La Ceiba is the third largest city in Honduras, located on the north Caribbean coast. The city was founded in 1877 and was once the country’s busiest port. Named after the giant ceiba tree which grows near the city’s dock, La Ceiba today is a tropical port city that is one of the fastest growing tourist hot spots in Honduras. La Ceiba is not only known as the ecotourism capital but also the entertainment capital of Honduras, the latter reputation developed mainly as a result of the city’s liveliness and Caribbean, Latin, and Afro-Antillean culture. Every year, many travelers flock to La Ceiba not only to visit the Pico Bonito National Park and the Cuero y Salado Wildlife Refuge but also to party the night away before hitting up the Bay Islands. In May, the famous Carnival festival is celebrated in La Ceiba, so popular that it hosts over 200,000 people.
La Ceiba is known as somewhat of a haven for pineapples. The city is a major exporter of this fruit. The Standard Fruit Company, a subsidiary of the Dole Food Company, is also headquartered in La Ceiba.
The Pico Bonito National Park is one of the major attractions of La Ceiba. The 8,000 feet majestic peak that towers the park is a beautiful deep blue after sunset surrounded below by a tropical cloud forest. It is possible to hike and climb the slopes of Pico Bonito from near sea level to its grand peak all via the trails. Along the way, you’ll find dozens of streaming rivers with numerous cold-water pools that you can take a swim in. And this vast natural reserve happens to harbor spectacular waterfalls like the La Ruidosa, panoramic views of the Bay Islands, and exotic flora and fauna, including the rare jaguar and ocelot.
The Cuero y Salado Wildlife Refuge is also close by La Ceiba and a wonder to explore. This tropical forest is one of the few places on Earth where you can see manatees, marine creatures once mistaken for mermaids. The forest is also home to howler and white-faced monkeys, colorful parrots, crocodiles, turtles, and other protected species. The refuge offers whitewater rafting through the river streams as well as kayaking opportunities in and around the mangroves.
There are also tons of beach spots in La Ceiba, among them are Playa La Barra, Barrio La Isla, Playade Peru (popular on the weekends), and the Rio Cangrejal. This latter area borders the eastern edge of the city and is known as one of the best spots in Central America for whitewater rafting, offering all classes of rapids.
While Pico Bonito and Cuero y Salado are certainly the highlights of La Ceiba, the Zona Viva along the beach should not be missed. This is the waterfront area where all the restaurants and hot night clubs are located.
Since La Ceiba is a very hot place, you might want to find some shaded areas to take cover. The Central Park in the center of town as well as the Standard Park a few blocks away both offer shaded areas if you want to cool down a bit.
La Ceiba’s nightlife is the best along the Caribbean coast. Most of the restaurants and clubs are by the Zona Viva, an area fringed by the Barrio la Isla beach. On the weekends, the beachfront terrace and the beachfront bars around this hot spot are packed; music, beer, and people overflow. Most of the clubs play Latin music but some are Garífuna-type bars playing punta music.
You’ll find many great restaurants in La Ceiba. There are many restaurants and eateries offering great steaks, barbecues, and especially seafood. The best restaurant in Central America, Ricardo’s, is located in La Ceiba’s town center.