Sambo Creek is a grimy but interesting town to walk around for some exercise and to see what's happening.
Sambo Creek has a couple of small creeks flowing into the ocean, and the beach is long and beautiful. I like to look at the old plank boats and watch the children play. If I had the time, I'd dive into the surf. But, the waves aren't big here. This isn't a good body surfing beach. Sunset on the Atlantic side is certainly less interesting than on the Pacific coast, but the light effects from the back drop of the mountain can be beautiful nevertheless.
There's plenty of domesticated and wildlife on Sambo Creek beach. Migratory shore birds are commonplace throughout Honduras, so are roosters and cattle. One morning a herd of cattle got loose and wandered along the beach past us. Our hotel had a dry fountain that was full of turtles. One of the concerns, of course, is the diminishing natural resource of fish and wildlife, but awareness is catching on among the Garífuna children and adults.
On the Atlantic highway, there's a roadside version of this restaurant, but on the beach there's another location. Just take the road into Samba Creek all the way to the beach, past muddy streets, pot holes, and dilapidated homes and business Garífuna style. Go inside the gate and park where the attendant points a spot. It's low key security; nothing fancy. Virtually on the beach there's a two story patio style restaurant with a palm branch roof, so take the stairs up and find a table with a view of the ocean and seat yourself on a heavy epoxy driftwood cedar chair. This is a full service restaurant with great drinks, but I always go for a fresh maracuya (passion fruit) juice with crushed ice. Then again, sometimes I drink a Honduran beer. We ate there twice, once for lunch, and again for dinner. It's the best place in town. This place is also called La Champa, which refers to the palm branch roof.
There's a lot of fried fish, so be careful about that because we got confused into eating deep fried octopus. I like marinated octopus, but shy away from deep fried foods because my doctor doesn't recommend them. My wife had a soup, and I had conch. See the photos below for more specifics.
Pastel painted fiberglass boats with outboard motors and shade canopies are commonplace on the Atlantic coast of Honduras, so don't shy away from bargaining for the boat ride to Cayos Cochinos, or wherever else you may want to go.
There's a well established tour package deal available at the red brick and mortar building right on the beach in central Sambo Creek. For $35- p/person, you'll get a six hour trip cramped with eleven other people in the boat. When I asked about getting our own boat, the price was $195-. The manager here wouldn't bargain, so my wife and I left. I'm a commercial trucker in the USA and I know these guys and their boats aren't worth that much. For that price, I'd take a couple out in the water too, but Honduran wages are the same a the USA because the cost of living there is also cheaper. Besides, we paid just $70- a day earlier in Truijillo for a similar boating experience.
Anyway, we stumbled around Sambo Creek's muddy streets awhile, finding the same story with a couple of lazy beach front boatman, until we came across an American kid with a lot of tattoos on his body. Dan was his name, and he offered to help out. I eyed him carefully, leery of poor judgement or some kind of con game, but decided he might know something. So, I followed him around to a older Garífuna fellow who was willing to take us out for $130, but we had to pay the National Park entrance fees ($5 p/person more). We scheduled to have him pick us up at 8am the following morning in front of Helen's hotel beach. Then, we went to get a room for the night at Helen's. The next morning, the guy didn't show up, so after about a half hour we simply walked with our snorkel gear in hand down the beach and into town to find another boatman. Another bystander offered to help us out. We walked with him most of the way toward the highway until we learned that the boatman was sick at home. Strike two. The fellow was certain though that a boatman could be found, but he insisted upon $150. We offered $120, but he refused.
So, we began to walk back to the beach with our gear. Then, a Ladiño fellow in a Toyota minivan braked on curb next to us, offering to take the $120 through the window. He even offered to toss in the park fees. He then drove us around to where the boat was parked on the beach, and I joined the men in hoisting the boat across the sand to the water. Just before the launch though, he asked for the money up front. I told him we would pay later. He said that the boat wouldn't leave unless I paid first. I smiled and told him I was afraid the boat wouldn't return unless I paid at the end. He laughed heartily and agreed to let me pay his boatman at the end. Warning: PAY AT THE END OF THE TRIP or risk problems. Also, pay the guy actually motoring the boat, not his helper. Later, we came across a couple stranded on an island who had missed their boat. We allowed the crew to give them a lift back to the mainland. When climbed onto the beach, however, the boatman began to argue with couple about getting paid. Apparently, the couple had already pay someone else for the entire trip, and this boatman wasn't in on the deal. It was a hassle for everyone.
See my Cayos Cochinos tips for more details about what to on this adventure, but at least you've bargained the boat and avoided the sardine can experience most tourists get.