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
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
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.