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Guatemala Pacific Coast: Places to Visit, Things to Do and More

Being an ex-pat in Guatemala, I got to know all the best places for tourists to go and spend their Guatemalan vacations on, and one of the best places is the Pacific Coast of Guatemala. Better known as the “Southern Coast or La Costa Sur“, this is the Guatemalan’s favorite place to go. Monterrico, the most popular of all, is where Chapines come to bask in the sun and enjoy the black sanded, volcanic beaches. It is filled with private home rentals and Airbnbs as well as some small but good hotels. That’s I decided to cover all the places to visit and things to do on the Pacific Coast of Guatemala.

Granted, the beaches are nowhere as beautiful as the surrounding countries such as Mexico or Honduras. No white sand and clear water here. Instead, you will find black volcanic beaches, which is an interesting thing to see.

But they are still a great place to visit if you’re craving a beach experience, you’ll definitely have a blast here. If you go to El Paredon you will be able to do some fun surfing in the great waves. Depending on the season, you can also watch the baby sea turtles make their way to the sea.

Fun Facts and Travel Guide to Guatemala Pacific Coast Beaches

How to get there

First of all, you need to decide where you want to go on the Pacific coast, most tourists set Monterrico as their destination and start exploring from there, and I do recommend this. There are several ways to get to Monterrico, by local buses, by renting a car, or by shuttle. I recommend the last one is the most comfortable way to get there.

Heading there you will come across many towns, like Retalhuleu which is another must-visit town.

Here is how to get there: See the map

How’s the Weather

The climate in Guatemala is tropical, temperatures can fall by the night, and have hotter and humid days. The pacific coast of Guatemala is hot all year long, with temperatures going from 20c to 37c, on this region, the weather tends to b a bit unpredictable since its rainy days can be possible all year round.

Hot and Humid – 85 °F year-round.

Places to Visit

These are the most popular hot spots in this region. But for the gotta-see-it-all traveler, scroll down to the CITIES LESS TRAVELED to get the goods on this whole region.

Monterrico

Monterrico is the most popular black-sanded, volcanic beach destination in Guatemala. But it is so much more. This is also the most important and protected area for sea turtles in Guatemala. Imagine seeing a mother turtle come ashore and lay her eggs. How about holding the baby sea turtle in your hand before it goes off to sea. This nature interaction is guaranteed to leave an impression on anyone who visits here.

Can’t Miss This

  • Hawaii Park (Parque Hawaii)
  • Biotope Monterrico-Hawaii
  • Tortuguero Monterrico
  • Turtle tours
  • Tour the mangroves at Biotope Monterrico-Hawaii – This is a small reserve that was created in order to preserve the natural beauties and wildlife of the area.
  • Sunset bird watching – You can do these in Hawaii. This region is rich in bird species and bird watchers usually leave the place happy after seeing tons and tons of native birds.
  • Baby sea turtle release tours at Tortugario Monterrico – This is a small rescue center that works hard to increase the numbers of sea turtles that come each year to lay their eggs by monitoring arrival season to avoid poachers who take the eggs and by helping newly hatched turtles to get to the sea safely.
  • Party all night long at Johnny’s Place – This is one of the main things that locals like to do in the area. On weekends (mainly between December and April) they flood the area in search of a good party. They do this at one of the beachfront bars like Johnny’s Place or at one of the many private homes and chalets that are rented by the day.
  • Get surf lessons – Beaches in the area have strong tides and large waves. Making them perfect for surfers. There are a few surfing schools for those looking to learn and some other places to find equipment rentals for those who don’t need classes.

Retalhuleu

Reu, as the locals call it (Retalhuleu), is the gateway to Guatemala’s greatest amusement parks. If you’re not into water rides and other attractions, you can visit the nearby Mayan ruins, Takalik Abaj, or simply relax in the upper-scale accommodations quickly popping up all over the place.

