Guatemala is a privileged country with coastlines both on the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, it’s home to many beautiful beaches, some of which are pretty well-known by surfers and tourists alike. The most popular beaches in Guatemala are Puerto Barrios on Caribbean Coast side and Monterrico on the Pacific Coast side, but there are many more good beaches in the country. Since I’m an ex-pat living in Guatemala, I got to visit most of the beaches here, that’s why I decided to write about the best Guatemala beaches for you to visit, from my personal experience.
Guatemala is mostly known for its volcanoes, Mayan ruins, natural parks, and reserves. Despite having a huge shoreline, not many tourists consider Guatemala a beach vacation spot, and the truth is that some of the beaches in the country stand up against many other beaches around Central America.
You can find a wide variety of beaches in the country, from volcanic black sand beaches to lakeside beaches and white-sanded beaches. Most of the white-sanded beaches can be found on the Caribbean Coast side of the country, while the black sanded beaches are found on the Pacific Coast.
Best Beaches in Guatemala
Whether you want to surf, swim, or sunbathe, Guatemala sure has a beach that suits your necessities, there’s something for everyone, for those that want to soak up in the sun, play on the sand or just relax, here are ten of the best beaches in Guatemala.
On the Pacific Coast
El Paredon is by far the most popular near the beach town on the Pacific Coast of Guatemala, also, it’s a top option to go surfing in the country and in the whole world (as you can read in a post by The Guardian). Located only two hours from Antigua, this surf town and fishing village boasts one of the best and most unspoiled black-sand beaches in the country. Besides the beach trip and surfing, there are a ton of activities to do in El Paredon, like boat tours on the mangroves, turtle tours, and massages.
The Monterrico town is located in the San Rosa department of Guatemala, well known among the locals and tourists for its black volcanic sand and for the sea turtles that arrive annually, but the biggest draws of the towns are the natural charms it has to offer. The Monterrico beaches serve as a weekend getaway for Guatemalan locals. Whether you are looking for relaxing and sunbathing near the beach or chilling in the town, Monterrico sure has tons of things to do, like doing a mangrove boat tour, and exploring the Monterrico-Hawaii Reserve, and doing some birding and wildlife watching.
Tilapa Beach is located southwest side of Guatemala, near the Mexican border. It’s a small fishing village that makes a great and quiet beach weekend getaway. If you want to experience an even quieter trip, head to Tilapita on a 10min boat ride, which is another stunning and deserted beach. The town itself is rural and rough looking but you can find small hotels and restaurants to eat at.
I must let you that this place is uncrowded and almost unspoiled, and the nearest city is Quetzaltenango.
Iztapa is probably of the most beautiful beaches in Guatemala, offering stunning black sand for you to enjoy. Used to be only a port town but today is visited by locals and tourists looking to go surfing, watch whales, and deep-sea fishing. You can find a bunch of near beach restaurants. One of the biggest draws of this place is the accessibility, you can get there on a 2h bus ride from the capital, Guatemala City. Also, you can get to a sandbar by boat ride. Definitely, a must-visit if you want to explore the Guatemala coast.
Puerto San Jose
One of the best beaches in Guatemala, it’s also one of the busiest ones. It’s right on the coast and has great views. The water isn’t that clear, but there are lots of great restaurants with amazing dishes, and a great beach where you can spend a day there.
Puerto San Jose has located 110km away from Guatemala City and 55km from Escuintla. Its popularity is due to the fact that you can quickly get there from the capital (Guatemala City) and many other big cities. A big draw of this port town is the sport fishing opportunity it has to offer. You can find the beach right in front of Puerto San Jose, offering tons of activities, but the best beach in the area is Chulamar, can easily be reached by car on a 20min trip.
Playa Las Lisas
Located in the Santa Rosa department, between a canal (Canal de Chiquimulilla) and the beach, where the merge of those two (called Boca Barra) is a must-see. The beach itself is a stunning place to relax and watch the sunset, offering beautiful landscapes with tropical weather. One of the biggest draws of Playa Las Lisas are the activities it has to offer, like diving and spotting two sunken ships, swimming and humpback whale or dolphin watching.
On the Caribbean Coast
Playa Dorada beach is located on Izabal, often known as one of the most famous beaches in Guatemala, offering almost 16 km of white-sanded unspoiled beach and blue-turquoise water. Also, you can enjoy a wide variety of activities like riding a jet ski, boat tours, and water banana rides. The first option for most locals and tourists is to spend a relaxing time on the beach and enjoy the tropical weather. The water is so clear that’s perfect for snorkeling around and the sand is so clean that you won’t want to leave. The beach town offers everything a tourist needs in a modest way, you can find hotels, restaurants and bars.
Playa Blanca beach is located at the mouth of Rio Dulce, 30-min boat ride from Livingstone. Packed with palm trees and fine white sand, the beach doesn’t have big waves, making it the first choice for families to go. One of the biggest draws of this paradise is the fact that the beach is not crowded and the stunning landscapes it has to offer. Since the beach is private, you need to pay an admission fee of Q15 (around $2) and hire a tour guide or hire a boat. I highly recommend you to go on a tour, there are many agencies in Livingstone offering them different packages, and some of them will take you to Los Siete Altares (one of the best waterfalls in Guatemala).
Puerto Barrios is a port town located in the Izabal deparment, and is probably not the first option when it comes to a beach getaway, perhaps it has some good beaches to offer, like Punta Palma, which is one of the best, and Santa Maria del Mar, both of them offering white sand and clear blue waters. Most travelers and tourists will only use Puerto Barrios as a passing-by town when getting to other destinations. You can spend time relaxing on the beach or taking a trip to the town and visiting some restaurants, internet cafés and bars. A good place to visit is the town’s market.
Punta de Manabique
Located just 20 km to the north of Puerto Barrios, Punta de Manabique is a peninsula declared as a wildlife reserve where you can find mangroves and rain forest. In order to get to the beach, you need to take a boat from Puerto Barrios, in order to fully enjoy the area I recommend you to go with a tour guide. This area offers a wide variety of activities like sport fishing, snorkeling, swimming or simply relaxing and sunbathing on the beach. On the other hand, you can enjoy the biodiversity of the place and do outdoor activities like birding, fauna, and flora watching among other things.
When is the best time to visit Guatemala beaches?
The Guatemalan weather is tropical and rainy with only two seasons, the dry and wet season. The best time to visit Guatemalan beaches is during the dry season, from November to April, the weather is usually dryer and less humid. But the country has a nice warm climate all year round, with temperatures from 23 °C to +30 °C.
In the wet season, rainfalls only last for a couple of hours, I don’t recommend you travel there September and October since rainy days can ruin your Guatemalan beach vacation.