxi drivers know where both are. At the Bus Station, there are a couple stands for snacks and such, and a nice little restaurant inside.
Public Bus Schedule for Directo Busses:
Busses leave about hourly, or even on the 1/2 hour from La Ceiba Terminal to SAP Terminal and back. They start about 5:30am and run into the evening. We suggest NOT travelling at night. In La Ceiba,
Viana Bus Line Schedule as of June 2012
- Leaving San Pedro Sula for La Ceiba:
Depart 6:00 am, Arrive 9:30 am (Mon- Sat)
Depart 10:30 am, Arrive 1:00 pm
Depart 1:45 pm, Arrive 4:45 pm (Mon-Sat)
Depart 5:45 pm, Arrive 8:15 pm
- Leaving La Ceiba for San Pedro Sula
Depart 6:30 am, Arrive 9:00 am
Depart 10:30 am, Arrive 1:00 pm
Depart 12:30 am, Arrive 3:00 pm (Mon-Friday onlys)
Depart 3:00 pm, Arrive 5:30 pm
Confirm their schedule at http://www.vianatransportes.com/itinerario-tarifas-y-regulaciones.html and click on your destination city.
San Pedro Sula
Located in the Main Central Terminal
Tels: (504) 2516-2209, 2516-2210
La Ceiba Gasolinera Esso Miramar- NOT in the Terminal
Tels: (504) 2441-2330, 2441-2251
Prices are 310 lps one way, or 530 for first class.
Hedman Alas Honduras Bus Schedule as of June 2012:
~Be sure to also check the Hedman Alas site directly and email them to confirm!!~
From San Pedro Sula Airport (ATO on their Schedule) to San Pedro Sula Terminal:
Departs 9:30AM, 1:40pm, 5:15pm
Price for regular (Ejecutiva) is 102 lps or $5.26usd or for PLUS service is 253 lps or $13 usd
From San Pedro Sula Terminal to La Ceiba
Depart 5:45am, 10:10am, 3:30pm 6:20pm.
Price for regular (Ejecutiva) is 334 lps or $17.34usd or for PLUS service is 486 lps or $25.83usd
- From San Pedro Sula Airport to La Ceiba:
If you are looking to go from the SAP airport to La Ceiba, you will need to first go to San Pedro Sula Terminal first and connect with the La Ceiba bus:
Departs 9:30 AM To SAP Terminal, Connect with 10:10 am departing SAP Terminal Arriving LCE 1:20pm
-There is also a 10:50 a.m. From The SAP Airport to Tela and then from Tela to La Ceiba.
Departs 1:40 PM To SAP Terminal, Connect with 3:30pm departing SAP Terminal, Arriving LCE 7:30 pm
Departs 5:15PM To SAP Terminal, Connect with 6:20 pm departing SAP Terminal, Arriving LCE at 9:00 pm
Price for regular (Ejecutiva) is 430 lps or $22.34usd or for PLUS service is 582 lps or $30.22usd
Hedman Alas Departing La Ceiba to San Pedro Sula Terminal
Departs at 5:15am, 10am, 2:45pm, 6:50pm
Price for regular (Ejecutiva) is 334 lps or $17.34 or for PLUS service is 486 lps or $25.23usd
If leaving La Ceiba and going to San Pedro Sula to connect to the airport, you go to the SAP terminal first and then connect via the airport shuttle schedule below. Plan for about 5-6 hours of travel.
From SAP Terminal To SAP Airport
Departs 8:40am, 10:10pm, 2:50pm, 6:30pm
Utila Guide Tips on Hedman Alas:
For Hedman Alas, you will want to be a the station a minimum of 30 minutes before depature, but the earlier the better to pick your seat.
You can buy tickets online or through email, BE SURE to PRINT out your confirmation and arrive early to be sure.
Hedman Alas buses are COLD. I mean really cold, as in you may want a long sleeve or jacket.
There is also “Executive Plus” service on some buses, which is well worth the extra $4usd- Much larger seats, foot rests, and better snacks. Its essentially like first class in a plane, but $4 usd instead of $400 usd!
The carry on size they allow you is teeny-tiny small. Like a bookbag backpack that is not stuffed. Plan ahead and get the bigger items out of your carry-on into your luggage so you don’t have hassles. Also, no knives, or other implements of destruction in your carry on for the Hedman Alas.
Get a Discount on Hedman Alas!
15% discount on all fares with the purchase of a Promodias card for just $12 bucks. On Utila, you can pick them up at the Utila Realty office, center of town. You can also pick them up when you are buying a ticket. Great discounts on other hotels and activities throughout Honduras, including Utila.
Contacts for Hedman Alas Bus Service:
Website: http://www.hedmanalas.com. It’s a fairly easy site to navigate and in English.