Puerto Lempira

Puerto Lempira, the capital of the Gracias a Dios department, is the closest semblance of city life in all of La Mosquitía. The town of nearly 6,000 people sits on the southeastern edge of Laguna de Caratasca on an inland islet, and residents are mostly Ladinos or indigenous Miskitos. Shrimping and small-scale fishing comprise most of the industry in the region's economic center, along with government administration jobs. MOPAWI, a Miskito development organization, also has its office here.

The airport makes Puerto Lempira a popular transit hub for connecting flights into Nicaragua and mainland Honduras, and many charter planes head deep into La Mosquitía from here. A crop of decent hotels, convenience stores, a bank, and Internet access lend the town a touch of modernity, although travelers rarely come to visit the city itself. Those who do stay often arrive to volunteer with the various development and environmental projects taking place in the region. Nearby Miskito villages Mistruk and Kaukira, however, do afford pleasant freshwater fishing trips and relaxing beach escapes, and it's easy to bike there from the city center on dirt roads (as paved ones haven't quite caught on).

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