After Puerto de San Jose Guatemala we we were back again on the southeastward road that ran along the coast with Monterrico (Guatemala) as our nearby destination. We highly recommend the coastal road to anyone interested in seeing a variety of small sandy villages flying past the car window. Dogs lie in the middle of the road and we, like everyone else, obliged and went around the snoozing pooches. The odd pig or chicken crossing the road had Dahr providing a slowed accommodating speed.
We stopped at three resort hotels along the way. Here we found pristine lava sand beaches with no one on them. It was during the week so there were only one or two guests in any of these resorts. Weekends, we were told, find the resorts chock-a-block busy with families and partying groups. If a real and truly restorative beach experience is what you are after, go during the week. Yolkobsen’s inspection netted three resorts along this route that we can recommend: El Pantanal; Cayman Suites; and Utz Tzaba. Double rooms range from $70 to $90 US and all have swimming pools, ever-present bar drinks and an “American plan” to cover all meals.
We Got There – The Beach at Monterrico (Guatemala)
We continued down the coastal road. Finally, the beach at Monterrico (Guatemala) was under our feet. By now it’s about 86 degrees F. Monterrico (Guatemala) is a tourist beach town serving gringos and Guatemalans alike. It’s full of hotels, bars and restaurants and the usual “muchachos” with official looking badges who will exhort you to go on a trip to the mangrove swamps, bird watching and viewing of turtles artificially released onto the beach. We gave all that the big miss.
It’s a beautiful beach, but somewhat littered with party detritus. And, again, no one was in the water and there were few people hunkered down on the beach’s warmth that work-a-day Tuesday. We found a restaurant on the beach which served a competently prepared dorado, fries and salad.
On the whole, were pleased with our trip and our experience of the beach. Most important, we were toasty warm, hot, in fact. None of us is a sun bunny, so we took pictures and applied copious amounts of sun block. Please bring a good hat if you go.
Going Home – Back to Antigua Guatemala
Dahr, ever the imaginative and informed guide, took us home in a completely different way. In Monterrico (Guatemala), he steered the van toward the canal side of the town where we found flat-bottomed wooden barges docked along the marshy brackish fresh water canal that winds as a counterpoint to the sea.
Then he maneuvered the van onto the barge and we and it meandered for 20 minutes through the edges of the mangrove swamp. Here were treated to the sight of at least 50 cranes, some tending their chicks, others on the lookout for dinner. Kingfishers and swallow-like birds were everywhere. It was magic and we felt like we had landed suddenly on another continent. Africa? We docked safely at La Avellana (Guatemala) where we treated ourselves to cold beers from the friendly kiosk at the dock before heading back to Antigua Guatemala.