7 Things To Do In Retalhuleu Guatemala

Retalhuleu may not be the most well-known place to visit in Guatemala but there are many things to see and do in Retalhuleu that make it a worthwhile destination for travelers to Guatemala. And in this post, we take a closer look at 7 things to do in Retalhuleu, Guatemala while also giving you a ton of useful information for first-time visitors to this part of the country.

You will find the Retalhuleu department in southwestern Guatemala on the Pacific Coast. It is not very well known among travelers, but it is a very important area for being very rich in agricultural activities. 

a group of people at the entrance of IRTRA xetulul
In Retalhuleu you can expect the wet season to be a bit oppressive and the dry season is usually muggy and clear, but it’s hot all year and the best time to visit Retalhuleu is from November to April.

Even though Retalhuelu may not be a hugely popular destination for visitors to Guatemala the area has grown in terms of visitors numbers thanks in part to the area being a good starting point base for exploring nearby archaeological sites, some beautiful yet relatively unknown beaches, the large amusement and theme park which we will talk about more later in this post. 

Overall there are more than a couple of places that you can visit if you want a fun day in Retalhuleu.

What is Retalhuleu known for?

Locals refer to this department by the name of “reu Guatemala”, so don’t expect to hear the word Retalhuleu too often. The area is also one of the most important producers of 2 of the main products for the economy of Guatemala: sugar cane and coffee. 

So as you drive through the department all you will see along the roadside are sugar cane plantations, huge trucks, a couple of small ranches, and tons of roadside hotels with sparkling swimming pools and pleasant outdoor restaurants.

Retalhuleu has deep historical ties to the ancient Mayan civilization. The region is home to several archaeological sites, including Takalik Abaj, where remnants of Mayan culture such as pyramids, sculptures, and altars have been unearthed.

The region’s fertile soil and tropical climate provide ideal conditions for cacao cultivation, making it a vital contributor to Guatemala’s chocolate industry.

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Retalhuleu played a significant role in Guatemala’s colonial history, serving as a strategic outpost during the Spanish conquest. The town of San Sebastián, now known as Retalhuleu’s municipal seat, was established by the Spanish in the 16th century and served as a center for administration and evangelization.

Retalhuleu is also home to several indigenous communities including the Mam people and Garifuna communities, each with their distinct traditions and customs. These communities contribute to the region’s cultural diversity.

Retalhuleu or “Reu” as you can imagine there are many things to do from visiting Mayan cities to a Dino park or if you’re an outdoor type of person you go hiking on Chicabal Volcano (one of the many volcanoes in Guatemala), a mountain biking or kayaking. Reu is versatile when it comes to activities.

Retalhuleu main place with trees and a church in the back
Retalhuleu played a significant role in Guatemala’s colonial history, serving as a strategic outpost during the Spanish conquest.

What is the Weather Like in Retalhuleu?

Guatemala’s weather is usually hot or rainy since it’s classified as a tropical monsoon climate or tropical wet climate. In Retalhuleu you can expect the wet season to be a bit oppressive and the dry season is usually muggy and clear, but it’s hot all year, which makes it perfect for outdoor activities. The temperature usually ranges from 68°F to 91°F and is rarely below 65°F or above 93°F.

So, knowing this we can safely say that the best time to visit Retalhuleu is from November to April.

Top 5 Things to Do In Retalhuleu

1. Visit the ruins of a Mayan city called Takalik Abaj

This is one of the most underrated Mayan archaeological sites from Guatemala by foreigners. It is a shame it might not be as impressive as Tikal National Park or La Danta Pyramid in El Mirador, but it is an extremely important historical and archaeological site.

It is a relatively small complex of ruined buildings and remains of art pieces like stelae. They are what makes this place so good. They were found in such good condition that archeologists were able to learn a lot about the Mayan culture. They also discovered that this city served as a commercial hub for both the Guatemalan Mayan and the Mexican Olmecas.

2. Deserted beaches

Beaches like Champerico and Tulate are a much more relaxed alternative to the popular Monterrico Beach and the Merchant San Jose Port. The beaches from Retalhuleu don’t receive nearly as many visitors, making them a great choice when looking for a private beach vacation.

They offer the same strong tides and large waves that the rest of the Pacific coast from the country, so you won’t miss out on anything if you are an adventurer looking to ride some waves. You will also be able to find plenty of cute home rentals where you can stay. Good hotels aren’t as common.

to kids playing at the shore of monterrico beach guatemala

3. IRTRA recreational complex

IRTRA Guatemala is a huge complex where you will find up to 8 hotels, Xocomil the largest amusement park in Central America, and Xetulul Guatemala the best waterpark in the region.

