La Ceiba is the second most important port town after Puerto Cortes. Its economy is made up of mostly commerce and agriculture. Pineapple is the city’s major export. Its largest producer is the Standard Fruit Company, a subsidiary of the Dole Food Company, which operates all over northern Honduras and is based in La Ceiba. Tourism also plays a large role in the city’s economy (see below). Since its development in the late 20th century, the La Ceiba Sea Port has played an ever increasing role in the economy of the city. Currently, this port represents a vital economic artery to La Ceiba’s growing tourist industry. Additionally, the La Ceiba sea port is home to one of the finest boatyards in the north west Caribbean (According to “Western Caribbean Cruising Guidebook”). Known as the La Ceiba Shipyard, this company offers a complete group of marine services for all types of sea going vessels.
La Ceiba has long been known as the tourism capital of Honduras, due to its proximity to the beach, active night life, and a variety of parks and recreational areas in and around the city. Another factor contributing to the city’s tourism is the city port which provides ferry services to the Bay Islands/Islas de la Bahia in the Caribbean. Ferries from this port offer daily service to the main islands of Utila and Roatan.
The area around La Ceiba has many parks and natural reserves. Its most recognized natural area is the Pico Bonito (Beautiful Peak) National Park. This park’s most recognized feature, Pico Bonito on the “Nombre de Dios” mountain range, is 2435 meters high and provides a back drop for the city. The Cangrejal River, popular for its Class III-IV river rafting, borders the eastern edge of the city and the Cuero and Salado Wildlife Refuge with its wild manatees is located a few miles to the west of the city.
Semana Santa (Holy Week) is one of the cities busiest tourist seasons. During this week tourists from all over the country flock to the city to enjoy its sun, beach, and very active night life during that week.
The busiest tourist season by far is the week leading up to the internationally renowned “Gran Carnaval Internacional de La Ceiba” which is a city-wide celebration in honor of the city’s patron saint St. Isidore (San Isidro). During this week (the week leading up to the third Saturday in May), many neighborhoods will have their smaller celebrations in one or a couple of their streets. On Saturday afternoon is when the big parade with elaborate floats takes place along Avenida San Isidro, the city’s main thoroughfare. After the parade the locals and tourists all have a celebration along that same road, where there are stands that sell food, beer, drinks, and souvenirs.