Rio Dulce Guatelama also known as the “Sweet River” is a river in Guatemala that is 43kms long and it is the part of a lake and river system which has become a popular sailboating destination for many.
This river begins at the point in which it flows out of Lake Izabal.
At the entrance to the river small Spanish colonial fort, the Castillo de San Felipe. Which was built to stop pirates entering the lake from the Caribbean when this part of Central America was an important shipping staging point.
This river also enters the Caribbean Sea near the Garifuna town of Livingston, which makes it the gateway to the beautiful Caribbean sea!
Rio Dulce is a stunning and enchanting river and one of the highlights of Guatemala. It is one of the most beautiful places Guatemala has to offer and one that cannot be missed.
Sailboating through the river is not the only thing you can look forward to when visiting Rio Dulce such as restaurants, resorts and marinas along with natural beauty!
If you in need of a holiday but on a tight budget, then this would be a good option for you to consider as it’s one of the most affordable destinations.
Things to Do in Rio Dulce Guatemala – Top 10 Attractions
Now, that you’ve learned about the amazing Rio Dulce, let’s take a look at what you can do in Rio Dulce Guatemala and the top 10 attractions that are a must-see.
#1 El Castillo de San Felipe
The El Castillo de San Felipe is a fortress and a castle. As mentioned earlier, it was built to prevent pirates from entering the villages. It was then burned down by them and it shortly became a ruin.
In 1956, it was reconstructed. Here, you can enjoy views of Rio Dulce, Lake Izabal and picnic areas. Moreover, you can enjoy the historical sights.
So, get ready to have a truly unique and unforgettable picnic when you visit El Castillo de San Felipe.
#2 Seven Altars
Sounds like a wedding venue right? However, that is NOT what it is. Seven altars have dazzling waterfalls that can be admired.
You can take a guided tour through the Seven Altars and hike through the jungle and enjoy butterflies and singing birds.
Be sure, to carry along a swimming costume, as the waterfalls and several pools along the way will be irresistible making you want to jump in and cool off.
If you’re planning on visiting Seven Altars, then the best time to go would be in March. As this is the rainy period which makes the jungle even better!
#3 Playa Blanca Beach
This beach is considered one of the best beaches in Guatemala. It has a pleasant vibe and atmosphere and stunning palm trees making it a paradise!
Feel the white sand under your feet and grab a spot under the shady palm trees. Enjoy relaxation at its finest. Feel free to grab a hammock and spend the afternoon enjoying the beach or reading a novel.
If you’re not in the mood to relax and want to enjoy some adventure, then you can take a boat ride or stop by a nearby restaurant to grab a bite.
The Playa Blanca Beach is also a popular yacht spot in the Caribbean.
#4 Rio Dulce National Park
Enjoy nature at its finest! Take a boat tour and enjoy the dense jungle. The Rio Dulce River is also within the Rio Dulce National Park.
It is also home to crocodiles and manatees. So enjoy watching wildlife but take extra precautions.
At Rio Dulce National Park, you’ll also have access to great accommodation and food.
#5 Bocas del Polochic
Bocas del Polochic is an outlet of the Polochic River which is the most fertile wetland in Guatemala.
A park that is also used for protecting animals and endangered species such as the last remaining crocodiles and the famous manatees. You will also find monkeys and three species of cats.
This area is the perfect spot to explore for both tourists and scientists who want to fuel their knowledge.
When you want to make your next vacation an educational one where you can learn some history, then Quiriguá is one of the top attractions in Rio Dulce that you need to visit.
It was founded in 250-550AD! The founders came from the Tikal area and it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979.
Quiriguá also boasts many zoomorphic figures that resemble frogs, snakes, jaguars, and other human-animal like figures making it one of the most fascinating sights in Rio Dulce. These figures are also 11 meters high!
When visiting this attraction, don’t forget your camera and wear comfortable shoes so that you can enjoy the long tour.
#7 Amatique Bay
Would you like to enjoy multiple scenic sights all at once? This bay has it all!
From white beaches to forests, you can get to explore all of it in Amatique Bay. This attraction is also family-friendly and it also makes the perfect honeymoon destination with its charming romantic atmosphere.
You can also enjoy boat rides and kayaking.
#8 Chocón Machacas Biotope
This is another small lake that joins the Rio Dulce. If you’re on the hunt and looking to sight some wildlife, then this lake is for you!
Here, you can sight manatees, which look like walruses and they are aquatic animals that reside here. They are threatened mammals and the park helps with protecting them.
Manatees are not the only wildlife that you will see when you visit Chocón Machacas Biotope. You will also experience and see other animals such as amphibian and reptile species.
Let’s not forget the 130 different species of birds as you grace through the stunning lagoon!
#9 El Estor Hot Springs
Along the shores of Lake Izabal, you can encounter another small, pleasant and friendly town, which is called El Estor. It is a popular ecotourism destination.
Explore the 820-foot (250-m) rock faces as you tour your way through El Estor and a few natural stops along the way.
