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
• The La Ceiba area (Corrozal and Sambo Creek)
(Trujillo, Santa Fe, San Antonio, Guadelupe) and
• Bataya (in the Rio Platano Biosphere Reserve area)
It is less common to visit the 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 www.garinet.com (loads slowly).
Garifuna ceremonies are not related to voodoo. The Garifunas dance for their
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
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
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.