Amapala is located on the Island of the Tiger “Isla del Tigre”, a small volcanic island that is in the Gulf of Fonseca, a small bay that is shared by Nicaragua, El Salvador and Honduras. It should be noted that the volcano on the island is extinct, and therefore poses no danger to the inhabitants or visitors who are attracted to the island. The island forms an almost perfect conical form, typical of volcanoes, and has a maximum altitude of 2,583 ft (783m) above sea level.
Amapala has black sand beaches from volcanic rock.
Amapala goes back to colonial times, and was an important community during the early republican years in Honduras, as this was the only official port that Honduras had on the Pacific Coast. Honduran President Marco Aurelio Soto took oath as president of Honduras in Amapala in 1876, and many important people actually arrived in Honduras through this picturesque port with offers extremely good protection from bad weather. The town lost its economic growth when the Government of Honduras actually moved the official port from Amapala to Henecan, adjacent to the City of San Lorenzo on the mainland. Although the new port provides the benefit of being on the mainland, its drawback is that access is through a 32 kilometer canals in the mangrove forests of the Gulf of Fonseca and dredging is an on going activity to insure large ships can enter port without problems. Amapala did not go down as a port without a fight, and an effort was made to build a road across the narrowest part of the channel to connect to the mainland, however the project was never concluded and the port eventually moved to Henecan. At this moment, a slow, but steady decline in the local economy began, jobs at the port were no longer existent, and most of the young men began to leave Amapala in search of better opportunities. A respite to the economy came during the years when the USA was assisting the Contras in Nicaragua, when because of its strategic location almost next to Nicaragua, a radar and radio base was established on the top of the island to keep track on movements within the neighboring country, however that soon ended when Nicaragua returned to democracy and the Sandinistas lost the power in the country.
Access to Amapala is possible only by boat, with boats leaving regularly from the fishing village of Coyolito, which is where the road ends. The road to Coyolito is a spin off of the Pan American Highway just before you arrive at San Lorenzo if you are traveling in direction towards Choluteca, you can’t miss it because there is a large sign, and in addition there is a DIPPSA gas station on the intersection of both roads. From the detour, there is only about 20 minutes before you arrive at Coyolito. Your car can be left for parking at the fishing cooperative that is located on the left side of the road as you come up to the dock. Inquire with them and pay in advance. It is a good idea to do serious bartering before you board the boat that will take you to Amapala. Today, Amapala is struggling to become a tourist attraction and with the help of institutions such as the Spanish Cooperation Agency, infrastructure is slowly becoming better. The old dock has been renovated and there are several buildings that have been remodeled in town. There is a concerted effort to clean the three parks within town and make them more presentable, the local Catholic Church is being restored and people are being encouraged to fix the facades of their homes and businesses. A few people from the community have returned and are investing in new hotels and restaurants and there is a consensus on the fact that tourism is the best route to escape the vicious circle of poverty that had taken over the island.
The island actually has several different smaller communities around it, and there is a paved road that goes around the island. There is also a trail that leads to the top of the mountain from where you can see all of the Gulf of Fonseca including both, Nicaragua and El Salvador as well as of course Honduras.
Getting around the island is fairly simple, there are several “moto taxis”, Indian made motorcycle vehicles that can take up to three persons in them, that can take you around town or the island, you can also ask around at the dock and hire a pick up truck to take you around the island. Finally, if you are really up to it, buy some water and hike around the island, the total time will be around three hours and there are some spots where you can stop and buy a meal or a soft drink. The two most popular areas in town are the “Playa del Burro” where there are actually several little hotels and restaurants as well as one of the nicer beaches. Los Veleros is one of the better restaurants in town and they also have some nice rooms for rent. The restaurant is right on the beach and the owners are very pleasant. Playa del Burro is located about a 45 minute hike from town walking towards the east side of the island. A taxi will get you there in a few minutes. In addition to Los Veleros, Aquatours Marbella is also on the same beach. This small hotel has a nice swimming pool and nice rooms, as well as a good restaurant. On the opposite side of the island you will find Playa Grande, the largest beach on the island with a series of restaurants and some basic rooms. The best restaurant is Dignita’s, where you will find local seafood dishes such as shrimp, fish and seafood soup.
The landscape is perfect for photos. Sandy beaches, deep clear blue waters, and plenty of trees give a traveler many opportunities for photos others will envy.
Weather in Amapala
The friendly community of Amapala welcomes foreigners. Here some local children pose for the camera at the corner of the Plaza. Fishing provides security for the families of Amapala. Stroll along the port and watch the fishermen arrive with their bounty.
Amapala was founded following Honduras’ desire for a port in the Pacific Ocean; particularly in the Gulf of Fonseca. The port was created under the decree of October 17, 1833, ordering the establishment of a port on Tiger Island “Puerto del Tigre Island”. The area is 80.7 km². In 1869, the Municipality of Amapala, in the Valle Department, was officially established, and given the municipal code of “1703″. Thirteen villages were recorded at that time. 170301 Amapala, 170302 Coyolito, 170303 El Zope, 170304 Gualorita, 170305 La Flor, 170306 La Pintadillera, 170307 Los Langues, 170308 Playa Grande, 170309 Playa Negra, 170310 Playa o Punta Novillo, 170311 Puerto Grande, 170312 San Carlos, or El Garrobo 170313 San Pablo
In 1876, Amapala reached its peak of popularity and became the capital of Honduras. The leader of Honduras at that time was President Marco Aurelio Soto. Sometime thereafter, the Pacific port for Honduras was changed to Henecán. Henecán is near San Lorenzo on the mainland ofHonduras. Amapala quickly lost its high profile thereafter, and many people left for the mainland to find work.
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