Some 190km east along the coast from San Pedro Sula, steamy LA CEIBA, the lively capital of the department of Atlántida, is the gateway to the Bay Islands. Though the town is completely bereft of architectural interest and its sandy beaches are strewn with garbage, it does at least enjoy a remarkable setting at the steep slopes of the Cordillera Nombre de Dios. Bustling and self-assured by day, La Ceiba is also home to a cosmopolitan mix of inhabitants, including a large Garífuna community, but it's the night that's really celebrated here, with visitors and locals gathering every night to take part in the city's vibrant dance scene.
Ceiba, as it's generally known, owes its existence to the banana industry: the Vaccaro Brothers (later Standard Fruit and now Dole) first laid plantations in the area in 1899 and set up their company headquarters in town in 1905. Although fruit is no longer shipped out through La Ceiba, the plantations are still important to the local economy, with crops of pineapple and African palm now as significant as bananas.