After a hectic week in Antigua of Spanish school and volcano hiking, we decided to head for the beach. Sun, sea and sand seemed like the perfect cure to our travelers fatigue. The problem is, Guatemala isn’t famed for its beaches.
Look online and you’ll be struggling to find any beach resort recommended by travelers. Instead you’ll be wading through article upon article about El Salvador and Honduras. Luckily, that’s where our Spanish teachers came in.
Manolo, my buddy from La Union said he’d only been sun burnt once in his life, at Monterrico beach. As an Englishman, that was all the encouragement I needed. I love a good bit of sun burn!
So we asked about in our hostel and found a shuttle bus that would take us for £15 p/p. The journey’s only around 70 miles, but because of the terrible Guatemalan roads, the trip takes 3 and a half hours.
The Town itself is exceptionally small and quiet, which suited us down the ground. Hostel wise, there isn’t much choice, but we opted for Hotel El Delfin, which was recommended to us by a friend.
Most hostels out of Antigua tend to be very basic in Guatemala, and that was the case with El Delfin. We booked a private room that was located in a kind of glorified shed made from palm trees. But that was the best room they had, so we had no cause to complain.
The rest of the hostel is lovely. There’s plenty of chill-out zones. It’s equipped with ping-pong tables, a swimming pool, hammocks and direct access to the beach. The food and drink served there is reasonably priced and pretty tasty for Guatemalan standards.
The main attraction is the sea, and me and Aoife were both blown away by it. The black sand beach drops sharply, where it’s battered by tremendously forceful waves. Swimming isn’t advised due to the force of the current. Just standing with your feet in the water can be quite risky!
Sitting and simply watching the waves come crashing in can be mesmerizing though. Coming from England & Ireland, me and Aoife had never seen anything like it. The noise and the motion of the water was phenomenal.
There’s not just wave watching to do in Monterrico though. There’s mangrove tours and turtle releasing to do too! Unfortunately – as would become a theme in Guatemala – Aoife was too unwell to come out and release turtles.
Knowing how much she loved turtles, I decided it would be cruel to do it without her. So it was a book and an early night instead. The next morning however we got up at the crack of dawn to go on the mangrove tour.
We’d arranged it through the hostel and it cost the paltry figure of £10, not bad. We were led to the edge of the mangroves by our guide, and then hopped onto a longboat. Juan stood at the back and steered the boat like an Oxbridge punt.
The sun was still rising, and the mangroves were a hive of animal activity. Small birds, stalks, fish and even some snakes buzzed around in the vegetation. When the sun did rise we were treated to a spectacular view of deep red sunshine spilling over the stunning landscape.
In the distance, we could see the towering figures of Volcan de Agua, Fuego and Pacaya. Closer to the boat we saw majestic birds hovering, and diving into the water for their breakfast.
The trip lasted around an hour and a half and was a brilliant way to start the day. The natural beauty, wildlife and rising sun helped to fill us with a sense of calm for the rest of the day.
After spending the rest of the day lounging by the pool and the sea, we hopped on a bus back to Antigua. Ready to continue our Guatemalan adventure. Next stop, Lake Atitlan. Below is a list of our expenditure to give you an idea of a rough budget.
Hotel El Delfin: £18 a night – Private Room. The room was very basic, but it served it’s purpose.
Mangrove Tour : £10 P/P 5.30am – 7.00am
Turtle Releasing: £15 P/P
Night Beach Tour: £10 P/P*
*We decided not to do this, because it sounded incredibly shit!
Matiox Shuttle Bus: £15 P/P (This was quite expensive for a shuttle, but it took us from door to door and saved us from jumping on the Chicken Bus)
Hotel El Delfin has an on-site restaurant which is very reasonable, and meals can range from £3 – £10. There’s no kitchen in the hostel so the restaurant is pretty much your only choice
Daily Budget-Excluding Accommodation
£25 – Including tours, food and more than the occasional bottle of beer. Who can resist a bottle of beer when it’s coming in at 50p a bottle? Thought so.