Top 10 Things to Do in Santo Tomas de Castilla Guatemala Port

Santo Tomas de Castilla Guatemala Port

Santo Tomas de Castilla Guatemala served until recent years solely as an industrial port for local resident and companies to send goods off and take goods in. However, its proximity to historical sites and unspoiled landscapes made it particularly appealing to cruise ship lines, and the pier has been pulling double duty for over a decade, still serving its industrial interests but also catering to guests aboard Western Caribbean cruises. As a result of this tourist destination in development status, the Santo Tomas de Castilla Guatemala port offers cruise tourists very little in the way of a tourist experience. A single warehouse turned market exists for those on the pier, and for some, this can be very off putting. However, for others, this is a welcome change of pace from the tourist traps found at other ports and the haggling hounds waiting for each and every guest that sets foot on dry land.

Aside from the lack of amenities, there are other notable differences in cruises to Guatemala than other parts of the world. The area is notably poor, and guests who leave the Santo Tomas de Castilla Guatemala port will undoubtedly encounter boarded up buildings and bars on windows, not to mention a tired and hungry looking locals. This can be shocking to many guests aboard Western Caribbean cruises who are used to being whisked from pearly ports straight to jungle adventures without ever paying much attention to the people who live around the piers themselves. And, the status of the area is further reflected in terms of the available things to do in Santo Tomas. There are excursions available of course including those that take advantage of the area’s natural beauty, as well as those that examine the local economy; but, guests of this part of Guatemala should not expect to find the same samplings they can at other itinerary stops, and they should expect some unplanned encounters as well.

We have put together a list of the ten best things to do while stopped in the Santo Tomas de Castilla Guatemala port. Most of them are cookie cutter activities that are expected by travelers in this part of the world. Others, however, are out of the box suggestions for those really looking to make the most of their time here.

1. Air Excursions: For repeat guests, and those with fuller than desired wallets, one of the best things to do in Santo Tomas is to get into the air. It is a pricey adventure, taking guests away from Guatemala and over to Honduras to see what has been referred to as the “Paris of the Mayan World”, an archaeological site known as Copan. The tour is outrageously expensive, and guests should expect to pay close to five hundred dollars per person for this adventure. However past explorers dub the journey more than worth it. Bear in mind the tour is only bookable through the cruise line, and not available from the Santo Tomas de Castilla Guatemala port.

2. Mayan Ruins: Of course, visiting the local Mayan ruins is considered by most to be just as splendid as expensive air adventures, and there are numerous sites close to Santo Tomas for history buffs and art lovers alike. The largest of the sites, Tikal, is abundantly impressive and one of the most important historical sites in the area. When planning this excursion, guests need to take into consideration that these may take all day. Guests preferring a shorter tour will undoubtedly enjoy seeing one of the closer, smaller sites like Quirigua, which boasts detailed carvings and impressive artwork that tourists can’t get enough of.

3. Spanish Fort: There are many forts to be visited throughout the Caribbean, and there is one that is very near the Santo Tomas de Castilla Guatemala port that is a mere fifteen minutes from the pier. Here guests can marvel at the early period architecture while learning about explorers and pirates alike. Most excursions to the fort also include other things to do in Santo Tomas like bike riding or checking out some botanical gardens, so an entire day’s worth of adventure can be packed in if desired.

4. Visit the Forest Waterfalls: Some of the waterfalls found in and around Santo Tomas have been compared to those in the lush state of Hawaii or country of Dominica, and guests flock to them en masse to jump from rock formations and bathe in the cool, clear waters. Many excursions and tours will swing by a waterfall or two, and aside from the magnificent falls themselves, the surrounding areas also boast diverse flora and fauna for guests to experience firsthand.

5. Amantique Bay: In parts of the world that are less developed, it is common for guests aboard Western Caribbean cruises to ditch the local culture entirely and grab a day pass to a resort. This is common for porters in Santo Tomas, who are uncomfortable with their surroundings or uninterested in ruin tours or boat cruises. Here at Amantique Bay, guests can enjoy a private beach, dining options, pampering treatments and water sports too, and the scenery is a far cry from the run down Santo Tomas de Castilla Guatemala port.

6. Hike the Eco Farm: A five hundred acre nature preserve welcomes guests who are interested in a scenic but adventurous walk through the lush biodiversity that Guatemala has to offer. The protected area is home to a wide array of plant and bird species and guests can enjoy local food fare on their journeys as well. These slow paced hikes often encompass the better part of a day in port so while they offer a good experience of the local landscape, they do not allow for much time for anything else.

7. Punta de Palma Beach: Away from the Santo Tomas de Castilla Guatemala port can be found the beach that is frequented by the locals of the area, known as Punta de Palma. Here magnificent ocean front allows for some enjoyable and quiet sunbathing as well as opportunities to take a dip in the deep blue waters. However, Punta de Palma is not a tourist destination and while there are some stands nearby to grab a quick beverage or a small bite to eat, there are no amenities and no water sports available here, just a good local beach that provides a cultural and relaxing experience.

8. River Tours: Boat tours along the Sweet River are very popular with tourists because they provide an opportunity to take in amazing sights like soaring gorge and foliage lined shores. But, the biggest appeal here is perhaps the sounds of the howling monkeys that delight guests time and time again. The river tours are accessed by bus ride to Livingston and continue back west away from the Santo Tomas de Castilla Guatemala port, so a full day of activity is often in the cards.

9. Visit a Local School: Those who truly want to get the most out of their cruises to Guatemala should not miss an opportunity to interact with the local children of the area. One tour guide in particular, the man behind “Go With Gus” tours, makes it a point to take guests to a local school during their journeys. He does this so that visitors get to meet and experience the peoples here and really understand the country and its inhabitants. Guests often bring school supplies and clothing to bestow upon the very grateful children, who pay for them with smiles and laughter. The school trips, perhaps unsurprisingly, are one of the most well enjoyed things to do in Santo Tomas, and past passengers remember this part of their trip as one of the most rewarding and endearing during their entire cruise journey.

10. Climb a Volcano: If visiting Mayan ruins is something you consider to be boring and you have had enough of boats and beaches, then there is no good reason not to climb to the top of a volcano. Excursions to the Santo Tomas volcano take guests higher and higher for five hours to the summit of one of the monoliths composing what the locals call “the ring of fire”. A four hour descent ends with a well deserved dip in the hot springs, which may seem ironic after a trip up a lava cone, but provides a point of relaxation post tiresome journey.