Guatemala Pacific Coast Attractions
The Pacific Coastline stretches 250km/155 mi from the Mexican border in the west to the border with El Salvador to the east and includes parts of six administrative departments.The region is characterized by black volcanic sand beaches on the coast where water-sports are enjoyed and the mangrove swamps and lush, subtropical forests further inland where several archaeological sites can be explored.
Monterrico Nature Reserve & Hawaii National Park
Monterrico is a nature reserve whose primary purpose is the protection of mangrove forests and sea turtles. Covering 2,767 ha/6,918 ac of which 263/ 657 are under water, it 's a habitat for a great variety of bird and aquatic life including the leatherback and Ridley turtles.The Hawaii National Park and the Monterrico Nature reserve both have programs to care for these turtles and to help them reproduce.Both the park and the reserve are a refuge for birds especially migratory species and pelicans.Surfing is popular on the dark sand beaches where the tide is very high.
Chiquimula is a departmental capital, set in a mining and tobacco growing region renowned for its heat. Chiquimula is a major market town for eastern Guatemala and an overnight stop for those continuing on to Honduras. Founded during the colonial era, the ruins of its church can be seen.
Puerto Quetzal is a cruise-port which serves as a gateway to the Guatemala's inland attractions. Located on the Pacific, this new port is the first multi-purpose port in Guatemala. The Pacific coastline around Puerto Quetzal mostly black-sand beaches.
Santa Lucía Cotzumalguapa
Santa Lucía Cotzumalguapa situated on Guatemala's Pacific Slope is an important site of Mayan art and culture. Surrounding the town and in its sugar cane fields are great stone heads and scenes carved in relief.There are three main archaeological sites in the surrounding area: Finca Bilbao, Finca El Baúl, Finca Las Ilusiones.
At Finca Bilbao set in the middle of sugar canes is a Mayan site containing stones with figural carvings, bird carvings and Mayan hieroglyphs. Bilbao was a Mayan ceremonial center that flourished around 600 AD.
Finca Las Ilusiones
Finca Las Ilusiones contains hundreds of Mayan objects which have been collected from the fields over the centuries. There's a small museum with a collection of carved stones, pottery, old tools and other objects found on the plantation.
Finca El Baúl
Hilltop Finca El Baúl is a still-active place of worship where there's two stones with interesting Mayan carvings.
Tecuamburro, part of a chain of volcanoes, is made up of three interconnected hills: el Cerro Miraflores, at 1,943 m/6,373 ft; Cerro Peña Blanca, with an elevation of 1,800 m/5,904 ft; and the highest point, Cerro La Soledad, at 1,845 m/6,052 ft.The sides of Cerro Peña Blanca are covered with small sulfur fumaroles.
Basilica de Esquipulas, the largest baroque temple in Guatemala, dominates the town of Esquipulas. This 18th C structure is the center of a continental pilgrimage where the Black Christ is venerated.
La Democracia, Guatemala
La Democracia is a town where impressive Mayan sculptures can be seen arranged in the main plaza including huge stones called Olmec heads weighing up to 5 tons.A small museum named Rubén Chávez Van Dorne has many artifacts collected locally.
The clean and temperate departmental capital features a white-washed church and an elaborate municipal building. Coffee traders from the area come to this town of 40,000 to relax.
Abaj Takalik is one of the oldest archaeological sites in Guatemala. Recent excavations have uncovered temples, ceremonial platforms, wood carvings and ceramics plus large Olmec heads.Excavation is in progress in this site located on a coffee farm.
Ipala Lake & Volcano
Ipala volcano is 1,650 m/5,412 ft high and contains a deep green lagoon in its crater. Hiking is good in this area.
Tiquisate was once the United Fruit Company headquarters. It is famous for the Mayan ceramics that originated from the region.
One of Guatemala's best beaches is rather undeveloped.
San Jose, Guatemala
This town of 14,170 is Guatemala's second-largest port.
Tecojaté is a small fishing town with a long pleasant beach.