Santo Tomas de Castilla

Santo Tomás de Castilla is one of the most important port cities in Guatemala. It is located in the eastern Gulf of Honduras coast on the Amatique Bay. Santo Tomas Guatemala was originally settled in the 19th century by Belgian pioneers. The port here was built in the 1960"s to compliment the cargo port at Puerto Barrios, and for many years Santo Tomas Guatemala received only cargo ships. In 2004, Santo Tomás de Castilla began accepting cruise ships that make their way through the Caribbean. The cruise industry brings tourists to this before much neglected coastline, and the local economy surely appreciates visitors. While void of prestigious Guatemalan beaches and the more popular Mayan ruins, the port still manages to give visitors a good taste of the local culture.

While the more popular Mayan ruins at Tikal are quite a trip away from Santo Tomás de Castilla Guatemala, you can sample the more modest ruins at Quiriguá. The different cruise lines that stop at Santo Tomás de Castilla Guatemala offer tours to places of interest, and Quiriguá is a tour that many people choose. What Quiriguá lacks in size, it makes up for with its fine sculptures, which represent some of the finest pieces from ancient Mesoamerica. Quiriguá, consequently, has been added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Other nearby places of interest include the Dulce River, Lake Izabel, the San Felipe Spanish fortress and the towns of Puerto Barrios and Livingston. The Río Dulce (Sweet River) is another notable place to explore off of the cruise ships. River cruises can start at the town of Livingston and take visitors into a scenic gorge rising to 300 feet in parts. The natural foliage and wild flowers make for picturesque photo opportunities and you will want to keep your ears open for the calls of the howler monkeys that inhabit the surrounding trees. Other animal sightings include the colorful toucans that make their homes in this lush region. Eventually, the Dulce River flows into the largest lake in Guatemala, Lake Izabel. At the entrance of the lake rests the Spanish Castle of San Felipe. If your boat cruise makes a stop here, you can tour the 17th century fortress that once served to keep pirates of the Caribbean at bay.

Puerto Barrios is a good destination for the hedonistic traveler, offering pool halls, bars, nightclubs and a few strip joints. Livingston is a more complete tourist destination, and it’s popularity as grown in recent years. The main interest in this town is the local Garifuna population, as well as the mix of Maya, and Latino peoples who share this city on the Gulf of Honduras coast. As a result, the air of Livingston is filled with different dialects and languages, including the Garifuna tongue, which helps to make Livingston stand out from other cities in Guatemala. Visiting these two towns is a better idea for people choosing to stay in the area for an extended period of time, while those arriving on Guatemala cruises will find the organized tours that the cruise lines offer to be a better, and usually safer, way to explore the region.

Cruises to Guatemala that arrive at Santo Tomás de Castilla Guatemala embark from an array of starting points that include New York, Fort Lauderdale, Miami and New Orleans, to name a few. Typically, other stops along these Caribbean cruises include Key West, Belize and various other Caribbean destinations. The shoreline tours that the different cruise companies offer at Santo Tomás de Castilla usually start at under $100 and generally include armed guards to ward off the petty crime and armed robberies that were increasingly being reported in the area. Upon your arrival to Santo Tomás Guatemala, you will find various booths with natives selling crafts, food items and so on. Some tours can be arranged that allow you to visit a school where you can interact with the children. Many people bring school supplies and other gifts for the children at these schools, as poverty continues to dominate throughout the region. For a good family tour, you might consider visiting the Amitique Bay Resort, which can be reached by water taxi or taxi cab. Tours to the resort often include a barbeque buffet lunch and use of the resort’s pool, water slides and private beach. For additional fees, you can go fishing, ride jet skis or take diving lessons, among other activities. Visit the Omagua Banana Plantation for a firsthand look and how Chiquita bananas are chosen, cleaned and packaged. Eco-tour kayak trips and horseback riding adventures are also among the popular tour options offered by the cruise lines.

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