While Guatemala is not as well known for its beaches as some of its Central American neighbors, it nonetheless boasts some nice stretches on both the Pacific and Caribbean Coasts. On the Pacific, the wild black-sand beaches found along the coast near the Manchón Guamuchal Wetland Preserve are one of the region’s best-kept secrets. If you’re escaping the chilly highlands from Quetzaltenango for some sand and surf, other good bets include Tilapa, Tilapita, and Playa El Tulate.
The closest beach to Guatemala City is Puerto San José, reached in about 90 minutes by a four-lane highway, though it’s certainly not the most pleasant of the country’s beaches. Just west of San José is Chulamar, with at least one recommended resort hotel.
Farther east, there are also some lovely stretches between Iztapa and Monterrico. The 25-kilometer road connecting both towns is experiencing a modest construction boom of stylish resort hotels, with land speculators quickly snapping up the remaining parcels of oceanfront property.
East of Monterrico, Hawaii also has pretty stretches of nearly deserted beaches, though there are increasing numbers of Guatemala’s elite building vacation homes here. The end of the line is Las Lisas, another attractive, though very remote, beach close to the Salvadoran border.
On the Caribbean Coast, Guatemala has some fairly decent white-sand beaches near the Punta de Manabique Wildlife Refuge. Along the coastline between Lívingston and the Belize border, the nicest beaches are at palm-fringed Playa Blanca. For talcum-powder white-sand beaches lapped by turquoise waters, head off the coast to the Belize Barrier Reef, where you’ll find the Zapotillo Cayes.
© Al Argueta from Moon Guatemala, 3rd Edition. Photos © Al Argueta www.alargueta.com