Why Should I Visit Punta Gorda?

Why Should I Visit Punta Gorda?

Punta Gorda is a protected Garifuna community in the Honduran island of Roatan with a rich culture and long history. You can’t stay in Roatan without visiting Punta Gorda and experiencing the music and food at least once. But why should you visit Punta Gorda? You’re about to find out!


Who are the Garifuna People?

After many of the native islanders were wiped out by diseases brought over by the European colonists, the Garifuna people were effectively the first settlers on the island, although originally from elsewhere in the Caribbean. After the British defeated the French in St Vincent in 1797, the local Garifuna people were exiled to the British-owned island of Rattan (now known as Roatan), where some stayed to form the community of Punta Gorda, and others travelled on to Central America where they settled in Belize, Guatemala and Nicaragua. 

As they travelled, they brought with them their unique style of music and dancing as well as their traditional food and drink, so a trip down to Punta Gorda should not be missed.


Food & Drink

Eating and drinking is a great social activity and can bring you closer to friends, strangers, and a person’s culture, so whenever you make your trip to Punta Gorda, make sure you grab a bite to eat. 

The Garifuna people have a great number of traditional dishes, many of which are on display at the annual festival. Some well known ones include Casabe, a baked cassava tortilla, and Tatau, a coconut-seafood ensemble. As well as the rum concoction of Guifiti, there is also a popular drink called Hin, a beer-like drink made from Yuca, and a fermented corn and sugar cane drink called Marmara.



When Should I Visit Punta Gorda?

The best time to visit Punta Gorda is on a Sunday evening as you’ll get to witness the incredible Punta dancing and indulge in some awesome street food, however you can also visit during April to see the annual Garifuna festival. This way you can also coincide your trip with the Easter holidays and see how the locals celebrate Semana Santa.

The weather on Roatan is exceptional for nine months of the year, only marred by regular showers from October to January, so ultimately the best time to visit Roatan is dependent on whether you’re going for a family holiday, a romantic getaway, an activity-filled trip or beach break.

roatan east end hotel




Where is Punta Gorda?

Punta Gorda is located on the north shore on the east end of Roatan, approximately 30 km from Coxen Hole in the west. It’s easily reachable by car and taxi, but can also be accessed via boat, as many of the communities on the island are coastal. It’s just 10 km from Camp Bay to the east and 5 km from Oakridge to the south. There are plenty of reasons to visit Roatan, but the east end of Roatan has plenty to offer adventurers and beach-goers alike.


Why Should I Visit Punta Gorda?

There are many different reasons to visit Punta Gorda while you’re in Roatan, from dancing to eating, but ultimately, you shouldn’t miss this great opportunity to dive into another culture.


The Garifuna people have a great musical tradition, with various types of music including Hungu-Hungu, Wanaragua, Sambai, and of course, Punta. Punta is the most famed style of music and dancing, with a fast tempo rhythm being beaten out on drums, tambourines and maracas, while an individual takes to the floor. They dance with their upper body rigid and still, while their hips and feet move quickly, sometimes outstretching their arms and spinning as they quick-step, before stopping and letting another person take the floor. 

It’s such a high energy performance from both musicians and dancers, that it can be a great sight to behold, and, if you’re brave enough, join in with. Every Sunday from early evening onwards you can amble down the main street in Punta Gorda, parallel with the coast, and see the wonderful Punta dancing or go to a more modern nightclub in the same street.


Every year on 12 April, there is an all-day festival that celebrates the Garifuna community. They reenact their arrival on the island by marching along the streets, and sailing in boats to Punta Gorda, where a feast is laid out and the community and visitors can join in story-telling, singing, and eating and drinking the local food and drink before dancing the night away. Dressed in their native clothing, this is quite a spectacle and shouldn’t be missed. 

You’ll get the chance to try coconut bread, plantain and soup, all prepared in a traditional manner, and of course, home-brewed Guifiti. Also known as Gifiti or Guifity, this popular Garifuna alcoholic drink is made of rum, herbs and is very strong. Tourists are advised to sample the beverage, but not to overindulge, since it’s home-brewed it’s impossible to determine the strength of the drink, and is often incredibly potent. 


Book your Camp Bay Stay!

The east side of Roatan is more isolated and so the perfect place for a peaceful trip, although thanks to the Garifuna community, there’s plenty of fun to be had too. At Camp Bay Lodge we value serenity and mindfulness while celebrating the local culture that surrounds us. Book your stay now or check out our other blogs for more information.