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Guatemala's Pacific Coast

Because of Guatemala’s orientation, its “western” coast—that is to say, its Pacific coast—is actually for the most part to the south, and most Guatemalans refer to it as the “southern” 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 José have little to offer visitors.


The biggest draw on the southern coast is almost certainly the small beach town of Monterico. As beaches go, it’s not too impressive—head north to Mexico if that’s what you’re looking for—but it’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.

By Christopher Minster
I am a writer and editor at V!VA Travel guides here in Quito, where I specialize in adding quality content to the site and also in spooky things like...
01 Dec 2008

Things to do in Guatemala's Pacific Coast

Bilbao Stones

It is a surreal walk to leave the hustle and bustle of town, enter the cane fields and seemingly discover by chance the existence of carved boulders. Dating from the late classic ...
Santa LucĂ­a Cotzumalguapa, Guatemala

Lago De Amatitlán

Best seen, if seen at all, on a day trip from Guatemala City, Lago de Amatitlán will leave most tourists hoping for more. The lake is too polluted for swimming, but it is possible to navigate it ...
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Escuintla, Guatemala

Sport Fishing

Sailfish. The holy grail of deep sea fisherman and found in such numbers off the coast of Iztapa that it is possible to actually get a little bored of them. However, there are also large numbers of ...
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Iztapa, Guatemala

Parque Acuático Xocomil

Xocomil stands high above other water parks, and that’s not just because it has the longest water slide in Central America. This park competes with the best water parks in the world. It is terrific ...
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Retalhuleu, Guatemala

Parque De Diversiones Xetulul

Winner of the prestigious Applause Award in 2008 for the best amusement park, Xetulul sets high standards for an adrenalin-packed day out. The park is divided into seven themed areas ...
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Retalhuleu, Guatemala

Comunidad Alianza Coffee Farm

Up in the hills with a commanding view of the active Volcan Santiaguito, which still lets out regular mushroom clouds, Comunidad Alianza is a wonderful place to come and relax for a few days or ...
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Retalhuleu, Guatemala

Takalik Maya Lodge

This lodge and farm is located on Terrace 9 of the Abaj Takalik national park. A ten minute walk through the sub-tropical forest takes you to airy, all natural bungalows, with fantastic views of the ...
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Retalhuleu, Guatemala

Finca El Patrocinio

The 140 hectare (345 ac.) Patrocinio Reserve includes a variety of different habitats and is dedicated to conservation and restoration of the natural environment. The reserve is also involved in ...
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Retalhuleu, Guatemala

Parque ArqueolĂłgico Abaj Takalik

The main reason most visitors come to Reu is to see Abaj Takalik. While not as famous as Tikal in the North, it is considerably older and just as important. The site covers 6.5km2, ten terraces, has ...
Retalhuleu, Guatemala

Casa Samala – Casa De Cultura

Two blocks behind the museum, the Casa de Cultura is a pleasant place to come afterward for a cup of filtered coffee and a break. There are several different rooms containing traditional arts and ...
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Retalhuleu, Guatemala

Museo De Arqueologia Y Etnologia

Located in a colonial house on the central park, the small museum holds some interesting artwork and pottery. Rooms are divided into time periods such as pre-classic, classic and post-classic to ...
Retalhuleu, Guatemala
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