Cruise ships dock at Puerto Quetzal, on The Pacific Coast, and Puerto Santo Tomás de Castilla, on the Caribbean side. Cruise lines offer a variety of activities for those wishing to disembark and explore Guatemalan shores, including visits to local resorts and beaches near Santo Tomás and inland trips to Antigua, Tikal, and Lake Atitlán or deep-sea fishing in the Pacific waters.
For those wishing not to travel inland, there is not much to see and do in the immediate vicinity of either port of call, although the pier is usually packed with vendors selling everything from bags of Guatemalan coffee to colorful textiles and clothing. A land-based activity close to a port of call worth mentioning is hiking in the Cerro San Gil forest preserve near Santo Tomás de Castilla. Puerto Quetzal boasts a nearby ostrich farm.
Ferry and water-taxi services connect the Guatemalan town of Lívingston with Punta Gorda, Belize (2.5 hours, $35), and Omoa, Honduras (1.25 hours, $16), both offered by Exotic Travel on Tuesdays and Fridays. Transportes El Chato has a daily boat to and from Punta Gorda costing $16 and taking roughly an hour to make the trip. A $10 departure tax applies when leaving Guatemala by sea.
If traveling to Guatemala on your own boat, you will most likely arrive on the Caribbean side and will need to check in with immigration officials in Lívingston before sailing up the Río Dulce, the most popular route with boaters.
© Al Argueta from Moon Guatemala, 3rd Edition. Photos © Al Argueta www.alargueta.com