Livingston (Guatemala)

Travel Guide Central America Guatemala Livingston

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Introduction

Livingstone

Livingstone

© russncath

Livingston is a small city along Guatemala's northern Caribbean coastline. The town can only be reached by boat from a number of places in Guatemala and from Belize. It a major Garifuna town, descendants of a mix of African slaves and Carib Indians from the island of St. Vincent further east in the Caribbean.

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Sights and Activities

En route to Rio Dulce from Guatemala City is a small but well maintained fort that used to guard a local river (not El Dulce), and it controlled a large chain across the river. Small but interesting.

Five kilometres to the north of Livingston are the beautiful waterfalls known as Los Siete Altares. These are a set of seven freshwater pools and waterfalls leading into the Caribbean. There is a small restaurant with toilet facilities at the entrance selling hot food and cold beverages. You can hire a lancha at Q25 each way for the 10minute boat journey or via a tour which will also visit Playa Blanca beach. It is possible to walk there also heading north along the beach; the walk is approximately 1.5-2 hours. This is not recommended as the beach is very filthy and polluted with accumulated trash. The best time to visit this place is on July and August. Try to avoid this place during the dry season (April, May and June).

Livingston has two not very impressive beaches. The beach to the North of Livingston is unclean and is patrolled by armed police as there have been a number of recorded incidents there in the past. The central beach is pleasant enough, although grass grows into the water at various points. Children come here to fly kites most evenings and this is a friendly beach where the locals come to swim. Sometimes (usually after a period of bad weather) the beaches are full of plastic waste from Belize. The government sends out workers to collect that and clean the beaches, though.

Other beaches close to Livingston include Playa Quehueche which is a few kilometres along the northern coast, and Playa Blanca which is 12 kilometres along the north coast.

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Getting There

By Boat

There are multiple daily connections from both Rio Dulce and Puerto Barrios in Guatemala, and internationally you can travel twice weekly to Punta Gorda, Belize (7:00am on Friday and Tuesday) and usually daily to Omoa in Honduras as well. There is also a combined boat-bus shuttle to La Ceiba, Honduras, which leaves Livingston early morning in time to meat the last ferry to Roatan or Utila.

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Getting Around

Livingston is a very small town and it does not take long to become familiar with the place. The main street running through Livingston is Calle Principal. The majority of the towns shops, restaurants and bars are situated on this road. Everything else is situated on roads directly leading from Calle Principal. Should you need a taxi, the price is Q30, no matter where you go. Make sure you negotiate the price in advance!

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Eat

Livingston was traditionally a small fishing town and therefore carries a good selection of seafood. Many places serve very cheap grilled shrimp. Tapado is a soup made from fish, prawn and shellfish, served with crusty bread. Cooked in coconut milk and garnished with coriander.

There are a large number of restaurants spread out around Calle Principal and the streets leading from this.

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Drink

The local drink here is Coco Loco. This is a coconut based drink where the top is cut off a coconut and a very generous serving of rum is poured in. These are delicious and very potent.

There is live Garifuna music in many bars most nights. A local set of musicians do a tour of the restaurants playing traditional Garifuna music with traditional set up of large drums, a turtle shell, conch shell and maraccas. Words are chanting in the background which makes an interesting accompaniment to a meal.

There are many places to sit and enjoy a drink in Livingston.

