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  Garifuna - Honduras

Garifuna communities are the easiest traditional communities to visit.  Most tourists to Honduras will be passing near some Garifuna community. The most accessible Garifuna villages to visit are in:

•  The Tela area (San Juan, Tournabe, Triumfo de la Cruz, Miami, La Ensenada)
•  The La Ceiba area (Corrozal and Sambo Creek)Garifuna drummers, Trujillo, Honduras.
Trujillo15 (Trujillo, Santa Fe, San Antonio, Guadelupe) and
•  Bataya (in the Rio Platano Biosphere Reserve area)

It is less common to visit th
e Garifuna communities near Puerto Cortes, Punta Gorda on Roatan (see Casi Todo bookstore for the cruise boat tour to here or buses are available), Santa Rosa de Aguan, Limon (has hotel) and the communities in Iriona (hotel in Cocolito).

In Garifuna villages, you can see traditional architecture, such as houses of wild cane or palm leaves. You can find traditional foods like machuca—mashed green plantains with coconut milk soup and fried fish, and many kinds of traditional bread –cassava bread, buns, banana bread, pumpkin bread, etc.

Frequently there are traditional ceremonies going on. (Don’t go in unless invited.) You can hear traditional musical instruments. Some CD players sell traditional and modern Garifuna music, especially punta. You can also buy some on (loads slowly).  Garifuna ceremonies are not related to voodoo. The Garifunas dance for their ancestors.

Garifuna women wear both modern clothes and traditional Garifuna clothes which include headscarves and brightly colored dresses.

Garifuna villages are on beautiful beaches and the canoes of the fishermen rest on the beach. In active fishing communities, like Limon and Sambo Creek, nets dry on the beach. There are only a few craftsmen left. Sometimes you can see men making drums or weaving nets as they catch the breeze.


It is possible to meet Garifunas without leaving the city. Try the “El Aura” gallery across the street from Hotel Telamar. This is the gallery of Garifuna artist Cruz Bermudez. Also behind Hotel Tela, is the office of Enlace de Muejeres Negras which is the Garifuna organization spearheading the fight against AIDS in the Garifuna communities which is a huge problem. HIV infection rates could be as high as 25%.

In Tela go to the market and take 1 of the buses to Triumfo de la Cruz (east) or to San Juan/Tournabe In San Juan to visit the home/gallery of Garifuna painter Herman Alvarez get off at the Pescador restaurant and his house is the next one on the beach. It is possible to go to and from here by taxi. There are hotels in San Juan and Triumfo.

The Garifunas live around protected areas (parks) Triumfo is in Punta Izopo National Park and San Juan, Torunabe and Miami are in the Jeannette Kawas (Punta Sal) National Park.

Garifuna Tours in spite of its name is not Garifuna owned, and does primarily nature tourism, instead of visiting the Garifunas. To see the typical village of Miami you can take Garifuna tours, or arrange a tour with people with boats along the dock. This area is about to redeveloped from Garifuna beach and crop land to 5 star hotels, so come see it now. The Garifuna around Tela has many land problems related to tourism that has resulted in the death of several. Ask to speak to the Presidente del Patronato (citizens’ committee) to find out what is happening.

La Ceiba

In La Ceiba, you can buy Garifuna dolls at Souvenirs El Buen Amigo (there are two stores by this name, only one has them) and at Rainforest souvenirs. There are several Garifuna organizations in La Ceiba such as ODECO, OFRANEH, and Casa Gari. In the Zona Viva, Aurelio Martinez and his band often play live punta music at night for dancing, for example at Africa Dance.

To get to the Garifuna villages, take the Sambo Creek/Corozal bus or take any bus towards Tocoa, Colon and get off at Sambo or Corozal and walk towards the beach. There is a local hotel in Sambo Creek and restaurants in both communities, although it is easy to return to Ceiba for the night.

I love the beach scene here, which is open sea, instead on the bay as in Trujillo or Tela. There is a strong breeze and you see the Garifuna fishermen race in with their sails to the wind right up to the foot of the Sambo Creek restaurant.


Garifunas live right in the town. Just walk towards the beach and turn left into Barrio Cristales. There are two little Garifuna hotels in Cristales Cocopando (very noisy) and Hospedaje Lilian which is one of quietest and safest hotels in Trujillo. Trujillo has a Garifuna craft store called GariArte. (Sorry, no dolls here.) The Trujillo museum inside the fort and the private museum 15 minutes from town have exhibitions of Garifuna crafts.

The Garifunas in Trujillo have organized and been trained to give tours and to show dances. Contact Kike at Helados Kike beside the river in Cristales for these tours, and some conversation about Garifuna culture.  People are very open about talking about their culture.

People who visit Trujillo often take day trips to other Garifuna communities like Santa Fe or Guadelupe. Buses leave three times a day. Guadelupe has a little hotel. The restaurant Cabelleros is famous in Santa Fe, run by a former cruise ship chef. People go there, place their order, swim and walk around for an hour or two, and come back and eat. Kike in Trujillo can also arrange for Garifuna food to be made in Trujillo, but it is by reservation only.


Fly into Palacios from La Ceiba. Ask the motorized canoe-men to take you across the river to the Garifuna community of Bataya. If you don’t see a canoe-man, ask the people at the nice wooden hotel to help you get one. Food is available at a restaurant/cafeteria in Palacios. Palacios is very comfortable to stay in, but bring candles. Don’t miss the new museum in Palacios.

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Garifuna Communities (all this page)

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La Ceiba



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