Home to both the Pacific Coast and the Caribbean Coast, there are plenty of incredible beaches in Guatemala that boast fine white sand and clear turquoise water.
Additionally, the inland of Guatemala features many lakes and rivers, providing even more opportunities for visitors to enjoy a refreshing swim or a soul-warming suntan.
But with Guatemala’s expansive coastline and numerous freshwater sources, there are an overwhelming number of beaches to be explored.
That is why we have written this guide on the 10 Best Guatemala Beaches for your tropical paradise!
Best Guatemala Beaches On The Pacific Coast
With around 250 kilometers of coastline, the beaches on Guatemala’s Pacific Coast are some of the best in the country. It is on the Pacific Coast that visitors will find the famous black sand beaches of Guatemala.
The material expelled by the numerous volcanoes in Guatemala washes down towards the Pacific Coast through rivers and streams, and eventually settles down on the Pacific Coast of Guatemala. It is one of the most unique features in Guatemala!
1. El Paredón
El Paredón is a small fishing village located on the Pacific Coast of Guatemala, about 2.5 hours south of Antigua Guatemala. Though a somewhat long journey (especially with the poor infrastructure of Guatemala), it is one of the closest beaches to Antigua and Guatemala City.
This small Guatemala beach town is known for its backpacker scene and laid-back atmosphere. There isn’t a lot going on besides the regular parties at Driftwood Surfer Hostel. The black sand beach in Paredon is the perfect place to relax in peace, go for a sun tan, or swim in the ocean.
Besides the volcanic sand and relaxed vibes, there is one thing that brings travelers and locals from afar – surfing. Surprisingly, this sleepy town on the Central America’s coast is known for some of the best surfing in the world. The incredible and consistent swells in El Paredón allow beginners and experienced surfers to have a good time.
El Paredón is a popular weekend beach getaway destination for locals. If you plan on visiting on the weekend, we recommend you to book your accommodation in advance, especially with how few options there are!
Where to Stay in El Paredon:
How Far From … (By Car):
- Antigua Guatemala – 2 to 2.5 hours
- Guatemala City – 2.5 to 3 hours
2. Playa Monterrico
The beach in Monterrico is arguably the most popular beach in Guatemala. This Guatemala playa (beach) is situated on some of the most developed parts of Guatemala’s Pacific Coast. Anyone seeking a beach resort in Guatemala for a luxurious holiday should consider a visit to Monterrico.
Similar to El Paredon Beach, Monterrico Beach features pristine black sand and is situated about 2.5 hours from Antigua. However, the swells are even stronger at Monterrico Beach, so anyone going for a swim should be aware of the strong currents. Surfing is also quite challenging here.
However, there is a unique experience in Monterrico that makes everything worth it – releasing baby sea turtles on the beach!
Where to Stay in Monterrico:
- For solo travelers/couples – The Black Sand Beachhouse
- For families – Casa Pierre
- Best beach resort – Hotel El Faro
How Far From … (By Car):
- Antigua Guatemala – 2.5 hours
- Guatemala City – 3 hours
If you are looking for a remote (and I mean, REMOTE) beach destination in Guatemala, then the fishing village of Tilapa and its beaches are ideal for you. Located just 10 kilometers from the Mexican border, this village on Guatemala’s Pacific Coast offers a rustic lifestyle and peace and quiet.
What makes Tilapa a unique beach town in Guatemala is the freshwater Naranjo River that meets the Pacific Ocean. Besides relaxing on the expansive soft sand beaches, visitors can take a short boat ride through the mangroves. It isn’t something spectacular but definitely one of the highlights in Tilapa.
Tilapa is a great destination if you want to get away from it all and enjoy some amazing, unspoiled Guatemalan coastline. The sunset in Playa Tilapa is also one of the best in Guatemala!
Where to Stay in Tilapa:
- Very limited options online, but out of the few accommodations, we recommend Rancho Maria del Mar
How Far From … (By Car):
- Antigua Guatemala – 5 hours
- Guatemala City – 5.5 hours
- Quetzaltenango (Xela) – 3 hours
Once a busy shipping port on the Guatemalan coast, Champerico is now one of the most peaceful beaches in the region, just like most Guatemalan beaches. It is located 2.5 hours from the city of Quetzaltenango, perfect for a weekend trip from Quetzaltenango for locals.
Its most striking feature is the 19th-century pier that has been left to decay. This dilapidated pier looks particularly unique during sunset, when the dreamy colors and black sand contrast deeply with the rotting pier.
