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It’s likely that you haven’t heard of anyone who’s gone to Guatemala to surf. There are many other more popular places in Central America to catch waves, such as Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and El Salvador. Few surfers consider visiting Guatemala with surfing in mind, but they’re missing out.

guatemala surfing
Photo courtesy of Sergio Muñoz via Flickr CC

There are quite a few excellent Guatemala surfing spots that are well-kept secrets. On the Pacific coast of the country, you’ll find pristine, black sand beaches and waves of all sizes. It’s a great place to learn how to surf, but also features plenty of giant swells to satisfy the most experienced, thrill-seeking experts. If you want the wonders of the Central American surfing world with more charm and thinner crowds, head to Guatemala.

Best Time for Surfing in Guatemala 

The best time for surfing Guatemala is right at the end of the rainy season. Between March and June, the waves are fantastic and the weather is at its peak. If you want even bigger waves, you can consider visiting during the rainy season (August-February) but you’ll likely have a few days with less than ideal weather.

The Best Guatemala Surfing Spots

El Paredon

Just two hours south of Antigua, Guatemala, El Paredon is perhaps the best and most well-known surf spot in the country. It’s known for its great swells and fun, friendly atmosphere. Because it’s the most well-known, it is the most crowded and most expensive, as well. However, compared to most other destinations in the region, crowds are still thin and costs are reasonable.

guatemala surfing - underrated destination in Central america
Photo courtesy of federica.borio via Flickr CC

The waves in El Paredon, Guatemala are suitable for all levels and abilities. This is a great place to learn how to surf if you’ve never tried it before, but you’ll also find large swells for more experienced wave riders, as well.

Sipacate

Just to the west of El Paredon is Sipacate, a small and fairly untouched Guatemala surfing spot. There’s an excellent chance that no matter what time of year it is, you’ll have the waves to yourself. This is another beach with waves for all surfing levels.

guatemala surfing - underrated destination in Central America
Photo courtesy of guadonpost via Flickr CC

The town of Sipacate, Guatemala is much larger than El Paredon and, as a result, there is a little more infrastructure here. It’s a great place to rent a surfboard for surfing, both in town and in El Paredon. You can also head slightly inland to a beautiful lagoon for some kayaking or bird watching.

Iztapa

Iztapa is a medium-sized surf town farther east of both Sipacate and El Paredon. Most visitors come here to relax on the beach rather than surf, which simply means you’ll have the waves to yourself once again. You’ll need to find a way to cross the mouth of the Rio Maria Linda to reach the big breaks, but plenty of local boats will be willing to take you.

guatemala surfing - underrated destination in Central America
Photo courtesy of Roberto Quesada via Flickr CC

The waves here are best for advanced surfers, as they can be quite strong and powerful. There are also rocks and some breakwater structures, as well as currents to be aware of.

Monterrico

Monterrico is a little town farther to the east on Guatemala’s coast. The town is not only known for its great waves, but also for its resident sea turtles and the Biotopo Monterrico-Hawaii National Park right next door.

guatemala surfing - underrated destination in Central America
Photo courtesy of neil payne via Flickr CC

The town of Monterrico is relaxed and mellow, and few tourists ever make it down to these beaches. Those who do will have plenty of room out on the waves with locals. There is a minuscule expat community in town, so you may have the chance to meet other travelers like you while you’re there.

Champerico

Much farther up the coast to the northwest is Champerico, a Guatemala surf town loved by locals and travelers alike. It’s a bit more difficult to reach than some of the others, but the reward is having some of the best waves in the country.

guatemala surfing - underrated destination in Central America
Photo courtesy of jjvelazquezmx via Flickr CC

Champerico, Guatemala is best surfed by intermediate or advanced surfers. Although there are some smaller swells, the majority of the waves are on the larger, rougher side.

Where to Stay

The choices for accommodations in these Guatemala surfing towns are quite varied. There are regular hotels, local guesthouses, hostels, and even surf camps. Most of the options are extremely affordable and high quality. At the vast majority of them, you can arrange surfing classes or board rentals. If not, there will likely be some shops right nearby, but it is best to check this ahead of time. If not, make sure to pick up the supplies you need in either Antigua or Guatemala City before heading to the coast.

  • El Paredon: El Paredon has some truly stunning and eco-friendly surf camps. Book your stay at either El Paredon Surf Camp if you’re on a budget and want a local feeling, or at the Swell Surf & Lifestyle Hotel for a peaceful taste of luxury.
guatemala surfing - underrated destination in Central America
Photo courtesy of Swell Surf & Lifestyle Hotel
  • Sipacate: The Pacific Pearls Eco-Lodge is right on the beach and an absolutely stunning place to stay. They use indigenous materials and power the lodge with solar energy.
  • Iztapa: The Surf Shack is the only surf school in town and a great hostel to stay at if you’re on a budget. For a bit more comfort, try the Hotel Sol y Playa, the only other main accommodation in town.
guatemala surfing - underrated destination in Central America
Photo courtesy of Hotel Sol y Playa
  • Monterrico: Marbella Eco Lodge is an excellent hotel right on the beach that operates with plenty of sustainable practices. Right down the street, Johnny’s Place is a hotel and hostel combination with a fun atmosphere.

While there are a few drawbacks to Guatemala surfing, such as strong rip currents and the barely maintained coastal road, the pros far outweigh the cons. The Pacific shoreline is beautiful and practically untouched, the accommodations are cheap, and the people and atmosphere are exciting and refreshing at the same time. If you want to discover surfing as it used to be, in destinations practically untouched by tourism, then book a ticket for a Guatemala surfing adventure right away.

Where’s your favourite place in the world for surfing?

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