Yolkobsens continue to scratch their pointy, ancient noggins trying to understand why the Guatemala beaches just southwest and southeast of Antigua Guatemala remain one of the best kept secrets in this part of the New World.
Our latest foray into the Guatemala Pacific beaches, just a 1 1/2 hour car ride from Antigua Guatemala, found us in Sipacate, a pueblo located southwest of Antigua Guatemala. From there, a single but perfect hotel beach resort is just a fresh water channel ride away.
The Mar Maya Hotel is reached by hired launch from Sipacate. Don’t worry about looking for the dock, a helpful and enterprising person will spot your car or you on foot and take you there immediately. It’s an inexpensive ride, with pretty much of standard 10 Quetzales per person rate.
You’ll be on the launch for about 8 minutes and the ride is a treat in itself. It’s a marshy mangrove lined strait with a lot of wildlife to admire. We saw a Supreme Court of serious looking pelicans, an interesting counterpoint to the coven of Cranes, who never take themselves seriously. Anyway, who could with legs like those? Another surprise sight was the large mound of whiter than white harvested sea salt we saw drying in the salt farm sun. Small flying fish got into the act as well.
On arriving at the Mar Maya Hotel, we headed straight for the beach. This is the only hotel resort for kilometers and kilometers of gorgeous pristine Pacific shoreline. In fact, as far as the eye could see, there were no other beach resorts, soda pop stands, souvenir kiosks, nada any way you look up and down. No litter, hardly any people.
This hotel, which has been here in one form or another for over 40 years, is a maze of rooms, bungalows, bars of various sizes, three pools, including one for the kids, and crocodile and turtle pens.
The painted notice on the croc pen the first of the interesting warnings, kind admonishments and directions painted in large letters through this somewhat eccentric hotel compound. The croc’s name is Juanando, one sign explains helpfully. The next sign asks you not to feed him or throw stuff at him. Oh if Juanando could only talk, the tales he could tell.
My favorite sign with the biggest letters of all is located at the back of the large breezy outdoor restaurant, warning guests not to go swimming within 2 hours post-meal. This was a charming throw-back to our childhoods, we thought, as the eatery speakers cranked out vintage Frank Sinatra.
Before reading further, you should know that the beaches in this part of Guatemala all have deadly undertows and are not to be trifled with. Most Guatemalans will not go into the water past the ankle level and you should adopt this as a wise example. The Mar Maya Hotel provides a series of flags on the beach indicating where it’s safe and extremely unsafe to take the plunge. Directly in front of the restaurant sits the all-clear flag. Here you can see steady breakers that many visitors surf in relative safety. Still, caution is the watch word.
After we got through admiring the beach from the dark lava sand, we headed back to the restaurant for cold beer, cool breezes and lunch. Our lunch of fried whole curvina fish, small salad and fries was outstanding, advantaging the fresh from the sea flavor that cannot be imitated. Mr. Y had the house special seafood soup with a whole curvina fish hammocked across the large bowl. The broth was a meal in itself and definitely had been made from scratch; no store bought soup stock here. It was an excellent meal, we declared and the price was very reasonable. Our lunch, which included much beer, came to about $12 per person.
Room rates at this funny, sprawling character of a resort is also very reasonable. Rooms that can sleep four are in the $60 range and bungalows that accommodate six, are in the $75 range. Rates are 25 percent less during the week.
Like all Guatemala beach resorts, there is a big crowd on the weekend and hardly anyone there during the week. A hotel van will shuttle you from Antigua Guatemala and back on the weekends. Check out their web site for more info http://www.marmaya.com.