This includes the San Felipe Castle and Finca El Paraíso hot springs, in which you can enjoy a warm waterfall with descends into a cooler pool – making it an inviting swimming spot to cool down and unwind after a day of touring.
#10 Las Conchas Springs Tour
In the mood to explore limestone waterfalls and pools. These waterfalls and pools are also surrounded by green tropical forests.
Making it a wonderful sighting for those who just want to appreciate the sights and beauty of nature while cooling down and enjoying a swim in the pools. You can even spend an entire day here.
Rio Dulce Guatemala Map
If you want to get a better idea of Rio Dulce and the area, then you can view the Rio Dulce Guatemala map below:
How to Get to Rio Dulce Guatemala
Once your flights have been booked to Guatemala City, you might be wondering how to get to Rio Dulce Guatemala.
There are various methods of transportation departing from Guatemala City to Rio Dulce.
You can take a tourist bus, rent a car, get a charter or a boat to Fronteras or if you prefer, you can take a taxi.
However, whichever mode of transport you choose, you’re looking at around 5 hours of traveling to get to Rio Dulce from Guatemala City.
Rio Dulce Guatemala Hotels
There is no shortage of lovely hotels that you can book into for your visit to Rio Dulce.
Let’s take a look at a few them that you can take into consideration:
Hotel Kangaroo y Las Mexicanas
This hotel has a restaurant, bar and plenty of family rooms, shared lounges and gardens. They also provide their guests with a sun terrace and rooms with a river view.
Banana Palms Hotel
If you’re looking for luxurious accommodation, then this one is for you. You can enjoy air-conditioned rooms with an outdoor swimming pool, fitness centers, a restaurant and a bar.
Mar Marine Yacht Club
Enjoy the Caribbean style environment which is located on the banks of the Rio Dulce River and it is only 6km away from the Rio Dulce National Park.
All guest river views and you can enjoy water sports facilities including canoeing and fishing. You’ll also have access to a private beach area where you can enjoy a barbeque.
When you want some to unwind and relax, then make a visit to the spa for a massage!
Rio Dulce Marinas
Would you like to spend your time in Rio Dulce cruising along the Sweet River? You’ll never have to worry about your boat during a hurricane.
You can check out Rio Dulce Chrisme, which is an online forum for cruisers. Rio Dulce Chrisme also provides you with news about events and more.
Let’s take a look at some hotels with marinas that you can book:
An island off the shore of the Rio Dulce River and a beautiful resort with a marina space for 20 boats. Apart from the beautiful waters, there is much more to see here.
You can sight green parrots, turtles and large iguanas.
This is one of the largest marinas in Rio Dulce. Enjoy cruiser gatherings at the famous Cayuco Club with live music and delicious food and drink!
You can also visit and shop at the Saturday morning nautical flea market to make sure you take home something to remember of your trip to Rio Dulce.
If you’re looking for a quieter dock to enjoy, then this one is for you!
If you’re leaving your boat with them, they will provide you with professional boat services while you enjoy your stay with them.
During your stay, you can enjoy the restaurant and playing pool with your friends. Or you can spend some time relaxing with some peace and quiet.
If you’re planning a trip to Rio Dulce, then Livingston should definitely be one of your stops and it is a must-see attraction when visiting Dulce River or even Guatemala!
Here, you can take the Livingston Cultural Tour and get familiar with the culture of this charming town and learn about their rich history.
Enjoy the sightings of exotic and tropical birds, be sure to carry your camera along, as you won’t want to miss out on this!
Watch the Garifuna drumming and dancing when you visit most bars. You can also try out Livingston’s famous dish called tapado, which is a seafood stew made in coconut broth.
Rio Dulce Guatemala Weather
If you’re planning a trip to Rio Dulce Guatemala, then you’ll want to know about the weather and when would be the best to visit.
You can experience warm and pleasant weather during the months of January, February, July, August, September, October, November and December.
Generally, the warmest month is May and the coolest month is February. March is the driest month.
If you’re not a fan of rain, the rainy season is in May, June, July, August and September.
The rainiest month of all is in September. If you’re not a fan of the rain, then you should avoid visiting during this time.
Is Rio Dulce Worth Visiting?
While you may have heard stories from unhappy travelers who didn’t enjoy their visit to Rio Dulce. However, this is not the case for most.
Majority have enjoyed their unique adventures and sightings to Rio Dulce and it can be an unforgettable experience for you.
Rio Dulce might be known for its crimes which makes it quite scary for tourists. However, there are lots of areas tourists can visit safely.
You can consult your local Government for further advice and travel guidelines.
Crime aside, Rio Dulce is also the perfect spot for sailors and those who enjoy boat tours.
Rio Dulce also has more than natural beauty and boating tours to enjoy. You can also enjoy rich history within many of its attractions.
For those who want to explore and learn a new culture or those who just need some time out, Rio Dulce is perfect for you and worth the visit.