14 Guatemala Beaches

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A small country in Latin America, Guatemala has coasts on both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, which means there are plenty of excellent Guatemalan beaches to choose from. The Pacific Coast beaches typically have black, volcanic sand, while lighter-coloured sands characterise the Atlantic beaches. The interior of Guatemala is home to two large lakes, Lake Atitlan and Lake Izabal. These lakes also contain popular beaches that look similar to Guatemala’s Atlantic Coast beaches.

Travellers in Guatemala usually use public transportation to get around the tiny country instead of driving. Roads in Guatemala are hazardous, with poor signage, making driving difficult. Chicken buses, tuk-tuks (a type of rickshaw for short distances), taxis and boats carry passengers around the country, but the safest form of transportation is to use taxis or private shuttles. When travelling around to visit the beaches in Guatemala, always be aware of your surroundings and guard your valuables, as petty crime is common. Here are the top Guatemala beaches to tick off your to-see list.

Guatemala Beaches

Beaches In Guatemala – Caribbean Coast

1- Playa Blanca

guatemala best beaches playa blanca izabal
Playa Blanca Izabal is one of the amazing Guatemala beaches on the shores of the Caribbean.

Playa Blanca is a pristine, white-sand beach on the Caribbean Coast, taking a one-hour boat ride from Livingston to reach it.

Accessing this privately-owned beach also requires a fee, so if you’re booking a tour from Livingston or Puerto Barrios to this beach, check that the tour includes the price of admission.

Coconut palms dot Playa Blanca, adding to the postcard-paradise view.

The sandy beach area at Playa Blanca is a narrow strip due to the erosion of the beach over time.

Sip cocktails under an umbrella at a restaurant on the beach while the waves roll in almost to your toes.

Heavy rains cause the waters of this beach to become murky at times, so Playa Blanca does not have the typically clear waters for which the Caribbean is famous.

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2- Playa Quehueche

livingston guatemala beaches
When looking for a Guatemala beach, Livingston has several nearby.

Livingston is a colourful coastal town on the Caribbean side of Guatemala that is sandwiched between the rainforest and the ocean.

While the town of Livingston does not have a beach, it is only a short, 30-minute hike along the coast to Playa Quehueche or a short boat ride away from Playa Blanca and other small beaches.

Livingston can easily be reached by boat from the Rio Dulce or Puerto Barrios, making this a unique destination.

Hotels within the town and near Playa Quehueche provide a rustic place for visitors to stay, and local restaurants serve fresh seafood.

A short, two-kilometre hike (1.2 miles) up the coast from Playa Quehueche and five kilometres (3.1 miles) from Livingston lies a beautiful place in the rainforest called Los Siete Altares.

The seven waterfalls and pools within the rainforest make this a stunning location to swim and enjoy the tranquillity of this protected natural area.

3- Punta De Manabique

caribbean guatemala beaches palm trees and waves
If you’re looking for a Caribbean hideaway then try one of these beaches in Guatemala.

On the Caribbean Coast of Guatemala lies a wildlife preserve called Punta de Manabique.

This protected natural area provides eco-tourism opportunities for visitors who enjoy exploring tropical jungles and mangrove forests.

The biologically diverse peninsula contains many threatened or rare species, including jaguars, tapirs, manatees, and the confra palm, a palm found only in this part of Guatemala.

Because Punta de Manabique is remote, there are no luxury hotels nearby, but there are some rustic ecolodges near the wildlife reserve.

For modern conveniences, stay in Puerto Barrios and take a boat to the peninsula.

Visitors to this area enjoy snorkelling and diving on the reefs around the Punta de Manabique peninsula.

The ocean’s waves crash into the eastern side of the peninsula but tend to be calmer on the west side.

Tours are also available for adventurers who want to explore the interior of this unique, untouched wildlife reserve.

4- Puerto Barrios

guatemala beaches resorts
Some of the best Guatemala beach resorts are on the Caribbean coast.

Puerto Barrios, on the Caribbean Coast, is a port town off of Amatique Bay, separated from the ocean by the peninsula Punta de Manabique.

While there is no public beach in Puerto Barrios, this town is an important jumping-off point for travellers who want to visit the beaches at Punta de Manabique, Punta de Palma or Playa Blanca.

