Isla del Tigre

Assuming they ever existed, the tigres—jaguars? ocelots? panthers?—believed to have once populated Honduras’s very own Pacific island are long gone. Gone also are the pirates, among them Sir Francis Drake, who once haunted these waters. What you have left is a middle-class beach destination for folks from Tegucigalpa, with a couple of decent lodgings and restaurants (and unfortunately, many that are not so decent). The place is offbeat, quirky, and virtually unknown to the outside world.

Isla del Tigre lies in the Golfo de Fonseca, an inlet of the Pacific Ocean. Decades of dispute over control of the gulf among Honduras, El Salvador, and Nicaragua came to an end in 1992 with the help of the International Court of Justice in The Hague. All three nations would maintain sovereignty over the body of water, Honduras would retain its control over Isla del Tigre, and El Salvador would control other nearby islands.

The island—know that Hondurans always refer to Isla del Tigre by the name of its only town, Amapala—is really an inactive volcano that rises out of the water. Honduras established Amapala itself as its first port in 1833. A subsequent move of Pacific operations to mainland San Lorenzo, and development of large port facilities on the Caribbean coast have left Isla del Tigre in a time warp. But the island’s fans, who look aghast at the tourism machine that operates in the Bay Islands, say a time warp is exactly what they seek in a beach destination.

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