Punta Sal National Park

Officially named Parque Nacional Jeannette Kawas, it is commonly referred to as Parque Nacional Punta Sal, and is located on the western end of the Bay of Tela.

Punta Sal Beach

Punta Sal Beach

Geographically, Punta Sal National Park consists of a long narrow peninsula with a very beautiful cove rightfully named Puerto Escondido (Hidden Port); a large lagoon called the Laguna de Los Micos; and a narrow sand bar between the Los Micos Lagoon and the Caribbean Sea. One of the major attractions of Punta Sal is the Garifuna community of Miami, one of the last two truly authentic Garifuna communities that persist to this day in Honduras (the other one is Chachahuate at Cayos Cochinos). The Miami community is located on the narrow sand bar between Los Micos and the Caribbean Sea, and believe me, it’s the opposite of what Miami, Florida is all about!

For over 40 years, the government of Honduras has earmarked the Bay of Tela, and specifically the area around Los Micos Lagoon, as the site for a first class eco resort development in Honduras. Finally, after four decades, that dream will come true starting this year! It will be interesting to see how this eco resort co exists with the National Park and the Garifuna communities of Miami and Tornabe, both of which border the area earmarked for the resort.

Access to Punta Sal National Park is easy if you are in your own vehicle. Take the detour towards the Garifuna community of Tornabe. The route is clearly marked on the main highway between Tela and San Pedro Sula. It is directly across from the police station on the road. Follow the road towards the beach, and you will arrive at the entrance to a tourism development that is under construction, and will be called Indura (previously Los Micos Golf and Beach Resort), where access is restricted.

You will find a dirt road on your left, however, just before the control post into the resort area, where there is a dilapidated sign indicating this road leads to Miami. Take this road and follow it for about 7 km. (approximately 4 ½ miles), and you will arrive at the Garifuna village of Miami, located between the beach and the Los Micos Lagoon. This is as far as your car will be able to go, because the lagoon has a natural channel flowing into the Bay of Tela, and there is no bridge to get you to the other side of the beach. You could, however, walk from here to the peninsula of the park.

Better yet, take a tour from Tela to Punta Sal, departing from the beaches in town. There are several tour operators that provide services in this area. Probably the most reputable ones are Garifuna Tours www.garifunatours.com and Honduras Caribbean Tours http://www.2imagen.net/hondurascaribbean/spanol/conozcanos.html. Departures to Punta Sal are typically early in the morning, as the surf can get quite rough on the return trip, and therefore it is best to return by three in the afternoon at the latest.

Punta Sal National Park

Typical Garifuna Fishing Net at Miami in Punta Sal National Park

If you are looking for a more affordable option, check the speed boats that usually hang out at the sand bar of the Lancetilla River; you can’t miss them from the new bridge over the river. You can negotiate with the different boat owners. Remember that although cheaper than the tour operators, many of them are not properly supervised, and therefore, you are never sure of the maintenance they provide to their boats and marine engines.

A typical tour to Punta Sal includes disembarking at the beach known as Puerto Caribe, and then a short hike across the peninsula in a nice trail to the lovely secluded beaches at Puerto Escondido. The hike, which is short and very easy, will take half an hour at the most, and there are good possibilities of seeing monkeys and many different birds. Once you are in the Puerto Escondido, you will not be able to resist the tempting Caribbean waters. This tiny little cove is easily the most “Caribbean like” white sand beach in all of mainland Central America. From here you will board your boat again (while you were walking, it navigated around the Punta Sal Point to be here when you arrived) and return to Puerto Caribe Beach, where you will have time for lunch, swimming and snorkelling. There is actually a very nice, quite pristine reef just offshore that is great for diving.  If you are interested in serious diving here, visit Tela Dive Center at www.teladivecenter.com

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