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My Family’s Top Things to Do in Monterrico Beach, Guatemala

Guatemala is not known for its beaches, but in my 20+ years living here I learned that locals love the country’s beaches. Of course, I visited most of them, from the ones on the Pacific side to the Caribbean side and I must say that they are incredible, and one that stood out a lot for me and my family is Monterrico Beach.

Most tourists miss out on Monterrico Beach, Guatemala, and other beach areas in the country, and, understandably, most of us want to check out super attractions like Tikal, Antigua, or Lake Atitlan. Still, there’s a lot more to check out here and a handful of activities.

So, hop on, next time you visit this country add all of these things to do in Monterrico Beach to your bucket list!

black sanded beach in monterrico guatemala
I remember the first time I visited Monterrido Beach, first the sand surprised me then all the things to do this small town offered surprised me even more.

Best Things to Do in Monterrico Beach

I’m not going to lie, Monterrico Beach is quite a small paradise, and you need to open your eyes and take a good look around to spot the best activities and opportunities it has to offer. But not to worry, in this post you will find all of the best things to see and do in Monterrico, making it easy for you to experience all this place has to offer. 

As I told you before, this place is amazing for nature lovers, relaxing on the beach or spending some time with the locals, but I found a lot of charm in this place, and my kids love it.

Spend time on the beach and enjoy the black sand

After all, this is a beach town, and its main attraction is the beach. One of my family’s favorite things about the beach here is the sand and it’s not quite what you think of in terms of the white sandy beaches

Here you will have the chance to step on a black-sanded beach that is dark in color thanks to the volcanic activity of the region. The first time I saw it, I was speechless! Usually when I say “beach” the first thing that comes to mind is the usual postcard golden beaches.

But despite the color the beach and sand are still perfect for playing in and perfect for building and creating as well.

However, something you must know is that the riptide here is terrible and the waves can be relentless, but it’s the main reason why it’s perfect for turtle nestling. They love the surf. You also can swim on the beach, but you need to be careful,

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Stroll around the town

Monterrico is one of the towns where the main roads are made of dirt and sand which adds a certain character and uniqueness to the town which I just love.

Aside from there is one main street, there are cute local eateries and Guatemalan street food stands in the center of town where you can try out the local delicacies. 

You also can spend some time shopping for local jewelry and some local street art made out of shells.

Also, there are some small canals on the sidewalks where you can spot some fish swimming (possibly turns into dinner when no one is looking, lol).

Food Stands in the town of Monterrico, Guatemala
My husband and I agree that Monterrico is only ONE main street, but it’s the most CHARMING beach town we have visited, it’s packed with all you need.

Try a boat tour or kayaking along the mangrove canals

Now, the beach is awesome, and the town is charming but what I liked the most was the mangrove canals, they are out of this world, stunning, and unique in their way.

Mangroves here are amazing, I highly recommend that you take a bout tour, the best time to check them out is early in the morning as the sun comes out or during sunset. This is where you get the best chances to catch as many kinds of animals as possible.

Most of those tours will take you to the Hawaii-Monterrico Biotopo, where you can enjoy the canals full of mangroves. You’ll need to hire a local guide who will take you in a non-motorized boat with only a pole to navigate through the mangroves. It’s a great experience, and I’m sure you’ll enjoy it.

After you’re familiar with it you can go with the stand-up paddle boarding experience, which is a one-in-a-lifetime experience!

Mangroves have their unique charm, we did a stand-up paddleboarding experience on the mangroves as a family and we had an amazing time.

Try birdwatching and Wildlife Watching

I always say, that even if you’re not into something you should try it anyway. I don’t know how many times people told me that wildlife watching was boring until they tried and everyone had a total BLAST!

Yes, watching birds is an amazing thing to do in Guatemala, but Playa Monterrico is so nature-friendly that it makes the entire activity even better.

The area is flooded with all kinds of gorgeous birds that any animal lover would enjoy checking out. The best way to do this, from my non-professional perspective is to start researching on the internet before you get here and hiring a guide.

There aren’t as many tourism-oriented businesses in Monterrico, and despite it’s growing fast and steady, you might not find anyone offering it near you.

See turtles nesting on the beach at night

My family and I agree that turtle tours at night are, hands-down, the best thing to do in Monterrico Beach. We visited the town and beach several times while living in the country just for this activity.

The good news is that a few species of sea turtles regularly nest on the beach at Monterrico and there are night tours available where you can see them nesting or watch them being released to the sea. It all depends on what time of the year you visit.

If you decide to go between June and December, you will have the chance to see one of the most magical things, a huge amount of sea turtles come to lay their eggs at night on the shore of the black-sanded beach.

This is by far the favorite nesting ground for leatherback, olive ridley, and green sea turtles.

kid releasing turtles in monterrico guatemala
Releasing baby turtles on the dark sand, and seeing how they naturally go to the sea is a one-in-a-lifetime experience that will stick in my and my kid’s memories forever.

