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Destination: Santo Tomas de Castilla, Guatemala


I have to admit that the port on our cruise that I knew the least about is Santo Tomas de Castilla in Guatemala. The port’s terminal was completed in 2004 making it a relatively new stop for the cruise industry. If you aren’t visiting Guatemala on a cruise there is still plenty of attractions to be seen!

Santo Tomas de Castilla, Guatemala

The port we will be sailing into is Santo Tomas de Castilla. The primary attractions for crusiers visiting this port surround the Mayan culture and the historical nature of the city and its surroundings. The ecological attractions are also worth checking out. Lake Izabal is the largest lake in Guatemala and is home to jaguars, monkeys, and manatees. The are Mayan ruins nearby Santo Tomas de Castilla, but many of Guatemala’s attractions are on near the Pacific coast of the country.

What to See

1. Pacaya Volcano

This active volcano is a great place to hike and take in the beauty and power of the volcano.

2. Tikal


Tikal Temple

An ancient site in Northern Guatemala near the border with Belize looks like it was once a massive city. The ruins are remarkably well preserved, and you will find the grounds full of wildlife.

3. El Mirador

El Mirador is another ancient Mayan city, but this one is deep in the jungle. You will have to spend atleast 3 days trekking through the jungle to make it to El Mirador. If a jungle adventure is what you’re looking for then visit Guatemala and El Mirador.

4. Monterrico

Monterrico's Black Sand Beaches

Monterrico’s Black Sand Beaches

Check out the volcanic black sand beaches at Monterrico.

Where to stay in Guatemala

It really depends on which attractions you want to see while you’re in Guatemala. As I said a lot of the attractions are concentrated along the southern side near the Pacific Ocean, but the beautiful Mayan cities are located in the north.

Best spot near volcanos

El Convento guest room

El Convento guest room

The El Convento Boutique Hotel is a beautiful hotel in the heart of Antigua, Guatemala. Starting at just $145 per night this is a great value for luxury accommodations. Antigua is surrounded by 3 volcanoes and is famous for its beautiful Spanish architecture.

For exploring the Mayan Ruins

La Lancha near Tikal

La Lancha near Tikal

La Lancha is a resort on Lake Peten Itza owned by Francis Ford Coppola. This resort is perfectly situated if you are looking to soak up the Mayan culture or go on a jungle adventure. La Lancha is located 45 minutes from Tikal and the Maya biosphere reserve. You can book this room at priceline.com starting at just $145 per night.

For Beach Bums

Trip Advisor calls Hotel El Delfin the best specialty resort in Monterrico. It seems like a perfect place to relax on those black sand beaches. This is a hostel style hotel with both dorm and private options. The private options are still very affordable starting at just $10 per person per night.


Getting to Guatemala

The major US airlines serve Guatemala City International ( La Aurora International) from a couple airports each. You can also get less expensive flights from Spirit Airways from Fort Lauderdale. From Guatemala City, you can take a smaller regional airline to Flores in the North. Monterrico is about a 3 hour drive from Guatemala City.


Culture is the main draw for tourists. I’m excited to take in some of that culture during our short visit. If you want to see volcanoes and you don’t have the time or budget to visit Hawaii, Guatemala could be a great less expensive option! Like Belize the rain forests here make it a hotspot for bird watching and other eco-tourism activities.


Have you visited Guatemala or is it on your travel bucket list? Let me know about your experience or plans in the comments below!


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