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Tela is located on the North Coast of Honduras, about 2 hours west of La Ceiba. A quiet town located on a long, beautiful beach, it is a great place for adventure tours and eco-tourism enthusiasts.
There are several hotels from the elegant Tela Mar, the moderate Cesar Mariscos, to budget accommodations, such as the Maya Vista. Garifuna Tours has an office in Tela from which visitors can embark on river rafting tours, boat excursions, and tropical rainforest hiking adventures.
A little outside Tela and right on the beach, enjoy The Caribbean Coral Inn Bed & Breakfast, for comfortable cabins with delicious, authentic Garifuna cuisine.
Tela is on the main highway between La Ceiba and San Pedro Sula, Honduras. There are a variety of bus options you can use to get there, or you can rent a car in La Ceiba or San Pedro Sula. Bus options include "chicken" bus (stops everywhere), direct (few stops, also very inexpensive), and Hedman Alas provides 1st Class Bus Service: San Pedro Sula (& airport), Tegucigalpa, La Ceiba, Copan Ruinas, and Tela.
Tela has plenty of restaurants and bars, both in the hotels and on their own. One of my favorite Tela restaurant/bars is Luces del Norte. "They" say, that at one time, it was a favorite hangout for "gringos", but I didn't see any other North Americans there during my recent visit. Luces del North serves simple breakfasts, lunches, and dinners with ice cold drinks. My favorite menu item is the "coco" which is a plain old coconut taken from the refrigerator; they use a machete to chop a hole in the top for a straw. The chilled coconut water is delicious and refreshing on a typically hot day.
Another favorite restaurant is the Pizza Bambino located right on the corner behind the Hotel Sherwood. The pizzas are surprisingly good and very reasonably priced.
The picture to the left is a view looking west along the beach at Hotel Cesar Mariscos with Hotel Sherwood glimpsed just past it.
My favorite hotel in Tela is Hotel Cesar Mariscos. This small, family-operated hotel is very clean and pleasantly decorated with reasonable prices. The restaurant is great, right on the beach, covered and can be enclosed when the weather demands. Iso, Cesar, and Giovani, and the rest of their family are very pleasant and helpful, making visitors feel very welcome and comfortable.
This picture was taken right in front of Restaurant Vista Mar which serves ice cold beer very cheap!
The purpose of our trip to Tela was to visit Punta Sal, a Honduran National Park with a diverse eco-system including rocky land formations, sandy and rocky beaches, lagoons, rivers, coral reefs, untouched jungle and abundant wildlife. We arranged with Garifuna Tours for a day-trip which cost U.S. $22 per person.
The tour group gathered at the Mango Cafe, a cute riverside restaurant with an internet cafe and tables over the water. There we met our tour guide and boat captain and were cautioned to have insect repellent with us. This turned out to be excellent advice as there were millions of hungry mosquitoes in the Park. Also, it is a good idea to bring bottled water and sunscreen.
We boarded our boat (probably about 25 feet long with the capacity of 3 persons sitting side by side in 4 rows) and started the short distance under two bridges and out to sea. A funny thing is that the river is so shallow at its mouth that the guide and boat captain had to jump overboard and push the fully-loaded boat over the sand about 20 feet. That was nothing -- on the return trip in the same place, EVERYONE had to get off the boat and help push it about 50 feet back into the river -- this required waiting for waves to give the boat some lift while we all pushed!
To get along to the interesting stuff, we saw dolphins swimming near us on the boat ride to Punta Sal. After a 45-minute ride, we arrived at Punta Sal. We boated up to a small beach where everyone disembarked and put on walking shoes and mosquito repellent. This was the beginning of a walk over the peninsula that took about 3/4 of an hour. We walked through a swamp, dense jungle, and about 255 feet up (the highest point in the park) and over the ridge down to another small beach where the boat picked us up. On the walk we saw and/or heard howler monkeys, iguanas, a golden silk spider, lots of crabs and many unusual trees and birds. The guide pointed these out, but there were too many to remember.
After the hike, our boat took us out and around several large rocky formations in the water which housed thousands of seagulls. Then we were taken to a very nice beach for an hour or two of swimming until lunch time. Then, it was back into the boat and down the coast a bit more to a very small village (one family?) where we bought ice cold beer, sodas, and a typical lunch of beans and rice, fried plantains, and a fish, maybe a blue tang, but I don't really know. Here, we ate, relaxed, and visited with the others in the tour group. With us were a group of Americans involved in a construction project, an Italian couple, a Spanish couple, and some Hondurans who had been living in the U.S.A. Everyone seemed to be enjoying the Park tour. Most of us spent more time swimming after lunch, but the water was beginning to get a bit rough.
We piled into the boat around 2:00 and headed back to Tela. By this time, the sea had become quite rough and, this is no exaggeration, we were all soaked with sea spray all the way back to Tela. About two-thirds of the way back to Tela, we spotted a boat floundering. Our guide and boat captain talked to the men in the boat, and we ended up taking four very frightened women and small children into our boat and back to Tela with us.
The picture below left is Tela's beach taken from my balcony at Hotel Cesar Mariscos. And here is a link to the Garifuna Tours website where you can see photos of Punta Sal and other interesting places in Honduras for rafting and hiking tours. The picture below left is a view of the Caribbean Coral Inn Bed & Breakfast in Triunfo, just outside Tela on the beach.
Tela has, in the past, been burdened with a bad reputation for tourism; robberies and attacks reported. On my recent visit, I noticed many Tourist Police on foot and bicycles through the downtown area and on the beach. It appears that the government has decided to make Tela a safer place for people to visit and enjoy, and the town seemed to be enjoying plenty of tourists. At night, we stayed in the well-lighted areas close to our hotel and had a wonderful visit.
J. McMillin, August 2003
Sandy Bay, Roatan, Honduras