Spreading inland from a deep bay at the point where the mountains of the Sierra de Omoa meet the Caribbean, OMOA was once a strategically important location in the defence of the Spanish colonies against marauding British pirates. Its popularity with travellers has waned in recent years, thanks to a gas company’s decision to construct jetties here to protect their tanks. This has altered the current of Omoa bay, causing the beach to shrink – it is estimated that 60 percent has disappeared over the course of four years. The best beach now is to be found behind the fort.
Omoa’s one outstanding sight, the restored Fortaleza de San Fernando de Omoa, stands amid tropical greenery in mute witness to the village’s colourful history. Now isolated 1km from the coast, having been beached as the sea has receded over the centuries, the triangular fort was originally intended to protect the port of Puerto Barrios in Guatemala. Work began in 1759 but was never fully completed due to a combination of inefficiency and a labour shortage. The steadily weakening Spanish authorities then suffered the ignominy of witnessing the fortress be temporarily occupied by British and Miskito military forces in October 1779. A small museum on site tells the story of the fort and displays a selection of military paraphernalia including cannons and period weaponry.