×

Best Outdoor Activities To Do in Guatemala (and Places)

kids doing outdoor activities in guatemala
Guatemala is a country that offers a lot of attractions for travelers who love nature and outdoor activities, making it a top destinations for an adventure holiday.

Guatemala is a country that has it all: stunning landscapes, rich culture, diverse wildlife, and endless adventure. Learn the best outdoor activities in Guatemala, with tips and much more useful information.

Whether looking for a relaxing getaway or a thrilling challenge, this country has something for you.

From hiking up active volcanoes and kayaking on crystal-clear lakes to zip-lining through the jungle and caving in the dark, Guatemala offers a variety of outdoor activities that will satisfy your wanderlust and adrenaline.

Planning a Trip to Guatemala?
Check Out These Helpful Services:

Find the best flight deals

This is the site I recommend, you can check all the different prices.

Best accommodation prices

I highly recommend this one, it’s the best option right now for Central America

The best way to get around is by car

Check out this site to rent a car and go at your own pace.

What kind of outdoor activities are available?

Guatemala is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts, as it offers a wide range of activities that can satisfy different preferences and levels of difficulty.

Some of the most popular outdoor activities that you can try in Guatemala are hiking and trekking, kayaking, rafting, canopy tours, biking, and horseback riding. Not only that, other activities like surfing and mountain biking have been gaining a lot of attention recently.

These activities will allow you to explore the stunning landscapes, the diverse wildlife, and the fascinating culture of Guatemala, while also having fun and getting some exercise.

Here are some outdoor activities:

  • Río Dulce Boat Tour
  • See the Mayan Ruins
  • Lake Atitlán Kayaking & Trekking
  • Rock Climbing Panajachel
  • Indian Nose Hiking Adventure
  • Fishing in the Pacific
  • Swimming in Semuc Champey
  • Cuevas de Candelaria
  • Visit Fuentes Georginas
woman and kids holding sea turtles in Guatemala
Releasing baby turtles is another amazing outdoor activity in Guatemala, you can do it in Monterrico and it may not be adventurous but it’s worth it.

Outdoor Activities In Guatemala

Hiking and Trekking

Hiking and trekking are among the most popular and rewarding outdoor activities in Guatemala, as they allow you to explore the diverse and stunning landscapes of the country, from volcanoes and mountains to lakes and forests.

Guatemala has hundreds of hiking trails that vary in length, difficulty, and scenery, so you can find the one that suits your level and interest.

Some of the best hiking and trekking destinations are:

Acatenango Volcano

This is one of Guatemala’s highest and most challenging volcanoes, reaching 3,976 meters above sea level. It offers spectacular views of the nearby Fuego Volcano, which is constantly erupting and spewing lava and ash.

The hike to the summit of Acatenango Volcano takes about 6 hours and requires a good level of fitness and equipment. You can also camp overnight on the volcano, and enjoy the sunrise and the stars.

The best time to hike Acatenango Volcano is from November to February when the weather is dry and clear.

You can book a guided tour online or from Antigua or Guatemala City, or hire a local guide from the village of La Soledad.

Pacaya Volcano

This is one of the most active and accessible volcanoes in Guatemala, reaching 2,552 meters above sea level.

It offers an exciting and adventurous hike, where you can see lava flows, steam vents, and volcanic rocks.

The hike to the base of Pacaya Volcano takes about 2 hours and is suitable for beginners. You can eat pizza baked in a volcanic oven, roast marshmallows on the hot spots, or ride a horse if you prefer.

The best time to hike Pacaya Volcano is from March to May when the lava is more visible and the weather is warm.

Lake Atitlan

Lake Atitlan is one of the most beautiful and scenic lakes in the world, surrounded by volcanoes, hills, and villages.

It offers a variety of hiking and trekking options, from easy and short walks to long and challenging treks. You can hike around the lake, or up to the viewpoints, or between the villages, and enjoy the views, the culture, and the nature.

Some of the best hiking spots around Lake Atitlan are San Pedro Volcano, Indian Nose, Santa Cruz, San Marcos, and Santiago.

Kayaking and Stand-Up Paddle Boarding

Kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding are among the most fun and relaxing outdoor activities in Guatemala, you will be able to enjoy the water and scenery while getting some exercise and fresh air.

The country has several lakes and rivers that are ideal for kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding, offering calm and clear waters, as well as stunning views of the volcanoes, mountains, and wildlife.