Can’t Miss This

  • Xocomil Water Park Simply put, this is the largest watermark in all of Central America, you can’t miss it.
  • Xetulul Amusement Park This is another MOST for Guatemala. Xocomil is the largest amusement park in Central America too.
  • Xejuyup Theme Park – As you might be able to figure out by the names this is a third of a compound of parks. All parks are owned by IRTRA, an organization owned by large companies in the country to provide their workers with top-notch entertainment for low prices. The compound also has 8 hotels, a spa, and tons of restaurants. You can still enjoy it even if you don’t work for them, but instead of being super cheap, it will cost the normal fare of other Guatemalan attractions.
  • Takalik Abaj Mayan Site – It is far from being as popular as Tikal National Park in the northern area. But it is extremely important for the story of the ancient Maya. At some point, it was one of the richest Mayan cities. Due to its location, it was an important place for merchants from both the Mayan and Olmeca cultures.
  • Dino Park – This is a small theme park located near the Xetulul complex, in it, you see a ton of fun exhibits where you get to have fun and learn about these huge reptiles. There are up to 100 real-size reproductions of dinosaurs and over half of them are animatronics. The place is especially popular among young kids.
  • Tulate Beach – This is a much more relaxed beach than Monterrico which still offers a little of the same, a few surf shops. It also has a few bars but they are more for locals. My advice would be to get a home rental and party there.
  • Canopy Tour at Vuelo Extremo – Yes, there is a natural park in the area where you get to go flying over the trees on zip lines. The experience is safe and fun. The activity is located in Finca Chicharros, a place located on the northern side of Retalhuleu with a cloud forest where the gorgeous Quetzal bird and many other animals live. The best time to see this bird is from August to November.

Puerto San Jose

The closest beach to Guatemala City and colonial Antigua Guatemala, you’ll bump heads with the locals coming here during the weekend. At one time this was Guatemala’s main shipping port but has been displaced by the newly built Puerto Quetzal (like the beautiful bird). However, this is definitely a great place for sports fishing.

Can’t Miss This

  • Sail fishing
  • Whale and dolphin watching (depends on the season)
  • Ostrich Farm

Things to Do on The Pacific Coast of Guatemala

As you can see, the Pacific Coast of Guatemala has great potential for becoming one of the highlights of your vacation. You could easily spend a full week exploring what it has to offer. Here are some bonus things onus things to do in or near the southern coast of Guatemala

  • Check out a drive-through safari at Auto Safari Chapin
  • Go rappelling at Los Amates Waterfall
  • Take a sport fishing trip from Marina Pez Vela
  • Go on a whale and dolphin viewing tour
  • Tour ARCAS animal rescue center to support their conservationist work

Beach to visit

  • Monterrico Beach
  • Playa El Tulate
  • El Paredon
  • Chulamar
  • Barra del Jiote
  • Sipacate

Fun Facts and Travel Guide to Guatemala Pacific Coast Beaches -sea turtles

Museums & Gardens

  • Bai Museum (Museo El Bai)
  • Cotzumalguapa Culture Museum (Museo Cultura Cotzumalguapa)
  • Tortugario Monterrico

Especial for Families

Parks & Reserves

Fun Facts and Travel Guide to Guatemala Pacific Coast Beaches - surfing

Mayan Ruins

  • Takalik Abaj
  • Bilbao Stones (Las Piedras)

Nature & Adventure Activities

  • Turtle Tours
  • Bird and Wildlife watching
  • Surfing
  • Kayaking in the mangroves
  • Sail fishing
  • Boat tours
  • Mountain Biking
  • Rappelling at Los Amates Waterfall

Less Traveled Cities

These are less traveled for a reason, there are ugly and have almost nothing good to offer. So just use them as a pit stop to get more food and water and carry on.

  • Sipacate
  • Santa Luci­a Cotzumalguapa
  • Chiquimulilla
  • Escuintla
  • Taxisco
  • Iztapa
  • La Democracia
  • Las Lisas
  • Puerto Quetzal

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Fun Facts and Travel Guide to Guatemala Pacific Coast Beaches

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