The Top 11 Beaches in Guatemala

Black Sand Beach, Monterrico, Pacific Coast, Guatemala
Michele Falzone / Getty Images

There are some beautiful beaches in Guatemala. As a matter of fact, there are Guatemalan beaches on two coasts: the Pacific and the Caribbean. Because the majority of the country's most popular attractions are inland, most travelers don't make it to the coast.

But if you have the time, and want to explore the road less traveled (though not untraveled), the beaches of Guatemala are a great choice. There are beaches for surfing, black sand beaches for relaxing, and opportunities to go deep-sea fishing.

Read on to discover the top 11 beaches in Guatemala.

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Colorful sunset on the Pacific Ocean from coast, Guatemala
Universal Images Group / Getty Images
Monterrico, Guatemala

Monterrico, located on Guatemala's Pacific Coast, is the most popular beach in the country. With black volcanic sand and a strong current, Monterrico isn't one of Central America's postcard-perfect gems, but that's part of its draw. Its wide, lengthy stretch of sand is rarely crowded, and the massive condos that crowd the sands of other beaches are, thankfully, absent. Monterrico is easily accessible for travelers; buses leave from Antigua and Guatemala City's Terminal Centra Sur. For a particularly scenic route, take the ferry from the town of La Avellana, from where you will float through mangrove-lined canals.

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Small wooden houses on the Rio Dulce
Brent Winebrenner / Getty Images
Livingston, Guatemala

Funky Livingston is a cluster of colorful wood structures wedged between the Caribbean and the rainforest. It can only be reached by boat, from Puerto Barrios, or by traveling down the Rio Dulce, a river that winds through the jungle. The beach right outside of Livingston isn't too inviting, but hiking along the coast leads to more remote, cleaner beaches. Playa Blanca is a favorite, though more easily accessible by boat. You can take a taxi for 3.1 miles (about 5 kilometers) to the north of Livingston to see seven beautiful waterfalls and pools known as Los Siete Altares (The Seven Altars).

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Playa Tilapa

Atardecer en la playa de Tilapa, Ocós, San Marcos
Carlos López Mendizábal/Wikimedia Commons/CC-BY-SA-3.0-migrated
FRQJ+QX6, Tilapa, Guatemala
Phone +502 5705 9248

Playa Tilapa is located about 10 miles south of the Mexican border and is one of the most remote Guatemala beaches. From the little fishing village of Tilapita, you can take a 10-minute boat ride to the beach, passing through the mangrove trees. There are beautiful sunsets, potentially good waves for surfing, and a laid-back rural Guatemalan beach experience waiting for you at Playa Tilapa. While accommodations are limited, there is a beach cabin available to rent, situated just roughly 328 feet (100 meters) from the shore.

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Playa de Champerico, Retalhuleu, Guatemala
Fernando Reyes Palencia/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0
Champerico, Guatemala

A couple of hours from Quetzaltenango (Xela), the shipping port of Champerico (or Champe) is a vacation spot for Guatemalans, though as with all Guatemala beaches, it's rarely crowded. Under the right conditions, the surfing can be good and there are surf shops that offer lessons and gear that you can rent. A massive wooden pier is a striking feature, dating back to the late 19th century. Since the town is a major port, you'll be able to find services and shopping. 

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05 of 11


Full Length Of Woman Standing On Shore At Beach Against Sky
Jordi Comas / EyeEm / Getty Images
Iztapa, Guatemala

Buses from Puerto San Jose often continue to Iztapa, one of Guatemala's most scenic dark sand beaches. Iztapa served as Guatemala's original port and, like Puerto San Jose, is now a base for some of the world's best sailfish fishing. Here, you can surf, go whale watching, or take a fishing charter out to sea. For the ultimate relaxation, we recommend taking a boat to the sandbar across the river, where you can watch the waves and enjoy a meal and a cold one at one of the little outdoor restaurants. 

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Playa Las Cristalinas

Lago de Atitlán, Guatemala

Nestled on the shore of Lago de Atitlán (Lake Atitlán) is the white-sand Playa Las Cristalinas. As one would expect from a destination dubbed "crystalline beach," visitors here can expect crystal-clear waters ideal for swimming and kayaking, as well as incredible views of three different volcanoes. To reach Playa Las Cristalinas, you can walk from either San Pablo La Laguna (1.6 miles) or San Juan La Laguna (1.4 miles), or you can take a tuk-tuk or private boat.

07 of 11

Puerto Barrios

Beautiful dock in Puerto Barrios

 Marco Verch/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

Puerto Barrios, Guatemala

Puerto Barrios is a port town on the Caribbean coast of Guatemala. It serves as a jumping-off point for Livingston, and for travelers heading to Punta Gorda on Belize's southern coast by boat. Puerto Barrios itself isn't home to beaches of note, but you can take a short boat ride to nearby Guatemalan beaches like Punta de Manabique, Punta de Palma, and the ever-popular Playa Blanca.

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El Paredón

El Paredon, Guatemala

The small village of El Paredón is home to some of the best surfing in Central America. There are a number of surf schools here, including El Paredón Surf Camp and Paredón Surf House, both of which offer lessons, board rentals, and accommodation. For non-surfers, instead head to nearby Sipacate-Naranjo National Park, where you'll find mangrove forests, sandy beaches, and more than 90 species of birds, including snowy egrets, boat-billed herons, and pied-billed grebes.

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09 of 11

Playa Punta de Manabique

Playa Punta Manabique, Izabal, Guatemala

Located about 12.5 miles (20 kilometers) north of Puerto Barrios, Punta de Manabique is a wildlife reserve rife with mangrove forests and tropical rainforests. Home to a diverse array of animals like jaguars, spider monkeys, tapirs, crocodiles, and 300-plus species of birds, Punta de Manabique offers plenty to see—however, to get a different perspective of the natural protected area, head to Playa Punta de Manabique. From here, you can discover coral reefs, sea turtles, and other marine life while snorkeling or scuba diving.

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Playa Dorado

Playa Dorada, Izabal, Guatemala

This gold-sand beach on Lake Izabal is a prime destination for families and groups of friends. With palapas and palm trees, the beauty of Playa Dorado provides an idyllic setting for kicking up your feet, but if adventure is what you're seeking, you will find water sports like kayaking, jet skiing, and paddleboarding. There are a number of hotels and shoreside restaurants in the area, so you can easily turn your trip into a weekend-long adventure. The lake is located approximately five hours from Guatemala City.

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Puerto San Jose

Puerto San Jose, Guatemala


Alejandro de Leon/Getty Images 

Port of San Jose, Guatemala

Not far from Monterrico, Puerto San Jose is a port town home to 20,000 Guatemalans, the most populated of any town along Guatemala's Pacific Coast. You can fly into this scenic area with the volcanoes providing a backdrop. The sailfish fishing off the coast ranks among the world's best, while whale watching is also popular. Although Puerto San Jose does have a beach, the best one in the area can be found in the nearby village of Chulamar; here, you will also find nicer restaurants and accommodations and more charters for deep-sea fishing.

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The Top 11 Beaches in Guatemala