Some of the best kayaking and stand-up paddle-boarding destinations in Guatemala are:

Rio Dulce

Rio Dulce is one of the most scenic and diverse rivers in the country, flowing from Lake Izabal to the Caribbean Sea, passing through a deep gorge, a tropical rainforest, and a mangrove swamp.

You can kayak or stand-up paddleboard along the river and enjoy the views, its wildlife, and the culture. You can also visit the nearby attractions, like the Castillo de San Felipe, the Finca Paraiso Hot Springs, the Siete Altares Waterfalls, and the Livingston Town.

Monterrico

Monterrico offers a long and sandy beach, facing the Pacific Ocean, and a network of canals and lagoons, surrounded by a mangrove forest and a wildlife reserve.

Kayak on the ocean, or the canals and lagoons, and enjoy the stunning nature, wildlife, and the sun that combines into a wonderful view.

You can also swim, surf, or fish on the beach, or visit the nearby turtle hatchery and crocodile farm.

Zip-Lining and Canopy Tours

Zip-lining and canopy tours are among the most thrilling outdoor activities and many options in the country vary in length, height, and speed, so you can find the one that suits your level and interest.

You will be able to fly over the jungle and the mountains while feeling the wind and the adrenaline.

Some of the best zip-lining and canopy tours in Guatemala are:

Tikal National Park

This is one of the most famous and impressive archaeological sites in the world, featuring ancient Tikal Mayan Ruins, temples, pyramids, and palaces, surrounded by a dense tropical rainforest.

The rainforest offers amazing zip-line and canopy tours over the jungle and enjoy the views of the ruins, its diverse wildlife, and the sunrise or sunset.

The canopy tour in Tikal National Park takes about 2 hours and is suitable for beginners and families. You can also explore the park on foot, and learn about the history and culture of the Maya civilization.

Ixpanpajul Natural Park

This is one of the most beautiful natural parks in the country where you will find hills, valleys, rivers, and waterfalls, covered by a lush tropical rainforest.

You can zip-line over the forest, and enjoy the views of the landscape, or walk right next to the treetops on its hanging bridge.

The canopy tour in Ixpanpajul Natural Park takes about 3 hours and is suitable for everyone who’s up for an adventure.

Not only that, you can also hike, bike, or ride a horse in the park, and visit the nearby attractions, such as the Petencito Zoo and the Mirador del Rey.

Atitlan Nature Reserve

This nature reserve is a diverse destination offering several options that are a staple in the country, like a coffee plantation, a butterfly farm, a monkey sanctuary, and a hanging bridge, surrounded by a cloud forest and a lake.

It’s one of the best ways to enjoy the views of the volcanoes, its surrounding wildlife, and the tranquility.

A visit to Atitlan Nature Reserve takes about 2 to 4 hours and is suitable for beginners and families with kids.

You can also walk, swim, or kayak in the reserve, and visit the nearby villages and markets.

Caving

Caving and spelunking are among the most adventurous and challenging outdoor activities in the country, the good thing is you don’t need to take an extreme approach since several caves are family-friendly.

Explore the underground world of caves, caverns, and tunnels, while experiencing the darkness, mystery, and thrill. You can also spot Mayan objects and paintings, as they used many of these caves.

Guatemala has several caving sites that vary in size, depth, and difficulty, so you can find the one that suits your level and interest.

Some of the best caving destinations in Guatemala are:

Lanquin Caves

These are some of the largest and most impressive caves in Guatemala, a network of chambers, passages, and formations, inhabited by thousands of bats, spiders, and other creatures.

Enjoy the views of the stalactites, stalagmites, columns, curtains, and other interesting rock formations as well as the sound and sight of the bat colony.

The caving tour in the Lanquin Caves takes about 2 hours, the place is well-lighted and in good shape, making it suitable for all kinds of ages.

You can also swim, or tube in the Cahabon River, or visit the nearby Semuc Champey.

Actun Kan

A single-chamber cave, with a high ceiling and a wide floor, decorated by various formations and fossils, makes Actun Kan the most accessible and family-friendly cave in the country.

You’ll be able to enjoy the views of the interesting rock formations and inner pools as well as the history and legends of the cave.

The visit to Actun Kan takes about 2 hours and is suitable for beginners and families, the cave is well signposted, so it’s to follow but I recommend going with a guide.

You can also hike, or bike, in the surrounding area, or visit the nearby Flores Island and Lake Peten Itza.

