livingston-guatemalaWhen travelers think of Guatemala they instantly think about the gorgeous colonial town of Antigua, the ancient Mayan Ruins of Tikal or the breathtaking Atitlan Lake. However there are some other places that most travelers tend to ignore. By not visiting these places they are missing out on so many fantastic experiences.

Here are the off the beaten path destinations in Guatemala you have to check out:

1. Livingston

Livingston is a tiny town on Guatemala’s Caribbean coast where the Garifuna people live. The Garífuna are a unique race with a language, culture, and cuisine of their own. These guys have an amazing traditional dance that’s a lot of fun to watch & learn. They have managed to preserve their culture because of how secluded the town is. The only way to get to it is by boat.

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2. Semuc Champey

This is one of the most beautiful places you’ll get to see in Central America. It’s a place where half of a river goes underground and the other half forms gorgeous turquoise pools in the middle of the forest where you can swim (the water is a bit chilly). There is also a lookout point from where you can see the whole place. The road is not the best but once you get there it will all be worth the trouble. Also since it’s a river make sure to visit it during dry season (from November to April).

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3. Lanquin Caves

These is one of the largest cave compounds of Central America, some people say that it hasn’t been fully explored by professionals. For adventurous travelers there is a well marked trail that will take you to some old Mayan altars in the depths of the earth. These caves were sacred for the ancient Maya culture. They believed that caves kept the ancient secrets of the world and the entrance to the underworld. Plus, if you get there as the sun starts to go down you will see a spectacle put on by bats as they leave the cave in search for food.   

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4. Rio Dulce

Rios Dulce was once the most important port for Guatemala’s economy. It was also one of the places that pirates loved to visit. So the government built the Castillo de San Felipe fortress to keep them away. In the modern days it’s nothing more than ruins that travelers can visit for a small fee. It’s also the getaway point for Livingston.  It’s a good idea to explore the river on a kayak. You get to see so many interesting things.

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5. Monterrico

Monterrico is a black sanded beach located on the pacific coast of Guatemala. It’s a very popular vacation spot for Guatemalan’s however not many travelers take the time to visit this area. What they don’t know is that it is home to mangroves filled with native wildlife & it hosts hundreds of sea turtles during the nesting season. There is also an organization called ARCAS that is working to preserve the local crocodiles & sea turtles. They offer tours of the place and if you get there in the right time of the year you might get the chance to help a baby turtle get into the sea. At the same time you will be helping to finance this great project.

Marina K. Villatoro is an expat living with her family and traveling in Central America for over 10 years. Interested in traveling to Guatemala, she’s got tons of fun info for you.