Guatemala is an exciting off the beaten track destination know its Mayan ruins, colonial influences and beautiful natural landscapes. Guatemala’s shoreline stretches along 440km (273 miles) but despite this incredible figure, not many travelers think of Guatemala as a beach destination.
You may be surprised to know that some of the best beaches in Guatemala can rival those in other parts of Central America.
Guatemala is home to 3 types of beaches: black sand beaches, white sand beaches, lakeside beaches.
Black sand beaches are typically found along the Pacific Coast and are more common than white sand beaches, located on the Caribbean Coast. If you don’t want to head to the coast, there are a few lakes inland where you can spend time on the beach.
Whether you want to surf, read a book, or walk along the shoreline, here are a few of the best beaches in Guatemala that you should know about.
Pacific Coast Beaches in Guatemala
Playa Monterrico (Monterrico Beach)
Playa Monterrico is one of the more developed Guatemala beaches. As with other beaches on the Pacific Coast, Monterrico’s shoreline is filled with black sand. The waves are a bit high, so be careful if you decide to go for a swim. Guatemala beach tourism hasn’t quite caught on yet, but this area is frequented by travelers a bit more than other beaches.
Buses run both Antigua and Guatemala City. If you happen to be in Antigua, you can visit Monterrico on a day trip. Monterrico’s other attraction is the Biotopo Monterrico-Hawaii National Park, which can be visited on a guided boat tour from the town.
If you would like to stay in Monterrico, there are several hotels and restaurants around.
- One hotel option, which is situated directly on the beach, is Black Sand Beachhouse. It offers traditional hotel rooms along with dorm-style rooms that accommodate several guests.
- Another option is Hotel Atelie del Mar, which is just 45m (150 feet) from the beach and has three swimming pools to enjoy.
Playa El Paredon ( El Paredon Beach)
El Paredon, located southwest of Antigua, is considered to be a well-kept secret in Guatemala. Locals know that El Paredon has some of the best, year-round surfing in the country, but the beach remains rather unknown to foreigners. The drive to El Paredon is about 3 hours from Guatemala City and 2 hours from Antigua. You can take a Guatemalan chicken bus (their local transportation) or shuttle to get there. The town itself is small, although it does have a few hotels and small restaurants.
El Paredon Surf Camp offers cabanas, dormitories, and campsites for those who wish to stay overnight.
Another accommodation option is the adults-only resort called Swell, which is just over 2 km (1.4 miles) from the beach and offers a swimming pool, garden, bar, and restaurant. Pacifico El Paredon is also a good option that has an on-site eatery.
About 2 hours southwest of the town of Quetzaltenango, you’ll find a former shipping port of Champerico, a beach frequented by locals from the area. Champerico is a dark sand beach, it is a bit larger than other Guatemala beaches, although it still isn’t crowded.
Accommodations are scarce, and one of the only options is Hotel y Restaurante El Diamante, which is a short walk from the beach and offers breakfast.
Iztapa is one of the most beautiful black sand beaches in Guatemala. Iztapa was originally a port town, but nowadays it offers several activities, such as surfing, deep-sea fishing, and watching whales. Of course, just lounging the day away on the beach is ok, too!
There are several restaurants near the beach, and the town is accessible by car or a direct 1.5-hour bus ride from Guatemala City. A sandbar is reachable by boat, which is fun to do if you want to explore or relax in a different area. This is one of the best beaches in Guatemala.
Hotels are scarce in Iztapa, but there are a few lovely vacation homes available. Casas Pelicanos is located about 4 km (2.5 miles) away and offers several cabins and a swimming pool.
Caribbean Coast Beaches in Guatemala
Named for its white sand, Playa Blanca is a beach just outside of Guatemala’s town of Livingston on the Caribbean Coast. Playa Blanca is accessible by boat and
There is a fee to get onto Playa Blanca, and the water is not as clear as in other parts of the country.
Guatemala beaches are known for being clean, and the same is true about Playa Blanca. Livingston’s beach is shallow with stones and rocks, so you need to be careful when swimming. Worth noting is the nearby Playa Quehueche, which is a lesser-known beach also in Livingston.
It is possible to stay in the area, although it is not heavily populated with tourists or locals compared to Livingston. A few hotel options are Casa Nostra, which offers the use of bikes to their guests, and Hotel La Casa Rosada, which has a private beach area. Both properties have on-site restaurants and are about 1km (0.6 miles) from the town’s centre.
Punta de Manabique
If you are looking for a beach with natural beauty, the peninsula of Punta de Manabique, located on the Caribbean Coast, is the perfect spot. This mangrove filled rainforest was declared a wildlife reserve in 1999 and is a protected area in Guatemala. There is a reef with a diverse ecosystem that can be explored, if you are a diver.
The area isn’t highly accessible, so to get there, you’ll have to take a boat from Puerto Barrio. The beauty and untouched feel of the area may be well worth it. It’s a great place for those who enjoy observing nature and wildlife in its natural habitat and enjoy spending time on the beaches in Guatemala.
Puerto Barrio, which is 26 km (16 miles) away by water, is the closest option for a hotel room as there are no hotels on Punta de Manabique. Amatique Bay Hotel has a private beach and many amenities such as a pool, Wi-Fi, and private baths for each room.
Lake Izabal Beaches
If you are looking for soft, lightly coloured sand and picturesque views, then you may want to consider Playa Dorada. Guatemala’s trend of having peaceful beaches reigns true at this inland location.
The beach is on the south side of Lake Izabal, which has restaurants, boat rides, and a few hotels. Getting to the area is somewhat difficult, but buses are available from Guatemala City, which takes around 5 hours. It may be better to rent a car and spend a day or two exploring the area surrounding the lake.
If you’d like to stay near the lake, G Boutique Hotel is a good option with both a pool and a restaurant.
Choosing Which Guatemala Beaches to Visit
Although there are no Guatemala City beaches, if you happen to be in the country, many beaches are accessible by bus or car from the city. It is hard to determine which is the best beach. Guatemala has a variety of options, so it may be smart to choose a beach that is close by or has the activities you want to do.