Candelaria Caves

Candelaria Caves are a complex of seven caves, connected by an underground river, that were used by the ancient Maya for ceremonies and rituals, making it the most sacred and historical caves in Guatemala.

You can visit the Candelaria Caves, and enjoy the views of the sculptures, paintings, and offerings, as well as the culture and spirituality of the cave, and of course, a lot of interesting rock formations.

The caving tour in the Candelaria Caves takes about 4 to 5 hours and is a complex adventure, you sure need preparation and a guide to make a successful trip.

You can also visit the nearby archaeological sites, of Tikal, El Mirador, Uaxactun, and Yaxha, as well as the nature reserves.

Rafting and Tubing

Rafting and tubing are among the most exciting and refreshing outdoor activities in the world, it’s one of those things that you need to experience at least one time in your life.

You get to navigate the rapids and currents of rivers while feeling the water and the adrenaline rush your body.

Guatemala has several rafting and tubing sites that vary in level, duration, and scenery, so you can find the one that suits your level and interest.

Some of the best rafting and tubing destinations in Guatemala are:

Cahabon River

Flowing from the Alta Verapaz region to the Caribbean coast, passing through waterfalls, and caves, makes it the perfect place to practice rafting or tube, and enjoy the views of the landscape, and the trill of the adventure.

The rafting or tubing tour on the Cahabon River takes about 4 hours and is suitable for intermediate and advanced levels, talk about that with your tour guide.

Also, don’t forget you can also swim, jump, or rappel in the river, and even visit the nearby Lanquin Caves and Semuc Champey.

Semuc Champey

This is one of the most beautiful and unique natural wonders in Guatemala, a must-visit, it’s home to a series of turquoise pools, cascading over a limestone bridge, above a hidden river.

Here you can take a swim or tube on the Semuc Champey, and enjoy the views of the pools, the waterfalls, and the jungle.

You can also jump, or slide in the pools, hike to the viewpoint and enjoy the views.

Essential Travel Resources

❗Don’t forget travel insurance


This company is the one I trust, it’s one of the most essential things for any trip. It has your back in case you get sick abroad, or have an accident.

🎒Pack smarter, not bulky


Check out this vacation packing list, including all the essentials you need to pack when traveling, from travel clothing to backpacks and more.

🏡Where to Stay – Here are Suggestions


This is my favorite place to look for accommodations, it offers different types, a ton of locations, and good price options.

🗺️Get Around Hassle-Free


This one is the perfect option to look for different transportation options between cities, from flights, buses, and taxis to minivans and more.

🛫Find Cheap Flights


Whenever I need to fly, I head to this website for low-cost flights.

Snorkeling and Diving

While snorkeling and diving are possible to do in the country, they are not so popular but fortunately, there are several places where you can do this amazing and fascinating outdoor activity in Guatemala.

You’ll be able to discover the underwater world of coral reefs, fish, and marine life while feeling the water and the wonder.

Guatemala has several snorkeling and diving sites that vary in depth, visibility, and biodiversity, so you can find the one that suits your level and interest.

Some of the best snorkeling and diving destinations in Guatemala are:

  • Lake Atitlan: It offers a unique and surprising snorkeling and diving experience, as it has a volcanic origin and a high altitude, creating a different and diverse underwater environment, with thermal vents, rock formations, and endemic fish.
  • Lake Peten Itza: This is one of the largest and most important lakes in Guatemala, located in the heart of the Peten region, featuring a rich and diverse ecosystem, with forests, wetlands, and archaeological sites. You can snorkel or dive on Lake Peten Itza, and enjoy the views of the forest, and the culture, as well as the underwater landscape and life.

Horseback Riding and Mountain Biking

Horseback riding and mountain biking are perfect for those who like off-road adventure, you will be able to explore the countryside, different villages, and nature reserves while feeling the speed and the fun of this enjoyable and adventurous outdoor activity.

Guatemala has several trails that vary in length, difficulty, and scenery, so you can find the one that suits your level and interest. There are even volcano hikes that let you do it on a horse!

Some of the best are:

Antigua

This is one of the most charming and historical towns in Guatemala, featuring colonial buildings, churches, and monuments, surrounded by volcanoes, hills, and farms.

You can horseback ride or mountain bike in Antigua, and enjoy the views of the town, the volcanoes, and the countryside.

There are many places to do it, but if you want to have a different experience you go to a “finca” and take a horseback ride.

