Tapachula is a thriving coffee-growing region and coffee-export center located in the southeast corner of Mexico in the state of Chiapas. Its position along the Pacific Ocean and near the border of Guatemala makes it a very important link between Central America and Mexico, and is also responsible for the city’s culturally diverse population of Native Americans, Spanish, Mestizos as well as Germans, Chinese, Japanese and French, among other nationalities.
In fact, prior to Hurricane Stan’s 2005 devastation of the train system in the vital Soconusco Region surrounding Tapachula, large numbers of immigrants looking for jobs were carried northward each week, having entered Mexico through Tapachula.
The Soconusco Region, with its lowlands and rich foothills of the Sierra Madre del Sur, is important to the city for a number of reasons. Firstly, it is the state of Chiapas primary coffee-plantation and coffee-producing area and a major contributor to Tapachula’s economic base.
Secondly, the Port of Chiapas (Puerto Chiapas) is located within the Region and, since its opening in 1975, the port has created many opportunities for the city’s advancement, both economically and in its tourism sector.
Puerto Chiapas was initially a small fishing and agricultural export center for such products as coffee beans. However, since 2005 the government has been upgrading the port and adding facilities and services for both cruise ships and heavy cargo vessels.
The port created the stimulus for tourism in Tapachula as such cruise lines as Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Oceania Cruises, and Holland America began to stop here. There are a number of nearby attractions and points of interest in the city itself that cruise ship passengers have begun to notice.
Every few weeks, cruise ship passengers meander through the Spanish-influenced city streets of the metropolitan Tapachula, taking in its buildings, central park, and culture. Due to its highly- diverse culture, visitors here will find a wonderful mix of cuisine, like that found in the city’s many Asian or German restaurants.
At the heart of Tapachula is the expansive, busy main plaza called Parque Hidalgo (Hidalgo Park), a gathering place with majestic views of the peak of Volcán Tacaná. Here visitors will find taco and pastry stands as well as local artisans selling handcrafted ceramics and leather goods.
Along this main plaza sits the Museo Arqueologico del Soconusco, one of the city’s main attractions. It is a small museum with exhibits of local findings from the nearby Izapa archeological site and coastal areas, including stone heads and figurines, pre-Hispanic musical instruments, and relics depicting the indigenous Olmec, Mayan, and Aztec influences.
Visitors here will also find some very fun things to do, including:
- Water sport activities are found at several beaches, including the popular Playa Linda and San Benito beaches.
- Numerous tours are available, including those to nearby archaeological sites, coffee plantations, ancient haciendas, and waterfalls.
- Boat trips through the mangroves.
- Guided rappelling and rock climbing excursions.
Whether you are a cruise ship passenger here for the day or visiting for a longer span of time, you’ll see an interesting, diverse city with fascinating attractions and cuisine to sate anyone’s taste buds!