16 best beaches in Guatemala to visit right now

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What we talk about in this article

Whether you’re backpacking through Guatemala and want to break up all the culture with some beach time. Or, you’re specifically looking for some of the very best beaches in Guatemala to plan your relaxing beach trip in Central America, … Beach time is always a great way to relax, no matter the reasoning behind it! 

So, let’s not keep you waiting! These are the most amazing beaches in Guatemala.

Map of the best beaches in Guatemala

Let’s start out with our map with the very best beaches in Guatemale, because in the end, you want to know which one fits best in your travel plans or your Guatemala itinerary.

As you will see in this article, Guatemala has 3 types of beaches. All of these are very different and offer a completely other experience. So, let me quickly explain what to expect!

Pacific beaches in Guatemala

The most beaches are located on the Pacific side. That’s where Guatemala as the longes coastal stretch. A few specifics for most of the playas on the Pacific Ocean:

  • black / dark volcanic sand
  • great surfing waves
  • loads of mangroves for watching wildlife
  • sea turtles!

Caribbean beaches in Guatemala

The Caribbean beaches are more difficult to find, but we managed to list a few. These are the white sandy beaches you might be looking for. But, in Guatemala, these beaches are not to be compared with the stunning beaches of Belize or Costa Rica.

In any case, the Caribbean beaches of Guatemala offer a cultural experience and they’re a great place to relax for a while.

River or lake beaches

River and lake beaches are those unexpected gems that are in a place you weren’t looking for them!

Each of the major lakes in Guatemala has one or more stunning beaches. So, have a look and see if you want to include them when visiting the lakes of Guatemala!

1. Playa de Tular - Tilapa

Playa de Tular in Tilapa is a hidden gem on the Pacific coast of Guatemala, a paradise waiting to be discovered. With its pristine sandy beaches, crystal-clear turquoise waters, and breathtaking sunsets, Playa Linda offers a truly enchanting experience.

Did you know that Playa Linda is famous for being a nesting ground for endangered sea turtles? From May to November, visitors have the unique opportunity to witness the nesting and hatching of these incredible creatures.

Here are three fun things to do in Playa de Tular:

  • Surfing and Water Sports: With its consistent waves and warm waters, Playa Linda is a haven for surfers of all levels. Grab a board and ride the waves or try your hand at other water sports such as paddleboarding and kayaking.

  • Beach Exploration: Embark on an adventure along the coastline of Playa Linda and discover hidden coves, natural rock pools, and vibrant marine life. Snorkel in the sparkling waters and be amazed by the colorful coral reefs.

  • Enjoy Local Cuisine: Indulge in the rich flavors of Guatemalan cuisine at the beachfront restaurants. Savor traditional dishes such as ceviche, fried plantains, and fresh seafood, all while enjoying the stunning ocean views.

How to get to Tilapa?

The nearest destination to Tilapa is Quetzaltenango, which is about 110 km away. Tilapa is located in the North of the coastline, not too far from the Mexican border.

Spending the night in Tilapa

There are not too any accommodation options available in Tilapa. But, since Tilapa is quite far from the main cities, it’s best to stay for a night in order to have a relaxed trip.

2. Playa de Champerico

Playa de Champerico in Guatemala, is a popular surf destination nestled along the coast of the Pacific Ocean. This picturesque beach town offers visitors a tranquil and relaxing getaway from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. 

With its golden sand and warm waters, Champerico offers the perfect getaway for beach lovers. Whether you’re a solo traveler, a couple, or a family, this beach has something for everyone to enjoy.

Fun Fact: Playa de Champerico is known for its strong waves, making it a popular destination for surfers looking to catch some thrilling rides.

A few fun things to do in Playa de Champerico:

  • Surfing : Grab your surfboard and ride the waves at Playa Las Sirenas or Playa Amarillo. The beach’s favorable conditions and consistent swells make it a surfer’s paradise.
  • Fishing : Experience the thrill of deep-sea fishing with a local guide, and try your luck at catching marlin, sailfish, or tuna. Don’t forget your camera to capture the excitement and beauty of the ocean.
  • Relax : Indulge in some well-deserved relaxation by lounging on the beach, soaking up the sun, and listening to the soothing sound of the waves crashing against the shore. Unwind with a refreshing cocktail from a local beachside bar and feel your worries melt away.

How to get there

Champerico is located on an easy drive from Quetzaltenango. As this town is pretty popular, you will be able to find a shuttle or collectivo which takes you directly to Champerico.

The distance is also around 90 km, but this is one direct connection, making it easier to visit.

