Guatemala is probably best known of all the Latin American countries for having the best Mayan ruins and amazing volcanoes, but it is the beaches in Guatemala that are beginning to attract the most visitors. Anyone wishing to escape the heat or wanting a change from the beautiful highlands of the region head directly to the magnificent waters of either the Pacific Ocean or the Caribbean Sea.
The beaches all along the Pacific side of the country have that gorgeous rich black sand that is created from the volcanic activity of the area. The beaches along the Caribbean side has the powdery sugar white sand and are generally lined with coconut palm trees like you might see in many postcards depicting the ideal tropical beach vacation. Surfing in Guatemala is fast becoming one of the most popular sports.
The waters of the Pacific are turbulent enough to make for some great waves that are gaining world-wide attention from some of the best surfers. Many resorts along the way cater to that crowd, making it a wonderful place to spend your holiday. With it being a relatively new sport, there are fewer surfers here to compete with for the best waves. Sport fishing is also a very popular activity, and this area of the Pacific is especially known for large sailfish.
You can find a boat to charter to take you out to either fish or watch for whales or other fascinating sea life. Whether you are looking for a busy beach with a lot of activity and Afro-Caribbean rhythms playing in the background, or an isolated beach that can only be accessed by boat or anything in between, this country has it all. There are also several popular beaches on lakes Atitlan and Izabal if freshwater is more to your liking. Below is listed just a small sample of some of the best beaches in Guatemala. Any one of them will be certain to make your holiday the best one ever.
Monterrico is perhaps the most popular beach in Guatemala for both locals and tourists alike. Its famous black sand and beautiful scenery as well as having more amenities than most other beaches make this the go-to place. The difference between this beach and other well developed beaches in the world is the relaxing atmosphere and the feeling that you really are a part of the country instead of just being at another tourist trap.
The village of Monterrico is full of character, and you will probably even see pigs, chickens and other animals roaming free. The people that live here are so unpretentious and friendly, and very willing to help make your stay as fun as possible. Located along the Pacific coast, the ocean water is great for surfing, with big, crashing waves. There are some surf shops where you can rent a board and take them on.
Along with the turbulent waters comes some wicked undertows, so swimming out very far may not be the best idea. However, besides surfing you can rent a kayak or charter a boat to take you out whale-watching. Or you can take one of the tour boats through the mangrove swamps and see some amazing wildlife of the area, or tour the area on horseback. The Biotopo Monterrico-Hawaii nature reserve is here, which means you can see some magnificent birds or even help with releasing baby turtles to make their dash to the ocean. Great fun! T
Taking a stroll along the miles-long beach looking for seashells is a romantic way to spend a moonlit evening. Or relax in a hammock while sipping on your favorite tropical drink and listening to some great music and watch one of the most magnificent sunsets you will ever see. This is one of the best places to see in Guatemala for an escape from the cities and different scenery than the highlands. You will not want to leave!
2. Champerico, or Champe
Champerico, or Champe, is thought of as the best beach in Guatemala for surfing. Locals love to help show the best places to catch some of the biggest waves, and several small surf shops can rent you the equipment and even teach you the sport. Champerico is a town and one of the largest port in the country, so you will find all of the amenities you could need to make your stay perfect. There is plenty of coastline with plenty of beach to go around, whether you like the action of a crowd or a more isolated spot.
There is a wooden pier that is famous in the country, and you may want to try your hand at fishing from it. There are always some kind of activities going on around the pier. The town has many hotels and restaurants to choose from as well as some shopping options while still keeping that small town atmosphere. You will certainly want to try some of the best fresh seafood meals while you are here.
There are also several small restaurants and bars right on the beach, complete with the picturesque thatched roofs. It is most fun to eat and get a drink from these so you do not have to leave the beach. Wade around in the warm water and sunbathe in the beautiful dark sand while listening to the crashing waves and you will be able to relax and recharge your body in the best way possible.
3. Playa Blanca
Playa Blanca is appropriately named “White Beach” as it is a magnificent stretch of the most pristine white sand you will find anywhere. With beautiful swaying palm trees lining the beach you will feel like you have found paradise! Located in Izabel, this is one of the Guatemala beaches that is only accessible by boat, so is relatively quiet, with not that many people visiting it at any one time. This means it is the perfect place to relax and unwind while enjoying the Caribbean waters.
The water is so calm and crystal clear that you will love swimming and snorkeling here. It does not get real deep until you are over 100 meters out so there is plenty of room to play. You could float or kayak around for hours enjoying the beauty of the area. It is a wonderful place to bring your camping gear and stay over night, perhaps having a bonfire and roasting some hotdogs and eating smores! You will never forget the adventure!
