Kayaking the Río Dulce Out to Sea

Rio Dulce River Guatemala Kayaking
Kayaking the Río Dulce River

The Río Dulce is a large blue-green river that flows out of Guatemala into the ocean. Small communities of native Maya live simple lives alongside it in the jungle. Three hundred foot high cliffs tower above the river on either side.

Some local kids decided to race me on the river.

I felt like getting a little exercise and found out it’s possible to rent a kayak up the river a bit at a place called Finca Tatin and head down through the jungle canyon out to the ocean. I hired a water taxi from the town of Livingston to take me there. Finca Tatin is a hostel/campsite along the river in the middle of the jungle.

Rio Dulce River Guatemala Wooden Canoe
Local Wooden Dugout Canoe

After securing my craft, I made my way out onto the water. I passed many people traveling by Cayucos, the local dugout canoe. Some were fishing the river with nets, others seemed to be heading from their homes into town.

Rio Dulce River Guatemala Jungle Cliffs
House Under Jungle Cliffs

Soon I entered the impressive Río Dulce canyon. The high cliffs were covered in thick green jungle, with small local homes scattered along the river’s edge. The area was full of life: fish jumping, cranes and pelicans flying overhead, I even saw a brightly colored river crab scurry away from me on some rocks.

Rio Dulce River Guatemala Kids Canoe
Racing Local Kids on the River

Further down, some local kids decided to race me on the river. Me in my kayak, them in their wooden canoe. It was a brother & sister team. The race was close, but my kayak and I ended up winning.

I waved goodbye to them and tried to pick up my pace as the sun began to drop. Kayaking in the busy boat lane by the mouth of the river at dusk wouldn’t be very smart. I needed to get back to Livingston before nightfall.

Rio Dulce River Guatemala Ocean
Out Into the Ocean

I finally rounded the last bend of the Río Dulce before it empties out into the sea. The waves from the ocean were getting funneled into the mouth of the river, which made for some tricky paddling. This wasn’t exactly an ocean-going kayak I was in, and tipping with all my camera gear would not have been fun.

But I managed to keep it up past the worst of the waves and maneuver it through the fleet of fishing boats and into Livingston’s harbor. Thus my interesting day of exercise came to an end.

Travel Planning Resources for Livingston, Guatemala
Company: Finca Tatin
Cost: $60 Quetzales ($7.65 US) Kayak Rental
Difficulty: Moderate

Packing Guide

Check out my travel gear guide to help you start packing for your trip. Pick up a travel backpack, camera gear, and other useful travel accessories.

Book Your Flight

Book cheap flights on Skyscanner, my favorite airline search engine to find deals. Also read my tips for how I find the cheapest flights.

Rent A Car

Discover Car Hire is a great site for comparing car prices to find the best deal. They search both local & international rental companies.

Book Accommodation

Booking.com is my favorite hotel search engine. Or rent local apartments on Airbnb ($35 discount!). Read my post for tips on booking cheap hotels.

Protect Your Trip

Don’t forget travel insurance! I’m a big fan of World Nomads for short-term trips. Protect yourself from possible injury & theft abroad. Read more about why you should always carry travel insurance.

THANKS FOR READING

Hi, I’m Matthew Karsten — I’ve been traveling around the world for the last 9 years as a blogger, photographer, and digital nomad. Adventure travel & photography are my passions. Let me inspire you to travel more with crazy stories, photography, and useful tips from my journey.
Matthew Karsten
Join 20,000 others who receive exclusive email updates!

7 Reasons To Subscribe →

Leave a Comment

14 thoughts on “Kayaking the Río Dulce Out to Sea”

  1. I just found your blog about kayaking along Rio Dulce. I’m visiting there in March and would like to to the same or similar trip. I was wondering how you got the kayak back to the starting point, or if the kayak return was part of the price. Also, what was the rental cost?

    • You leave the kayak on the docks in Livingston, they pick it up later. Just updated the post with cost and other info.

  2. What’s this? Kayaking without ME? That’s some kind of crime I think. Any man eating things in that river? How’s the food? Eat any fried spiders or bat ears?

  3. Looks like another great adventure. The color of the water is amazing. Looks like some spring fed rivers I have paddled in Florida.