It is the fourth largest city in Honduras, home to roughly 250,000 people. The town has good hotels, ATMs and internet cafes. Many people who visit La Ceiba do so to use the city as a base to visit Pico Bonito National Park, the Cuero and Salado Wildlife Refuge or beaches and ethnic Garífuna villages nearby. Or people just stop off for a night on their way to the Bay Islands or the Hog Islands.
Getting around La Ceiba is easy and cheap. Within the city and to the airport there are standard taxi rates. Do make sure you know the fare before you get in the cab, particularly if you are leaving downtown for the port or the airport. Prices are generally quoted per passenger except from the airport. Don't be surprised if your driver stops to pick up additional passengers.
Since its a small town, everybody knows where everything is. Know the name of your destination or have it written down (for the more obscure destinations, include the barrio or colonia in which it is located). However, you can also say names of important buildings and the taxi driver will most likely know what you're talking about.
There are plenty of buses in La Ceiba. The cost is usually around L10-15. A bus will continue to pick up people until it is full. If a bus doesn't stop to pick you up it's because it has reached capacity. Just stand at the side of the road and flag one down when you see it coming. The people who ride the buses are locals that want to travel in a more economical manner. Hondurans are generally very friendly, still, it's a good idea to watch your belongings like everywhere else in the world! If you're not showing off your cash and valuables, you should be ok.
Excellent options with children are:
- La Ceiba Pier (Muelle de La Ceiba) nice place for picture-taking or just enjoying the beach.
- Swinford Park park downtown that displays locomotives and carriage cars from La Ceiba's fruit production/shipping past.
- Cuero y Salado Wildlife Refuge. You take an old train through the pineapple fields to a beautiful lagoon. There is a modern park building with small displays and public restrooms. You can then take either a motor boat or canoe tour of the lagoon. Bring suncreen, hats and water bottles. Reservations with Cuero y Salado Foundation at ☏ .
- The Lodge at Pico Bonito. The lodge allows day visitors. You can use their pool, hike their trails, climb their lookout towers and have lunch at their restaurant. It's a lovely place to explore and easy with children. Or Pico Bonito National Park in general.
- El Porvenir. The beach at El Porvenir is lots of fun. There is a river flowing into the sea and it makes for a freshwater "tubing" area that runs parallel to the sea. There's also a small restaurant for drinks and chips.
- La Ceiba Carnival, the biggest in Central America. It takes place on the third Saturday in May, though there are mini-carnivals in the various barrios in the days leading up to it. This is a unique event that completely packs the town out, and is generally very peaceful and good natured.
Ask a local about nightly football games at the Municipal Stadium located about 4 blocks east of Parque Central. The east side of the stadium has a much more lively atmosphere than the family outing-like setting of the West side; the tickets are a slightly more expensive but certainly worth it for a more authentic experience.
- Villas Pico Bonito (+504 449 0045) Close to the Rio Cangrejal south of town along with waterfalls and cloud forests in the Parque Nacional Pico Bonito, offers great hiking, mountain biking, white water rafting and zip lining. Just a short ride from the Bay Island ferries.
- Hotel Rio Rafting (+504 9946-7994), email@example.com. Full rafting outfit. There is direct access to the national park by way of a hanging bridge. The land for the visitors center is in front of the hanging bridge, and was donated by the Hotel owners. In addition, trips are available to the 300 acre black pepper and tropical tree farm. The bar and restaurant have views of birds, the waterfall and mountains
- Another rafting operator is Omega Tours Adventure Company and Eco Jungle Lodge (+504 97456810).
Sadly, the majority of items you can buy in La Ceiba come from Guatemala. Still, they're cheap and pretty. The souvenir shop with the largest selection in La Ceiba, including a good variety of local art and artisan work, is the Rain Forest just to the northwest of the stadium in Colonia El Naranjal. Local hammocks can be purchased around central park at a reasonable price, but start your negotiations at half the asking price.
A great place for tourists and ex-pats alike is Bar Expatriados. It's been a while since I've lived in La Ceiba but any cab driver or local will know its roof top downtown location (in Barrio El Iman at the end of Calle 12). The former owners, Mark and Maureen have returned to Canada but the new American owners, Joe and his wife Michelle, are helpful and friendly. The menu is typical American/Honduran. Great burgers and imported/domestic beer. The cost for a meal is expensive compared to the non ex-pat places but much cheaper then a fancy restaurant. A night of dinner and drinks for two will run you about US$30.
