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Population - 55,000, Altitude - 240m

Retalhuleu, or Reu as it is called for short, hints at the colonial charm of Antigua but in a town where tourists are outnumbered by locals by basically everyone to one. Despite the rich historical heritage in the surrounding area, the tourists who do visit usually come on long day trips from Xela.

However there are some excellent hotels in Reu and with many activities and sights nearby, including Abaj Takalik, the Olmec and Mayan pre-classic archeological park. It is a pleasant place to use as a base for a few days asit is also close enough to the coast for day trips to the beach (although beaches a little further away are more enticing).

Once you have left the Pacific Highway, entry to Reu is via Calzada las Palmas, a grand avenue of palm trees dotted with some impressive houses. The streets fringing Reu are nothing to write home about but once you reach the central park, the town reveals its vibrant and majestic heart. The church is named for Saint Antonio of Padua, a town in Northern Italy, and perhaps it is the Italian love of beautiful architecture that has spread to the buildings surrounding the square. There are even sculptures of two scantily clad Roman ladies in front of the church.

At all times of day the square is filled with people resting in the shade, buying CD’s of Latino pop, munching on tacos or watching the world go by. When the sun goes down, the noise of birds nesting in the trees is almost deafening and lovers come out to stroll hand in hand. It is a lovely place to spend some time and nearly all of the best hotels and restaurants are just off it.

Reu is the capital of the region but feels more like a small town. Many of its inhabitants are Quiché and while it is unusual to see native dress, they still follow the old customs. In fact, Retalhuleu means ‘signal’ or ‘hole in the earth’ in the Quiché language. Reu is in the process of modernizing though and its latest effort is a new pedestriansed shopping centre at the end of 5a Avenue.

The climate here is sub-tropical and the land is extremely fertile. There are many fincas across the region specializing in coffee, macadamias, sugar cane, mangos and coconuts. Some of these fincas have added lodges, enabling visitors to experience life on a working plantation, and some outstanding nature, in a unique way.


Other places nearby Retalhuleu: Tilapa & Tilapita, Monterrico, Champerico, Sipacate & La Paredón, Chulamar, Chiquimulilla, Coatepeque, Taxisco, El Tulate and Guatemala's Pacific Coast.

By Kathryn
Independent and optimistic, I believe in following your dreams and have been doing just that, traveling the world for the last 9 years. British by...
10 Feb 2010

Things to do in Retalhuleu

Museo De Arqueologia Y Etnologia

Located in a colonial house on the central park, the small museum holds some interesting artwork and pottery. Rooms are divided into time periods such as pre-classic, classic and post-classic to ...
Retalhuleu, Guatemala

Casa Samala – Casa De Cultura

Two blocks behind the museum, the Casa de Cultura is a pleasant place to come afterward for a cup of filtered coffee and a break. There are several different rooms containing traditional arts and ...
Other Activity
Retalhuleu, Guatemala

Parque Arqueológico Abaj Takalik

The main reason most visitors come to Reu is to see Abaj Takalik. While not as famous as Tikal in the North, it is considerably older and just as important. The site covers 6.5km2, ten terraces, has ...
Retalhuleu, Guatemala

Finca El Patrocinio

The 140 hectare (345 ac.) Patrocinio Reserve includes a variety of different habitats and is dedicated to conservation and restoration of the natural environment. The reserve is also involved in ...
Other Activity
Retalhuleu, Guatemala

Takalik Maya Lodge

This lodge and farm is located on Terrace 9 of the Abaj Takalik national park. A ten minute walk through the sub-tropical forest takes you to airy, all natural bungalows, with fantastic views of the ...
Other Activity
Retalhuleu, Guatemala

Comunidad Alianza Coffee Farm

Up in the hills with a commanding view of the active Volcan Santiaguito, which still lets out regular mushroom clouds, Comunidad Alianza is a wonderful place to come and relax for a few days or ...
Other Activity
Retalhuleu, Guatemala

Parque De Diversiones Xetulul

Winner of the prestigious Applause Award in 2008 for the best amusement park, Xetulul sets high standards for an adrenalin-packed day out. The park is divided into seven themed areas ...
Other Activity
Retalhuleu, Guatemala

Parque Acuático Xocomil

Xocomil stands high above other water parks, and that’s not just because it has the longest water slide in Central America. This park competes with the best water parks in the world. It is terrific ...
Other Activity
Retalhuleu, Guatemala
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