Some of the smaller beaches do not have any amenities, hotels, or restaurants, so Puerto Barrios provides those.

One of the popular places to stay is the all-inclusive Amatique Bay Resort and Marina.

The privately-owned beach, Playa Amatique Bay, offers beautiful light sands with plenty of space to sunbathe, fish, horseback ride, kayak, or relax on an inflatable in the water.

The waters in this part of the bay tend to be cloudy, so many choose to swim in the large resort pool instead of the calm bay waters.

Beaches In Guatemala – Pacific Coast

5- Monterrico Beach

Monterrico guatemala beaches sunset, waves and black sand
Monterico Beach is one of the best black-sand beaches in Guatemala.

The beautiful black volcanic sands of Playa Monterrico and the spectacular sunsets make this one of the most popular beaches in Guatemala.

The ocean has big waves and the riptide can be strong, so swimmers should be careful.

Turtle hatching season provides an excellent opportunity for tourists to see turtle hatchlings released into the ocean by the Tortugario Monterrico.

Monterrico is only three hours from Guatemala City, and you can easily get there by bus.

The trip is short enough for those travelling from Antigua to spend the day and return.

Hotels and resorts at this beach offer a range of lodging options for those staying overnight.

During Easter Week, Semana Santa, this beach can get very crowded, so visitors should plan their trip with that in mind.

6- Playa El Paredon

beaches guatemala Playa El Paredon
Playa El Paredon is one of the best beaches in Guatemala for surfers.

Playa El Paredon is a tiny, laid-back fishing village on the Pacific Coast that, until recently, did not receive many visitors.

Getting to El Paredon takes three hours from Guatemala City and two hours from Antigua.

This beach is the most popular place in Guatemala for surfing.

The waves are large, and the riptide can be treacherous, so swimmers should be cautious when playing in the surf.

While the infrastructure of El Paredon is still insufficient to support much tourism, they have been improving.

Many of the hostels and hotels in El Paredon offer surfboard rentals and surf lessons.

Wi-Fi is sometimes available but may be spotty, but this black-sand beach contains all the elements of a fantastic surfing vacation, so people keep coming.

7- Playa Las Lisas

best beaches in guatemala (2)
You’ll find several amazing beaches in Guatemala on the Pacific Ocean.

Playa Las Lisas is a little-known beach paradise on the Pacific Coast, far off the beaten path.

Because of its remoteness, this beach is quiet and clean, with few amenities.

The gentle waves on the volcanic sand beach provide a peaceful retreat for those who desire minimal interaction with people.

If you plan on staying at Playa Las Lisas for more than a day, consider staying at an ecolodge or hotel with a restaurant.

There are not many to choose from at this beach, but the ones you will find offer a safe place to sleep and tasty regional food.

The location of this beach on a skinny peninsula full of lush, green vegetation makes it a uniquely beautiful destination.

8- Champerico Beach

Champerico, also called Champe, is a black volcanic sand beach on the Pacific Coast of Guatemala.

It’s also a large shipping port, so hotels, restaurants, and shopping places are plentiful.

While Champerico is a popular vacation destination for Guatemalans, it does not often get crowded outside Easter Week.

This beach typically has excellent surfing conditions.

You can rent surfboards and other gear and sign up for surfing lessons to learn or improve your skills.

The massive wooden pier of Champerico is the most iconic structure in this town and is often featured on Instagram posts about Guatemala.

9- Iztapa Beach

beautiful guatemala beaches sunset
Choose one of these beautiful Guatemala beaches and escape for a vacation under the sun.

Iztapa is often considered one of the best Pacific Coast beaches in Guatemala.

The black sand beach of this coastal paradise was once an important port for the Spanish conquistadors.

Visitors enjoy this beach for whale watching, surfing and sunbathing.

One of the popular places to hang out is on an offshore sand bar only accessible by boat.

Iztapa accommodation choices include several hotels and rental homes in town.

Keen on fishing? Head to Iztapa for its sportfishing opportunities as this is the place to go in Guatemala for sailfish.

On a fishing trip, you can expect to catch 15 to 25 sailfish, especially if you go with one of the experienced tour operators from the town.

World record numbers of sailfish have been captured from the coastal waters around Iztapa, making this a top destination to fish for sailfish in the Pacific Ocean.