You can also explore Antigua and visit the nearby attractions, such as the Cerro de la Cruz, the Santa Catalina Arch, and the San Antonio Aguas Calientes.

Coban

In Coban, you’ll find mountains, valleys, rivers, and waterfalls, covered by a lush tropical rainforest that are suitable for many different outdoor activities.

You can can take a horseback ride or do some MTB in Coban, and enjoy the amazing views of the green landscape.

There are a few other nearby attractions you can visit, like Biotopo del Quetzal, the Candelaria Caves, and the Lanquin Caves as well as Semuc Champey.

Paragliding and Hang Gliding

You can experience the thrill and awe of paragliding and hang gliding in beautiful Guatemala, these exhilarating outdoor activities will take you to new heights as you soar through the sky, feeling the wind rush against your face.

From high above, you’ll be able to check out the towns and scenery from a different view, a breathtaking view, truly immersing yourself in a sense of freedom and adventure.

Guatemala has several paragliding and hang gliding sites that vary in altitude, wind, and scenery, so you can find the one that suits your level and interest.

Some of the best paragliding and hang gliding destinations in Guatemala are:

Panajachel

Panajachel is one of the most popular and scenic paragliding sites in the country, due to its location on a high and steep hill, overlooking Lake Atitlan and the volcanoes.

A paragliding or hang gliding experience from Panajachel will let you immerse in breathtaking views of the magnificent lake, towering volcanoes, and its charming villages.

It’s an exhilarating adventure that offers a unique perspective of the stunning surroundings.

You can also kayak, hike, or bike around the lake, or visit the nearby nature reserves and villages.

Guatemala City

This is the capital and the largest city, you will find a lot of groups and tours willing to take you to the top places in the country for paragliding.

The city is packed with modern buildings, museums, and parks, if you decide to do the paragliding there, you’ll be able to enjoy the views of the cosmopolitan city, its mountains, and its landscape.

Not only that, you can also visit the nearby attractions, like the National Palace, the Central Market, and the Relief Map.

Birdwatching and Wildlife Viewing

Embrace the wonders of Guatemala’s natural beauty through the delightful and enlightening activities of birdwatching and wildlife viewing.

You can witness firsthand the incredible array of animals and plants that call this country home, and indulge in a truly immersive experience, connecting with nature while expanding your knowledge about its diverse inhabitants.

Guatemala has several birdwatching and wildlife viewing sites that vary in location, habitat, and species, so you can find the one that suits your level and interest.

Some of the best birdwatching and wildlife viewing destinations in Guatemala are:

Biotopo del Quetzal

Explore one of Guatemala’s most captivating natural reserves. Nestled in the Alta Verapaz region, this breathtaking sanctuary boasts a mesmerizing cloud forest, a serene river, and waterfalls.

Immerse yourself in the breathtaking beauty of Biotopo del Quetzal, where you can indulge in birdwatching and wildlife observation and experience the serenity of the forest, its pristine waters, and get a closer look at the animals

The reserve is one of the best places to spot the resplendent quetzal, as well as other birds, such as trogons, motmots, and woodpeckers.

Maya Biosphere Reserve

This is one of the largest and most diverse biosphere reserves in the world, covering a huge amount of hectares of land, including forests, wetlands, lakes, and rivers, and is located in the northern part of Guatemala.

You can do several activities in the area, but’s incredibly suitable for birdwatch and wildlife viewing due to the amount of animals and birds you can spot.

The reserve is home to more than 500 species of birds, including macaws, eagles, herons, and owls. It’s also home to more than 100 species of mammals, including crocodiles, anteaters, and peccaries.

quetzal bird on a tree in guatemala wildlife
One of the biggest draws of doing outdoor activities in Guatemala like hiking or trekking is having the opportunitty to spot the the resplendent Quetzal.

How to plan your trip

If you want to enjoy the best outdoor activities in Guatemala, you will need to plan your trip carefully and in advance.

You will need to consider several factors, such as:

  • The weather
  • Seasons
  • Locations
  • Transportation
  • Accommodation
  • Equipment
  • Guides.

You will also need to do some research on the specific activities that you want to do and check the availability, prices, requirements, and reviews.

I highly recommend you book your activities online beforehand, through a travel agency, or directly with the local operators. Avoid joining sketchy or unprofessional people at all costs.

You can also join a group tour, or customize your itinerary. Whatever you choose, make sure you have a clear and realistic plan, and be flexible and adaptable to any changes or challenges that may arise.

