Honduras North

OMOA

Global Mark : 12.39

Ratings by criteria : 

Charm Scenery Culture Tradition Market Relax Fiesta 

Cost

AVER.
 3 4 2 2 1 5 2 2 10.50

Ratings by backpackers :

Surveyed Liked  Comeback  Recommend  Range AVER.
14 100% 50%(7) 93%(13) 6 to 20 14.29


Description :
A tiny town, one of the oldest in Honduras, by a beach, a big Fort and a waterfall

Comments : I have seen nicer beaches in my life but most people enjoy the relaxed atmosphere. Also, it is a much better option than staying in San Pedro or Puerto Cortes !

What to do ? Spot the fortress of San Fernando / If you enter, see tons of cannon balls and a few of the remaining canons / Climb rocks toward a waterfall / Swim in the warm ocean / Bike the surroundings / Watch nice sunset / Listen to noisy birds just after the above / Join the local tourist crowd by a beer / If time, explore the surroundings : Garifuna village (Masca), waterfall and cave reported...

What you may not like ? The lack of cheap room for single traveler / A section of the beach is popular with locals and therefore dirty / There are no fishes under the water and no waves / The waterfall is nothing special, in particular if coming from Lago de Yojoa / Not having much to see in the Fort (nearly all of the 31 rooms are empty; the L20 entrance fee for foreigners is therefore a bit high, especially if you manage to sneak in the interesting museum) / The lack of English translation below the exhibits

How long ? One or two days

Where to stay ? Two places are fighting (yes, fighting !) for the backpackers' share :

  • Roli's and Berni's place (6589082, roli@yaxpactours.com) / Dorm (8) w. shower 50, hammock (nice view !) or tent place 30, Dbl w. shared bathroom (for two rooms) 120 / Free water, kitchen, bike, barbecue, games, books, stereo, fridge, ping pong table, etc... / Free internet minutes w. the accomodation (10mn if room, 5mn if dorm) / Go there for the nice setting in a garden, the nice decorated rooms and all those backpacker's friendly services. The best deal in town ! Actually, this is one of the best guesthouse spotted in Honduras ! / What you may not like : not always getting a discount if alone in the room and the approximate cleanliness of the dorm. Insects reported as well.
  • Backpacker's Place or Pia's place, by Bahia de Omoa (same owner) / Dorm (mattress on the floor) 40, Dbl 110 / Free bike & kitchen / Go there for the largest rooms, the free ride from the road and the cheapest prices / What you may not like : it is more basic than the above and strangely more busy as most travelers are driven there from the main road by the owner. If full, you may be offered a nice room in the concrete house at a discounted price.

 
What about that war ? The two above places hate each other. I did not really understand the reason, even so Roli's has posting about the affair. Something about unfair competition, prices slashing and calumny. Anyway, I was unfortunate enough to become involve in it...

As Backpacker's Hotel was full (I don't think I would have stayed there anyway), I had been offered a lovely room in Bahia de Omoa for a good discount price. It was double what I usually pay but it was worth it. At 8pm however, the lady came : "I have a problem : I need this room for 8 locals who just showed up. Can you take the opposite room, it is with air conditioning" - "Can't the locals take it ?" - "No because it is full of books" - Well, ok then". So I moved. 
At first, it looked like a fair deal : no bathtub but cool air. But then, switching the machine on, I realized my mistake : it was noisy, smelly and not really refreshing. An hour after, I started feeling dizzy and uncomfortable. So I went down to ask if they had a fan instead. They did not. I went back to work in the room and reduced the volume. Immediately, the room became humid again. I had two options : switch it on and get sick or switch it off and get wet. I chose a third one : tell the girl that I was sorry but had to move. She was a westerner so would understand, I thought.

Well, she did not. She agreed of course about me leaving the place but would not give me my money back ! - "I could have rented this room out !" One hour before, it was impossible because of the books. Why did I have to move out of my first room then ? Followed a 30mn argument where I quickly realized that she would rather have a customer leave her place angry than loose L100 (that is less than US$7 !). And she knew that I was writing a travel guide... Eventually, her husband got pissed off by the whole affair and decided to get rid of me by reimbursing me. Nice honest move that however came a bit late...

When leaving, under the supervision of the girl in case I would steal anything, I was told that I would love the other place (Roli's) as the owner was like me. I considered it a compliment (this Swiss guy looked fine to me) but I am not sure it was one. Another episode of the local war...