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Sleep

  • Casa de la Iguana. About ¾ km west (to the left) of the dock off the main road, this is a hostel that includes a bar/restaurant and offers a communal dinner (Q45) and is very good to meet other travelers. It is quite descent food so it might be a nice alternative if you're a bit sick of eating rice and beans. Due to its position bordering on light jungle, there's some sand flies depending of the days. Possibly a good choice for those who want to party without leaving their hostel. Camping space and hammocks are available for Q20, dormitories go for Q45, rooms with shared bathroom for Q120, rooms with private bathroom for Q160. There are no window screens, so wear insect repellent or put the fan in your direction. Mosquitos are not a huge problem here since the local crab population eat the larve however sand-flys can be an annoyance. There are typically movies on all day, and a local band plays drums there on occasion. The hostel even has its own rescue animal, an orphan Racoon by the name of Loco. Happy Hour from 6-8. If you are coming from Rio Dulce and want to skip dealing with the local mafia waiting for you at the dock, you can ask the boat driver to stop you at "Casa de la Iguana" and you will only need to cross the road to get there.
  • Hotel Rios Tropicales, ☎ +502 7947-0158. This is a small hotel and tour operator located behind the migration office on the main street and just about 100 m up the hill from the main dock. It offers 4 rooms with private bathroom (hot shower) and 4 private rooms with shared bath. They also organize kayaking tours along the canyon of the River "Rio Dulce" and transfers to la Ceiba, Punta Gorda and Lanquin (Coban). Free wireless available, books to exchange or for sale, happy hour in its receipt, MC Tropic, and a cozy coffee shop at the entrance of this hotel. It has a lovely courtyard with hammocks. From US$15 for a double room.
  • Hotel Dona Alida, ☎ +502 7947-0027. All rooms are clean and safe and offer a wonderful view over the bay. They are set up very comfortable and spacious with double beds, triple or four beds, providing ventilator and private bathrooms. $25 double room.
  • Hotel El Viajero, US$4 per person litte older hotel but clean and on the water front. Staff will cook you up a great meal for less than in town.
  • Hotel La Casa Rosada (First left off the dock, then about 5 minutes down on the left. Well signed.), ☎ +502 7-947-0303. A beautiful hotel right on the water, Casa Rosada is a great medium between backpacker and high-end hotels. They have an excellent selection of food and drink all sold on the honor system (just write what you order next to your name in the office binder). Trips leave directly from their well-maintained dock. Individual bungalows are available in the garden, but they also have a beautiful and exceptionally clean and spacious dorm (Q80) upstairs in the main building. (There's even a queen size bed for couples traveling together.) A great alternative for those looking for something nicer without springing for a private room. Speedy wifi.
  • Hotel Maya HB, Located 500 metres west of the dock on the main road, run by a friendly local family. Room with two beds and private bath cost Q25/night. It's not the cleanest of places but on the positive side, it has hammocks on the roof.
  • Hotel Rio Dulce, about Q100 to Q120 for a good, basic double room. One of Livingston's oldest and most authentic Caribbean-style building with views over the main street. Good (free) wifi from the next-door Happy Fish restaurant which reaches some of the rooms here.
  • Vecchia Toscana Resort, Barrio Paris, Livingston, Izabal, Guatemala (10 minute walk north along the beach), ☎ +502 7947-0884. Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 11:00. Very unusual and beautiful resort as it features a mixture of Caribbean and European architecture. Main building with pool, bars and restaurant, various bungalows with cosy, clean rooms (a/c), some of them directly on the beachfront. European owners (German couple), high class service at a reasonable price. Boat tours to Rio Dulce and surroundings. USD 45-150.

You can use the form below to search for availability (Travellerspoint receives a commission for bookings made through the form)

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Keep Connected

Internet

Internet access is widely available. Even most of the more remote areas have some type of internet access available. Many larger areas also have WiFi. All of the Camperos chicken/pizza restaurants (which are numerous) offer free WiFi, as well as many other restaurants and cafes. Some hotels may also offer computer banks with internet access. Just ask and you eventually will find some sort of free access.

If you have a smartphone such as iPhone, Google Android, you just need a local SIM card (roughly Q25) and can start enjoying the prepaid access plans, which generally come in lots of an hour, a day, or a week.

Phone

See also International Telephone Calls

Guatemala's emergency phone numbers include 110 (police), 120 (ambulance) and 123 (fire). Guatemala's international calling code is 502. There are no area codes. Phone numbers all have eight digits.

The phone system isn't great, but it works. Tourists can call abroad from call centers, where you pay by the minute. It is also easy to purchase a calling card to use at public pay phones. The phones there do not accept money, so to use a public phone on the street you must purchase a telephone card. Typically, the cost is around 8 quetzals for a 10-min call to North America, and slightly more to Europe. Cell phones are quite cheap and calling overseas through one can get as low as $0.08 a min. If you are planning to stay for a while and plan to use the phone, you should consider buying a cheap prepaid phone. Wireless nation-wide internet access for laptops is also available as a service from some companies. Telefónica has good coverage with their PCMCIA EV-DO cards.

Post

El Correo is the national postal company in Guatemala. It offers a wide range of services, including sending cards and packages both domestically as well as internationally. Most Guatemalan towns have a post office, although your best bet is to send mail from a large city. Service at El Correo is improving, thanks to consultation and assistance from Canada Post. Most post offices open from 8:30am to 5:30pm. Airmail letters to North America and Europe cost from Q6.50 and take a week or two to arrive. High-end hotels can usually send your mail for you, too. Expect packages you send through the Guatemalan mail system to take a very long time to arrive. They usually get there in the end, but it's worth paying extra for recorded delivery (correo registrado). Many stores can ship your purchases for you, for a cost. Valuable items are best sent with private express services. Couriers operating in Guatemala include DHL, UPS, and FedEx. Delivery within two to three business days for a 1-kg package starts at about Q500.

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Accommodation in Livingston (Guatemala)

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This is version 9. Last edited at 15:42 on Feb 1, 18 by Utrecht. 4 articles link to this page.

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