Spending the night

Champerico is not the most popular beach destination in the world, meaning that you could have the beach to yourself!

That also means that accommodation options are rather limited.

Wake up to stunning ocean views and embrace the peaceful ambiance of this coastal paradise.

3. Playa Las Lisas - Las Lisas

Playa Las Lisas is a beach paradise nestled along the country’s stunning Pacific coast. Known for its pristine sandy beaches, crystal-clear turquoise waters, and laid-back atmosphere, Playa Las Lisas offers a tranquil escape from city life.

So, don’t miss out on this pristine coastal paradise during your visit to Guatemala’s Pacific Coast. Playa Las Lisas promises an unforgettable beach getaway surrounded by natural beauty and tranquility.

Fun fact: Playa Las Lisas is actually named after the abundance of lisas, or mullet fish, found in its waters.

Here are three things to do in Playa Las Lisas

  • Surf the waves : With its consistent swells and uncrowded beaches, Playa Las Lisas is a surfer’s dream. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a beginner looking to catch your first wave, there are plenty of surf spots to explore and enjoy the thrill of riding the waves.

  • Discover marine life : Strap on your snorkeling gear and dive into the vibrant underwater world of Playa Las Lisas. Explore the colorful coral reefs, swim alongside tropical fish, and keep an eye out for sea turtles and rays gliding through the clear waters.

  • Indulge in fresh seafood : Don’t miss the opportunity to savor the local delicacies. Sit back and relax at one of the beachfront restaurants, where you can feast on mouthwatering seafood dishes, from grilled fish to ceviche, all freshly caught from the ocean.

How to get to Las Lisas

Las Lisas is located on the the Southern end of the Guatemalan coastline, not too far from the border with El Salvador. This town is near Monterrico and El Hawaii as well, so, you can visit all of these beaches in one go!

Getting there will take some time. The easiest way to find transportation, will be from Antigua. The distance from Antigua is around 140km. 

You can either book a direct shuttle from Antigua to Monterrico, which is a popular destination. From Monterrico, you can make your way to the other towns nearby.

Spending the night here

Las Lisas is a little more tranquil than the nearby Monterrico. Chances are good that you will have the beach to yourself. But it also means that you’re limited in accommodation options.

Not saying that this looks limiting in any way.

4. El Paredón

El Paredón is a charming coastal village located on the Pacific Coast of Guatemala. This picturesque beach town is perfect for those seeking a laid-back beach experience away from crowded tourist spots.

The beach here boasts beautiful black volcanic sand, giving it a unique and appeal.

In Playa El Paredón, you’ll find the perfect mix of relaxation, adventure, and natural beauty. Whether you’re eager to ride the waves, support sea turtle conservation efforts, or simply unwind on a pristine beach, this coastal paradise has something for everyone.

Fun Fact: Playa El Paredón is renowned for its incredible waves, making it a haven for surfers from around the world.

Things to Do in Playa El Paredón

  • Catch a Wave: With its consistent surf breaks and warm waters, Playa El Paredón attracts surfers of all levels. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a beginner eager to learn, the surf here is sure to offer an exhilarating experience.

  • Turtle Conservation: Playa El Paredón is also known for its thriving sea turtle population. Take part in a guided tour to witness nesting, hatching, or even release baby turtles into the sea. It’s a truly remarkable and unforgettable encounter with nature.

  • Explore the Mangroves: Hop on a kayak or paddleboard and venture into the surrounding mangroves, where you’ll encounter stunning flora and fauna. Keep an eye out for tropical birds, as they gracefully soar above the mangrove canopies.

Sunset at El Paredon - one of the most popular beaches in Guatemala
Sunset at El Paredon - one of the most popular beaches in Guatemala

Getting to Playa El Paredón

El Paredon can be reached from Antigua, as Antigua offers the most transportation options. You can easily book a shuttle to head over to the beach in El Paredon. The trip, with a shuttle, from Antigua to El Paredon takes around 3 hours and some people choose to visit this beach on a day trip from Antigua. These shuttles pick you up at your hostel in Antigua and they drop you off at your hostel or lodge at the beach. It’s a super easy and convenient beach in Guatemala to travel to.

Spending the Night in Playa El Paredón

Accommodations in Playa El Paredón cater to various budgets, ranging from budget-friendly hostels to cozy beachfront eco-lodges. Falling asleep to the sound of crashing waves and waking up to stunning sunrises is truly a magical experience.

