Southern Honduras is one of the least visited areas by international tourists. The area includes the departments of Valle and Choluteca, both of which have a coast on the Gulf of Fonseca in the Pacific. Despite the fact that the Pacific Ocean bathes its shores, Honduras has few beaches in the Pacific. The coastline is mostly swampy and has some extensive mangrove forests. The two most important cities in the area are Choluteca and San Lorenzo.
Choluteca and San Lorenzo , the Largest Cities in Southern Honduras
San Lorenzo is a port city, and Henecan, the Honduras Pacific Coast Port Facility is next to the city. The city of San Lorenzo is famous for its food, and there are many different restaurants and bars to choose from. Many are right on the waterfront. It also has a lively nightlife. This attracts party goers from nearby cities, such as Choluteca and Nacaome, the capital of the department of Valle.
Choluteca is an old colonial city and capital of the department of Choluteca. It is quite close to San Lorenzo, and both cities are on the main CA1 Panamarican highway. Today Choluteca is an agricultural hub. It has with extensive cantaloupe and watermelon plantations throughout the coastal plains. There is also extensive cattle farming in the area. Downtown of Choluteca retains it’s colonial charm and heritage. It has some of the best preserved colonial architecture in Honduras.
The Pan American highway connects the American Continent by land. In the case of Honduras, it comes into Honduras from the Northwest through the El Amatillo border with El Salvador. It travels approximately 100 km (60 miles) to the El Espino Border with Nicaragua, by way of San Marcos de Colon, Choluteca.
The Pacific Coast in Southern Honduras
At a first glance, there does not appear much to see or do in southern Honduras. The beaches are few and spread apart. Those that do exist have dark sand, as a matter of fact, many have black volcanic sand. The sand in these beaches gets hot under de sun and makes walking on them barefoot painful at best.
The Pacific coastline of Honduras is all within the Gulf of Fonseca. This means that there are no open beaches for surfing in Honduras. Because of this, travelers go surfing in Nicaragua or in El Salvador. None of them stay in Honduras.
So what is there to do and see in Southern Honduras then? Honduras’ largest island on the Pacific, Isla del Tigre is nearby and worth a visit. This is an old historic port that retains its charm of yesteryear. A safe, tightly knit community will welcome you. The island is of volcanic origin and you can hike to the summit of the extinct volcano. There you will enjoy breathtaking views of the Gulf of Fonseca. You will see Nicaragua, El Salvador and of course Honduras from the summit. If you visit Amapala, you may want to keep a two Lempira bill as a souvenir of your trip to Honduras. The backside of the bill has an engraving of the old Port of Amapala!
Things to do in Southern Honduras
The Refugio de Vida Silvestre Bahia de Chismuyo offers a unique area for marine bird watching. These are the some of the best preserved mangrove forests in the Pacific Coast of all Central America. It is a true paradise for this activity. One thing to keep in mind when boating in the Gulf of Fonseca is the tide. Along the Caribbean Coast of Honduras, the change of tides will make no more that a two foot difference in water depth. On the Pacific coast, this can mean up to 6 feet difference between low and high tide!
During the Spanish Colonial days, the development of Honduras took place along the Pacific Coast. Because of this, many small towns and villages still have their colonial architecture. Cities like Choluteca and Nacaome are just the tip of the iceberg. Visit towns like Langue and Pespire in Valle, or El Corpus and San Marcos de Colon in Choluteca. Plan of visiting these towns if you are into pretty towns with friendly people!
You will find good hotels to stay in at the larger cities. This includes Choluteca, San Lorenzo and Nacaome. Without doubt, the nicest hotel in southern Honduras is the Hacienda Gualiqueme. They offer a charming setting under huge trees. The large pool is a welcome respite from the hot, dry weather of Central America’s Pacific Coast. The pool and gardens are surrounded by colonial style architecture. Truly authentic Latin America.