Because of Guatemalaâ€™s orientation, its â€śwesternâ€ť coastâ€”that is to say, its Pacific coastâ€”is actually for the most part to the south, and most Guatemalans refer to it as the â€śsouthernâ€ť coast. It consists of the provinces of San Marcos, Retalhuleu, Suchitepequez, Escuintla and Santa Rosa.
These provinces are similar in that they comprise the land between a string of volcanoes inland and the coast. The rich soil means that these provinces are home to thriving agricultural and livestock industries as well as a booming fishing industry. Home mostly to working-class Guatemalans with little or no indigenous blood, these provinces tend to be somewhat rough-and-tumble, and more than a little dangerous. The main towns, such as Escuintla and Puerto San JosĂ© have little to offer visitors.
The biggest draw on the southern coast is almost certainly the small beach town of Monterico. As beaches go, itâ€™s not too impressiveâ€”head north to Mexico if thatâ€™s what youâ€™re looking forâ€”but itâ€™s probably the best Guatemala has to offer. Ruins buffs will want to visit some sites along the southern coast, most notably Abaj Takalik, near the city of Retalhuleu. A relatively small site, with only about 80 structures, Abaj Takalik is most interesting due to several impressive stonecarvings and possible links to the ancient Olmec culture.