Located west of Puerto
Cortes, on the highway leading from Puerto Cortes. Omoa
is one of the oldest towns in Honduras and played an
important role in the history of Honduras, especially
during the colonial times. The paved highway leads west
towards the town of Tegucigalpita, a village located
only a few miles from the Guatemala border. This area
of the country is of stunning beauty thanks to the impressive
Merendon mountain range that serves as a backbone to
this part of the cost. Along the road, you will pass
the town of Omoa, where the Spaniards built the massive
fortress of San Fernando de Omoa centuries ago. Its
purpose, to protect the coast and shipments of silver
bound from the mines of Tegucigalpa to Spain from the
continuous attacks of the British pirates. In effect,
by the time it was finished, the pirates were a thing
of the past. This structure is of such importance, that
you would have to travel south as far as Cartagena de
Indias in Colombia, or north as far as Campeche, in
the Gulf of Mexico to find another fortress of equal
After the independence of Honduras in
1821, the fortress was taken over by the local government,
and was used for many years as a jail, and was later
abandoned. Today, the fortress is considered a National
Monument and is open to the public. The Honduran Institute
of Archaeology and History is in charge of its maintenance.
The fort, a mute testimony of Honduras colonial past,
with its green gardens, humid rooms and massive walls
will no doubt make your fantasies take you to a time
in the past, when pirates still roamed the Caribbean
Sea. The fortress is open from Monday to Friday from
8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and Saturday to Sunday from 9:00
am to 5:00 p.m. There is a small entrance fee charged
on premises. You can purchase guide books or hire a
guide if you wish.
Omoa is slowly, but surely becoming an interesting stop
for the backpacker and budget traveler crowd. There
are now several restaurants as well as some small hotels
and several hostels in the area. For food, check out
Donde Pancha, a very local restaurant where the owner
(yes, you guessed correctly, here name is Pancha) will
personally cook you a meal. Her specialty is fresh fish
and seafood. El Botin Suizo, owned by Ulrich Lang, a
Swiss, who is probably more Honduran than Swiss by now
offers good food and a full bar service and is located
right on the beach. The "newest kid on the block"
is the hotel and Restaurant Flamingo, located right
on the beach. An extensive concrete deck overlooking
the Bay of Omoa offers outstanding seafood and is without
doubt one of the best restaurants in Omoa. They also
feature the best beachfront rooms in Omoa. Los Cayuquitos
is located on the right hand side of the pier. They
have good food and prices and their service is very
friendly. Rio Coto in Omoa is a branch of the famous
Rio Coto Restaurant located in Rio Coto, a few miles
down the road from Omoa in the direction of Guatemala.
They have very good food, a complete bar and are probably
the best restaurant in Omoa. Macarela, the second last
restaurant on the beach road towards the east has great
food and good prices. Silvia, the owner speaks English.
The restaurant is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 9:00
a.m. till 7:00 p.m. Last, but not least, El Paraiso
de Stanley has become very much a gringo hangout. This
is a great spot for cold beers, local gossip and information
spot. Open everyday until the last client is gone. Tours
are available within the area, and of course, if you
are staying here, you must visit the fortress. There
are some very pleasant waterfalls nearby. These are
only 45 minutes away. In addition to their natural beauty,
they have some very pleasant swimming holes where you
can refresh yourself from the hike. Your best sources
of information are Ulrich at Botin del Suizo or Roli's
at Roli`s Place ( 80 meters from the beach ) Roli has
free maps from the area including the information you
need to go to Guatemala. @ Roli`s Place there is now
a small internet café where you can check your
mails or surf the net.
There are several places to stay in
Omoa. The best budget place to stay in Omoa is Roli's
Place, run by Swiss national Roland Gassman. Roli has
a large shaded and grassy compound with room for tents
and open ventilated dormitories , and private double
rooms . There is also an outside communal kitchen, laundry-service,
table-tennis, chess, dart, bikes and kayaks for free
use by guests. Pias Place next to Bahia Omoa owned by
Dutch/German couple is a charming old wooden construction
offering a nice living area as well as a porch looking
towards the sea. Pias Place can be contacted at tel.