The region is a protected area which is why it is so beautiful, and it is untouched by any commercialization. While that means there are no amenities, this just adds to the charm and thrill of it all. Whether you camp out here or just spend a few hours, you will know you have been in one of the best places on earth.
4. Playa Tilapa
Playa Tilapa is the northernmost beach in Guatemala, and is only 10 miles from the Mexican border. The small fishing village of Tilapa is a quaint little town with a small hotel and one restaurant where you can get some of the best seafood dishes around. The dark sand of this extremely quiet beach is such an inviting place to sunbathe and soak in the rural atmosphere. The warm water of the Pacific provides some great breaks for surfing, which people from around the world come to enjoy. Watching the locals fish, or even taking part in it yourself is another favorite past-time, and you could even get something fresh to cook for dinner right on the beach.
While the water is rough, which makes it perfect for surfing, there is some underwater shelving that helps break up the undertow found at other beaches in Guatemala, so the water is much safer for everyone to swim and play in. There are lifeguards on duty on the weekends which makes it even safer for all. Take a kayak out on the water for some real fun, or take it just 10 minutes away and you will come to the beach of Talapita, which could well be totally deserted. Bring items with you for a picnic or camping out and you will be able to enjoy a totally relaxing, perfect holiday where you can unwind from the stresses of everyday life.
Related: The Best Beaches in Philippines
5. Puerto San Jose
Puerto San Jose is located just around the bend from Monterrico, and is also one of the most popular beaches in Guatemala. It is the second largest port in the country, and the largest fishing town along the Pacific stretch of their coastline. Arranging for a charter to take you out to do some fishing for sailfish or to do some whale-watching is a fantastic way to spend the day. The dark sandy beach is so warm and inviting that you may decide to just sunbathe with a good book and pina colada in hand while watching the different boats coming and going. With the volcanoes visible in the background, the area is very pretty and relaxing. There is an airport in the town so you have the option of flying in here directly. There are restaurants and beach bars close at hand so there is no need to go anywhere. But nearby is the small village of Chulamar if you are looking for somewhere fancier to dine or stay.
6. Playa Dorada or The Golden Beach
Playa Dorada or The Golden Beach as it is translated, is another wonderful beach in Guatemala. It was so named because of the tiny golden pebbles that covered the area. Over time people have taken most of these gems as souvenirs, but there are still enough to give it that beautiful color, especially just off shore. The beach is located in Izabal, and if you are staying here there are buses that will take you to and from the beach.
The beach is long enough that you have the option of having fun with many other people or finding a more secluded spot for some peace and quiet. Maybe join a rousing game of beach volleyball while listening to some great music. Later when you want to relax or have more privacy you won’t have far to go. There are restaurants right on the beach where you can get some fantastic seafood and many other things to eat.
Surrounding the area are some amazing forests, where you may want to explore and see some of the native wildlife and birds. You will certainly want to have your favorite tropical drink while on the beach enjoying a spectacular sunset, or take a romantic moonlit stroll along the shoreline where you could find some amazing seashells. This beach definitely has all you could want to make that holiday special.
7. Sipicate Beach
Sipicate beach is a very long and luxuriously black sandy beach near the town of Sipicate. The entire shoreline is so pristine and not crowded at all. As with all of the Guatemala beaches that are along the Pacific, the water is very strong and great for surfing. Some breakers are such that even the less experienced surfers can feel safe. There are often surfing competitions here that are great fun to either participate in or just watch these amazing athletes.
The entire beach is relatively untouched by commercialization, with the exception of one resort hotel. They help keep the beach clean and litter free, and have flags set out along the shore to mark areas that are safe for swimming. The hotel is full of Guatemalan flair, with pools not only for people but one for turtles and one just for their special guest – Juanando the crocodile! Juanando is the star, but as the signs warn, do not feed him or throw things at him! Also near the beach is the Paredón Surf Camp – situated near the Sipicate-Naranjo National Park.
It is a rustic but cozy place to stay, with hammocks for beds. Surrounding the beach is a marshy mangrove that is teeming with wildlife and birds that you may want to spend some time exploring. You will definitely want to eat at the hotel, where you will be treated to some of the best seafood dishes ever, with everything fresh and made from scratch. You will not taste any better food anywhere. After a very filling meal, grab a beer or other drink and relax back on the beach. Soak in the sun and relax in total comfort. It can’t get any better than that!