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Despite being a small country, Guatemala has coastline on both the Atlantic and Pacific. Of these, the two most popular beaches for tourists are Playa Blanca and Playa Monterrico, respectively. Monterrico has a Guatemala black sand beach: something super interesting to me since I’d never seen one.
Interestingly, Guatemala is known for a lot of things, but one thing Guatemala’s not known for is its beaches. After going to both, I’ll admit neither is great, but Monterrico may just win the award for the worst beach I’ve ever been to.
Setting out on the 2.5 hour shuttle ride from Antigua, my husband and I were both ready for a little fun in the sun. We weren’t expecting much, but we still thought it would be a nice change of pace.
The first thing you’ll notice when you arrive is the black sand beach, remnants of Guatemala’s volcanic activity. It’s not as beautiful as the white sands and turquoise waters of the Caribbean, but the real problem with black sand is that it gets hot to the touch: bare feet will get scorched in no time flat.
Heading into the water trades the issue of hot sand for another problem…powerful riptides. Suddenly, I understood why none of the locals were swimming. Anytime I waded deeper than my knees, I was literally knocked over. As a former lifeguard, I knew not to mess around in these waves.
And so we sat on the beach, letting the waves roll over our legs, happily soaking up the sun for five minutes until a rogue wave washed over us, dumping enough sand into my bikini to make it feel like I was wearing a heavily-soiled diaper. The ocean is powerful at Monterrico, and enough was enough.
Determined to make the most of our day, we passed the time in town enjoying fresh shrimp, flavorful ceviche, and a a few mojitos before returning to Antigua that same afternoon.
Sometimes, it’s best to know when to fold.
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I may not have liked Monterrico, but there are lots of destinations you’ll fall in love with. After two months in the country, read all my Guatemala travel tips and stories.