Probably the best hotels in town are Flamingo and the
Bahia de Omoa. Surfboard and laser sailboats are also
available for rent at the latter property.
From Omoa, you can continue on to Guatemala.
You can take the bus to Corinto (US1.10) approximately
every 10 minutes to the hour or better yet, get the
local information regarding the bus that will take you
to Frontera Guatemala. If you take this second alternative,
which is the most direct, you will end up at Arizona,
Guatemala, from where you can take a bus to Puerto Barrios.
This route takes you via the brand new "Arizona"
bridge over the Motagua River. The highway is completely
paved on the Guatemalan side of the border, however
traveling on the Honduras side can be quite tricky during
wet weather, as the road is slowly being upgraded from
Tegucigalpita on to Corinto. If you end up taking the
bus to Corinto, look around for "Pulperia Arnold"
which is the center of the town and at the crossroads
towards the border. Here owner Marcelino Cruz will be
happy to assist you with information, as well as getting
a pick-up ride to Arizona on the Guatemalan side, from
where busses run regularly to Puerto Barrios. Marcelino
can help you with money exchange as well. If you are
coming into Honduras via Corinto, you should keep in
mind that the last bus that leaves towards Puerto Cortes
departs at 3:30 p.m. If you miss the bus, Marcelino
is building some rooms that are safe and clean, so you
can negotiate a room and food with him. His rooms will
be worth approximately the equivalent to $3.00 USA dollars.
The cost for the regular bus into Puerto Cortes or Omoa
is just over half a dollar. The bus schedule from Corinto
to Puerto Cortes is as follows: departures are at 6,
7 and 10 a.m.; and then 2 and 3:30 p.m.
Keep in mind that there are a couple
of rivers on the Honduras side that lack bridges, and
in case of heavy rain, could be impassable for several
hours, so don't plan this route if you don't have time
to spare, specially during the rainy season. The old
'Jungle Trail' is a thing of the past and once the roadwork's
are completed in Honduras, this will be the main Guatemala-Honduras
border crossing in this part of the country. In a similar
vein, boats that used to run between Omoa and Livingstone
in Guatemala have now virtually ceased, so you are now
committed to an increasingly easier land crossing.
Official border crossings are now open with both customs
and immigration services on both sides. In the Honduran
side these are located within the town of Corinto, in
the Guatemalan side they are located at Arizona.
There is therefore no more hassles to
get entry or exit stamps for those adventure travelers
taking this route.
Further west the Merendon Mountain Range becomes ever
more impressive. The Cusuco National Park has its northern
boundaries within these mountains, with peaks reaching
above 6,500 feet, and housing different habitats, such
as beaches and mangroves, tropical rain forests and
even cloud forests in the higher elevations.
Just before Tegucigalpita lies the
Garifuna community of Masca, and in the vicinity is
the eco project of Eco Rancho. Here you can enjoy the
rich flora and fauna of the area, with the breathtaking
views of the coast and crystal clear rivers in the comfort
of the luxury finca home, or if you are more adventuresome,
camp in one of the campgrounds up in the mountains in
specifically pre selected areas. Arrangements must be
made in advance and all camping equipment is provided
by Eco Rancho. Your experience and Eco Rancho can easily
be one of your highlights of your trip to Central America.
Masca is a very interesting small town
with a lot a folklore. Although not exclusively a Garifuna
Community, there is an important presence of this interesting
There is a brand new hotel in town that
offers all the modern comforts located only a few feet
from the beach. The hotel, called the Villa del Mar
also offers a restaurant and bar.
From Masca, you can enjoy a couple of nice hikes in
the area. The first is to a small waterfall, located
only a few hundred feet from the road leading from Masca
To get there, take the road previously
mentioned and follow it to the next river crossing,
from there, follow the river. If you have any doubts,
ask the locals, they are all familiar with this spot.
The other hike is to a cave. Although I have not yet
been there myself, I understand that the hike is about
a half hour trip and that the cave is interesting.