It is also home to a new, smaller theme park called Xejuyup. The complex also has a crazy amount of restaurants, mini golf, a spa, arcades, and a discotheque.

If you take your time to enjoy everything that IRTRA has to offer, you can easily spend a week in it.

Some kids at the entrance of xejuyup irtra in guatemala
If you take your time to enjoy everything that IRTRA has to offer, you can easily spend a week in it.

4. Museo de Arqueología y Etnología

You will find this museum in the main Retalhuleu town, and it showcases artifacts from the ancient Maya that were discovered in the area. This will allow you to understand their culture a little better.

Through eight rooms, you will be taken back in time to discover fun facts. There are even some Olmeca and Tolteca artifacts since this area was so close to their main cities and served as a connection point to the main Mayan cities.

theatre in retalhuleu guatemala
Retalhuleu features colonial-era architecture that reflects its rich history and you’ll find colorful buildings with Spanish colonial influences.

5. Dino Park 

This is another theme park located near the IRTRA complex where you get to have fun learning about dinosaurs and looking at tons of animatronics. If your kids are in love with dinosaurs, this place will be like heaven for them.

Dino Park is a prehistoric-themed attraction that has life-size replicas of dinosaurs. And visitors can walk through lush vegetation and come across realistic dinosaur models, for an educational and entertaining experience for the whole family.

6. Savor the Aroma of Guatemala’s Finest Coffee

Guatemala is renowned for its coffee, and Retalhuleu offers the opportunity to experience coffee culture up close. Take a tour of a local coffee plantation to learn about the coffee-making process from bean to cup. You can even participate in coffee tastings and purchase some freshly roasted beans to take home.

7. Sample the Local Cuisine

Food and cuisine are becoming one of the more popular attractions in Retalhuleu. Take the opportunity to try the unique culinary scene to taste traditional Guatemalan street food infused with local flavors. From street food stalls serving savory snacks like tamales and pupusas to family-owned restaurants offering hearty meals like pepián (a traditional meat stew) and chuchitos (Guatemalan tamales).

Even More Things to Do in Retalhuleu, Guatemala

In addition to the 7 attractions and things to do in Reu mentioned above there are also a couple of good tour options for nature lovers in the area, including:

  • Mountain biking to Champerico along the old railroad tracks that were once used to transport bananas.
  • Kayaking in Manchón Guamuchal Wetland Reserve
  • Hiking to Chicabal Volcano and Laguna Chicabal

Reu’s diverse landscapes also provide the perfect backdrop for adventurous pursuits and adventure sports. Thrill-seekers can satisfy their adrenaline cravings by engaging in outdoor activities such as zip-lining, canopy tours, and ATV rides in Retalhuleu.

Reu also offers cultural events and festivals happening throughout the year, celebrating everything from religious holidays to traditional music and dance. These events offer a glimpse into Retalhuleu’s vibrant community spirit and provide opportunities for cultural exchange and celebration.

kids doing outdoor activities in guatemala
Reu’s diverse landscapes also provide the perfect backdrop for adventurous pursuits and adventure sports.

Retalhuleu Hotels: Where to Stay?

Reu, Guatemala is a small place that is not targeted by most of the tourists that go to Guatemala, so don’t expect to go and find some big hotels, most of the hotels or posadas are 3-star. I’m going to list some of, in my opinion, the best ones.

Hotel Posada de Don Jose

A comfy hotel-posada that offers most of the simple amenities you need to make your stay comfortable. Rooms have air conditioning, which is important due to the hot weather of the place. Besides the restaurant, the hotel has some pools and a bar where you can refresh yourself, and the indispensable Wi-Fi connection to always stay in touch. And the most important of all, great and friendly staff is waiting for you.

Bambu Resort

A clean hotel with free parking that offers breakfast and wifi connections. Rooms are small and comfy, equipped with air conditioning and some even have hot tubs. Bambu Resort in Retalhuelu has everything you need to cover basic amenities, a huge pool with clean water and friendly staff. Something remarkable overall is the food, really good food!

Hotel La Colonia

They offer different types of rooms that will adjust for different types of needs, all equipped with air conditioning. An excellent restaurant that serves delicious food, and has a huge pool, and a parking lot. The staff is super friendly and there’s Wi-Fi in the main areas of the hotel. If you’re traveling with dogs this is the right place to go since the Hotel La Colonia is pet-friendly!

This is not one of the most popular regions of Guatemala among travelers. But as you can see it has many things to do and places to visit. So if you have the time, definitely check it out!

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Last Updated on March 3, 2024

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