One of the many Central American backpacker routes involves entering Belize after a visit to Tikal, then reentering Guatemala via boat from southern Belize; from there, one can travel up the Río Dulce, take a bus to Guatemala City, or a series of hired cars to the Honduran border. Conversely, some backpackers do a loop from Punta Gorda that includes Livingston, Río Dulce, Tikal then into Belize again.
Before leaving Punta Gorda , you’ll get your passport stamped at the customs office at the municipal dock; you’ll also be charged a US$4 PACT fee to help support Belize’s protected areas—or maybe you won’t. If traveling directly to Livingston, be sure to walk up the hill from the dock to check in at the Migración Office, where you’ll get stamped and pay a tiny fee (less than US$2); if you fail to do this, you’ll have problems leaving Guatemala. In Puerto Barrios, Migración is located 1.5 blocks east of the dock and is open 24 hours. If leaving for Belize, you’ll need to pay a US$10 exit fee here when you get your passport ponchada (stamped). Be sure to do this before buying your boat ticket to Punta Gorda. There is no fee to enter Belize.
A triangular boat run between the municipal docks of Punta Gorda, Puerto Barrios, and Livingston shuttles travelers across this section of Central American coastline. The trip is done in rather small boats with minimal shelter, so prepare for cold, wet, and rough seas during the rainy season. The direct leg between Livingston and Punta Gorda runs only Tuesdays and Fridays, leaving at 7 a.m. from Livingston, then shoving off from Punta Gorda at 10 a.m. If you miss that boat, you’ll have to travel first to Puerto Barrios (the hour-long trip costs US$25), then catch a regular colectivo water taxi to Livingston (leaves about every hour, 40-minute trip, under US$4).
There are three trips every day between Punta Gorda and Puerto Barrios, one based in Belize (Requena’s Charter Service, tel. 501/722-2070, watertaxi [at] btl [dot] net) and the others based in Guatemala: El Chato (tel. 501/722-2870, Guatemala tel. 502/7948-5525, www.transporteselchato.com.gt , pichilingo2000 [at] yahoo [dot] com) and Marisol Tours. Boats leave Punta Gorda around 9:30 a.m., 2 p.m., and 4 p.m. daily and depart from Puerto Barrios at 10 a.m., 1 p.m., and 2 p.m. Another boat man is Memo’s, with daily departures to Puerto Barrios and Livingston and also Río Dulce tours (tel. 501/630-5889). The cost is US$20–25 one way.
There is no legal direct boat service to Honduras from the Punta Gorda docks, but there is service from Placencia  and Dangriga , and those boats stop in Punta Gorda for immigration purposes. Otherwise, to get to Honduras from Punta Gorda , you’ll first take a daily boat shuttle from Punta Gorda to Puerto Barrios.
Buses and taxis in Puerto Barrios can whisk you to the Honduran border. Look for one of the many minivans trolling for passengers around the docks and market; it’s about an hour to the border at Corinto, then another 1.5 hours to the coastal backpacker hideout of Omoa, Honduras .
From there, it is under an hour to Puerto Cortés and San Pedro Sula , where you’ll find connecting buses and flights to Copan , the Bay Islands , and points farther south. There are direct flights from Belize international to San Pedro Sula (and possibly Roatán) for around US$250 one-way; inquire at Maya Island Air (www.mayaairways.com ).