July 12, 2010

Tela Honduras

Tela is a coastal town located in the north coast of the country and quite possibly Honduras' most recognized tourism destination after the Bay Islands and Copan. It is the first choice for local Hondurans when they think of vacations with sun, sea, and sand, not to mention affordability. It is also relatively close by car from San Pedro Sula and La Ceiba (1.5 to 2 hours by car) and just a bit farther from Tegucigalpa (5 to 6 hour  drive). Although the town itself is not known for its striking beauty, the surrounding beaches are some of the best in the north coast. You can find all inclusive resorts in and around Tela as well as some smaller hotels right in town.
streets of  downtownTELA


cabbage coral in recently discoveredCAPIRO BANK
 - A recent discovery of great proportions was unveiled to the world, circa 2011. It so happens that the coral reefs found around the Bay of Tela, and in particular, a site called Capiro Bank, are some of the healthiest and have some of the highest coral cover in the entire Caribbean - read all about this incredible find in Tela's Amazing Underwater Discovery. You can also learn more about how to get your diver's certification and what to expect when you go for a fun dive with the Tela Dive Center, the first and original dive operator working the Bay of Tela. Just follow the link to the Tela Dive Center: Diving in Bay Islands, no wait... Tela???. A second option to explore the infamous Capiro Banks is now available as Honduras Shores Plantation just opened their diving operations in 2013 - I personally haven't dived with them but it is worth checking out.

- Beautiful beaches, i.e. Miami beach, just a few minutes away from downtown Tela. It is not like the one in Florida... remove all the buildings and roads. Very peaceful and secluded.

- Geographical land extensions like Punta Sal and Punta Izopo are nice places too. Nature hikes, snorkeling and kayaking through mangroves are available with Garifuna Tours.

arriving at theJEANETTE KAWASnational park
- Punta Sal is where you find the Jeanette Kawas National Park. Wildlife such as howling monkeys and a variety of bird species can easily be spotted. You can even try snorkeling in front of the half moon beach where small patches of some nice coral formations and other marine life are readily seen. Check the surrounding lagoons for hard to find manatees (an amazing site if you are lucky). Check out the Punta Sal - Jeanette Kawas National Park entry for more info.

the botanical garden ofLANCETILLA
 - Exotic plants and trees from all over the world (watch out for the venomous kinds) make their home in Lacentilla, one of the world's largest botanical gardens! See Lancetilla - A real garden of Eden to learn more about this wonderful collection of plant life and vegetation.
a Tela sunset courtesy ofMAYA VISTA HOTEL

- There are several nearby places to visit such as Triunfo de La Cruz and Tornabe. These are Garifuna settlements, a local ethnic group known for their cultural heritage, including a dance to mourn the dead, together with traditional garb and songs, as well as their time-honored recipes for  conch soup and coconut bread which have been passed on from generation to generation.

- Personally I can recommend the Maya Vista Hotel and Restaurant, right in the middle of town. This is a great option when you want to stay away from the all-inclusive resorts and the large crowds. Located on a hilltop overlooking the bay, it comes with the most amazing view in all of Tela - ideal scenery to mix with their very good options of food and drink. 

- Another great choice for accommodation and one which I can also recommend is Honduras Shores Plantation. This property offers a variety of accommodation options to choose from: cabanas, bungalows, condominiums, and vacation homes (being the latter where I stayed previously). Our selection turned out great considering it was a large group, as their houses fit 8 to 12 guests and are all fully furnished with kitchen, cooking and eating utensils, and all the other stuff you'd expect to make your stay a comfortable one - some of the houses even come with their own private pool and BBQ area. If you do not want to cook you can always use the resort's private beach club and restaurant with its own pool, and just steps away from its beautiful private beach. We also took the Cola del Mico Lagoon tour which they offer by boat complete with tour guide/boat captain, where we got to see countless numbers of topical birds fly in every direction, easily seen year-round specially at dusk or at dawn. 

- More accessible by land, especially from Teguz/Tegucigalpa as the main road - CA-5 has been greatly improved (beware: construction is still going on in some areas).

- Affordability is a key factor, specially when compared to Roatan.

- The Indura Beach and Golf Resort is a high end, beach retreat located in the Bay of Tela which is scheduled to open in early 2014. It offers an 18-hole Gary Player designed championship golf course, a world-class spa, and other luxurious amenities which will surely appraise the tourist potential of Tela in the near future.


To finish up this entry let me throw in a well known historic fact about Tela. Back in the late 1800s, the tropical fruit cultivated in this area used to be exploited by several American fruit companies which had their headquarters in Tela. These companies turned this fruit, in particular, the banana fruit, into their number one cash crop and a multimillion dollar business. They exercised strong influence not only on the economy, but also in politics as they favored actions which benefited their own interests and those of the ruling government, in detriment to the country and its people as a whole. This gave way to Honduras and other Central American countries which followed this same fate to be tagged with the derogatory term - Banana Republic.