Backpacker's Tips : Mike Haaijer, Holland (July 02)
 I stayed about a week at Pia's Place and did know about "the war" since I read your site. Therefore I did check out both places before deciding where to stay. I did not decide in favour of Roli's but for Pia's since it is much cleaner and closer to the beach (watch the sunset!). I noticed that most people I met did not like Roli posting leaflets all over the region and was bothered by it myself, please let me decide where to stay. When I was there the owner of it was very friendly to me and I talked to other guys staying there but we were very content about it. Pia herself even gave me a ride to Puerto Cortes to a bank (in Omoa you can not take out money from your credit card). When she went shopping there. I do not quite understand the whole situation, but as long as there is competition I pay less for more :-) 
Another update is that there is a new backpackers place in Omoa (more competition :-) ). The name is RON's Backpackers. It is on walking distance from the beach (about 300 meters). Double rooms are with fans and screens and about USD 5 per night. Also very clean. It is run by a German lady (Ilona). It also has free bikes and a "vegetarian" restaurant, but they also have fruits, salads, sea-food etc.etc.

Where to eat ? For fish, Champa Johnson was recommended. It cost L40 for a small fish and L50 for a normal one. For something cheaper not coming from the sea, the tienda opp. Bahia de Omoa was quite good at L28.

Internet ? It cost a whopping L30 for 15mn at Roli's (then L2 per mn) but you will get some free minutes if you stay there...

Change ? Both places change cash and TC at the fair rate of L15 per dollar (normal bank rate : L15.31)

A waterfall walk ? It takes about 45mn to reach the nicest falls. 10mn walk from the main traffic road, an intersection : take the right to reach the falls via a rubbish place (where you can see vultures in action !) and the river; take the left to reach them via a nice road, a cemetery and a shorter walk on the river (do not take the path going up). Both way, you will have to get wet, following the river, and climb some rocks. The falls are ok but the water was a bit dirty when I was there. You won't miss much if you do not go but the way is enjoyable enough. 

Backpacker's Tips : Eric Dutt, Germany (April 02)
 I visited the waterfalls. I liked them very much, but I want to tell the traveler, especially the girls, that it can be dangerous. I found a murdered woman there, her fingers were cut off, and there has been rape of tourist either. And the police doesn't seem to care at all, so girls shouldn't go there alone.

 << Discover two perspectives


Going to Guatemala ?
Omoa makes an excellent stopover from/to the border. The jungle route is a thing of the past. It is now a fairly easy trip. Buses go to Corinto every hour from 6:50 to 16:50. There, you need to take a pick-up to the border (L5). Minibuses do the final trip to Puerto Barrios for Q10. There are money changers at the border. There should be a US$1 exit tax and possibly also an entry tax. Check with travelers for the latest. The rules change daily... / From Corinto to Puerto Cortes via Omoa, the last bus was reported leaving at 3:30pm. 

A train's adventure ? Another good reason to come to Omoa is to experience the only section of railroad still in use in the country. An excellent way to meet locals and a welcome change from the 'chicken' buses. What is more, it is cheap at only L15 to Tela. There are however one drawback : it only operates twice a week (Friday & Sunday at 7am from Puerto Cortes or 6:30 from San Pedro Sula). Of course, it is also not too comfortable but so are the buses... It takes about the same time as by road and arrives in Tela town center at 11am or so. See the below story for more details. From Omoa, you need to take the 5:30 or 6am bus from the main road to Puerto Cortes and ask to be dropped at the station. 

 << Discover a train's journey


The trip to Tela via Puerto Cortes :
SSS / Left then Right / L5 + L15 / 30mn + 4 hrs / Bus + Train
Thanks to a mosquito (never thought that I would thank a mosquito one day...), I woke up early and therefore managed to catch the 5:30 bus from the main road (15mn walk). Reaching the train station at 6am, it gave me the opportunity to get on the train, select a good seat and follow the preparation process : the locomotive came, we moved forward, and then backward toward the pier. It left there at 6:50 and reached the station again at 7:05. It became busy from there.
There are several kinds of compartments, all costing the same. The seats are the most comfortable places to look at the view but the benches are the most colorful... The scenery is nice with banana & palm trees plantations but it gets boring after a while. As you really can not spot too much of the coast, it is best to sit on the right side to avoid the sun. 
At 8am, we stopped and dozens of snacks & drinks sellers invaded the compartments. An interesting cacophony... The reason we stopped was simple : we waited for the train coming from San Pedro Sula. It showed up at 8:30 and lined next to us. For about 10mn, we wondered about what train would go to Tela, with locals having various and contradictory opinions. Eventually, we were told to change train. Of course, most of the good seats had been taken already... We left at 8:40.
I spent the second part of the trip on a bench's compartment. The scenery inside was interesting but the wagon offered very limited view to the outside. It was packed and people were standing by the door, obstructing the panorama. Fortunately, it started emptying by 10am. My turn to stand by the door... We arrived at 11:15. 

See also trip from San Pedro Sula