5. Playa Iztapa

If you’re looking for a beach getaway on the Pacific Coast of Guatemala, Playa Iztapa is a must-visit destination. Situated near the town of Iztapa, this beach has something for everyone.

So if you want to escape to a beach that combines relaxation with exciting activities, head to Playa Iztapa on your next trip to Guatemala. It’s one of the best beaches in the country and promises a memorable experience for beach lovers and adventure enthusiasts alike.

Fun Fact: Did you know that Playa Iztapa is renowned for its world-class sport fishing? Anglers from around the globe flock here for the chance to reel in prized marlin and sailfish, making it a haven for fishing enthusiasts.

Things to do in Playa Iztapa

  • Fishing : Playa Iztapa is famous for its deep-sea fishing opportunities. Hire a local charter boat and head out into the open waters to try your hand at catching marlin, sailfish, or dorado. Cast your line and experience the thrill of chasing after the ocean’s giants.
  • Mangrove tours : Explore the nearby mangrove forests on a guided tour. These unique ecosystems are home to various bird species, as well as other wildlife like crocodiles and turtles. Immerse yourself in nature as you paddle through calm waters surrounded by lush greenery.
  • Unwind on pristine beaches : Playa Iztapa is famous for its pristine white sandy beaches that stretch for miles. Whether you’re seeking relaxation or an adrenaline rush from surfing or jet skiing, there’s something for everyone along these idyllic shores.

How to Get There

Playa Iztapa is located in between the beach towns of Montericco and El Paredon, both of which are easy to reach with a shuttle.

So, if Iztapa is on your radar, you can either book a shuttle to El Paredon or book a shuttle to Monterrico and continue your trip from these nearby towns.

It’s also possible to get to Iztapa with local transportation, like a chicken bus or a collectivo. You can expect this trip to take multiple chicken buses and collectivo’s as they usually make shorter trips, so you’ll have to switch buses a few times along the way.

Spending the Night

Playa Iztapa offers a few accommodation options. There are beautiful beachfront hotels and holiday rentals that provide a comfortable stay. 

6. Playa La Empalizada - Sipacate

Playa La Empalizada, located in Sipacate, Guatemala, is a Pacific beach destination that is sure to leave you enchanted. Known for its pristine sandy shores and crystal-clear turquoise waters, this hidden gem offers a perfect getaway for those seeking tranquility and natural beauty.

Playa La Empalizada is also famous for being a nesting site for sea turtles, including the endangered Olive Ridley species. Witnessing the hatchlings make their way to the sea is a truly magical experience.

Did you know that Playa La Empalizada is known for its incredible biodiversity? It is home to a variety of marine life, making it a great spot for snorkeling and diving enthusiasts.

Things to Do at Playa La Empalizada

  • Sunbathe and Swim: Unwind on the pristine beach, bask in the warm sun, and take refreshing dips in the inviting waters of the Pacific Ocean.
  • Explore the Mangroves: Rent a kayak and paddle your way through the enchanting mangrove forests that surround the beach, immersing yourself in nature’s beauty.
  • Visit a Turtle Sanctuary: Get up close and personal with adorable sea turtles at the nearby turtle sanctuary, where you can learn about their conservation efforts and even release them into the ocean.

How to Get to Sipacate

Sipacate is located right next to El Paredon, so you can visit both in one go!

The easiest way to visit is to book a direct shuttle from Antigua to El Paradon and then make you way to the town of Sipacate from there.

Spending the Night

Playa La Empalizada is perfect for a day trip and there aren’t too many accommodation options that made the cut for a mention here. 

So, we recommend travelling either to El Paredon and spend the night there. Or you can also travel slightly east in the direction of Monterrico, where there are tons of beach hotels.

7. Montericco

Playa de Monterrico is a beautiful beach located in Monterrico, on the Pacific Coast of Guatemala. With its pristine black sand and picturesque palm-lined coastline, this seaside town offers a relaxing and tranquil escape for both locals and tourists. One of the best-kept secrets of Guatemala, Playa de Monterrico is not as crowded as other popular beach destinations, making it an ideal spot for those seeking a peaceful retreat.

Playa de Monterrico is known for its nesting grounds of sea turtles, including the endangered leatherbacks. Visitors have the unique opportunity to witness these magnificent creatures lay their eggs and watch the hatchlings make their way to the ocean.

