A few interesting facts about La Ceiba that you probably did not know:
I find some facts about La Ceiba fascinating: for example, would you believe that despite the fact that it was not founded till 1877, it actually became the most cosmopolitan city in Honduras within a few years back in the 1920,s, 30s, 40s & 50s? This was primarily because this was where the Vaccaro Brothers Company, which later became the Standard Fruit Company established its headquarters in La Ceiba.
One interesting fact about La Ceiba is that by 1913, La Ceiba was the headquarters of the first and only commercial bank in Honduras at that time! Banco Atlantida, the oldest, and one of the most solid banking institutions in Honduras was born right here, in La Ceiba! The original building, with an Art Deco design, was built with materials shipped from New Orleans, and the building still stands proudly at the corner of Avenida San Isidro and First Street in La Ceiba, very close to what was then considered downtown La Ceiba: the old dock.
Nearby you will find the original customs warehouse, which also dates to the second decade of the XXth Century. By the second and third decades of last century, La Ceiba was the preferred shopping city for Hondurans, who despite the fact that there were no roads connecting La Ceiba with the capital, would fly to La Ceiba to do their shopping.
Did you know that families in La Ceiba would send their kids to study in New Orleans rather than Tegucigalpa? This was due to the fact that there was regularly scheduled banana boats departing from La Ceiba to New Orleans, and passage to New Orleans was actually cheaper and faster that it was to Tegucigalpa! You would never guess the following fact about La Ceiba: the best bilingual school in Honduras was the Masapan School which is located in La Ceiba, this school was so good that students graduating from it had no trouble getting accepted to colleges in Louisiana and the USA! The school is still open and is still considered one of the top schooling institutions in Honduras!
Another thing you probably did not know about La Ceiba is that it had the most modern hospital in Honduras! The Vicente D’Antoni Hospital still operates to this day, and although there are many other great medical facilities in Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula, the truth is that the D’Antoni Hospital is still an important institution in La Ceiba.
Over the years, La Ceiba has made a transition from being the “Capital of the Banana Republic” of the first half of the twentieth century, to a city with a variety of services. An interesting thing to note about La Ceiba today is that there are a total of 5 universities that have a campus and operate regularly in the city, including 3 private ones and 2 public ones.
La Ceiba is in the process of becoming an important tourist destination, and it should achieve this soon, due to the many different natural areas that are within its realms. The old dock and beachfront area that were the economic heart of town have been turned into a pleasant park, with the dock offering a nice area with benches to sit down and enjoy the sunset, as well as some small businesses providing services and food for passerby’s. There is also a nice boardwalk that has become a favorite spot for locals and tourists alike to stroll in the afternoons, enjoy the sunsets and have a drink at the various bars and restaurants that have sprouted around it. In addition, La Ceiba is the gateway to the Bay Islands of Honduras, and offers direct ferry and air service to the islands of Roatan Utila, and Guanaja.
Another unique corner in town is the Swinford Park, which is a bit hidden from site as you travel throughout the city. The park was built and is maintained by the Standard Fruit Company, which is part of Dole International, and is located one block west of Central Park. Here you will find some of the old railroad cars and a steam locomotive that once serviced the banana company. It is a nice piece of history that you will enjoy and a great spot for pictures as well!
Finally, the most iconic symbol of La Ceiba is Pico Bonito, a massive, peak that reaches 8000 feet above sea level that can be seen from virtually any spot in town. This peak is part of the Nombre de Dios Mountains, and gives the largest tropical rainforest national park in Honduras its name: Pico Bonito National Park. To the east of the park you will find the magnificent Cangrejal River, which acts as a natural boundary between Pico Bonito and Nombre de Dios National Parks. The Cangrejal River is a site in itself, and a great destination within La Ceiba for those seeking adventure and nature activities, with a variety of hotels and tour operators offering first class service. Activities there include white water rafting, zip line canopy tours, rappelling down tropical waterfalls in the jungle, horseback riding, hiking in the tropical rain forest and of course, bird watching.
I hope that now that you know more about La Ceiba, you will look forwards to planning a vacation and discovering this unique city in Central America.