There are some vast plantations in Honduras, many still under the control of the original banana companies. One of the them just outside La Ceiba, in the municipality of El Porvenir, produces pineapples for export. You can even take a pineapple tour and get to visit and learn about these vast plantations. But today, our visit is to a small farm, not far from these extensive plantations. These small, family owned farms are ideal to get a chance to experience life in rural Honduras. Finca El Cayo is a fine example. My visit was fun, and even a learning experience!
This small farm is between the city of La Ceiba and the Cuero y Salado Wildlife Refuge. As a matter of fact, it borders this refuge, which is one of the 8 protected areas in Atlantida! Cuero y Salado is one of La Ceiba’s protected areas. Getting there can be kind of confusing. For one, there is no road that will lead you to Finca El Cayo at Orotina. The reason is that there is a river you need to cross, and there is no bridge over it. The River is the Zacate River, which is the same river where you will find the iconic waterfall on the Pico Bonito Zacate River Trail.
An interesting note is that although the Zacate River forms a majestic waterfall and a pleasant natural pool in the Zacate River Trail, it appears dry as you drive over it on the CA13 highway. Evidently, the water goes underground, because a few kilometers past the highway, it resurfaces on its final approach to the Caribbean. The river, known as Zacate Abajo in this area, is one of the Finca El Cayo property borders. To get to this small rural farm, you will need to traverse some dirt roads through properties that are used as pastures for cattle. Eventually, you will arrive at a small dock, which locals call the “Orotina Dock”. This dock is on the Zacate Abajo river and you will find the turquoise green waters very tempting, especially on a hot day like today, when we were over 35 degrees Celsius.
At the Orotina Dock we found a small boat waiting for us. This is our ride to Finca El Cayo! The scenery changed rapidly, and we left the pastures behind us and were soon navigating within a mangrove forest with narrow canals. However, I must say that the most stunning view was upriver, towards the majestic Pico Bonito National Park. The outline of Pico Bonito was clearly visible. This is one of the highest peaks in Honduras. As a matter of fact, it is the highest coastal peak on the American Atlantic coastline between the Labrador Peninsula in Canada and the Sierra Nevada in Colombia!
Soon we diverted off the main river into a narrow canal and were navigating in a dense mangrove forest on either side. Before we knew it, we were at our destination: Finca el Cayo at Orotina! The facilities include some old barracks as well as some thatched roof structures. This is the heart of this small rural farm, and we are met by the owners, who are friendly and proud to show us their farm. They explain the different activities that we can enjoy in the farm. These include walking trails and seeing a variety of fruit trees, which include coconuts, rambutan and bananas, among others.
They also have some cattle, and we can help milk a cow, and then even help make out some cottage cheese or local “cuajada” a mix between cream and cheese that I find delicious. Finally, you can take a hike to the beach, where you can take a dip in the Caribbean Sea at one of the many lovely beaches in El Porvenir!
Your visit to Finca el Cayo at Orotina can be a half day tour, including lunch, or if you wish, you can also camp overnight. There are many options, and you can plan your own, pricing will be set accordingly, but is always a great deal! If you spend the night, you will want to go to the beach and set up a bonfire. Don’t forget your guitar, and spend some good times playing tunes on the beach! A visit to this small farm will provide a window into daily life in a small rural community in Atlantida! You will meet friendly, humble people that have a generous heart and offer serious hospitality. If you are up to it, I suggest you contact Reservaciones La Ceiba, a local tour operator that specializes in community tourism. They are experts in arranging visits to Finca el Cayo!