Punta Sal Honduras howler monkey

Near the Honduras town of Tela and in view from the beach at Indura Golf & Spa Resort, the Punta Sal Peninsula of Honduras is home to the Jeanette Kawas National Park. In a country where protecting national parks is a real challenge, this one’s geography helps it ward off much of that pressure.

Established as a national park more than 20 years ago, it’s an irregular stretch of land jutting out from two bays, with rocky islands poking up from the blue Caribbean waters. It’s a haven for wildlife and the rockiest islands are covered white from all the guano. In the wet forests you can easily run into white-headed capuchin monkeys and the larger howler monkeys—like that fine specimen at the top I caught a photo of.

Thankfully I didn’t run across a boa constrictor or a crocodile – both also call this area home.

I want exploring Punta Sal with a few other foreign visitors and an English-speaking guide on an excursion from Indura. We arrived by boat from a port in Tela, pulling up to this beach for a nice introduction so the guide could pay our entrance fees ($5).

Jeanette Kawas National Park beach

After motoring around part of the peninsula, we stopped at another beach to start our hike across the area. This is not a huge area to traverse and it’s relatively flat, so you can do it in sneakers or Keen/Teva-style sandals with straps. Be sure to bring strong bug repellent with DEET though. I had grabbed an organic version by mistake and I could almost hear the bugs laughing at it while they sucked my blood.

Along the way the guide provided explanations for some of the wildlife, the birds, and the various plants we spotted, starting with this crab on the beach. We saw others that will cross land and climb up trees, plus some hermit crabs in their portable homes they change several times.

Punta Sal Parque Nacional crab

The reward at the end of a humid hike among the ferns and lichens is the trail opening up to vistas with gorgeous hidden lagoons. Naturally this was a terrific place for pirates to hide out during their plundering times. A few hundred years ago you might have stumbled upon them here, just waiting to pounce on passing merchant ships.

Jeanette Kawas National Park

The big downside of this area is the amount of garbage that can wash up when the tides are headed this way. The bays form a natural collection point and with the people of both Honduras and Guatemala tossing their plastic on the ground with glee, much of it ends up flowing down to the sea. Hopefully your visit will coincide with a recent clean-up sweep.