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Guatemala boasts both Pacific and Caribbean coasts, as well as impressive rivers and lakes. Here are some of the best beaches to visit.
This popular beach town is within easy reach of Guatemala City and fills up on the weekends with city-dwellers who want some sun and sand. Visit during the week for more peace and quiet, as well as lower prices. Be careful of strong riptides if you do go swimming as there are no lifeguards here.
A tiny village slightly further north than Monterrico, El Paredon is famous for its surf breaks. There are a few surf schools and hotels, as well as a cheap hostel, but very little else in the way of dining or entertainment. The waves aren’t the easiest for beginners, but if you’re already fairly proficient then El Paredon can be a good place to get your surf fix.
This small port town was used by the Spanish conquistadors to build and harbor the ships used to sail to Peru. Since those heady days Iztapa has largely sunk back into anonymity, although there are good surf breaks here. You will also find great fishing, and the port draws sportfishing fans from around the world.
Up near the Mexican border on the Pacific coast lies the isolated beach of Playa Tilapa. The breaks make it a popular destination with surfers, and there is a real sense of calm. Chat to the fishermen and buy some of their catch each morning for some amazingly fresh seafood.
If you’ve been exploring Guatemalan Instagram, you may well have seen the famous wooden pier at Champerico. Aside from photo opportunities, the small town draws visitors for its great waves and laid-back atmosphere. It’s only a few hours’ drive from the northern city of Quetzaltenango, so you can pop down from the mountains for some hot weather.
Over on the Caribbean coast lies the unique town of Livingston, accessible only by boat. Originally populated by the Garifuna community, the town also welcomed Mayans fleeing the civil war in the late 20th century. The mixture of cultures is fascinating, and there are good beaches to explore too.
Some 20 kilometres north of the port city of Puerto Barrios lie the Caribbean beaches of Punta de Manabique. In 1999 the whole area was declared a wildlife reserve, and its rainforests and mangrove forests teem with life. Come here if you want to combine nature-watching with some relaxing beach time.