Things to do in Playa de Monterrico

  • Take a boat tour through the mangrove forests: Explore the rich biodiversity of the area as you cruise through the serene mangrove tunnels, home to various bird species and wildlife.
  • Horseback riding on the beach : Enjoy a leisurely ride along the shore while admiring the stunning ocean views and feeling the gentle breeze on your face.
  • Surfing : Perfect for adventure-seekers, Playa de Monterrico offers excellent waves for surfers of all levels. Grab your board and ride the waves!
Sea Turtles in Monterrico
Sea Turtles in Monterrico

How to get to Monterrico

The easiest way to get to Monterrico is by getting a direct shuttle from Antigua. The ride lasts about 2,5 hours. These shuttles pick you up at your hostel in Antigua and drop you off at your lodge in Monterrico.

Sunset at Monterrico beach
Sunset at Monterrico beach

Spending one or more nights in Monterrico

There are various accommodation options available in Playa de Monterrico, ranging from budget-friendly hostels to luxurious beachfront resorts. Whether you prefer a cozy bungalow or a hotel with stunning ocean views, you’ll find a place to suit your preferences. Enjoy the tranquil atmosphere, indulge in fresh seafood, and fall asleep to the sound of crashing waves—it’s an experience you won’t want to miss!


8. El Hawaii

Playa El Hawaii in Guatemala is a vibrant and fascinating beach destination that will leave you amazed. With its crystal-clear turquoise waters, golden sand, and stunning backdrop of lush green mountains, this beach is a true paradise.

Fun fact: Playa El Hawaii got its name because of its resemblance to the famous Hawaiian beaches.

Things to do at Playa El Hawaii

  • Enjoy the sun : The beach offers the perfect spot for sunbathing, relaxing, and taking a dip in the clear waters.
  • Try surfing or paddleboarding : With its ideal waves, Playa El Hawaii is a popular spot for surfing and paddleboarding. So grab a board and ride the waves.
  • Explore the underwater world : Go snorkeling or diving to discover the colorful marine life and coral reefs that surround the beach.

How to get to El Hawaii

Playa El Hawaii is located right next to Monterrico, meaning you can visit this beach on a day trip (or half-day trip) from there. If you want to visit El Hawaii beach seperately, then we recommend getting a shuttle to Monterrico and make you way to El Hawaii from there.

The drive from Antigua to Monterrico takes around 2,5 hours. The beaches of El Hawaii are only a few km further South.

Spending the night at El Hawaii

If you wish to extend your stay, there are several accommodation options available near Playa El Hawaii, ranging from cozy beachfront cabins to comfortable hotels. You can wake up to the sound of the waves and enjoy breathtaking sunsets before retiring to a peaceful night’s sleep.

9. Puerto San José

Located on the Pacific coast of Guatemala, Puerto San José offers a great beach getaway amidst picturesque surroundings. Its dark sandy shores, azure waters, and warm tropical climate make it the perfect destination for beach lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. Whether you seek relaxation or adventure, Puerto San José has something for everyone.

Puerto San José is renowned for its rich biodiversity, particularly for being a nesting ground for endangered sea turtles. Witnessing these incredible creatures laying their eggs and making their way back to the ocean is a truly awe-inspiring experience.

Fun Things to Do in Puerto San José

  • Enjoy Watersports : Take advantage of the idyllic surroundings and indulge in thrilling watersports such as surfing, kayaking, or jet skiing.
  • Fishing Excursions : Embark on a fishing trip and try your luck at catching some of the region’s abundant marine life, including snapper, marlin, and sailfish.
  • Explore Wildlife : Explore the nearby mangrove forests and discover a plethora of vibrant bird species, monkeys, and other wildlife that call this natural paradise home.
Sunset at Puerto San Jose beach in Guatemala
Sunset at Puerto San Jose beach in Guatemala

Getting to Puerto San José

Puerto San José is conveniently situated just 80 kilometers southwest of Antigua. If you first travel South from Antigua, to Escuintla, you can get a direct bus from there, straight to Puerto San José.

Alternatively, you can book a shuttle from Antigua to El Paredon and ask to get out early or make your way from El Paredon to Puerto De San José.

Spending the Night

Puerto San José is a larger city, located in the middle between Monterrico and El Paredon. 

Even though there might be hotels and other lodging available in Puerto San José, we do recommend visiting on a day trip and spending the night in one of the more scenic seaside hotels in Monterrico or El Paredon.

10. Playa Blanca

The first white beach in this list: Playa Blanca on the Caribbean coast of Guatemala, near Livingston. Playa Blanca is a breathtaking beach that is sure to captivate beach lovers. This pristine white sand beach is perfect for those seeking tranquility and natural beauty.

