Garífuna women stride gracefully along the shore with baskets of coconut bread balanced on their heads near the Bahía de Tela, a delightful town on the northern coast. Its sweeping beaches and undisturbed nature reserves have long drawn visitors from around the world to experience an unexpected blend of tranquility and adventure.

In Tela Viejo, to the west of Río Lancetilla, Cajun-style houses with lattices and plank walls in pink, yellow, and turquoise recall Tela's heyday as a so-called banana republic. Vendors at steel street carts push crispy chips of fried plantains, the Garífuna staple, as residents seek shade in the palm-lined Parque Central. Busy streets lead out to the leisurely pedestrian walkway along the sand, where world-class restaurants and hotels are shaking this town's sleepy image to draw in visitors.

The calle principal (main street) heads east over the historic bridge into Tela Nuevo's residential neighborhoods and secluded villas. Natural parks and tropical excursions surround the former port city on either side.

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