Approximately 30 miles long, the Río Dulce river connects Lake Izabal to the Caribbean Sea. The river has a "lake-like" stretch at its widest point known as El Golfete. Known as “Sweet River” in Spanish, Rio Dulce river has become a popular cruising sailboat destination in Guatemala, and also an economical retirement location for expatriates. It is located within the Izabal Department in the southern part of Guatemala. The riverside is lined with lush tropical vegetation, cliffs and provides awe-inspiring scenery. The river has created a spectacular gorge in the mountains at the end of El Golfete. At the end of Guatemala, the river empties into Bahia Amatique on the Gulf of Honduras. The town of Fronteras (Rio Dulce town) is set along the waters of the Río Dulce river. Its proximity to Belize and the Mayan ruins at Tikal makes it a natural choice for visitors who wish to explore the southern part of Guatemala.
Rio Dulce River and its Natural Attractions
There is only one road that leads to the Rio Dulce area. This highway runs through the Town of Rio Dulce, also called Fronteras, on the way up to Peten. At the entrance to the river, you will find a small Spanish colonial fort – the Castillo de San Felipe. This small fort had been built to stop pirates from entering the lake from the Caribbean. The sides of the river and El Golfete rise are covered with teak, mahogany and palms where howler monkeys and toucans can be seen. To get around to other areas in the Rio Dulce town, one needs to take a boat and travel along the river to reach to their destination. Río Dulce National Park covers an area of 130 square kilometers along the Rio Dulce river bank and the El Golfete. There are a few tributaries that divert Rio Dulce water. Río Lámpara is one of the tributaries that hosts an exquisite jungle lodge. In this tributary, there is a place where warm waters rise to the cliff, making it a great place to swim or relax. There is a large concrete bridge, which crosses over the place where Rio Dulce meets lake Izabal. This bridge also connects Fronteras to the southern town of El Relleno. Rio Dulce town is a large commercial hub where you will find few shops, banks, vegetable markets, restaurants, hotels and even boating supplies. Hundreds of catamarans, houseboats and yachts are permanently docked in various marinas along the shores of the town of Rio Dulce.
Nearby Tourist Places
Plan to visit Quiriguá, the Mayan ruins located southwest of town. You could take a boat tour on the Rio Dulce river and its surrounding town which normally will include a waterside view the Castillo De San Felipe and other natural features of the river. Positioned on the north bank of the lower reaches of the Motagua River, Quiriguá Mayan ruin site features hieroglyphic inscriptions, ceremonial architecture and sculptures of rulers. Livingston is an extremely fun and interesting Caribbean town where tourists generally stay in the Rio Dulce region. The town is populated by the Garifuna people, and the place has a laid-back Caribbean attitude. From here you can go to other nearby tourist attractions such as Playa Blanca beach, Puerto Barrios, and Seven Altars. Playa Blanca is an upscale beach, located 45-minutes by boat ride from Livingston. Here you can enjoy relaxing on a hammock and playing volleyball with your group. Seven Altars is a pretty lake situated just a few-kilometers by hike from Livingston. Visit Puerto Barrios' central market to get a sense of the town’s identity. Do spend a day at Hacienda Tijax, located on the northern shore of Río Dulce. Tijax features a swinging bridge, a spring fed swimming hole, canopy, and a nature tour. Tijax has great food and a few restaurants too. You will also get to do some wildlife watching here as Tijax boasts ivory-billed and wedge-billed woodcreepers, olive-backed euphonia, greenlets, dusky-capped flycatcher, yellow-bellied tyrannulet, and gartered trogon to name a few.
Rio Dulce: Adventurous Activities
Enjoy the Rio Dulce river at its finest right in front of Tortugal. Here you can swim to a floating platform and enjoy some sunbathing. The water is clean and the river is quiet up here, so you are sure to enjoy the overall experience. True adventurers can go for some caving as well. This area consists of three caves: The Waterfall Cave, The Cave of the Canyon, and The Shaman’s Cave. Caving should be done only with an experienced guide. Drive to Las Conchas in Fronteras town and spend the day hanging out there. There are several waterfalls and they are a great place to swim, relax, and take photos. Take your private boat to Bird Island and see a range of tropical birds, and then stop at a thermal waterfall. Bird Island is home to many different bird species such as black-headed trogons, kingbirds, plain chachalacas, golden-fronted woodpeckers, tanager, pink-headed warbler and horned guam among others. Sail on the quiet Rio Dulce river in your own private boat charter, and if you wish you can extend your trip to include Belizean cities such as Placencia, Punta Gorda, Mokey River Town or Seine Bight. Good diving and snorkeling are possible only in Caribbean waters near Belizean destinations, where you will find never ending coral varieties, fish life, and underwater landscapes. Fishing is a daily activity on the Rio Dulce region for locals, but tourists also like to explore the quiet waters. You can expect to catch Robalo (snook), Mojarra (a freshwater perch), river bass, catfish and other fish species.
Shopping, Dining and Day Trips
The Rio Dulce river and its surrounding areas boast small stores where you can buy homemade items and food. Some of the popular stores in Rio Dulce town are Comercial W & L, Agromar, Tienda Road, Pintorsa, The Baby World, Zapateria eltigre, and Tienda La Surtidora just to name a few. For dining, check out these restaurants: Restaurante Ranchon Mary, Restaurante Delicias del Rio, Bruno's, Hacienda Tijax Hotel y Marina, Casa Nostra, Sun Dog Cafe, El Malecon, Bug Mama, Restaurante Margoth, Restaurante Río Bravo, Banana Palms Hotel, Resort & Marina, and Linda Vista Hotel & Restaurante among others. Day trips are possible because of close proximity of Rio Dulce region to Belizean destinations. Located just several hours by private yacht from Rio Dulce region, Punta Gorda in Belize is a great place if you wish to explore its gorgeous shores and amazing dive sites. Another striking beach town of Belize is located in proximity to the Rio Dulce river and the following towns: Monkey River Town, Placencia, Seine Bight and more. Take your own private charter and get a chance to snorkel with sea turtles, whale sharks and nurse sharks. Other popular Belize cayes and atolls to include in your extended trip are Ambergris Caye, South Water Caye, Billy Hawk Caye and more.
Rio Dulce river and its surrounding areas are a great place to indulge in water activities, enjoy natural views, and enjoy a wonderful vacation. If you are in Belize, plan to visit this magnificent Guatemala area on board your own private yacht charter! Contact Yachts Belize to book your luxury yacht or catamaran in Rio Dulce and get ready for an amazing experience.