Playa Blanca is ideal for anyone looking for a peaceful and secluded beach experience. The crystal-clear turquoise waters and soft white sand create a serene atmosphere, making it perfect for relaxation and unwinding. Whether you want to lounge under the sun or take a refreshing swim in the ocean, Playa Blanca offers the perfect setting.

Here are three activities you can enjoy at Playa Blanca

  • Snorkeling : Dive into the translucent waters of Playa Blanca and discover the vibrant underwater world. Snorkeling here allows you to witness an array of colorful marine life and coral formations.
  • Beachcombing : Take long walks along the shoreline and explore the treasures hidden in the sand. Playa Blanca is known for its abundance of seashells, making it a paradise for shell collectors.
  • Picnicking : Pack a delicious picnic lunch and enjoy it while overlooking the stunning views of the beach and ocean. The peaceful ambiance of Playa Blanca makes it an excellent spot for a romantic or family picnic.
Caribbean beach of Playa Blanca, near Livingston Guatemala
Caribbean beach of Playa Blanca, near Livingston Guatemala

How to get to Playa Blanca

First, you will have to make your way to Rio Dulce, a travel hub on Lake Izabal. From there, get a lancha or river boat to the Caribbean town of Livingston. Then, you can either hike to Playa Blanca or book a tour that includes this beautiful beach.

We recommend taking your time to explore this entire area, because Livingston, as well as Rio Dulce are very worthy of your time!

Playa Blanca Livingston
Playa Blanca Livingston

Where to stay?

When visiting a beach near Livingston, we definitely recommend staying in one of the beautiful riverside lodges in town. Have a look at the river lodges in Livingston or the lodges on the Rio Dulce River.

Casa Nostra - Livingston - Guatemala

Casa Nostra in Livingston is a favorite among backpackers, digital nomads, and long-term travelers, offering a paradise-like stay with options ranging from a few days to weeks or more. Its chill, Caribbean vibe atmosphere, along with the owner's hospitality and travel tips, makes guests feel at home.

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Villa Caribe - Livingston - Guatemala

Villa Caribe, nestled on the Rio Dulce's banks, offers a relaxed atmosphere amidst beautiful tropical gardens for a peaceful stay. With options ranging from budget dorms to private rooms with sea views, guests can enjoy excellent breakfasts with a view, relax by the pool, or engage in birdwatching and photography.

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Casa de la Iguana - Livingston - Guatemala

Casa de la Iguana is a budget-friendly hostel in Livingston, nestled on the Rio Dulce riverbanks and surrounded by jungle. It offers a tranquil atmosphere with a pool, hammocks, shared dorms, private rooms, and common areas including a dining space and a restaurant serving local cuisine.

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11. Playa Punta de Manabique

Playa Punta de Manabique at Cambalache, Guatemala is a breathtaking coastal paradise that promises an unforgettable experience. With its pristine golden sands, crystal-clear turquoise waters, and lush surrounding vegetation, it offers a serene and untouched escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Located in the Izabal Department, this hidden gem is a haven for nature lovers and adventure seekers alike.

Playa Punta de Manabique is home to a vibrant coral reef, making it a fantastic spot for snorkeling and diving enthusiasts to explore the underwater wonders of the Caribbean Sea.

A few things to do at Playa Punta de Manabique

  • Explore the Marine Wildlife : Dive into the vibrant waters and discover the colorful world beneath the surface. Marvel at the diverse marine life, including tropical fish, sea turtles, and even the occasional dolphin or manatee.

  • Visit the nearby Livingston : pay a visit to the laid back Garifuna town of Livingston on the other side of the Bay of Amatique

  • Relax and Unwind : With its remote and tranquil location, Playa Punta de Manabique offers the perfect setting for relaxation. Soak up the sunshine, listen to the gentle lapping of the waves, and simply unwind on the picturesque beach.

How to get there

The nearby city of Livingston is the most popular starting point for excursions to Punta de Manabique.

Where to stay?

The peninsula of Cambalacha doesn’t offer any options to spend the night. It’s a lush and green setting, but you’ll want to get back to Livingston once night falls. You can spend the night in one of the river lodges of Livingston.

12. Puerto Barrios

Located on the Caribbean coast of Guatemala, the beaches of Puerto Barrios offer a tropical paradise for beach lovers. 

If you’re a nature enthusiast, you’ll be captivated by Puerto Barrios’ stunning beaches with their white sand and crystal-clear waters. The beach here is perfect for sunbathing and swimming, allowing you to soak up the tropical vibes while enjoying the refreshing ocean breeze.

