Planning a Trip
By Bus -- Transportes Esmeralda (tel. 502/2471-0327) buses leave for Puerto San José roughly every half-hour between 6am and 9pm from Guatemala City's main Terminal de Autobuses in Zona 4. The fare is Q15 ($2/£1). The ride takes about 2 hours each way. Return buses follow roughly the same schedule.
By Car -- If you're coming by car, head south out of Guatemala City on CA-9, the Pacific Coast Highway, toward Escuintla. From Escuintla it's a straight shot on a paved highway to Puerto Quetzal, where the highway ends. Follow the signs and flow of traffic for the last few miles to Puerto San José. The drive takes about 90 minutes, not including Guatemala City traffic.
Taxis and tuk tuks are plentiful around Puerto San José, and most rides cost just Q10 to Q15 ($1.35-$2/70p-£1).
Puerto San José is busy and chaotic, especially considering its size. Several banks, pharmacies, Internet cafes, and comedores can be found in the downtown area, which is only about 6 blocks long by 4 blocks wide. The closest modern hospital, Hospital Génesis, 3a Av. 2-68, Zona 1 (tel. 502/788-0187), is located in Escuintla. If you need to contact the local police, dial tel. 502/7881-1333.
Party Time -- The town hosts rowdy fiestas from March 16 to March 22, when hotels are packed with revelers, and a town fair and carnival takes over the area. Live concerts, carnival rides and games, and scores of food booths and souvenir stands are part of the festivities.