One of the main reasons we took on our boatsitting and dogsitting gig in Rio Dulce, Guatemala was because it was one of the only regions left on our Guatemala bucket list that we didn’t get the opportunity to visit when we were last there in 2011.
What I didn’t realize was that this region is so incredibly different than the rest of the country.
Enter the Garifuna of Livingston – a small community of the descendents of shipwrecked slaves. Multiply the fact that you can only access Livingston by boat and you have a thriving community that is much more like the Belizean Caribbean than the Mayan culture found throughout Guatemala.
It is fascinating.
One of my favorite moments while wandering around town had to be th when we were peering over a cliff onto the ocean to find a group of kids and a nun playing dizzy bat. It is the small moments like this that make up great memories and the reason I love to travel. Slices of life and authentic experiences really make a place.
I would highly suggest checking out Livingston but I think our 3 days there was a bit much. This city is often a Guatemalan highlight for many travelers.
A few things you need to know before heading out:
- Getting to Livingston from Belize: The ferry only arrives Tuesdays and Fridays and will cost 200Q (~$25 USD). You can get a daily ferry to Puerto Barrios and take a lancha (small boat) to Livingston from there.
- Getting to Livingston from Rio Dulce: Daily ferries will run about $12 USD (I’m not sure about the price in Quetzales as we arrived by sailboat).
- The moment you get off your lancha you will be bombarded by touts trying to get their commission for the various hotels and hostels around town. Come prepared with reservations or pretend you know where you are going to avoid them.
- We stayed at Casa Nostra, a local bed and breakfast located directly on the river/oceanfront. If you’re looking for a quiet place with wifi and fab food (ask Stuart for his famous MOJITOS and tell him we said hello!), this is a great place. It is a family owned establishment and they really go out of their way to take care of you.
- Make sure to try the tapado soup when you’re in town. Lovingly referred to as the seafood graveyard in a bowl (by us), this soup is a coconut based broth with plantains, crab, oysters, shrimp, squid, a massive fried fish (and anything else you can imagine living in the sea). IT IS AMAZING. *drool* So good… SO GOOD.
- Our expat sailor buddies (remember Sandy with the machete?) gave the warning that it can get a bit rough out at night, so be cautious and only take what you need (a little cash, room key, etc).
Whether your plan is to see all the different sides of Guatemala or just get to Belize without spending hours on chicken buses, Livingston is great place to stop on your journey.