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Banana Coast (Trujillo) (Photo:Ksenia Ragozina/Shutterstock)
4.0 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating

By Cruise Critic Staff

Port of Banana Coast (Trujillo)

If you're the type of cruise passenger who is looking for that elusive Caribbean-before-tourists-arrive type of vibe, someone who wants to go beyond the beach to discover history, culture and a bit of adventure, then Banana Coast is the port stop for you.

The privately-owned tender port, on the north coast of Honduras, lies on what's known as the Banana Coast (hence the name), and opened in October 2014. It was built to relieve some of the pressure on the nearby island of Roatan, whose two ports -- Mahogany Bay and Coxen Hole -- are served by Carnival and Royal Caribbean, respectively.

The port lies at the base of the town of Trujillo, which sits above a crescent-shaped, picture-perfect bay that's two miles long and backed by the breathtakingly beautiful Cordillera de Dios mountain range.

Trujillo has a long and dramatic history, having been subject to various pirate raids over the centuries and an attempted coup in 1860 by notorious U.S. adventurer and would-be enslaver of Central America, William Walker.

It was here that Columbus first made landfall in the Americas in 1502 (there is a spot to mark it); his deputy Juan de Medina founded the town 23 years later, and you can pick up T-shirts which says "Trujillo -- Established 1525." It also marks the gateway to the Camino Real, the Spanish-built road which runs through the heart of Central America, and from which the Conquistadores plundered its wealth.

Trujillo was frequently abandoned due to the ever-present threat of European pirate attacks, but became a more permanent settlement in the late 18th century, largely due to the arrival of several hundred Garifuna people from Roatan. They still make up the majority of the population.

The town itself is compact, and will not take you long to walk around. It's split into two parts: The restaurant strip extends from the port entrance to below the fort, while the main town itself is centered on the very pretty square, Plaza de Espana, home to all the main sights including Fortaleza Santa Barbara.

Trujillo's future depends largely on its first cruise season. If it is a success and more ships choose to call here, then there are firm plans to build a dock (ships currently tender in). The small runway will also be extended to allow for travel deeper into the interior.

But at present, the Banana Coast is still a wonderfully sleepy place, a real glimpse into Honduras' fascinating past.

About Banana Coast (Trujillo)


Pro

This is a great spot for cruisers wanting a Caribbean-before-tourists-arrive type of vibe

Con

There's no dock, so passengers must tender ashore

Bottom Line

Although Banana Coast is purpose-built, it's got more culture than most privately owned ports


Find a Cruise to Banana Coast (Trujillo)

Where You're Docked

You'll be tendered into the brand-new port of Banana Coast, just to the west of the Trujillo town center.

Good to Know

At this stage, Trujillo is so new to tourism that you won't find the hassle you get at many established Caribbean cruise destinations. It's so small that you'd be hard pressed to get lost, and the vibe here is genuinely friendly and welcoming.

But as you would in any unfamiliar place, keep all unnecessary valuables onboard in your cabin's safe. You'll also notice a lot of heavily armed guards, especially at banks, the port and at gas stations.

Currency & Best Way to Get Money

The official currency is the Lempira, named for a martyr who fought the Spanish. U.S. dollars are widely accepted, however, as are credit cards and traveler's checks. In the main square Plaza de España, Banco Atlantida (open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to noon) provides cash advances on credit cards and has two 24-hour ATMs. For the most up-to-date conversion rates, check out www.xe.com.

Language

Spanish is the official language of Honduras. In this sleepy town, not many people speak more than very basic English.

Shopping

Locally made handicrafts are everywhere, both in the port itself and in the town; the prices are much the same. On cruise-ship arrival days, the main square in town is turned into an open-air market. You'll find everything from handcrafted boats to Mayan stone carvings, wooden bowls and shawls, all at reasonable prices. You can also pick up excellent Honduran coffee for as little as $5 per bag.

Best Cocktail

Honduras doesn't have a wine growing culture, but it does produce a non-alcoholic "wine" known as "Magustin," which is fermented from various different local fruits. For something harder, try the great local beer, Salva Vida.