Omoa, not just a beach
In Honduras, just west of Puerto Cortes, you’ll find yourself in the charming town of Omoa. The region is breathtaking, complete with awe inspiring views of the nearby Merendon Mountains. Add to that the important history of Omoa, and it’s no wonder that a great many travelers fall in love with the city. As far as the country of Honduras goes, Omoa is one of the oldest towns established by the European conquistadors. For hundreds of years, it has played a vital role in the country’s history, especially back in the Colonial days. For, not too long ago, British pirates ravaged the coast line, eager to deal a new blow to the Spaniards who’d settled the area. Silver shipments were a popular target and it didn’t take long for a fortress to be born. A fortress that was strong enough to protect both the coast and the precious metals coming into and out of harbor.
The Fortress of San Fernando de Omoa
The fortress of San Fernando de Omoa is perhaps the most important historical landmark in Omoa, and possibly the most important Colonial defensive structure in all of Central America. There is nothing that even comes close to comparing the strength and majesty of San Fernando de Omoa, unless you’re willing to travel as far south as Cartegena de Indias (in Colombia) or north to Campache, settled in the Gulf of Mexico.
The fortress served the government well for several years, protecting the silver booty and coastline villages from danger. But even after the threat of piracy had ceased to plague the people, San Fernando de Omoa still played a big role in law and order. In fact, in 1821, after the advent of Honduran independence, the fortress became the seat of power for the local government. Again, after it has served its purpose as a headquarters for the local government, the fortress was transformed into a new fortress, a jail, and was eventually abandoned.
Today, the fortress of San Fernando de Omoa is a national monument, open to the public Monday through Friday from 8am to 4pm and Saturdays and Sundays from 9am to 5pm. While it doesn’t offer any entertainment in the way of rides or other “exciting” attractions, the caretakers do maintain beautiful lush, green gardens as well as offering visitors the chance to explore the many humid rooms and climb the massive walls.
Making the Most of Your Stay in Omoa
While Omoa is a great place to visit, regardless of what kind of traveling budget you may be under, they city has a soft spot for backpackers and budget-conscious visitors. Therefore, there are plenty of affordable hotels as well as several hostels. In addition to great, affordable lodging, the city boasts several delicious restaurants, from fancy Italian to down home local cuisine. And, when it comes time to burn off a few of those extra calories you’ve consumed, you can head off about forty-five minutes away to some fantastic waterfalls, swimming holes and hiking trails. Not only will you’re body thank you for the exercise, your spirit will thank you for the chance to enjoy the tranquility and beauty of the surrounding nature.
One Last Stop in Omoa
If you plan on staying in the area for a few days, there’s one more place you’ll want to include on your itinerary – the nearby Cusuco National Park. Situated in the beauty of the Merendon Mountains, at an elevation of over 6500 feet, this national park offers just about anything you could hope for…beaches and mangroves, a chance to explore the tropical rain forest, even an opportunity to wander through the amazing, ephemeral beauty of the mountains “cloud forests.” The pictures, relaxation and memories you’ll collect during your visit will be well worth the trip. It’s the stereotype of exactly what you’d expect to do during your Central American vacation! But, no matter if you see the entire region, or simply limit your visit to the fortress, you won’t leave Omoa disappointed!