Ruins hidden within tropical forests offer a spellbinding glimpse into ancient Mayan civilisation. That culture is still thriving today throughout the Mayan villages that are just as equally tucked away in the mountainous Western Highlands area. No matter how you plan on exploring the exotic and mysterious country that is Guatemala, make sure you’ve packed some sturdy footwear – and a strong spirit of adventure.
Popular ports in Guatemala
Santo Tomas de Castilla Port
Guatemala’s main passenger port, Santo Tomas de Castilla, lies on the country’s small eastern coast. It’s located within the city of the same name and close by is Puerto Barrios, a bustling place full of shops, restaurants and local culture. Must-see sites and attractions include the Mayan ruins of Quirigua, which are around 90 minutes away from the port. Also be sure to enjoy a guided boat trip from the port down to Livingston, where you can then get into kayaks to experience the beautiful River Dulce. You can then get onto dry land and explore further inland, either by walking or on bikes.
Guatemala’s cuisine is a fusion of many countries, with most dishes revolving around Spanish and Mayan cultures. Some of the most popular meals you’ll enjoy here include chicken pepián and chilesrellenos – peppers stuffed with meat and vegetables.
What are the best cruise ships for a cruise to Guatemala?
Be comfortable, relaxed and entertained all the way to the exotic destination of Guatemala on a luxury ship that offers fantastic facilities to suit everyone.
Marella Discovery 2
With All Inclusive as standard, Marella Discovery 2 means you can start enjoying your holiday straightaway. Most of your meals, drinks and activities are included in the price you pay. All the family are well-catered for during the day, with a club for kids of all ages and the adults-only Veranda area being the perfect place to unwind.
Meals are completely covered, too, with a total of seven restaurants on board. Try Italian one night and Asian the next, it’s totally up to you. There’s even a surf and turf steakhouse on offer for enjoying traditional favourites. There’s also plenty of choice for evening entertainment, including the open-air cinema experience called Movies by Moonlight and the Broadway Show Lounge with its lively shows.
Shore excursion ideas
You can’t visit Guatemala and not head ashore to discover the rich culture and natural beauty that this South American country has to offer throughout its historic sites and national parks.
Mayan ruins of Quirigua
Getting from Santo Tomas de Castilla port to the Mayan ruins of Quirigua takes around 90 minutes by bus, but the journey is worth it. Surrounded by banana plantations, the site is named after a nearby village of the same name. Within the archaeological park you’ll find extremely well-preserved 8th-century ruins that line the Great Plaza. These include carved stelae that depict significant dates and events and various terraces, pyramids and staircases.
A fully guided tour is recommended, as you’ll learn so much more about Mayan history and culture from your educated and enthusiastic guides.
Explore the wild landscapes around Santo Tomas de Castilla
The guided tours that leave from the port of Santo Tomas de Castilla encompass all sorts of activities. Most areas can be reached between 30 minutes and 90 minutes. You can soar up to new heights in a tropical forest canopy, zip-lining your way through the trees and taking in breathtaking views.
Perhaps you prefer exploring by water and will relish boating down the River Dulce with beautiful scenery and wildlife all around you? Your guide will delight in telling you all about the locations you pass, as well as about the plants and animals you’ll spot along the way.
Castillo de San Felipe de Lara
This Spanish colonial fort was strategically built close to the entrance to Lake Izabel during the 17th century and was used by the Spanish for hundreds of years. It’s now a popular tourist destination and is roughly a 90-minute bus ride from Santo Tomas de Castilla port. A guided tour will lead you round what’s left of the preserved fort, including watchtowers, courtyards and a prison area. As you explore the fort, you’ll feel the atmosphere and sense of history around every corner, with the combination of displays and your guide explaining all the finer details.
Top ports of call in this destination
- Santo Tomas de Castilla