Monterrico, Guatemala: Surf, Sand, and Seafood

Adventure and black sand beaches await in the little-known town of Monterrico

Fisherman on the black sands of Monterrico
Fishing in Monterrico. Flickr/Beth Jusino

Tucked away in the southern part of Guatemala is the small tourist town of Monterrico, known for its unique black sand beach. I say tourist town, but actually Monterrico is the closest beach to the capital, Guatemala City and it attracts a large number of local tourists looking to get away from the hectic city life. The town itself is not much more than a dead-end in the road, but hidden down the dirt side streets along the beach I found a plethora of hotels.

The hotels range in size and amenities, but most of them are designed for a party atmosphere, as that is what Guatemalans do when they go to the beach. I found a nice spot that had a big pool, a beachfront bar and restaurant and it seemed like a good fit, especially due to the fact they were dog-friendly and my 85-pound travel companion had four legs.

Monterrico travel with dog
My dog Jack in Monterrico, Guatemala. Photo by author.

The beach stretched for as far as the eye could see, but as pretty as the black sand was it was way too hot for a stroll, especially for my dog Jack. Travelling with a dog is fun and keeps you company, but it also creates some challenges, such as long walks on a hot beach. People were splashing in the water; children were throwing sand at one another, others were snoozing under pink and green umbrellas on the beach. It was your typical day at any beach in the world, with the exception of the amazing dark black sand that sparkled as it reflected the bright sun above.

The hotel I chose, El Delfin, had a nice bar that sat in the shade on the beach and was cool enough for Jack to take a nap. So I found a book and plopped down to relax and enjoy the atmosphere. It was a holiday weekend and the hotel was swarming with partygoers in large groups of family and friends. Eventually, I got to talking to a guy named Sam, who I think was the only other single person around. He too was just passing through Monterrico for the first time. We traded life stories as any two strangers do and we laughed at the fact that the lifeguards were busy playing pool instead of watching the swimmers.

Montericco, Guatemala
Coconuts in Monterrico. Photo by author.

In the morning my new friend Sam and I headed off down the main road away from the party scene. We were hoping to find some coconut water in an attempt to do something about the headaches we were both suffering from due to a few too many Gallo beers the night before.  We turned down a small tree lined lane that eventually led through ankle deep grass to some coconut trees. I had no idea at the time that this would turn into an all day affair, but as we attempted, rather clumsily, to get the coconuts out of the tree with a machete plans changed. The lady whose tree we were whacking at and machete we were using, Marta, offered to cook us a traditional fish lunch. With nothing else planned we accepted, not realizing this meant fish had to be found and Guatemalans take their time cooking.

After agreeing on a price for her efforts and the first attempt at buying fish unsuccessful, we headed out to the “other” fish market with Marta and her little girl, Rosa, who was just a touch taller than Jack. It was hot and as usual Jack was not enjoying being dragged down the sticky, hot pavement so we ducked into a street-side restaurant for some water and waited for the others to go find fish.

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