10- Playa Tilapa

caribbean guatemala beaches palm trees and waves
If you’re looking for a Caribbean hideaway then try one of these beaches in Guatemala.

Playa Tilapa is the most rural, isolated beach in Guatemala and is in the laid-back town of Tilapa on the Mexican border.

The remoteness of this town and beach appeals to those looking for a place to escape from the crowds.

Surfers especially enjoy Playa Tilapa for its excellent waves.

The small fishing village of Tilapa has a few hotels and a handful of restaurants.

Seafood is freshly caught every day, and the wide beach is often deserted.

A series of canals separate the beach and town, requiting a 10-minute boat ride through the mangroves from the town to reach the beach.

This beautiful area is ideal if you want a non-touristy, rustic vacation.

11- Puerto San Jose

guatemala beaches
Guatemala beaches are split between the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean.

Puerto San Jose is the largest fishing town on the Pacific Coast of Guatemala and sits between the towns of Monterrico and El Paredon.

Most visitors are attracted to this town for its sportfishing opportunities.

Sportfishing brings in people from all over who know this is one of the best places to catch sailfish.

Whale watching is another popular activity from December through to April.

While the beaches in Puerto San Jose are not the primary reason to visit, they are relaxing spots to hang out and spend the day.

Volcanoes provide a beautiful backdrop to the area.

Plenty of hotels are available for visitors and a small airport in Puerto San Jose means you can fly directly into town rather than driving three hours from Guatemala City.

12- Sipacate Beach

beaches guatemala
Guatemala has some amazing beaches.

West of Playa El Paredon on the Pacific Coast lies the Sipacate-Naranjo National Park.

Reaching this beach can be challenging.

Driving to Sipacate from El Paredon takes about one hour, but taking a boat is much faster.

Sipacate is a sleepy beach location that attracts surfers that want a quieter vacation.

With consistently large waves throughout the year, the surfing at Sipacate is stellar.

The sandy beaches here offer a beautiful beach paradise to adventurous surfers who want to escape the world.

Visitors who want a break from surfing can go paddle boarding or kayaking through the mangroves, lagoons, and canals behind the beach.

Here, nearly a hundred bird species can be observed as well as sea turtles and freshwater turtles.

This natural area provides a peaceful place for nature lovers to explore.

Lake Beaches In Guatemala

guatemala beaches lago attilan
There are several Guatemala beaches by its beautiful lakes, such as Lago Attilan.

13- Playa Dorada

Playa Dorada is a beautiful beach with light-coloured sand located on Lake Izabal.

This lake is about a five-hour drive from Guatemala City but only a two-hour drive to Puerto Barrios on the Atlantic Ocean side of the country.

The calm waters of this lake attract crowds of people, especially on holidays and weekends.

This scenic lakeshore looks like a beach with golden sand, clear water, numerous palapas spread out on the sand and palm trees dotting the shoreline.

Lake Izabal’s calm waters provide a fun place to spend time on the water with motorised or non-motorised equipment.

During the busiest days at the beach, people crowd this large lake with kayaks, jet skis, water bikes, banana boats and paddleboards.

There’s a good choice of hotels and restaurants around the beach, making this spot perfect for families, couples, and parties of friends who want to have a great time in the sun.

14- Playa Las Cristalinas

beaches in guatemala
Some of the best beaches in Guatemala can be found around a lake.

On Lake Atitlan, surrounded by three volcanoes, lies the Playa Las Cristalines.

This beach was named after its crystal-clear waters and is the cleanest beach on Lake Atitlan, providing an ideal place to swim.

Its location in the highlands means the temperature is cooler, and you won’t feel the effects of the humidity and heat common to coastal beaches.

You can stay in San Juan La Laguna or San Pedro La Laguna and travel to the beach by road or by boat.

There’s a small restaurant next to the beach, so you won’t have to pack food.

This beach is off the beaten path and does not receive the same crowds as some other beaches do.

For more beaches around the world read:

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AngieGrierphoto
Angie Grier is a spicy señora living in central Mexico with a penchant for freelance writing. Having spent most of her adult life writing first as a scientist and then as a teacher, she now contributes articles on a wide variety of topics for a number of print and online media sources. When she’s not shopping in Tonalá or eating chilaquiles, she writes a travel blog detailing her life and adventures in Mexico at www.onaroadleadingsomewhere.com.