Best Time to Visit Guatemala for Outdoor Activities

Guatemala is a year-round destination for outdoor activities, as the country has a pleasant climate and diverse geography.

However, depending on the type of activity and the region that you want to visit, some seasons may be better or present different challenges than others.

Here is a general overview of the seasons and weather in Guatemala, and their pros and cons for outdoor activities.

  • High season (November to April): This is the dry season in the country, which means less rain, more sun, and clearer skies. This is the best time to visit Guatemala for outdoor activities that require good visibility and dry conditions, like hiking, biking, climbing, and paragliding.
  • Low season (May to October): This is the rainy season, which means more rain, clouds, and humidity. This is the best time for outdoor activities that benefit from the rain, like rafting, tubing, and caving.
  • Shoulder season (March, April, and November): This is a good time to visit Guatemala for outdoor activities that are not too affected by the weather, like kayaking, snorkeling, and birdwatching. The weather may be sunny and dry, with sporadic rains.

olda lava trails and some wild horses in finca el amate in guatemala
Guetamala is the only place that let you explore and walk around old lava trails, one of the most unique hikes in Finca el Amante.

How to Get Around Guatemala for Outdoor Activities

Guatemala is a relatively small country, but it has a lot of diversity and attractions to offer. Therefore, getting around the country for outdoor activities may require some planning and flexibility.

I highly recommend you set your holiday base in Antigua, since it’s the best place to get around the country, most activities and attractions are close to the town or can be easily accessible from it.

Here are the main transportation options that you can use to explore Guatemala and enjoy its outdoor activities.

  • Car: Renting a car is a convenient and flexible way to get around Guatemala, especially if you want to visit remote or off-the-beaten-path destinations, or if you are traveling with a group or family.
  • Bike: Renting a bike or a scooter is a fun and eco-friendly way to get around, especially if you want to explore the countryside, the villages, or the nature reserves.
  • Shuttle, bus, or taxi: Taking a shuttle, a bus, or a taxi is a common and affordable way to get around too, especially if you want to travel between the main cities and tourist attractions, or if you are traveling solo or on a budget.

Travel safely and responsibly

No matter what transportation option you choose to get around, you should always travel safely and responsibly.

This means that you should:

  • check the weather and road conditions before traveling
  • avoid traveling at night or in bad areas
  • carry your valuables and documents with you or leave them in a safe place
  • have a map, a phone, and an emergency contact
  • inform someone of your itinerary and plans
  • respect the local culture and environment

fuentes gregorianas hot spring guatemala
You can find a lot of hot springs in Guatemala, and many of those are still 100% natural, making it a gret option for an outdoor activity in the country.

FAQ

What are the cultural and environmental tips for visiting Guatemala?

The cultural and environmental tips for visiting Guatemala are to respect the local customs and traditions, learn some basic Spanish phrases, dress modestly and appropriately, avoid littering and wasting water, and support the local communities and businesses.

Do I need a visa to visit Guatemala?

It depends on your nationality and the length of your stay. Most visitors from North America, Europe, and Australia can enter Guatemala without a visa for up to 90 days. However, some countries may require a visa or a tourist card.

You can check the visa requirements for your country here.

What are the best tips and precautions for outdoor activities in Guatemala?

Some of the best tips and precautions for outdoor activities in Guatemala are:

  • Pack appropriate clothing and gear for the weather and the activity
  • Wear sunscreen, insect repellent, and a hat
  • Drink plenty of water and avoid tap water
  • Respect the local culture and environment
  • Follow the instructions of your guides and operators
  • Check the safety and security situation, like weather, landslides, or floods, before traveling.

Looking for More Inspiration?

I have been traveling and living in Guatemala for over 25 years
Check out these Hand-Tested GUIDES

Tips

If you want to travel without the hassle and confusion – check out a complete guide for traveling to Guatemala.

Places

For more travel ideas to add to your bucket list, check out a complete guide to all the best places to visit in Guatemala.

Food

Guatemala has a huge variety of food, check out the guide to the top 15 Guatemalan Food and Dishes.

Disclosure: This blog post may contain affiliate links, which means that I may receive a commission for any purchases made through the links. Your trust is important to us, and we ensure that all products or services we recommend meet or exceed our editorial standards.

Last Updated on December 22, 2023

One thought on “Best Outdoor Activities To Do in Guatemala (and Places)”

  1. These are all really great tips! Guatemala is definitely the right place to embrace nature adventures.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.