Tela is a city in Honduras. It is a sleepy coastal town of 100,000 people (2015) with nice beaches, in a region inhabited by the Afro-Caribbean communities called the Garifuna.
The Garifuna live on communally owned land around the area and have their own distinct language and culture. It has been slowly but surely working its way to becoming an important beach destination.
Tela has been the site of a pilot program aimed to create the Tourist Police. The result has been outstanding, with a force of 20 bilingual, friendly tourist police officers.
Less than 90 km east of San Pedro Sula's international airport, and connected by an excellent paved highway, Tela is very easily reached from San Pedro Sula and El Progreso.
If you are driving your own car, the driving time is under one hour from San Pedro Sula.
If you are taking the public bus, the classiest option would be to choose Hedman Alas, a first class service coach operator that has non stop service from San Pedro Sula to Tela; otherwise, there are several companies offering comfortable direct non-stop buses to La Ceiba. A ticket from SPS to Tela should cost L100. Just let the driver know you wish to get off at the entrance to Tela. From this point, you can easily catch a taxi (L30/pp) to take you to the beaches, Tela's main attraction.
Once in Tela, like in most Honduran cities, the taxi services will provide a reliable way to get around. Also Tela is a great place to walk around and explore the beach and downtown areas.
A taxi from the town to the botanical gardens should cost L100 for two people.
- 1 Museo Tela Railroad Company. Tu 08:00-16:30, W-Su 13:00-21:00, closed M. Tela used to be one of the main shipping areas for Bananas from the United Fruit Company. The term "banana republic" came from Honduras, when American and other fruit companies held great political sway. A rail service from the interior of the country brought produce to Tela to be shipped to the United States. Today the pier and train station that were central to that trade have been abandoned. They are within 90 m (100 yards) of the bridge in downtown Tela and are a great destination for any avid photographer. The pier is also a great adventure (not for small children). There you can see local fisherman trying there luck at the end of the pier. The best time to go is usually a weekend as the pier becomes a gathering point for many people, especially at sunset when the view is extraordinary. Part of the old railroad company building has been renovated as municipal offices, it is quite picturesque.
- 2 Maya Vista Hotel, ☏ +504 24481497. This hotel is on one of the highest points in the beach area and offers and amazing view of Tela from the observation deck on top of the Hotel. The Hotel also has a great eating area that offers a nice view as part of the dining experience. (Rooms here are ~ L1947).
- 3 Parque Nacional Punta Sal (Parque Nacional Jeanette Kawas). 08:00-15:00. Mangrove swamps, tropical forests, shady lagoons and coral reefs. Monkeys and bird watching. Hiking and snorkeling. Jeanette Kawas National Park renaming pertains to biologist who was murdered while trying to save lands from palm oil farming.
- 4 Lancellita Botanical Garden, ☏ +504 94759685. representative local botany and gardens.
- 5 Parque Nacional Punta Izopo. more mangrove estuary-type topography along with beaches. Opportunities for kayaking, fishing, sightseeing. Little underdeveloped.
Go to the beach! Tela has a beautiful coastline, with tall palms, white sand, and exceedingly warm water. Make sure your belongings are watched at all times--either by you or a friend or family member--as unattended items can be taken by passing thieves. On the whole however, the beach experience is wonderful, and not to be missed.
- 1 Muelle de Tela. Tela's well-known dock stands where its pier used to until it succumbed to storms. The beach on either side is right in front of the town.
- 2 Playa Miami Tela (Miami Tela Beach).
- 3 Playa Cocalito.
Triunfo de la Cruz. For those looking for an off-the-beaten-path experience in Tela, a trip to the Garifuna community of Triunfo de la Cruz is a necessity. Located just a few miles up the beach from Tela, the area has not been invaded by the hotel industries. Small beach restaurants often have changing cabins, showers and beach shacks for tourists to relax. Some will even supply you with hammocks for your day of relaxation. A bus from the center bus station or a taxi are your best way to get to this area. Walking is not recommended. You could try Garifuna Tours (+504 24482904).
Tela's Garifuna community provides some of the best items to purchase in Tela. Strolling along the beach area, tourists will surely find people selling their hand made crafts and jewelry. Shell and shark tooth jewelry, coconut shell jewelry, and the more common hand woven jewelry, are the most prevalent items being sold.
A great purchase is the coconut bread or coconut candy (called 'tabla'). Women can be found carrying large buckets on their heads, which often contain the delicious baked goods.
One of the best restaurants in the area is a small pizza place right near the oceanfront bridge in downtown Tela. A new patio out back of the restaurant is right on an inner-coastal waterway, which enhance the dining experience. It also has a play area and swings for those traveling with young children. The pizza is affordable and delicious.
In addition, Hondurans say that the baleadas in the Tela and La Ceiba areas are the best in the country. A baleada is a thick tortilla with refried beans, avocados, scrambled eggs, fresh crema, butter and other ingredients such as chicken and sausage. They are fantastic.
A trip to Tela can not be completed with out trying the fresh seafood of the region. Sopa de Caracol (conch soup) and sopa de jaiba (crab soup) are well known treats in local restaurants. Locals have their opinions about which seafood restaurant is better, but they are not always the same. The people of Tela are very helpful (and use to wondering tourists) if you would like a recommendation.
Most hotels have their own restaurants, often inside of a secure compound for those that do not wish to walk around outside of the security of their hotels.
For the brave tourist, the Garifuna community will be happy share their homemade brew called Gifi (a coconut liquor).
For the more traditional experience, the beach front offers several bars. In addition most restaurants will have local beers and mixed drinks.
For those looking for a non-alcoholic beverage, a fresh, cold coconut will surely hit the spot. While at the main beach areas, someone will surely find you at some point and offer you a fresh coconut to drink from. It is part of the Tela experience and should at least be tried before leaving.
- 1 La Ensenada Beach Resort & Convention Center, ☏ +504 24488400.
- 2 Hotel Bertha´s, Calle 8. A budget hotel. Rooms are small but clean.
- 3 Telamar Resort, ☏ +504 2480-4300. A large resort with nice beaches, bars and a big pool with waterslides, plus entertainment. There are villas or a separate hotel building. This resort used to be the United Fruit Company's residential complex, so there are a lot of nice old bungalows from the 1900s. L 3573.
- 4 Caribbean Coral Inn, Triunfo de la Cruz (Pickup from Tela upon request), ☏ +504 669-0224. Very welcoming family has a beautiful remote spot at the beach in the Garifuna village in Triunfo de la Cruz. The cabins are spacious, have private bathroom, fan, and sufficient seabreaze. An open space living room is avaiable to guests. A small restaurant serves 4 daily fresh diners. The food is tasty. Continental breakfast is included with fresh juices, cereals, bread, tea. Within 40 min walk is the Ipozo reserve. Hotel can arrange a very good guide for L600. Recommended, better than staying in Tela. L838 + 16% taxes per night; each additional person is L222 +16% taxes per night.
- The Bay Islands. Take a yellow bus to La Ceiba, the launching point for ferries to Utila and Roatan. The 2½-hour bus ride leaves every half hour from the station near Calle 9 and Avenida 9, and costs L55. Be ready to leave Tela no later than noon, as the last ferry to the islands leaves at 16:00 and the ferry terminal is around a 30-minute taxi ride from the bus station.