Izabal has the largest lake in the country with an approximate area of 589 kml². The department is divided as follows: five municipiums; 460 caserios (a group of houses in a determined area); 104 farms, 72 large towns; four towns; 23 other; eight parajes; one asentamiento; one city.
The department of Izabal Is the gate to the Caribbean Sea, located close to the sun, with beautiful shores and many places to visit, it is a paradise to spend an unforgettable vacation. The region has many natural reserves which has made this place one of the most visited places in the country.
Izabal has a different culture due to the Caribbean influence. This department has many Mayan archaeological sites like Quirigua. Lake Izabal is the largest fresh water lake surrounded by a combination of water falls, canyons, and rivers, the main one Rio Dulce which flows into Amatique Bay in the Atlantic Ocean and where the town of Livingston is located, home of the Garifuna ethnic group. You can “circumstroll” most of Lake Izabal or head out to even more remote areas for bird watching or orchid spotting. There is also sailing on Lake Izabal with former occasionally hosting sailing tournaments.
Guatemala's Caribbean cost is a paradise for boaters. Rio Dulce has become one of the western Caribbean’s premier destinations for cruisers seeking a save and reasonably priced freshwater anchorage. As a jumping off point for excursion around the country, Rio Dulce is ideally located, with Tikal close to the north, Quirigua to the east, and the highlands to the west.
Among the cruisers which stop at Izabal, we can mention the following: Ms Explorer (V-ships); Topaz (International); Islands Princess (Princess Lines); Noordam (Holland America); Amsterdam (Holland America); M.S. Ryndam (Holland America); Silver Shadow (Silverseas Cruises); Arcadia (P&O Cruises), Ms Europa (Hapag Lloyd); Regatta (Oceania Cruises); Spirit of Adventure (Saga Shipping), Maasdam (Holland America); Delphin; Amadea (V-Ships); and Braemar (Fred Olsen Cruises).
Diving is another activity that you can have at the lake, you will be sure to find what you are looking for. Many professional diving centers will provide gear and logistical coordination for your favorite type of dive.
Places to visit in Izabal
One of the most important places in Izabal is Quirigua, which is part of the Classic period. This a beautiful place where you will have the opportunity to see Mayan ruins and the different kings which are represented in the Mayan sculptures located in the area.
Many decades before Livingston post was declared as the administrative headquarters of the region, the area was invaded by many Garifuna population. This population from afro-caribbean origin coming from Antillas Menores, was of greatest importance for the consolidation of the population living along the Central American Caribbean littoral.
Besides Quirigua archaeological site, which sculptures are witnesses of a history belonging to the great Mayan civilization, we can find a large number of tourist places like the ones located at Lake Izabal shores, Bongo, Murcielago, Sepila, Pataxte, Las Delicias, and San Felipe.
San Felipe de Lara Castlle
With no doubt, one of the most important constructions during present time is the Torreon de Bustamante or San Felipe de Lara Castlle. This fort is located between Rio Dulce river and Lake Izabal, and it is a point for recreation of a typical scene in the Caribbean region. This territory was invaded by pirates during Colonial time.
The closer you get to the Caribbean littoral, population is more homogenous. At the borders with Zacapa and Honduras, population is more ladin and devotes to livestock production or work in livestock farms.
Bocas del Polochic, a Wild Life Reserve
This is a protected area at the delta shore of Polochic River. You will find underwater land, small rivers, forests, and a lot of flora and fauna. This place constitutes a spectacular scenery and an amazing wild life area.
Punta de Manabique, a Wild Life Reserve
By excellency the Caribbean coast. White sand shores, fresh and clear sea water, a lot of sun, palm trees, and air fulfilled of tropical music. It is a piece of paradise close to the sea.
Cerro San Gil, an Ecological Reserve
This is a protected area. Located few steps away from the sea shore, the top is surrounded by clouds and breeze from the sea. There are many small roads, a hotel located in the mountains and a lot to visit and enjoy.
Chocon Machacas, a Protected Biotope
Located close to the Golfete, it is comprised of extensive forests, run by small rivers and lagoons full of fishes, turtles, aquatic birds, and animal species.
Rio Dulce National Park
Starting at Castillo de San Felipe located at the encounter with the sea close to Livingston; you will find amazing paradise places of extraordinary beautifulness. Among the hot sun from the tropics, the breeze from the sea, and the Caribbean humidity, this large territory concentrates the essence of this region.
Siete Altares and Punta Cocoli
Two geographical faces located in the inside of Amatique Bay. Siete Altares is a group of natural lagoons that are created by a wild river; just close to the sea but amazingly fresh waters. At Punta Cocoli, the shore tries to open a road to the jungle and to the sea, but graciously accepts those who like to swim and fish.
Punta de Palma
A beach very close to the sea with easy access coming from Puerto Barrios. This is a discrete but not to far away beach, which has visitors but is no crowded. During high tourist time, it becomes a paradise for children, teenagers, and still-young adults, which fulfill their nights with reggae and tropical rhythms.
A liaison between the sweet water in Rio Dulce with the sea salt water. It conforms a strange world with attractions for every one. It is an ideal place for sailing, boating, swimming, fishing and enjoy a plate of Caribbean food. Walking, taking pictures, and bird watching at the sea or at the jungle.
La Graciosa Bay
A small extension of Amatique Bay inside the swamps of the confra palm. The swamp, of a wild life characteristic, encloses the Graciosa in a paradise scenery. A trip that you will never forget.
Santo Tomas Bay
Another extension of the Amatique Bay, but this time inside the jungle at the end of San Gil mountain. It has a lot of particular attractions, like the Poza Azul Lagoon and the refreshing waters from Las Escobas river.
This is a navigable water channel which communicates La Graciosa Bay with the Caribbean Sea, widely selecting Punta de Manabique. This is an enjoyable trip inside the wild side of the coastal littoral, with amazing shores located at the end.
This lake is so large and diverse that will not be enough for itself to describe the number of places to visit. One of them is Playa Dorada, close to Mariscos town; another one is El Estor, located beatween the lake and the mountain at Santa Cruz.
Located as a division between Belize and Izabal, it constitutes a historical route with with an unvaluable tourist scene. The route is fulfilled of mangles and jungle, which connects Modesto Mendez town with Amatique Bay.
Las Escobas River
This river starts at the San Gil mountains creating waterfalls, fast rivers and beautiful places with no comparison. It flows up to Santo Tomas Bay, in the middle of fresh water small lagoons.
Map of Izabal Department and Lake Izabal
View Izabal Department - Izabal Lake in a larger map