For those seeking thrilling water activities, Puerto Barrios has got you covered. Dive into the turquoise waters and explore the vibrant coral reefs through snorkeling or scuba diving. You’ll have the opportunity to encounter diverse marine life, such as colourful fish and sea turtles.

Did you know that the beaches of Puerto Barrios are home to the endangered Hawksbill sea turtle? During certain times of the year, you might be lucky enough to witness these majestic creatures nesting or hatching their eggs.

A few fun things you can do in Puerto Barrios

  • Explore  Livingston: Take a boat ride to the nearby town of Livingston, known for its Afro-Caribbean culture and vibrant reggae music scene. Wander through its colourful streets, try the local cuisine, and immerse yourself in the rich culture of the Garifuna people.

  • Scuba Diving and Snorkeling: Dive into the underwater wonders of Puerto Barrios by exploring its vibrant coral reefs and colorful marine life. Whether you’re an experienced diver or a beginner, there are plenty of dive shops and tours available to cater to all skill levels.

  • Visit the Rio Dulce: Embark on a boat trip along the Rio Dulce, a picturesque river surrounded by lush tropical rainforests and dramatic limestone cliffs. Discover hidden hot springs, explore ancient Mayan sites, and witness cascading waterfalls along the way.

How to get to Puerto Barrios

Puerto Barrios can be reached by a boat trip from Livingston. Check with your lodging in Livingstn to book a trip like this.

Alternatively, you can also get there overland from the town of Rio Dulce. A public bus or collectivo can take you there from the main road in town.

Lastly, some travellers prefer to make their way straight from Punta Gorda in Belize and make it their border crossing between Belize and Guatemala over water.

Spending the night

Puerto Barrios offers a variety of accommodation options to suit every budget and preference. From luxurious beachfront resorts to cozy guesthouses, you’ll find the perfect place to rest and rejuvenate after a day of exploring the beaches. Some popular options include Hotel Amatique Bay, Hotel Casa Rosada, and Hotel Garífuna.

13. Playa Dorada - Lake Izabal

Playa Dorada is the nicest beach on the shores of Lake Izabal in Guatemala. With its stunning turquoise waters and white sandy beaches, this hidden gem offers a serene and idyllic escape for nature lovers and relaxation seekers. Nestled amidst lush greenery and surrounded by the majestic mountains of the Izabal region, Playa Dorada provides a tranquil setting that feels like a tropical paradise.

Fun fact: Lake Izabal is the largest lake in Guatemala and is also home to various species of freshwater fish and wildlife.

Things to do at Playa Dorada

  • Swimming: Dive into the refreshing waters of Playa Dorada and enjoy a relaxing swim. The crystal-clear waters provide the perfect opportunity to cool off and escape the heat.
  • Snorkeling: Explore the vibrant underwater world by snorkeling at Playa Dorada. Discover colorful coral reefs teeming with an array of tropical fish and other marine creatures.
  • Sunset watching: End your day in awe as you witness stunning sunsets over the Pacific Ocean. Find a cozy spot on the beach, sit back, and let the beauty of nature unfold before your eyes.

Getting to Playa Dorada

Playa Dorada is accessible by road and by boat, but it isn’t on the radar for most travellers. You can either visit during a boat tour on Lake Izabal or combine it with a trip to the Mayan ruins of Quirigua.

Spending the night

If you want to spend longer in this area, we recommend staying in Rio Dulce or on the river. There are tons of beautiful hostels and river lodges in Rio Dulce. Or you can combine your visit with a stay in one of the hostels in Livingston.

Tortugal Boutique River Lodge - Rio Dulce - Guatemala

Tortugal Boutique River Lodge offers a peaceful retreat near town with a rustic vibe, stunning water views, and rooms with essential amenities. Facilities include an on-site restaurant, bar, outdoor terrace, garden, and picnic area for dining and socializing.

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Boatique Hotel and Marina - Rio Dulce - Guatemala

Boatique Hotel and Marina provides a tranquil, modern stay in a serene spot away from town, featuring a free boat shuttle, unlimited high-speed internet ideal for digital nomads, and relaxing amenities like a pool and hammocks. You can do activities like paddle boarding, massages, manicures, and tasty meals at the on-site restaurant.

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El Hotelito Perdido - Rio Dulce - Guatemala

El Hotelito Perdido, located on Rio Dulce's banks, provides a magical jungle experience with a laid-back vibe perfect for couples and solo travellers. It features common areas for relaxation and activities like cooking classes, cultural tours, and hiking, fostering a communal atmosphere.

