First and foremost among Trujillo’s attractions is the beach right below town—a wide, clean swath of sand lined with champa restaurants and lapped by the protected waters of the bay. Swimming and sunbathing here are safe, but don’t tempt fate by leaving possessions lying around unguarded. The bay is not as clear as waters off the Bay Islands, but still it’s warm, fairly clean, and calm. Beware of swimming in front of town, however, during or after rains, as the runoff brings lots of nasty stuff from town into the bay.
The airport beach, east of town in front of the airport and dominated by the aging Christopher Columbus Hotel, is an equally fine spot for relaxing, usually a bit quieter as it’s farther from town. Sand flies are common enough on Trujillo’s beaches, depending on the breeze and season, but not as bad as they are farther out by Puerto Castilla.
East of the airport, beaches continue all the way around the bay to Puerto Castilla. One particularly good place to hang out is the beach by the Casa Kiwi hotel, about seven kilometers from town, easily reached by a Puerto Castilla bus. The entire beach all the way out to Puerto Castilla is generally safe, but if you plan on heading to more isolated areas, it’s best not to go alone; don’t bring valuables.
For all its storied history, Trujillo retains little in the way of colonial monuments. The most interesting is the Fortaleza de Santa Bárbara (9 a.m.–5 p.m. daily, US$3), which was built piecemeal beginning in 1575. As was the fort at Omoa, Trujillo’s fort was notably unsuccessful, falling continually to attackers over the course of the colonial era. Invaders were repelled with success only after the arrival of the Garífuna in 1799. The Garífuna were superb soldiers who gained experience from a half century of guerrilla warfare against the British on San Vicente. The last real battle for the fort took place in 1910, when a Honduran general landed here in an unsuccessful attempt to launch a coup.
The fort was closed in 1969 when its guard troops were called into action against El Salvador in the “Soccer War.” Shortly thereafter, it was converted into a tourist attraction. Several colonial-era cannons are still set up on the fort’s ramparts. Known locally as El Castillo, it contains three rooms filled with artifacts such as Lenca pottery and stone carvings, cannonballs and pistols from the colonial era, and informative exhibits. If you’re an early riser, it can be possible to visit the fort even before its regular opening at 9 a.m., since the guard-slash-ticket sellers are already on-site.
Although Trujillo was the site of the first cathedral in Honduras, the original church was destroyed long ago. The unexceptional Catedral de San Juan Bautista was built in 1832 and remodeled 1930–1939.
The cementerio viejo (old cemetery), south of downtown, is worth a visit to see the grave of the “gray-eyed man of destiny,” William Walker, whose filibustering days came to a violent end in Trujillo on September 12, 1860. Apart from Walker’s grave, the cemetery (8 a.m.–noon and 1–4 p.m. Tues.–Sun.) also offers an interesting, if decrepit, assortment of grave monuments from across 300 years of Trujillo history. At last check, it was completely overgrown with weeds reaching well above the cemetery’s walls.
Tourist Options (tel. 504/443-0337, www.hondurastouristoptions.com), based in La Ceiba, has four tours (half or full day) in Trujillo: of the Garífuna communities, Puerto Castillo, Guaymoreto Lagoon, and Capiro and Calentura National Park, for US$37–55 per person based on a group of 3–4.
© Chris Humphrey and Amy E. Robertson from Moon Honduras, 5th Edition