The Mango Tango is another popular moderately priced restaurant along the beach strip in the Zona Viva (Calle 1 along the beach).
Ricardos on Avenida 14 de Julio is also delicious and well priced and serves some of the best food in Central America and has the awards to prove it. They are at the top end of the price scale in La Ceiba but still half what you would expect to pay for the same plate above the Rio Grande.
A bit outside of town toward the airport the ex-pat owned and operated Iguana Bar & Restaurant serves local seafood and open grille beef speciality dishes on the beach at more moderate prices.
- Expatriates Bar & Grill, 12a Calle, South of city center, ☏ . Good grilled food, cold beer and friendly staff.
There are good quality hotels in La Ceiba, including the Quinta Real, La Quinta, Hotel Paris, the Aurora and, between the airport and downtown, the Coco Pando. A good mid-range hotel is the Iberia. There are also safe budget hotels in town such as the Catracho and the Lastenia.
A big draw-back for budget travelers is the lack of hostels. There are only a couple & both are surrounded by dark streets after 7PM, offering very little.
Lastenia Hotel is nice and cheap place to stay; they have a really tiny swimming pool upstairs, a cafeteria next door, you can get a room with a/c or fan, depending on your budget. Three people can stay for about US$15 a night. They now provide transportation to the bus station, airport or ferry terminal for about US$3 per room (not per person).
Hotel Gran Ceiba is another seemingly good quality hotel, but security has been an issue.
- 1 Hostal Los Guacamayos, Segunda Calle. Basic hostel but central downtown location close to restaurants, stores, etc. and has wifi, kitchens, and bar. Can get noisy. with tropical gardens, big yard, TV hall, book exchange, Free Wireless Internet service, Friendly, bilingual, staff. No check out time. L 517.
- 2 Omega Tours Adventure Company and Eco Jungle Lodge, 9.5 km del Puente Saopin en la Calle del Rio Cangrejal, ☏ . Cabins in pristine jungle setting with wifi, filtered water, free breakfast, shuttle transport, books, board games. L 1034.
- 3 Hotel Rio (next to Cangrejal River south of town), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Full rafting outfit. There is direct access to the national park by way of a hanging bridge. The land for the visitors center is in front of the hanging bridge, and was donated by the Hotel owners. In addition, trips are available to the 300 acre black pepper and tropical tree farm. The bar and restaurant have views of birds, the waterfall and mountains. L 1503.
- 4 , ☏ . Multi-story hotel with tasteful decor downtown. Breakfasts, wifi. L 986.
- 5 Hotel La Quinta, ☏ . Spanish colonial look with pool, spa, restaurant/bar, wifi, a/c.
- 6 Hotel Quinta Real, Barrio La Isla 1era calle, entre avenida 15 de Septiembre y Victor Hugo LaSeyba (in town). Rather luxurious beachside hotel with pool, spa, gym, restaurant/bar, wifi, a/c, though beach is a bit rocky.
- 7 Villas Pico Bonito, Km 7 Carretera de Yaruca, ☏ . Villas Pico Bonito, Jungle Eco Resort on the spectacular Rio Cangrejal. A hidden paradise in Pico Bonito National Park with self-contained lodges for rent. Beautiful infinity pool with views of the Waterfall and Jungle. Hidden Paradise restaurant with wireless internet.
For those travellers looking to keep in touch with the world through internet and e mail, there are two establishments that will surely be popular: the Internet Café, located at the Centro Comercial Panoyotti, in downtown La Ceiba. They offer email, net surfing and chat lines. Their phone is ☏. They are open from Monday through Saturday from 8AM till 9PM without closing at noontime; the other establishment is café@cafe located next to the Plaza del Sol Shopping Center on Avenida San Isidro. They are open from 7AM to 7PM from Monday to Saturday.
Those not seeking crack or crack-addicted prostitutes should avoid the beach area to the west of the old pier that juts out to sea from the end of Avenida de la Republica, as it is allegedly the territory of a heavily armed gang. The east side, including Barrio la Isla, is safer, and is also where much of the nightlife is to be found. Walking alone at night in some parts of La Ceiba should be avoided as robberies or sometimes murders may occur, but out of the three major cities La Ceiba is generally safer in terms of crime rates. Taxis are abundant and cheap and the safe way to travel at night no matter what part of La Ceiba you are in.