8 protected areas in Atlantida offer the highest percentage of protected areas in any department throughout Central America! all of them have infrastructure that is tourist friendly and /or can be very easily visited by tourists, regardless if you are on a tour or on your own.
You can visit 8 protected areas in Atlantida! Atlantida has a total extension of 4251 square kilometers as its geographic territory, and about half of it is under protected status. Atlantida is certainly a nature lover’s paradise!
With three different and distinct hubs, each complementing each other, Atlantida is a rich and diverse nature destination: Tela, on the western end of the destination is famous for its beautiful white sand beaches, for having the largest tropical botanical garden in America: Lancetilla Botanical Garden, as well as for its lovely bay with many different Garifuna communities. This is the perfect place where you can get acquainted with this unique culture that has been declared Intangible World Heritage. La Ceiba, nestled between the Caribbean Sea and the Nombre de Dios Mountains offers unique tropical rain forests, marine estuaries and a diverse night life, and finally the Cangrejal River Valley, offers the best adventure and nature activities hub in Central America!
Tela offers access to four of the distinct protected areas in Atlantida :
Lancetilla Botanical Garden
Lancetilla Botanical Garden, which was born as an experimental station created by the Tela Railroad Company
(Chiquita Bananas) to determine which exotic tropical fruits were best adapted to the particular weather and land conditions in the Caribbean coast of Honduras, is truly a unique garden. The Lancetilla Botanical Garden has become a fantastic birding hot spot because of the abundance of tropical fruits, and the famous bamboo tunnel is an impressive walk under centuries old bamboos that sway high, very high over your head! The garden is currently managed by ESNACIFOR the National Forestry School of Honduras, and the municipality of Tela.
Jeannette Kawas National Park
Jeannette Kawas National Park, also known as Punta Sal National Park
, offers a combination of marine estuaries, tropical rain forests and lovely beaches, is located on the far western tip of the Bay of Tela. The Punta Sal Peninsula offers the nicest white sand beaches you will find in mainland Central America, as well as a couple of small coves that were once used as a hideout for pirates and buccaneers looking to capture the Spanish Galleons as they sailed from Honduras towards Cuba. Access to the area known as the peninsula is only possible by boat, as there are no roads into this area, and even driving down the beach is not possible because the sand bar at the Los Micos Lagoon is usually open.
The Peninsula offers three distinct atmospheres: the tropical rain forest at the base of the peninsula; the lovely natural coves on the western coast of the peninsula; and finally the beautiful white sand beaches at Cocalito on the eastern coast of the peninsula. In addition, you have the magical Los Micos Lagoon, a large lagoon with mangrove forests surrounding it, making it an ideal home to both howler and white face monkeys. It is also a magnificent place for bird watching, especially when looking for marine birds.
Nestled between the Los Micos Lagoon and the Caribbean Sea, in a narrow sandbar, you will find one of the picturesque Garifuna Villages in the World: Miami, a far cry from the jet set cosmopolitan city in Florida, Miami is a small village made up of a few wooden homes and several thatched roof huts, and resembles what a Garifuna community looked like when the Garifuna people first arrived in Honduras back in 1797.
Punta Izopo National Park
Punta Izopo National Park. This protected area is located on the eastern end of the Bay of Tela. A relatively small park, Punta Izopo
is shared between the municipalities of Tela and Arizona. The area consists of some tropical rain forests, swamps and marine estuaries, as well as some beach areas. Punta Izopo is ideal for sea kayak paddling tours, as its tranquil waters and mangrove canals allow you to paddle into otherwise hard to get to areas and sneak up on local wildlife. The Texiguat Wildlife Refuge is close to Punta Izopo. Access is via the Jilamito hot springs
and cabins near the Lean River detour. On the Eastern end of Atlantida you will find the city of La Ceiba, the other important tourist hub of Atlantida. From La Ceiba, there are 3 different protected areas in Atlantida that you can easily visit. In addition, a fourth, the Cayos Cochinos Marine Monument, that is most easily visited from La Ceiba.
Cayos Cochinos is a small archipelago located just off the coasts of Atlantida. It consists of two small islands and 13 tiny sand cays. You can usually see the two small islands from the coast in Sambo Creek, one of the Garifuna communities in La Ceiba. Cayos Cochinos
is the prototype of the idyllic Caribbean paradise, with small islands, white sand beaches, impressive coral reefs and an authentic Garifuna village on Chachahuate, one of the small sand cays that form part of this treasure. Overnight facilities are limited on Cayos Cochinos
, so most tourists visit the area as a day tour, spending enough time to fall in love with this little piece of paradise. Tours usually depart from Sambo Creek.
Cuero y Salado Wildlife Refuge
Cuero y Salado Wildlife Refuge
. Located just west of La Ceiba, Cuero y Salado is a marine estuary that is home for the endangered Caribbean manatee. Access is unique, as it must be done via a funky railroad that is reminiscent of the old glory days of the banana companies in Honduras. Cuero y Salado is both! It is a history book about the development of Atlantida under the influence of the banana companies. Is is also a window into the delicate balance of nature that marine estuaries create. It is also an option for some rural and community based tourism. Both the starting and departing points for the railroad trip into the refuge are small rural communities. Cuero y Salado is a perfect place to get close to nature!
Pico Bonito National Park
Pico Bonito National Park is the largest protected area in Atlantida. It is also the most famous national park in Honduras. The park gets its name from the highest peak, appropriately named Pico Bonito, which towers 8,000 feet above the coastal plains of Atlantida. This makes it the highest peak next to the Atlantic Ocean in the North American Continent! The rugged Nombre de Dios Mountains are home to some of the most pristine tropical rain and cloud forests in Central America. They provide the ideal habitat for iconic species, such as the peccary and the jaguar, the largest mammals in Central America! Pico Bonito National Park
offers the ideal setting for the adventure traveler, as well as for the serious hiker and bird watcher. Best of all, you will find the largest concentration of small eco resorts and lodges within a national park in Honduras! This makes it easy to visit and get up close with the park!
Nombre de Dios National Park
Nombre de Dios National Park is adjacent to Pico Bonito National Park. The Cangrejal River, one of the most scenic rivers in Central America is actually the limit between these two national parks. This is the best spot in Honduras for adventure tourism! Choose between white water rafting, rappelling, and canopy tours are only a few of the many adventure activities you can enjoy in Nombre de Dios. Unique to this park are the different natural hot springs that are hidden within the jungles. One of these actually offers a variety of services to tourists, including massages and mud baths. Nombre de Dios National Park
is indeed a park you should plan on visiting. One of the stars of this park is the Cacao Lagoon
, a small lagoon surrounded by mangrove forests and where motorized boats are not allowed.
How many protected areas in Atlantida are you planning of visiting?