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14. Playa Chechenal - Lake Peten Itza

This beautiful beach is located along the coastline of Lake peten Itza, providing a tranquil and picturesque setting for visitors to enjoy. Locals will reassure you that this is the most beautiful beach in Guatemala and they might just as well be right!

Playa Chechenal is perfect for nature lovers and those seeking a peaceful retreat. The beach features soft white sand, inviting turquoise waters, and lush green vegetation surrounding it.

What to do at Playa Chechenal

  • Swimming : Take a refreshing dip in the crystal-clear waters of Lake Peten Itza. The calm waves and gentle current make it safe for swimming and ideal for cooling off on a hot day.
  • Kayaking : Explore the stunning beauty of the lake by renting a kayak. Paddle along the shoreline and soak up the scenic views as you glide through the calm waters.
  • Picnicking : Pack a picnic lunch and enjoy a laid-back meal on the beach. Spread out a blanket and savor delicious local cuisine while taking in the serene atmosphere.

How to get there

As Playa Chechenal is located on Lake Peten Itza, it is easy to get there by boat on the lake. Most visitors come here on a day trip or half day trip from the beautiful town of Flores.

Where to spend the night

There are literally hundreds of options for spending the night in this area, and we documented a few. Have a look at some of the best hostels in Flores. Or, would you rather spend the night in a beautifully designed boutique hotel around Flores. There’s also the hotels of El Remate, a nearby village that is a great hub for visiting the ancient Mayan ruins in the area.

Hotel Isla de Flores - Flores - Guatemala

Hotel Isla de Flores offers a charming colonial-style experience with its colourful decor and warm atmosphere. You can enjoy stunning lake views from the rooftop terrace, an outdoor swimming pool, sun terrace, a cafe, two restaurants, and a bar.

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Bolontiku Boutique Hotel & Spa - Flores - Guatemala

Bolontiku Boutique Hotel & Spa offers a captivating stay across the lake from Flores, Guatemala. Located on Peten Itza Lake's shore, guests enjoy breathtaking views, a blend of traditional Mayan and modern décor, relaxing spa treatments, a large pool, and exquisite dining with a focus on fresh seafood.

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Hotel Casazul - Flores - Guatemala

Hotel Casazul in Flores, Guatemala, boasts stunning lake views, charming decor, and clean, comfortable rooms with modern amenities. You can enjoy free WiFi, panoramic views from the balcony, and easy-to-arrange transportation and tours. Air-conditioned rooms offer comfort even in the heat.

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15. Playa Las Cristalinas - Lake Atitlan

Playa Las Cristalinas is a beautiful beach located on the shores of Lake Atitlan. This amazing place is really a hidden gem, hidden between the villages of San Pablo La Laguna and San Juan La Laguna, 2 lesser known towns on Lake Atitlan.

The most special thing about this beach is the setting and the views. From here, you look out over some of the most stunning mountain ranges in the world (in my opinion). You can see the iconic volcanos that surround the lake, while taking a dip in this amazing lake.

Did you know that Lake Atitlan is renowned for its reputation as one of the most beautiful lakes in the world? Its crystal clear waters and magnificent volcanic backdrop make it a must-visit destination in Guatemala.

What to do do at Playa Las Cristalinas

  • Relax and soak up the sun: Unwind on the pristine sandy beach, bask in the warm sunshine, and take in the stunning views of the lake. Feel the gentle breeze as you listen to the melodious sounds of nature.

  • Try water sports: Dive into the refreshing waters and indulge in exhilarating activities such as kayaking or paddleboarding. Explore the lake’s hidden coves and discover its natural wonders.

  • Enjoy a lakeside picnic: Pack a delicious picnic and find a cozy spot along the beach or on the grassy areas nearby. Savor your meal while relishing in the breathtaking views of the lake and the majestic volcanoes that surround it.

How to get there

To get to Playa Las Cristalinas, you can take a boat ride from Panajachel or one of the other 2 towns we mentioned above. All the lake transportation goes from Panajachel to San Pedro La Laguna. On the way, you can make requests to stop in the different villages. 

The boat ride offers a scenic journey across the lake, allowing you to take in the beauty of the surroundings.

Spending the night in the area

Lake Atitlan has a lot of different lodging options available. There are many hostels in each of the Lake Atitlan towns, so make sure to check out the hostels of Lake Atitlan

If you’re looking for something different, then Lake Atitlan is the perfect place to do so. There are quite a few ecolodges around the lake and here, you can even indulge on some luxury in one of the luxury hotels around the lake. There’s no lack in lodging, in case you’re wondering where to stay on Lake Atitlan.

