A searing, dry heat pierced through one’s skin, as my capitalino friends and I touched dark, volcanic sands after having stumbled upon a most cozy, little beachside restaurant rested between an inlet and some forested hills. We desired a traditional maritime lunch, perhaps some fried fish, shrimps and such. Local beers, did not go amiss – for we had come, after all, to enjoy ourselves during the Christmas holiday period of 2018/19. As I look back upon that distant day, where I floated in the noticably cooler Pacific waters (cooler than those of the Caribbean) – Salva Vida beer in one hand, I can only mutter: “how fast time goes.”
Amapala is a fine tourist’s destination located in the municipality of Valle.
It is formed by the main island of El Tigre and the remaining satellite islets and rocks in the Gulf of Fonseca, covering an area of 75.2 km2 (29.0 sq mi) and holding within it, a population of 2,482 as of a distant 2001 census (upon which only 4 people were found to be living on Isla Comandante). Thanks to its natural deep channel, and despite lacking modern infrastructure, Amapala served for a long period as the main Honduran port in the Pacific Ocean.
Amapala was founded in the year 1838, and its port was opened and declared free in 1868. During the 19th century it exported large quantities of gold, silver and other ores, although its progress was haulted by the delay in constructing a transcontinental railway stretching from the Caribbean city of Puerto Cortes. Amapala was gradually replaced by the port of San Lorenzo on the mainland.
A description of the town in 1881 can be found in the book ‘A Lady’s Ride Across Spanish Honduras‘ by Mary Lester. It was in fact intended to be the capital of the Republic of Central America in the late 1890s.
Beaches of dark, volcanic sands, tranquility, dry heat, marine gastronomy and impressive views from the top of its highest elevations have awarded the Isla del Tigre its position as a popular destination open to national and foreign tourism.
Nestled in the Gulf of Fonseca, the port of Amapala on the Island of El Tigre, belongs to the department of Valle (as mentioned) and was discovered in 1522 by Andrés Niño (an afilliate of the Spanish conquistador Gil González Dávila) in his search for a maritime route between the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific. El Golfo de Fonseca, named in honor of Bishop Juan Rodríguez de Fonseca – an organizer of Spanish colonial policy, is an environment of the most unique geography shared by the three nations of Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua.
Its name is derived from the Nahuatl tongue and comes from the words “ama” (corn) and “palha” (hill) thus meaning: “hill of corn”.
In 1895, and in an attempt to reestablish the Federal Republic of Central America, Amapala was designated to be the capital of the Greater Republic of Central America – formed of El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua.
In 1925 Albert Einstein lived in this place for a short time and stayed at the home of a family of German immigrants named Uhler. The port attracted many European immigrants in its heyday – notably Germans, French and Italians. A coffee shop in the community still preserves the very table and chair that the genius preferred to use. Shortly after, in 1928, Amapala received a visit from the then President of the United States, Herbert Hoover.
It boasts beautiful places of volcanic sand, including Playa Grande and Playa Negra, Las Almejas and La Playa del Burro. The local economy is based on fishing, recreation, dock work and trades in traditional foods, such as the sale and consumption of fried fish, curiles and seafood, especially Casco de Burro and shrimp.
On the subject of lodgings within Amapala, I could only recommend the following establishment – located on Playa Grande. The ‘Hotel Brisas Del Golfo’. I was caught short at one point and found myself in desperate need of a bathroom. The hotel staff were most accomodating as I arrived from the beach, sandy – in a state – and in want of a W.C. Please see link: https://www.facebook.com/hotelbrisasdelgolfo/