One of Central America’s most beautiful boat trips is a tour on the Rio Dulce to Livingston Guatemala! A trip of 1.5 to 2 hours takes you from the town of Rio Dulce, through a conservation area with an incredible amount of birds, water lilies, mangroves, steep rock walls and pelicans, to the Caribbean coast of Guatemala: Livingston. In Caribbean Livingston you will encounter a completely different side of Guatemala! In this article I’m telling you more about this beautiful trip, including things to do in Livingston and Rio Dulce Guatemala.
Cruise along the Rio Dulce to Livingston Guatemala
In the eastern part of the country, between the gulf of Honduras and Belize, Guatemala has a Caribbean coast. The town of Livingston, only accessible by boat, used to be one of the most important ports for coffee and banana exports. Nowadays it is an isolated town with an interesting mix of cultures. The Maya population lives here together with the Garifunas, descendants from the Arawak Indians and former Africa slaves, brought to the Americas. Colored houses, different rasta-farias, cool street-art and coconuts dominate the street in this little town.
Rio Dulce to Livingston boat trip
Rio Dulce means sweet river. It’s the name of the river and little town. The Rio Dulce to Livingston boat trip is absolutely one of the best things to do in Rio Dulce Guatemala area. The first, narrow part of the river has several side arms. If you’re lucky you are even able to find manatees. You will pass the Castillo San Felipe Lara, a former fortress from the 17th century and a bird island with countless herons and water birds, water lilies, small communities and several eco-lodges.
The last part, before you reach the Caribbean coast, consists of long steep rock walls with beautiful tropical vegetation. You also see many boats and canoes with local fishermen who unload their large nets in a fascinating way.
Things to do in Livingston Guatemala
Upon arrival at Livingston Harbor, you will be welcomed by hundreds of pelicans who have taken their seats on the abandoned boats. Beautiful!
Livingston has a few streets and is therefore very easy to discover. On the main street, which rises from the harbor, you will find various restaurants and shops. For the real Livingston though, you have to walk all the way down the main street and find the side streets. It’s nice to wander around and observe local life. The streets are chaotic and there is a lot to see. You will for sure come across some interesting characters who are up for a chat with you.
Visit cultural center Rasta Mesa
In the cultural center Rasta Mesa, close to the cemetery, you can learn more about the Garifuna culture and the Rastafari movement in Guatemala. It’s also possible to follow dance and music lessons. In the evening there is often live music.
Hike to Siete altares | Rio dulce to Livingston
If you are planning yo stay in Livingston for a few days, you can visit Siete Altares, located in the jungle, 5 km northwest of the town. Here you will find seven natural water basins, that you can walk through and swim in. A nice walk leading through the jungle and along the coast, will take you there in 1.5 hours. Along the way you will pass various inhabited and uninhabited huts, including little local shops. Wou will find signs with directions at the beginning and halfway the main street. You can easily walk by yourself. However, it is always important to double check the security situation upon arrival.
Enjoy the beach Playa Blanca
You also can visit Playa Blanca (white beach), one of the few beaches in Guatemala. Even though there is sometimes a large amount of seaweed here, the surroundings are beautiful. Playa Blanca can only be reached by boat. You can book a tour at one of the travel agencies or rent a boat yourself from one of the fishermen in the harbor.
Try the local specialty: Tapado & Coco Loco.
You will find it everywhere in Livingston. “Tapado” is a delicious soup with coconut milk and all kinds of fish, including lobster, shrimp and river fish. In addition, try the “coco loco”, a coconut with a generous dash of rum. On the way back from Livingston to Rio Dulce you can ask your captain to stop at one of the restaurants on the river and enjoy the local specialties. El Viajero is my favorite place along the river.
Rio Dulce tours | How to arrange your visit
There are different accommodation options around the town of Río Dulce. The best thing is to stay in one of the eco-lodges along the Rio Dulce. I used to stay in Tijax en Catamaran. These are convenient accommodations with nice cabañas along the river. Rio Dulce tours are offered at most hotels. But if you are looking for a special guide or travel company: mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m more than happy to help you with Rio Dulce tour options.
The Rio Dulce tour to Livingston takes about 2 hours due to the different stops for taking pictures. In Livingston you will have time to explore the town (don’t forget to agree on a return time with your captain in advance). On the way back you can make a stop along the river for a special meal such as the Tapado.
Rio Dulce tours to Belize
From Livingston it’s also possible to travel on to Belize. I have never done this but it seems like a nice and good route if you are planning to go this way.
More about Guatemala
Do you want to read more about beautiful Guatemala? In this article you’ll find the 20 best things to do in Guatemala, including off the beaten path destinations, best time to travel, travel itineraries and information about safety. Have a look in the Guatemala archive for a cityguide for Antigua and travel guides about Lake Atitlan, Lanquin, the famous market of Chichicastenango, the Acatenango volcano hike and a Guatemala hotel guide. Interested in archaeology? In this article I’m taking you to the Maya ruins of Tikal and Quiriguá, a smaller and less visited Maya site with beautiful Maya stelae.