Release baby sea turtles on Monterrico beach

A few weeks after the nesting season comes the hatching season, and this one is hands down a must-do.

Without a doubt, this is the most incredible attraction in Monterrico Beach. It is a rare and amazing moment when you get to hold a day-old turtle in your hand and then release it into the Big Blue or dark sea, as it is in Monterrico Beach.

During this time the conservation organizations also organize tours where you get to help see that one newly hatched sea turtle makes its way to the ocean safely. This allows for sea turtle numbers to go up.

If you want to learn more about turtles you can visit the Tortugario Monterrico. Each year workers and volunteers (you can do it too), during the hatching season release newborn baby turtles to the sea, you can pay to release your baby turtle.

Go for a dance and enjoy the nightlife

Okay, so Monterrico is not particularly well known for its nightlife scene, but you can still find some bars and beachside lounges where you can relax and enjoy drinks after a day of exploring and even some nightspots if you still have the energy to dance the night away! 

Most of the bars and lounges are part of the hotels in Monterrico such as El Caiman which is a beachfront bar with a relaxed atmosphere. There is also Johnny’s Place hotel has a nightclub open every weekend with the best Latin and international dance music.

Probably one of the most highly rated bars would be El Animal Desconocido Bar which is highly recommended for live music shows, karaoke, and dancing. A lot of foreign tourists frequent this bar that is located outdoors on the beach too!

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Spend a Day at the H2Olas Water Park

While swimming at the beach is probably the most anticipated part of visiting Monterrico, don’t miss out on the nearby water park which is suitable for families and children.

Apart from the family pool they also have giant slides, wave pools, interactive water games restaurants, soccer and basketball areas, a camping area, and a large car park that accommodates buses. 

people at beach in monterrico guatemala
The waves and riptide at Monterrico can be relentless and while this makes it perfect for turtles, humans need to take extra caution when swimming here. 

How to Get to Monterrico Beach

Monterrico Beach is located on the Pacific coast of Guatemala in the department of Santa Rosa.

If you’re coming from Antigua or Guatemala City it’s not complicated, all you need to do is follow the road to Escuintla, Puerto Quetzal, and then you’ll arrive in the town of Monterrico, the drive should take you one hour to two hours if you go slow, you know, checking the view.

I love the quote, “Getting there is half the fun” and in this case, it’s so true. Before the new bridge was built, you had to take a ferry through the mangroves and canals. But it’s no ordinary ferry and service, making this one of the funniest parts of visiting Monterrico.

This is not necessary anymore since they build in a bridge, which costs around $2 to drive over, and it’s not much of a drive. Or you can pay $10 for the ferry and have a blast!

Car and People on a Ferry in Monterrico, Guatemala

Where to Stay in Monterrico Beach

What’s a hot beach destination without pool fun? Especially visiting with kids. Although there aren’t many super luxury places to stay, you can find some awesome places to spend some nights comfortably. 

You might want to keep in mind that Monterrico is extremely hot, and during certain times of the year, there are way too many mosquitos.

So when I searched for a hotel for my family, it had to have two requisites:

  1. Air Conditioner – to keep us cool and not let in any flying insects
  2. Pool and garden

And those were the best options:

Hotel Atelie del Mar

The Tropical Hotel had the biggest pool we have ever seen in any hotel we have stayed at in a long time. And we stay in many hotels.

The hotel is very simple, with cable and a restaurant with lots of options for lunch and dinner. Typical Chapin breakfasts are included in your price for the night, and nothing beats eating breakfast outside on a patio.

The owner Stig and Violeta are very accommodating. Violeta, from meeting her, seemed to be a very special and lovely person. Even though she is 90% blind, her colorful artworks are displayed all over the hotel, bringing it to life.

kid standing at the entrance of Atelie Del Mar Hotel in Monterrico, Guatemala
Atelie Del Mar Hotel in Monterrico, Guatemala is simple but it has one of the biggest pools of any hotel we have ever stayed in!

Hotel El Delfin

This is probably one of the most budget-friendly hotels that are in Monterrico, it’s also very popular among locals and backpackers.

Offers beachfront terraces, has a great location and the staff is super nice. Now offers wifi too, has a decent pool and the food is amazing, also, there’s a bar and lounge!

Hotel Cafe del Sol

Another great option for spending some nights in Monterrico, is you have clean rooms with an air conditioner, wifi, and bar. Also offers access to the beach and is not too far away from the center of the town.

They have a pool and a kid’s pool, and the staff is really helpful and friendly, a great option to stay in.

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Last Updated on June 8, 2024

2 thoughts on “My Family’s Top Things to Do in Monterrico Beach, Guatemala

  1. Hi!

    We are two french people who are insterested about Volunteering at Tortuguerio Monterrico.
    How does it work? Can we come anytime or by appointment?

    Thanks.

    1. I definitely recommending contacting them first so that they are ready for you. Here is their main site:
      http://www.arcasguatemala.com/

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