Puerto Barrios is a seaport and the capital of the department of Izabal on the Caribbean Coast of Guatemala. Its population is about 40,000 people. It is also the commercial heart of the region, because it has two ports: Puerto Barrios and Santo Tomás de Castilla. Santo Tomás is the biggest port in the entire country.
The national buscompany 'Litegua' takes you to the capital city. A trip can take 5 to 6 hours. You can choose first or second class. First class goes directly, inlcudes one meal, and has air conditioning. A one way ticket costs Q80. Second class stops several times during the trip. And it is possible that the bus goes to Morales, that takes one more hour. One way ticket for Q50.
Puerto Barrios has got a international airport.
'El muelle' is the boatterminal, near to 'El Rastro'. You can get a boat to Punta de Palma and Livingston. But also to Punta Gorda, in Belize.
To get around you can take the bus or take a taxi. The bus costs Q3.00 and taxi cost Q5.00. But for you, as a tourist; it may cost you a little bit more.
There is only one route that goes from the Central Market, in Puerto Barrios; to San Agustín, in Santo Tomás de Castilla. The bus stops don't have signals most of the time, so you must have to know the place where you are coming down.
To move in a more wide area, the best ones are the taxis. But be careful. Taxis must have an identification number on both doors. Also, you can negotiate the payment with the driver. Most of the time, this isn't necessary; but like you don't know the city and you don't have your own car, you will have to do it sooner or later. Most of the time, a "carrera" will cost you between Q20 or Q50; depending of the place where you are going.
Assaults are very common in the country, but Puerto Barrios is a relatively safe city (at the moment) but be careful with taxis during night. Take them in well illuminated places and if you can, guide them to your destination and ask them to do not pick another person while you're using it. This will cost you a bit more, but you won't get ruined.
English is not widely spoken, you will have to communicate with the rest of the people by using Spanish.
One of the most visited places is a local river called "Las Escobas". Its in the cerro San Gil, outside the urban area of Puerto Barrios and Santo Tomás de Castilla. The river is famous for its crystalline water and it's very cold. It's in the middle of the jungle, but is very easy to reach it by a road or walking. Now "Las Escobas" has been reconstructed into a beautiful hiking and swimming area. If your an adventurer and like to hike, there is a hiking trail, ofcourse you have to be careful with the surrounding for there might be snakes and other amphibians.
The river has several natural pools, and they look like paradise.
But check the weather report before going there. If it has been raining in the last days, then the water will be dirty. It's not polluted, but it isn't nice to take a bath in.
If you don't feel like traveling for a few hours then you can just stay inside the city. There you can walk to the two parks that the city has. One is located in the old part of Puerto Barrios, its name is Tekunuman. This park is right infront of the "Hotel del Norte." Recent constructin has been made to this park, and now cars and motocycles can go to a paves terrace overlooking the ocean called "El Malecon." The other park is located on the oppisite site, this park is called "Reina Barrios" There is a large outside theatre shaped like a shell, known as "La Concha".
Now if you feel like cooling off from the hot sun, there is a mall called "La Pradera" located outside Puerto Barrios going to Santo Thomas. There you can find a foodcourt with McDonalds, Pollo Campero, Domino's Pizza, Saritas (ice cream parlor), and many more different stationaries. There are clothing stores such as Gap, Adidas, and other local stores. There is also a game place near the foodcourt where you can play arcade games, air hockey, and ride a small carasoul.
Puerto Barrios is a very nice place to hang around, to meet locals, enjoy the small citylife, go dancing, ...
another location you may want to visit is Amatique Bay, the only down side is that, people are required membership to get it
Is typical os the city the products of the sea. One of the best restaurants is restaurant Safari. It's located in the neighborhood "El Rastro". Safari is a nice, warm, cozy restaurant that is right beside the beach. There you can order traditional plates like tapado, camarones a la plancha, ceviche and many others. Another typical Garifuna-plate is rice'n beans, which has rice, beans, coconutcream and meat.
Other restaurants are "El Castillo", "Fogón Porteño", "Pepin Burger", and "Doña María" and some others that have special things like churrascos or tortillas de harina.
If you like Cuban food, you can go to "La Habana Vieja". This restaurant is located on 8th. avenue between 7th. and 6th. streets. You can eat the best pieces of meat in there.
If you want to try a typical of the entire country; you can go to "Pollo Campero" (Country Chicken) It's located in 8th. street and 7th. avenue, next to the Central Market. This is an international chain of restaurants like Kentucky Fried Chicken, but has the special Guatemalan flavour.
If what you are looking for is for 1st. class cuisine, go to the Mar Brissa hotel or to Amatique Bay hotel. The finest restaurants in town. Both of them are a little far away form downtown, but is very easy to get to them.
For sure you should try the fresh fruits that are sold in the local market. Papaya, mango, melon, pineapple and many others like you've never eaten before. You should also taste the 'licuados', juices and milkshakes that refreshes very well in the tropical heat.
One of the most famous places is a disco, called La Colombina Forever. There you can find the best nightlife in the entire city. But you have to get used to crowds, smoke, and beer. This place is not for everyone if you don't like dancing or just having fun. The "Colombina" has two dance floors, one is right by the entrance while the other one is on the other side. Both dance floors play different types of music, but the second dance floor plays mostly Reggaeton. This club also built a boardwalk into the ocean with chairs and small huts for privacy.
Right around the corner there is another club called La Meta, short for "Metamorphosis". This club offers only one dance floor but they play different types of music. It has a terrace, and in the back it accommodates by having chairs and tables right near the ocean for nice breeze.
The tradition in this city is that Saturday is Colombina Day, while Sunday is Meta Day. That way there isn't much competition between the two.
Since two years there is a new disco, called "Casa Madrid".
There are several hotels in the city. But you have to be careful with them. The city is sadly famous for having a lot of prostitution. So, you can end in a hotel that is used for them.
It´s more safe to use hotels that are big. The may be a little more expensive than others, but you won't get ruined. Some of them are:
- Valle Tropical
- Mar Brissa
- Puerto Libre
- Hotel del Puerto
You can also hospedate in Hotel del Norte. Is a beautiful hotel that has more that a 100 years. Is in the old downtown of Puerto Barrios an is close to the City Hall and the Central Market. But it is too near of the port, so there's a lot of traffic and dust.
You can take boats that go every day to places like "Punta de Palma". Punta de Palma is one of the most beautiful beaches in the country. But be careful. You may find that the beach is full of garbage after a holiday. Another beautiful beach is Punta de Manabique, which is located at the end of the Bahia de Amatique.
- You can also go to Livingston. This small town has an important "garífuna" community. It has a very Jamaican atmosphere, because of the black people. It's also a good place to eat and dance. You will find typical things like bracelets to take home.
This page was last edited at 21:31, on 15 February 2009 by Anonymous user(s) of Wikitravel. Based on work by Peter Fitzgerald, Annie, Colin Jensen and