Besides being a great spot to relax, Champerico Beach is the perfect place for surfers. The waves are a little bit rougher than the popular El Paredon Beach, but there are plenty of locals and surf shops willing to offer lessons and advice to surfing beginners and enthusiasts.
Where to Stay in Champerico:
- It is challenging to find places to stay in Champerico online, but out of the few available ones, we recommend Hotel Posada del Mar.
How Far From … (By Car):
- Antigua Guatemala – 4 hours
- Guatemala City – 4 hours 15 minutes
- Quetzaltenango (Xela) – 2.5 hours
5. Puerto San Jose (Port of San Jose)
If you want the closest beach to Guatemala City or Antigua, then the beach at Puerto San Jose is the one for you. Located just shy of 2 hours from each respective city, Puerto San Jose can be visited on a day trip from Guatemala City or Antigua.
Unfortunately, the beach at Puerto San Jose isn’t one of the best, but it is the country’s biggest sport fishing town on the Pacific Coast.
Similar to many of the towns on the Pacific Coast, it was once a bustling port but its glory days are over. With around 20,000 residents, it is still one of the biggest towns on Guatemala’s Pacific Coast.
That means that although the beach is not the nicest (or the cleanest), there are plenty of amenities such as restaurants for everyone to enjoy. It is also the easiest beach to get to in Guatemala since it has its own airport.
The flight to the airport is especially scenic with plenty of Guatemala’s volcanoes in view!
Where to Stay in Puerto San Jose:
How Far From … (By Car):
- Antigua Guatemala – 1.5 to 2 hours
- Guatemala City – 2 hours
Best Guatemala Beaches On The Caribbean Coast
If white-sand beaches and turquoise waters are what you are looking for, then the Guatemala beaches on the Caribbean Coast are ideal.
Though Guatemala only has a slither of land bordering the Caribbean Coast (damn you Belize!), there are still plenty of places for visitors to catch a piece of the Caribbean paradise!
6. Playa Blanca
Without a doubt, the most beautiful beach in Guatemala award goes to Playa Blanca, whose name translates to “White Beach”. Accessible only by a 30-minute boat ride from Livingston, this extensive beach is known for its tranquility, clear white sand, gorgeous Caribbean waters, and mesmerizing palm trees.
Because of its secludedness, the nature at Playa Blanc is pristine and untouched. In fact, decisions have been made by the locals to keep Playa Blanc, so everyone can have a chance to enjoy this piece of paradise.
But because it is undeveloped, amenities are quite limited. There are only a few small shops selling refreshments. But for the price of an unspoiled beach, it is a very small price to pay.
To get to Playa Blanca, you can take one of the small boats from Livingston. This is a private beach, so visitors must pay a small entrance fee to enter.
Where to Stay near Playa Blanca:
- Because Playa Blanc is only accessible via Livingston, you would want to stay in Livingston.
How Far From … (By Boat):
- Livingston – 30 minutes
Livingston is a small town located in the Izabal Department of eastern Guatemala. Situated at the mouth of Rio Dulce, Livingston was an important port for many years, before its popularity was superseded by Puerto Barrios.
With a huge Garifunas population, Livingston is a town unlike any other in Guatemala, where most of the residents are descendants of the Mayans.
The beach at Livingston is small and nice, especially when set against the thick forest backdrop. However, most visitors that come to Livingston aren’t there for its beach, but for its accessibility to other more stunning beaches in Guatemala, such as Playa Blanca, Punta de Manabique and more!
Where to Stay in Livingston:
How Far From … :
- Antigua Guatemala – 6.5 hours in total (5.5 hours by car, 1 hour ferry)
- Guatemala City – 5.5 hours in total (4.5 hours by car, 1 hour ferry)
8. Punta de Manabique
Punta de Manabique is a small peninsula located between Amatique Bay from the Gulf of Honduras on Guatemala’s Caribbean Coast. Its remote location makes it home to one of the most pristine beaches in the country.
In fact, Punta de Manabique was declared a wildlife reserve in 1999, thanks to its stunning tropical rain forests and mangroves. Its natural beauty is simply unmatched by anywhere else in Guatemala.
Additionally, Punta de Manabique is home to a diverse ecosystem of marine life, many of which can be seen through the area’s most popular water sports such as snorkeling and diving.
To reach Punta de Manabique, you have to take a boat from Puerto Barrios, the capital of the Izabal department. It is a short boat ride but worth the secludedness you get at Punta de Manabique! Puerto Barrios also offer boats to other beaches in the area such as Playa Blanca and Punta de Palma.
