Nestled in the warm region of Retalhuleu is the Guatemala’s own version of Disney World. With three parks – Xocomil, Xetulul, and Xejuyup – and an entire resort with four themed sections of hotel blocks, Irtra Guatemala is Central America’s greatest destination for thrill seekers. The theme parks are run by Irtra (Instituto de Recreación de los Trabajadores de la Empresa Privada de Guatemala) and is targeted to Guatemala’s public workers. Foreign visitors or private employees pay a small admission fee of Q100 (roughly $13 USD) per person.
Set in lush, tropical grounds, the resort, Los Hostales del Irtra, features three swimming pools, a spa, a tennis court, a mini golf course, and four themed restaurants. Two of the swimming pools, Piscina Moana and Piscina Las Cascadas, feature a small water slide as well as a large swimming area.
Resort guests can either drive to the parks or take an adorable shuttle train, which takes roughly 5-10 minutes depending on the park.
Xocomil is perhaps their most popular park. With a distinctive Guatemalan theme, the water park first opened in 1997, and features fifteen waterslides, two swimming pools, two wave pools, and a giant lazy river. The lazy river features replicas of ancient temples and Maya masks and is a great family activity.
Xetulul is their amusement park, with rides for all ages. The park is divided into nine themed areas with replicas of a Tikal pyramid, the Trevi Fountain, and the Castle of San Felipe de Lara. For kids, there is a carousel and a children’s area with smaller rides. For adults, there are high thrill rides like the Avalancha, a roller coaster with eight inversions, and El Estrujensen, a top-spinner that spins you backwards and forwards. You can purchase an all-you-can-ride bracelet for Q50 or a 12-ride punch card for the same cost.
Xejuyup is their newest addition, having just opened in 2019. Xejuyup features a jungle-like atmosphere with a bunch of family-friendly games and exhibits. The adventure theme park features more than thirteen attractions, including a petting zoo area with cute little animals. Young children can go on donkey-rides and families can enjoy a horse-carriage ride. A highlight of the park is the El Guaca-Molon, a giant aviary filled with Guacamayas, the Mayan word for Macaw. The park also has a giant tube-slide and a panther-themed roller coaster. Attractions use the same punch card system.
Perhaps the cutest part of visiting the theme parks is the characters they have created just for the parks. If you’re lucky, you can catch costumed mascots in the park and take a photo with them. Here’s us with Luca the squirrel!
The parks are truly an amazing place. They’re extremely well-maintained and the rides are very unique. Some of the theme rides are ones that I have never seen before in other parks in the US. If you’re in Guatemala and are looking for a trip that’s a bit less touristy, I highly recommend the 4 hour drive from Guatemala City.