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Guatemala Caribbean Coast: Top Places to Visit and Things to Do

Do you know what makes the Caribbean coast of Guatemala so special? It’s the different water cruise adventures to be had: A beautiful boat tour along the Rio Dulce to visit the bustling town of Puerto Barrios then sail on over to the isolated, Caribbean Coast funky town of Livingston. Where reggae beats sway through the air like you can on a hammock! Here’s a full guide to the Caribbean coast side of Guatemala.

That’s not all there is here on the Caribbean coast of Guatemala. You can visit the lowlands town of Esquipulas, bordering Honduras, is world known for its Black Christ who lives in the Basilica de Esquipulas. If you’ve never experienced a religious pilgrimage, they are a sight. Every January 15 the famous Cristo Negro festival draws thousands of visitors and pilgrims to this holy place. And most of them come walking on their knees (yikes!). And while you’re so close to the Honduras border, hop on over to visit the Copan Mayan ruins.

A boat and a kid playing on the shore of a beach in the caribbean coast of guatemala

Where is it?

In the Izabal Department of Guatemala.

How’s The Weather?

Fantastic all year long. The yearly average is 74 F (23 C) – 83 F (28 C) and the warmest months are June and September. It’s usually very humid.

Places to Discover in the Guatemala Caribbean Coast

Livingston and Rio Dulce, Guatemala are the main attractions on the Caribbean side of Guatemala. They are still not flooded with tourists, so you will get a better experience.

This is an awesome area to stop by or spend the night for everyone who is taking a road trip from colonial Antigua or Guatemala City toward Tikal National Park.

Check out the fun things you can do and places to explore in the Caribbean coast of Guatemala:

Rio Dulce

This is a river that flows from the Izabal Lake on Guatemala’s Caribbean Coast. This is a great area for nature lovers because it is abundant in wildlife. In it, you will also find a fort that was once used to protect the area from pirates and foreign countries trying to invade.

There are some good hotels in the area and some companies that offer fun tours that you can take to explore the local attractions and the river that will take you along the heart of the jungle towards the sea.

river house at rio dulce in guatemala

And here are some of the things you can do in the area:

  • River kayaking tour
  • Visiting Finca Paraiso and its naturally heated waterfall
  • Explore the San Felipe Fortress and pretend you are a pirate
  • Mangrove boat tours in search for local wildlife

Livingston

Livingston is a small town located in the middle of the jungle in Guatemala’s Caribbean side (Izabal Department). It is a small town with very little tourist infrastructure but tons of wildlife and natural beauties to be discovered. It is also known as Guatemala’s jade coast & home to the unique Garifuna people.

The best way to get there is through a boat tour.

The Garífuna are a unique race with a language, culture, and cuisine of their own, so it should come as no surprise that is worlds apart from the rest of Guatemala. They have been able to preserve their culture because of how remote it is (you can only get there by boat). This town ofter referet to as La Buga by locals has a mellow image & lifestyle.

The Garifuna culture is unique to this region and some parts of the coast of Honduras.

man and kid taking a bath in linvingston, Guatemala

Here are some nearby things you can’t miss when you visit Livingston:

  • Take a boat tour of its coast
  • Visit the Seven Alters (waterfalls) and swim in them to refresh yourself from the hot and humid weather.
  • Visit the San Gil Ecological Reserve, awesome for bird watchers
  • Bathe in the nearby Hot Springs

Izabal Lake

The largest lake of Guatemala is full of adventure. Surrounded by tropical rainforests that are inhabited by hundreds of birds, monkeys, and other animals. The lake itself is rich with sea life and is the home to the famous, but very endangered manatee. The lake empties out into Rio Dulce which flows out to the Caribbean.

Can’t Miss This

Puerto Barrios

Chances are the reason you’ll be stopping over in this port city is that you’re catching a boat somewhere. However, while you’re here, enjoy the surrounding area and do some side trips.

Can’t Miss This

  • Catarata de Aguas Calientes
  • Ruins of Quirigua
  • Punta Manabique
  • Quirigua

Conclusion

Now that you have all the info I’m sure you are curious about what an adventure on the Caribbean coast of Guatemala would be like. You should definitely give it a try if you get some extra time on your Guatemalan vacation.

Hotels like Nana Juana Yacht Club and Mansion del Rio are your best bet if you are looking for comfort and luxury. But there are many others for all budgets.

If you have been to the area I’d love to hear your opinion and let me know if you found any other exciting things to do in it.

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8 Reasons to Discover the Guatemala Caribbean Coast

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