This is easily the best way to get to know a city, walking it, listening to it, and interacting with the locals. Because of this, we fully recommend that you walk around the city if you want to get a feel for it. Following is our proposal of a walking City Tour, which we will start at the central park of La Ceiba. The Central Park of La Ceiba, together with the area where the old municipal dock is located in, and the beach area known as the Paseo de Los Ceibenos are the highlights in La Ceiba that we will include in our tour.
In Latin America, the Central Park is usually the heart of the city, and La Ceiba is no exception! On the southeast end of the park you will see a two story blue building, which has some nice arches and a porch that wraps around the building. This is the city’s town hall, and its construction was actually financed by the Standard Fruit Company many years ago. It is, without doubt, one of the nicest city hall buildings in Honduras. Across the street from the City Hall is La Ceiba’s Cathedral, which is dedicated to the patron saint, Saint Isidore, or San Isidro Labrador in Spanish. The Cathedral is built with a rather strange orientation, trying to catch some of breeze blowing off the Caribbean Sea to keep the building a bit cooler in the hot summer days in La Ceiba.
Walk towards the north side of the Central Park, where you see the Gran Hotel Paris, considered the oldest hotel in the city. If you take a left, towards the west, and walk down this street, you will be walking into the Mazapan neighborhood. Historically, this is the “American” neighborhood, where the Standard Fruit Company had its headquarters, and where all of the executives lived. In the past, the whole neighborhood was fenced off from the rest of the city, and you can still see remnants of the fence that separates this neighborhood from the rest of the city. You can walk down this street and you will soon see a nice park on the right side of the street. This is the “Swinford Park” called such because it was built by the Standard Fruit Company during the administration of Mr. Swinford.
At first you will get the impression that the park is fenced off and that there is no access, however if you walk around the corner and the total length of the block you will see the access gate. There is no entrance fee, and make sure you bring your camera, because there are really many different outstanding photo options within the park, which features a beautifully manicured garden, old railroad locomotives and cars as well as an odd collection of bronze animal sculptures. While you are walking around the area, take a look at the architecture in the homes within this neighborhood, these are all from the banana era of Atlantida. If you feel like taking a short rest or having a great cup of coffee, check out Cafeto, a great coffee shop located half a block from the Swinford Park under the charming Casa Luisa Bed and Breakfast, across the street from the Park’s entrance.
After enjoying the park, it’s time to get back to Central Park and continue our walk towards the old municipal dock in town. To do so, simply walk back to the park and take a left on Avenida San Isidro, on the corner of Pizza Hut. If you like visiting local markets, take a right on 6th Street, three blocks from Central Park. You will walk only a short block before you arrive at the market. This is where Ceibenos buy their meat, vegetables, fruits, and seafood. The market is lively with many different colors, aromas and scenes. Feel free to walk around the market and take pictures. Once you are through, return to Avenida San Isidro, where you will continue on until Primera Calle, or First Street. Right on the corner of San Isidro and Primera Calle you will see an attractive two story building with an art deco design. Believe it or not, this is actually the first bank that opened its doors in Honduras.
Banco Atlantida was established in La Ceiba in 1913 by the Standard Fruit Company in an effort to make paying their employees an easier task. To this day, Banco Atlantida is the oldest bank, one of the most reputable ones in the country, and one of the most prestigious banking institutions in Central America! All the building materials where shipped from New Orleans and the building was assembled on site. Half a block to the east ( looking towards the right) you will see another iconic building in La Ceiba. This is the old customs building. Everything that was imported or exported had to go through this building. Although the buildings looks abandoned, it is now in the process of being renovated and will soon be housing the La Ceiba Cultural Center (Casa de la Cultura) for La Ceiba. The building can be seen from both, Primera Calle as well as from the street that is in front of the ocean, one block north.
If you continue that last block towards the sea, you will arrive at the La Ceiba Boardwalk, an area that has just been renovated and offers a nice sea side walk as well as direct access to the old Municipal dock. In the old days of the banana era in Honduras, ships would come and go from this dock, taking bananas and bringing other goods from the USA and the World for Honduras. Although the dock is no longer in use, and is about one third of the length that it used to be, it is still a lovely walk over the Caribbean Sea.
To continue your tour of La Ceiba, it is time to take a cab to the Paseo de los Ceibenos. Even though it is not far, I recommend that you take a cab from the Reynaldo Canales boardwalk to the Paseo de Los Ceibenos. The cab charges just over 1 USA dollar per person, (25 Lempiras) for the trip. At the Paseo de los Ceibenos you will find the most popular beach in La Ceiba. Because of its proximity to the city, I do not recommend that you swim in it, however you can certainly enjoy the walk, take pictures and if you are there towards the evening, enjoy the sunset. There are several nice bars in the area from where you can relax and enjoy the view.
I truly hope that you have enjoyed your La Ceiba city tour!