Eco-Hotel Mayachik - San Juan La Laguna - Guatemala

Mayachik offers a budget-friendly way to disconnect from the hurry of life. Find peace in the stillness of nature and enjoy an ecological retreat at Lake Atitlan

Eco-Hotel Mayachik on Booking Eco-Hotel Mayachik on Hostelworld
Casa Prana Hotel - Santa Cruz La Laguna - Guatemala

Indulge in pure luxury in a wonderful setting in Santa Cruz. This hotel is a real-life dream. If you want to stay here, make sure to book ahead. It sells out really fast!

Casa Prana Hotel on Booking Casa Prana Hotel on Agoda
Villa Santa Catarina - Santa Catarina Polopo - Guatemala

This 100% Guatemalan accommodation has an excellent location and a swimming pool. This hotel is LGBTQ-friendly.

Villa Santa Catarina on Booking Villa Santa Catarina on Agoda

16. Playa Panajachel - Lake Atitlan

Playa Panajachel at Lake Atitlan is a picturesque destination nestled in the highlands of Guatemala. With its stunning views of the lake and surrounding volcanoes, this charming town attracts travelers from all over the world. A paradise for outdoor enthusiasts, Playa Panajachel offers a wide range of activities to suit every interest.

Things to do in Playa Panajachel

  • Take a boat tour: Explore the crystal-clear waters of Lake Atitlan and visit the vibrant Maya villages that dot its shores. Marvel at the colorful traditional clothing worn by the locals and discover their rich cultural heritage.
  • Hike to the Indian Nose: Embark on a challenging yet rewarding hike to the summit of Indian Nose, a sacred Maya site. Witness a breathtaking sunrise or sunset from this vantage point, offering panoramic views of the lake and surrounding landscapes.
  • Shop at the local market: Immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere of the Panajachel market. Browse through a variety of handmade textiles, vibrant ceramics, and unique crafts. Don’t forget to haggle for the best prices!
Playa Panajachel at Lake Atitlan, with the volcanoes in the backdrop
Playa Panajachel at Lake Atitlan, with the volcanoes in the backdrop

Getting to Playa Panajachel

Playa Panajachel is located approximately 110 kilometers west of Antigua. From there, it’s quite easy to get a direct shuttle to Panajachel.

The beach at Panajachel is easy to reach if you’re only paying a quick visit to the lake. Playa Cristalinas is a lot more difficult to get to. Playa Panajachel is just a short walk from the main docks where you arrive at Lake Atitlan.

Spending the night

If you wish to spend the night, which we totally recommend, there are several accommodation options available in nearby towns such as Panajachel, San Pedro La Laguna, and Santa Cruz La Laguna. Whether you prefer a cozy lakeside cabin, a luxurious resort, or a budget-friendly hostel, you’ll find the perfect place to stay and enjoy the tranquility of Lake Atitlan.

Reserva Natural Atitlan - Panajachel - Guatemala

Enjoy the lush environment of the Reserva Natural Atitlan. Here, you can do tons of activities, like ziplining, visiting a butterfly garden, and hikes in nature.

Reserva Natural Atitlan on Booking Reserva Natural Atitlan on Agoda
Hotel Atitlan - Panajachel - Guatemala

Hotel Atitlan in Panajachel offers luxury with stunning volcano and lake views, modern amenities, beautiful gardens, and a tranquil ambiance. Close to town, it combines convenience with a lovely pool and access to local attractions for an unforgettable experience.

See prices on Booking See prices on Agoda
Dreamboat Hostel in Panajachel Guatemala

Dreamboat Hostel in Panajachel, Guatemala offers cozy stays near Lake Atitlan with stunning views, charming decor, and rooms for all budgets. It features a well-equipped kitchen, communal spaces, and a rooftop terrace. Its prime location and relaxed vibe make it perfect for exploration.

Check Booking prices Check Hostelworld prices

Conclusion - the best beaches in Guatemala

Yes, we listed quite a few beautiful beaches in Guatemala, so, it might still be difficult to choose!

Let me quickly give you an idea of the best / most popular beaches to visit. If you want a remote experience where there are no other travellers or backpackers, then pich one of the beaches I don’t mention here!

On the Pacific side:

  • Montericco
  • El Paredon


On the Caribbean side:

  • Playa Blanca


On Lake Peten Itza

  • Playa Chechenal (not too crowded)


On Lake Atitlan:

  • Playa Panajachel
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