A huge, well preserved colonial fortress sits on the Caribbean Coast in the Gulf of Honduras. It sits less than 40 km from the Corinto Border crossing that connects the ports of Puerto Cortes in Honduras with Puerto Barrios in Guatemala. As you drive through the town of Omoa on the CA13 highway, you would never imagine the size of this spectacular Fortress of San Fernando de Omoa. As a matter of fact, you will not see it unless you take the detour in town. A short 1 km from the detour is this site. A stop to visit it is well worth your time!
This massive fortress was built during colonial times to defend the Spanish commercial fleet in the Gulf of Honduras. King Ferdinand VI of Spain gave instructions to build the fortress. Construction took place between 1768 and 1775. Builder Luis Diego Navarro was personally responsible for its construction. This is without doubt the most important colonial military building in Central America and is in very good condition. Soon after, Omoa became the most important colonial port in the Caribbean Coast of Central America.
The fortress was the site of several pirate attacks, some successful and others not. After the independence of Honduras in 1821, the local government took over the administration of the building. It was used for many years as a jail and was later abandoned. In 1959, the Honduras Congress declared it a National Monument. The Honduran Institute of Archaeology and History oversees its maintenance. The fort offers a mute testimony of Honduras colonial past. Its tropical green gardens, humid rooms and massive walls will no doubt make your fantasies take you to a time in the past, when pirates still roamed the Caribbean Sea. The site has a total of 31 vaulted rooms, one of them was the local chapel. Bricks and coral from the ocean are the main construction materials used to build this site.
The fortress is open from Monday to Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and Saturday to Sunday from 9:00 am to 5:00 p.m. There is a small entrance fee to the premises. You can purchase guidebooks or hire a guide if you wish. In addition to the Fortress of San Fernando de Omoa, a small museum operates within the premises. Here you will find artifacts that date back to colonial times. Also part of the local history in a more modern time when Honduras became the Original Banana Republic. During those days, Omoa was the home port of the Cuyamel Fruit Company.
The Fortress of San Fernando de Omoa is the most popular attraction in Omoa. However, the destination has a lot more to offer. Great beaches, the tropical rainforests of the Sierra de Omoa and the variety of sea food restaurants offer many good reasons to visit the area. The deep-sea fishing in the Gulf of Honduras also attracts many a fisherman to the area. After a visit to the fortress, you should drive into the town, and have lunch at one of the many different restaurants sitting on the Bay of Omoa. I recommend Scapate, next to municipal dock. You have a great view of the bay from the second floor of this great restaurant.
If you are looking for other things to do, plan on visiting the Rawacala Eco Park. A unique setting in a refreshing natural waterfall pool will reinvigorate you after exploring the Fortress of San Fernando de Omoa. There are several good hotels in Omoa and surroundings. The Hotel Paraiso Rainforest and the River Park Hotel in Omoa are some of your best choices.