Puerto Cortés, located 64km (40 miles) north of San Pedro Sula, isn't nearly as drab as the name "largest container port in Central America" makes it sound. It is set on a small peninsula surrounded by the Caribbean Sea, with a few decent beach hotels on the outskirts. The occasional cruise ship has even started to appear. Because it's the closest beach destination to San Pedro Sula, city dwellers flock here in droves on the weekends -- though most prefer Omoa, not much farther away. The port -- the most important in Honduras -- dominates the center, and massive cranes and container ships guard against any views of the ocean. The city itself is not particularly attractive, with uneven sidewalks, potholes in the streets, and rundown neighborhoods.
The Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés first founded the city in 1524 as La Natividad, though in a few years, it was ransacked by natives and burnt to the ground. In 1536, Pedro de Alvarado founded Villa de Puerto Caballos (Port of Horses) as an intended deepwater port. Theories run rampant, but the name is believed to derive from an incident with horses falling from a ship and drowning during an unloading process. The name stuck until 1869, when it was changed to Puerto Cortés in honor of the famous conquistador.