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Retalhuleu is one of the most important departments in the Republic of Guatemala due to its natural, agricultural, industrial, and commercial richness and the magnificent communication ways.

Geographically speaking, the department of Retalhuleu is a homogenous land with mountains on the northern side which represents around 10% of its territory, and the flat coastal Pacific.  Mountains are not high than 300 to 900 meters over the sea level.  There is an abundance of humidity and rains, which results in soil fertility, and a high productivity and ecological richness.

But a prominent feature of Retalhuleu is the pampas.  They are natural coastal systems, which make up stays flat and flood-saturated lagunetas, lagoons, wetlands, abandoned meadows and arms riverbank.  Paradise for mangroves, reptiles, and aquatic birds; is the culmination of an exuberant nature.

In the department of Retalhuleu, nature expresses itself with vigour and exuberance.  However, it is necessary a visitor who is not in a hurry and does not look for ostentatious hotels and restaurants but a visitor who loves nature.  It is an ideal place for resting, taking pictures, studying the nature’s flora and fauna, or just relaxing.

Places to visit in Retalhuleu
IRTRA Recreational Center and its Xocomil Aquatic Park and the Xetulul Thematic Park, both located at the 180 km. on the CA-2 high way to the department of Quetzaltenango, in the municipium of San Martin Zapotitlan.  The Xocomil recreational center is of an unexpected magnificence.  It has a parking lot with a capacity of more than 700 vehicles, well-cared green areas, giant toboggans, fast food restaurants, stands for swimming equipped with modern facilities, cabin for housing, hiking trails and walks, mechanical games for kids and a balanced disposition of sunny and shady areas.

Abaj Takalik
One of the most important legates from the Mayas located not far away from Retalhuleu city at 15 kilometers.  The archaeological findings at the municipium of Asintal leaded to the discovery of one of the most important ceremonial centers of the region, which can be visited at any time of the year by an accessible road.  This place is considered one of the oldest and largest ceremonial centers of the Guatemalan coast.

Exploring and studying caves can be as exciting and adventurous as any experience can get in nature.  A weekend or even a single day in a cave can transport you to another world as remote as the ocean bottom or even the surface of another planet.  For the Mayas, caves were the sacred entrance to the underworld.  As a result of many porous limestone deposits, Guatemala is honeycombed with caves of every conceivable size, shape, length or depth.  These caves can be visited by walking, swimming, boating or rappelling.

The Encanto cave opens on the banks of the Nil River.  As a well-funded local tradition, natives say it is as large as to completely cross out the El Asintal municipium and it is visited a lot by students and local and foreign visitors.  The cave is relatively closed to the Abaj Takalik archaeological center and is located in a semi-wild spot.  The cave and its surroundings is a place no one can miss to visit.

But the most important tourist attractions of Retalhuleu are located on the seashore.  The maritime beaches represent the most important ecotourism income resource, since there are beaches for all tastes.  With the convenience of luxury hotels and restaurants, the always found booths and canteens which offer a variety of seafood from the ocean itself, all leads to an intimate relationship with the community with an abundance of sun and breeze.

Among the most visited beaches we can mention Tres Cruces, El Chico, Manchon, Champerico and Tulate.  Champerico is a port which offers all the comfortable communication facilities that civilization can offer: communication, electricity, health services, hotels, restaurants, and transportation.  The Manchon beach is a wilder one, and at this place there are many reasons to enter into contact with nature.   It is an ideal place for fishing, taking pictures, swimming, walking, drink coconut water, take plenty of sun, or just to enjoy local food.   The Tulate beach is a pleasant one but is not as developed as Champerico; however, due to its biological wealth, it is a place of spectacular beauty.  Boat rides are available since they constitute a veiled pretext to acquire the enviable tan of seafarers.

If there is an entry in the record books for salt water fishing, Guatemala’s Pacific Coast has it.  Anglers enjoyed a recent 240 billfish catch, and that was in a single day.  Guatemala also holds the record for the most billfish caught and released in one championship day, by one boat in one day, by one person in one day and by one boat in a year.  The near-inshore waters of Retalhuleu’s Pacific coast teem with maritime food as several currents meet just offshore.  Paddling turtles, breaching humpback whales and spinning dolphins join the lunch line and are an attraction even for the non-angler.

Another interesting activity is surfing, which has taken off in recent years on Guatemala’s Pacific coast.  High season for the perfect right and left breaks runs from March through October as the waves swing around from the south.  Surf camps are in vogue and individual camping is permitted in many beach side locations.

Local Fairs
Retalhuleu, December 8; San Sebastian, January 18; San Martin Zapotitlan, November 11; San Felipe, May 11; San Andres Villa Seca, November 30; Champerico, December 6; Nuevo San Carlos, December 31; and El Asintal, March 19.

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