It is the fourth largest city in Honduras, containing roughly 250,000 people. The town is just beginning to have a tourist infrastructure for westerners. There are good hotels, ATM machines 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. It is !20 (June 2008) per person within the city limits. This jumps to L25 after dark and goes up the later you are out. A ride to the ferry dock is L50 per person. As fuel prices have increased what constitutes a "downtown" trip has shrunk. 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:
- 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 +504 2440-0191.
- 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.
- 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.
The Banana Republic hostel located between 12 Calle and 13 Calle on Ave La Republica (3 1/2 blocks south of Parque Central) offers daily commutes to and from their Jungle River Lodge, ~32 km (20 miles) north in the Pico Bonito national rain forest. Here they offer adventure in the form of canopy tours (i.e., ziplines from platform to platform built into the treetops) and whitewater rafting (very intense during the rainy season) among other activities.
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, Km 7 Carretera de Yaruca (La Ceiba, Honduras), ☏ . 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. Close to the bridge leading to the waterfall and cloud forest in the park. Great hiking, mountain biking, white water rafting and zip lining. We are just a short ride to the Bay Island ferries. A splendid holiday destination.
- Cangrejal Rafting, Colonia Toronjal 2, ☏ . Exciting trip along the turbulent Class III & IV rapids of Cangrejal river. Departing from La Ceiba heads upriver to the rafting put in, while accessing to the unique and amazing set up of this side of Pico Bonito Park that will be the background during the two hours and a half that this journey lasts. Rafting tour includes instruction on procedures, security equipment, bilingual professional guide and gear (rafts, paddles, life jackets and helmets). Participants are invited to a picnic meal at the end of the activity, consisting of some sandwiches, cookies and fruit and soft drink. (504) 9699-9300 US$35 p/p.
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 located 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 it's 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. There is a hostel located in La Ceiba called Banana Republic but it has problems with security, most recently (date unknown) involving a series of break-ins.
Via radio, they communicate with a personal cab driver that will offer you transportation around the city and, for US$20 (Oct 2007) the 32 km (20 mile) ride north to their jungle lodge, located in the Pico Bonito national rain forest (see DO above).
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 travelers who stayed there in February 2009 were robbed by someone with access to the hotel keys, so buyer beware.
- Hostal (La Ceiba, Honduras). La Mokitia Ecoaventuras Guesthouse/Hostal in La Ceiba, with tropical gardens, big yard, Tv hall, book exchange, Free Wireless Internet Service, Our friendly, bilingual, staffs are ready to help you with information and reservations. NO check out time. Inf. (504) 2441-3279 / (504) 9699-9300 (24hrs)
- [dead link] Banana Republic Guest House, Avenida La Republica, between 12th and 13th St, ☏ . Check-out: 11AM. Nice hostel with a Kitchen, WiFi and computers, hammocks and a selection of dorms or private rooms. However, there is an overwhelmingly large bed bug infestation. Practically every bed has a colony of them boldly crawling across the mattress surface and seams. Still, there is a book swap in addition to lockers being available, but you'll need your own padlock (as of June 2012). L250.
- LMEA Guest house (La Ceiba, Honduras), Col. Toronjal 2, ☏ . Economical guest house in La Ceiba, with free wifii, kithchen, social, TV A/C L150 p/p the night. +504 9699-9300 Geanie 24hrs
- Hotel Rio, Cangrejal River, ☏ , ✉ 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. US$40 - US$90.
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 443 4152. 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 7 to 7 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.