Located on the eastern end of the Bay of Tela, Punta Izopo is a relatively small national park that is located between the municipalities of Tela and Arizona. Punta Izopo National Park is co managed by Fundacion Prolansate, www.prolansate.org which also manages Jeannette Kawas National Park, and the Texiguat Wildlife Refuge.
Terrain within the park makes it quite inaccessible, as there is a small mountain on the backside of the park correctly called “salsipuedes”, Spanish for “leave if you can”! The vegetation here is very dense, which combined with the Hicaque and Platano rivers, as well as several other small creeks that flow into the area, create a small coastal lagoon. The lagoon has many canals that are actually creeks flowing into it, which are completely surrounded by a thick mangrove forest, teeming with life, including many crocodiles, monkeys and a myriad of tropical birds. Ironically, within the park lives one of richest entrepreneurs in the country, Miguel Facusse, who has a lovely private home (which of course is off limits to visitors) there.
Getting to Punta Izopo is relatively easy, and within a 20-30 minute drive from Tela. Garifuna Tours www.garifunatours.com, one of the local tour operators in Tela, offers affordable trips to Punta Izopo, which puts you in a sea kayak and guides you into the mangrove canals, where they help you spot wildlife in the forest. Garifuna Tours offers two departure options for this half day tour; one in the early morning, departing at 7:00 a.m. from their offices in downtown Tela, and the second in the afternoon. The afternoon departure at 3:30 has the advantage that you are still in the lagoon at dusk time, and therefore have a chance to see much more wildlife. Of particular excitement are the many crocodiles one can see at this time, as this is their normal feeding time of day.
If you are driving your own car to Punta Izopo National Park, go past Tela in the direction of La Ceiba on the main road, and take the detour to Triunfo de La Cruz, which is clearly marked on the left side of the road. A word of caution when taking the detour, the turn off is in the middle of a curve on the main road. Follow the road all the way to the Garifuna community of Triunfo de La Cruz, which is on the beach, and then take a right on a dirt road that will take you to a lagoon at the end of the road (after approximately 3 kilometers). There are several hotels and restaurants in Triunfo de La Cruz, most of them owned and run by Garifunas. Incidentally, Triunfo de la Cruz happens to be the spot where Cristobal de Olid, one of the Spanish captains under the command of Hernan Cortes, disembarked in Honduras in 1524.
Learn more about Honduras National Parks