Monterrico Beach

Monterrico is, according to most, the best of the Guatemala beaches, which is not saying very much, as the country is not exactly known for its sandy, oceanside stretches. Void of ritzy, glamourous beaches where resorts and beach facilities hog the scene, Guatemala instead maintains coastal stretches that give visitors the real experience. When you think of it, that’s the beauty of a place like Monterrico. Plenty of beaches around the world offer all kinds of amenities and fanfare, but sometimes it’s nice to find a place with more original character. Monterrico is a relaxing place on Guatemala’s Pacific coast that is ideal for escaping the cities and highlands for a bit.

Monterrico Guatemala is mostly about soaking up some rays and letting the crashing waves soothe your inner soul. Due to the volcanic nature of Guatemala, Monterrico beach is made up of black sand, which can heat up pretty quickly in the daytime sun. If you are planning a trip to this wonderful locale, it is not a good idea to leave the flip-flops behind. Your feet will surely let you know what they think about it if you do. While surfing is not exactly a big-time affair at Monterrico Guatemala, there are usually big waves here. Monterrico beach is known to have a strong undertow, so wading out much farther than knee-deep is something you should consider twice, especially if you are not an accomplished swimmer. While weekend life guards keep watch, you are on your own on weekdays. You can enjoy long, languid walks on this beach, as it is quite wide and extends for miles. Sundays are the most busy days, but by no means does that mean that it is exactly crowded.

Being the most popular beach in Guatemala, you can find a bus or shuttle leaving from either Guatemala City or Antigua that makes its way towards Monterrico beach. Getting to your final destination, however, isn’t as easy as pulling off the road. Monterrico beach, instead, is an end reward for putting up with what it takes to get there. Taxisco and La Avellana are two of the main towns located near Monterrico Guatemala, and they welcome many of the arriving buses. At least 3 direct buses from Guatemala City arrive at La Avellana. From Avellana, getting to Monterrico then entails boarding a boat to cross the mangrove swamps that separate your final destination from the rest of the world. You can also take a bus from Guatemala City to Iztapa, with options leaving almost on the hour. From there, you can either take the boat to Puerto Viejo and another bus to Monterrico, or you can opt for a bus to Taxisco, followed by a bus to La Avellana and a subsequent boat to Monterrico.

Buses from Guatemala City heading towards Monterrico usually can be found at the terminal in Zone 4 of the city. A bit pricier than the average bus ride, you can opt for the mini-bus “shuttle” from Antigua. Often called the “Gringo Bus”, the price is around $20 and the shuttle typically leaves Antigua at 8 a.m. and returns at 3 p.m. daily. If going by car is your form of Guatemala transportation, you can start your trip by heading towards Escuintla. From there, it’s on to Puerto Quetzal, which is a popular port for Guatemala cruises, then to Taxisco and on to La Avellana. From La Avellana, you take the ferry to Monterrico, vehicle and all. From the dock at Monterrico Guatemala, you will follow a dirt track on foot. After passing some shops and a soccer field, you will start to see some restaurants and the pounding of the surf will lead you in the right direction. Be prepared to see free-roaming pigs, chickens and other barnyard animals. Also, take in consideration that you will pay about twice what you would on the weekdays for weekend lodging. Since phone service is limited in Monterrico Guatemala, it may be difficult to make reservations ahead of time. While the range of accommodations is good, and getting better with time, you might have to walk the beach inquiring at different locations about availability. Finding a cheap Monterrico Guatemala hostel is just fine by most, as lounging in a hammock while sipping a piña colada is really what’s important here. Side activities enjoyed at Monterrico include a boat trip through the swamps to look for native wildlife and visiting the animal sanctuary. If you are lucky, you may get to participate in the turtle release program led by the Biotopo Monterrico-Hawaii nature reserve. It’s a treat to see the baby turtles collectively make their way towards the ocean. In Monterrico, you will find an internet café and at least one Spanish language school. If tours are your thing, you might consider horseback riding on the beach, going on a whale-watching tour, taking to the water in a kayak or joining the bird or turtle watching tours.

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