Where to Stay near Punta de Manabique:
- You’ll need to stay in Puerto Barrios because that’s where all the ferries depart
How Far From … :
- Puerto Barrios – About 1 hour by ferry
Best Beaches In Inland Guatemala
Though the Guatemalan beaches on the coast are the country’s most popular, there are several freshwater bodies inland that offer soft sand beaches and crystal clear waters. Here are some of the best ones:
9. Playa Dorada
Though not located on any of the coasts of Guatemala, Playa Dorada has exactly what a perfect beach should have – soft sand, scenic views, and calm warm waters perfect for swimming. Situated on Lake Izabal, Playa Dorada also boasts plenty of water activities such as fishing, boat rides, kayaking or even jet skiing.
But for those that prefer to relax and just enjoy the beautiful views and Guatemala’s amazing weather, there are plenty of restaurants situated on the side of the lake. The name Playa Dorada translates to Golden Beach in English, and during golden hour, it looks like the beach is full of golden sand.
Because there are no waves on this beach, it is the perfect beach in Guatemala to go swimming, particularly with kids.
Where to Stay near Playa Dorada:
- Many small-size accommodations on the side of the lake, but difficult to book online. We recommend something simple lik Hotel Izabalito, Aldea Izabal.
How Far From … (By Car) :
- Antigua – 5.5 hours
- Guatemala City – 4.5 hours
10. Playa Chechenal Peten
Guatemala is full of hidden and beautiful beaches, but none can compare to the serenity and beauty of Playa Chechenal Peten on Itza Peten Lake near Flores.
While most people think that the only thing to do in Flores is to go visit Tikal Mayan Ruins, that is far from true. Lago Itza Peten, the lake that surrounds Flores, is home to the gorgeous Playa Chechenal Peten.
This expansive beach not only features beautiful views of Lake Itza Peten and soft sand, but there are plenty of seating areas for families to gather, have a picnic, or just relax.
The beach also features a pier jutting out into the lake, and beachgoers are more than welcome to jump off the pier! If not, just soaking in the calm waters is equally enjoyable!
It is one of our favorite beaches in Guatemala!
Where to Stay near Playa Chechenal Peten:
How Far From … :
- Flores – 15 minutes
- Guatemala City or Antigua – 3.5-hour flight + an hour or so of getting there (it’s pretty impossible).
Map Of The Best Beaches In Guatemala
With a country the size of Guatemala, planning your Guatemala itinerary and your beach visits can be difficult, especially if you cannot physically see where they are located. That is why we have created this Guatemala beach map, so you can have an easier time planning your trip.
Make sure you click the star next to the name of the map to save it to your own personal device!
How to Get To Guatemala’s Beaches
If you are already in Guatemala, you will know that getting around is a pain, especially if you want to explore off-the-beaten-path, which is where most of the beaches are.
Going from Guatemala City to Antigua might be easy, but going from Guatemala City to somewhere like El Paredon or Monterrico is much more difficult. Tourist-targeted transport is lacking in many parts of Guatemala, and the public transportation (the infamous chicken bus) is just very difficult to navigate.
So if you do decide that the beaches in Guatemala are worth the visit, we highly recommend you to rent a car. Not only will that guarantee your safety in Guatemala (because let’s be real, Guatemala is not the safest country in the world), but you can save the hassle of planning your own transport!
Looking to rent a car in Guatemala?
Check out the best car rental offers here!
Guatemala Beaches FAQs
Does Guatemala have good beaches?
While Guatemala’s beaches aren’t world-class, some of them are quite unique. Many of Guatemala’s Pacific Coast beaches feature black sand, thanks to the volcanic residuals that have been deposited there for ages.
What is the closest beach to Antigua Guatemala?
The closest beach to Antigua Guatemala is actually Puerto San Jose, which takes a little less than 2 hours of driving to get there. However, though the closest, we recommend that you take the extra 30 minutes to get to El Paredón or Monterrico. The beaches there are much nicer.
What is the closest beach to Guatemala City?
Surprisingly, the closest beach to Guatemala City is Puerto San Jose, or San Jose Port, It takes about 2 hours of driving to arrive at Puerto San Jose. Though the closest beach to Guatemala City, we recommend you to drive 30 minutes to arrive at El Paredón or Monterrico Beach. Those beaches are a lot nicer than the ones in Puerto San Jose.
What are the best black sand beaches in Guatemala?
The best black sand beaches in Guatemala are undoubtedly Monterrico and El Paredón. These two coastal towns feature wide stretches of black sand beach. But be careful when visiting them, the black sand causes the temperature of it to be much hotter than white sand.
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This concludes our guide on the best Guatemala beaches. We hope you have found the perfect one to enjoy on your tropical vacation!
Any questions? Leave a comment below!
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