Travellers' guide to Monterrico (2023)



Black Beach Volleyball

© KoalaGirl

Monterrico is a relatively undiscovered town with a vast stretch of black sand beachs on the west of Guatemala next to the Pacific Ocean. Originally a small fishing village, it is now a nature reserve which attracts many weekenders from the capital, and inreasingly tourists visiting Guatemala. Monterrico encompasses an impressive beach of fine black volcanic sand and a maze of lagoons and mangroves with a great wildlife. Eco-tourism and beach activities are the main attractions, however Monterrico is still a small fishing village in a mangrove swamp with chickens pecking around palm thatched mud huts on a remote Central America beach.

Monterrico, on the Pacific coast of Guatemala, has the good fortune of being protected by an offshore sand shelf. This shelf holds off the rain and provides for some spectacular lightning displays from the beach.


Sights and Activities

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.

Black Sand Beaches

Monterrico Black Beach Sunset

© KoalaGirl

Monterrico is mostly about soaking up some rays and letting the crashing waves soothe your inner soul. 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.

Totugario (Sea Turtle Hatchery)

The main attraction in Monterrico is Turtle Beach, the heart of the Monterrico Nature Reserve. In 1981 the Universidad de San Carlos in Guatemala City founded CECON (El Centro de Estudios Conservacionistas). CECON eventually established the Monterrico Nature Reserve (amongst others) with the aim of protecting the mangrove swamp and manages an ongoing project to protect endangered sea turtles that use Monterrico's beach as nesting grounds.

Baby Turtle

© KoalaGirl

A few turtle conservation organizations operate in the Monterrico area because the long stretch of beach serves as a breeding ground for 4 species of endangered sea turtles. Many locals who hunt for sea turtle eggs during the August-November season donate a percentage of their catch to the "tortugarios" (sea turtle hatcheries).

At around 5:30pm during October/November, the Turtle conservatory isolate a section of the beach to release baby turtles back into the sea. For 20 quetzales, you can hold your own baby turtle and watch it run down the beach toward the sea in a race against the other turtles.


If isolation & relaxation is what you want then Monterrico is the perfect place. It really only has the one main road (called Calle Principal - Of course!), with dirt tracks & small roads leading off it where all the main hostals & pensions are located. There are no real 'shops' to speak of & only a small handfull of smiling, not so pushy sales people showing their wares for a few hours a day at most. Don't expect souvineer shops here!


Getting There

By Plane

The nearest international airports are located in Guatemala City and El Salvador. From either of these cities you'll need to drive or take a bus to reach Monterrico.

By Car

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.

By Bus

Guatemala Chicken Bus

© KoalaGirl

Most travellers catch a shuttle bus/van from Antigua, though transport is also available from Guatemala City or Panajachel.

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 8am and returns at 3pm daily.


Getting Around

By Foot

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 happily wandering along the "road".



Lazy Days

© KoalaGirl

View our map of accommodation in Monterrico

You will pay about twice what you would on the weekdays for weekend lodging. 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.


Keep Connected


Internet access is widely available. Even most of the more remote areas have some type of internet access available. Many larger areas also have WiFi. All of the Camperos chicken/pizza restaurants (which are numerous) offer free WiFi, as well as many other restaurants and cafes. Some hotels may also offer computer banks with internet access. Just ask and you eventually will find some sort of free access.

If you have a smartphone such as iPhone, Google Android, you just need a local SIM card (roughly Q25) and can start enjoying the prepaid access plans, which generally come in lots of an hour, a day, or a week.


See also International Telephone Calls

Guatemala's emergency phone numbers include 110 (police), 120 (ambulance) and 123 (fire). Guatemala's international calling code is 502. There are no area codes. Phone numbers all have eight digits.

The phone system isn't great, but it works. Tourists can call abroad from call centers, where you pay by the minute. It is also easy to purchase a calling card to use at public pay phones. The phones there do not accept money, so to use a public phone on the street you must purchase a telephone card. Typically, the cost is around 8 quetzals for a 10-min call to North America, and slightly more to Europe. Cell phones are quite cheap and calling overseas through one can get as low as $0.08 a min. If you are planning to stay for a while and plan to use the phone, you should consider buying a cheap prepaid phone. Wireless nation-wide internet access for laptops is also available as a service from some companies. Telefónica has good coverage with their PCMCIA EV-DO cards.


El Correo is the national postal company in Guatemala. It offers a wide range of services, including sending cards and packages both domestically as well as internationally. Most Guatemalan towns have a post office, although your best bet is to send mail from a large city. Service at El Correo is improving, thanks to consultation and assistance from Canada Post. Most post offices open from 8:30am to 5:30pm. Airmail letters to North America and Europe cost from Q6.50 and take a week or two to arrive. High-end hotels can usually send your mail for you, too. Expect packages you send through the Guatemalan mail system to take a very long time to arrive. They usually get there in the end, but it's worth paying extra for recorded delivery (correo registrado). Many stores can ship your purchases for you, for a cost. Valuable items are best sent with private express services. Couriers operating in Guatemala include DHL, UPS, and FedEx. Delivery within two to three business days for a 1-kg package starts at about Q500.


External Links

This is version 30. Last edited at 3:40 on Aug 2, 17 by sleepBot.1 article links to this page.

Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Gov. Deandrea McKenzie

Last Updated: 03/05/2023

Views: 5567

Rating: 4.6 / 5 (46 voted)

Reviews: 85% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Gov. Deandrea McKenzie

Birthday: 2001-01-17

Address: Suite 769 2454 Marsha Coves, Debbieton, MS 95002

Phone: +813077629322

Job: Real-Estate Executive

Hobby: Archery, Metal detecting, Kitesurfing, Genealogy, Kitesurfing, Calligraphy, Roller skating

Introduction: My name is Gov. Deandrea McKenzie, I am a spotless, clean, glamorous, sparkling, adventurous, nice, brainy person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.