Guatemala although not recognized as a destination for tropical beach vacations, not because it doesn’t posses them, on the contrary, Guatemala has many untouched tropical beach destinations which are reminiscent of Mexican a long time ago. Due to a lack of tourist infrastructure and political unrest Guatemala has been by-passed by the hordes of tourists who visit Central America. This in some ways is why Guatemala can be a wonderful beach holiday for the more adventurous traveler. Sharing it’s northern borders with Mexico and Belize with El Salvador and Honduras to the southeast, Guatemala has beaches scattered along it’s coast of the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. Guatemala is emerging as a tourist destination in Central America and already attracting tourists from non-traditional areas. With a population of slightly above 13 million, Guatemala in Central America can be described as a paradise of biodiversity. The country prides itself in having over 14 ecotourism regions that include mangrove forests, over 200 tropical wetlands, protected national parks rich in both animals and over 1000 plant species. It is in Guatemala that Maya Biosphere Reserve, the second largest forest in Central America is found. Geographically, Guatemala is generally a mountainous country with several valleys. The exception is only found in the coastal and northern regions that are mainly lowlands.
THINGS TO DO IN GUATEMALA
Although Guatemala’s tourism is still under development, there is a lot you can partake in. The Ancient Mayan history is every where and a visit to Guatemala without seeing these famous ruins is like visiting Rome and not seeing the Coliseum. A visit to El Mirador and Tikal cities will be worth your visit. These are located in sparsely populated and wild northern parts of the country. A visit to the indigenous homesteads and the beautiful mountain lakes are certainly a must. Spare some time to climb the Pacava volcano near Lake Atitlan, the most climbed volcanoes in Guatemala. Although Guatemala’s tropical beaches are little known, they are some of the most peaceful locations to have a perfect rest. A common feature of Guatemala’s beaches is their black sand, definitely a throw back to a volcanic past. Guatemalan beaches of not are Monterrrico beach, Playa Banca(very remote), Las Lisas, El Paredón or Sipacate. Just note the beaches on the Pacific Coast are trecherous for strong rips so unless you are a strong swimmer I would be wary of jumping in when the surfs up. However, if you are searching for a surfing holiday, Guatemala is beginning to cater for this market. More and more surfers are visiting the Guatemalan Pacific coast for a surfing holiday without the crowds. Interestingly, many tourists especially those from the US visit Guatemala simply to learn Spanish, which is widely spoken in the country.
HOW TO GET TO GUATEMALA
You have several options when it comes traveling to Guatemala. This will largely depend on your location. Although it can be tiresome, you can choose to travel to the country by road if you are in the neighboring countries. Guatemala is linked to Belize, El Salvador, Honduras and Mexico through several road networks. You can also fly in from these countries and land at Flores airport near Santa Elena. You can also choose to travel to Guatemala by Sea or River, depending on your location. There are boats that link ply from Honduras and Belize to Guatemala. There are also boats that operate on River Usumacinta, which is the border between Guatemala and Mexico. Traveling from Canada, Europe, Asia or Australia means that you have to fly to the US for a stop over before proceeding to land at Aeropuerto La Aurora International Airport located a few kilometers from Guatemala City.
GETTING AROUND GUATEMALA
You will not find it a problem to move around Guatemala. You can easily travel to and from Livingston town located near the Caribbean Sea by boat to and from such locations as Puerto Barrios or Rio Dulce. There is also an elaborate public bus transport system you can use to move around. Major tourist towns and locations are well served by very comfortable buses with limited capacity. You may also opt to rent a car either at the airport or once in the city. Taxis are widely available and you hire one to take you around. Motorcycles are also available for rent. These are however only appropriate if you need to travel locally. You may also choose to travel around by air. This is mainly between the international airport and Flores airport.
WHEN TO GO TO GUATEMALA
Guatemala is one country that you can travel to at any time of the year. The winter season can however present local travel challenges as roads become difficult to navigate through. Because it becomes very cold and dump in the country’s highlands during winter, you may opt to stay in the lowlands. Likewise, the highlands become the most preferred locations when the lowlands are hot during summer. Many tourists travel to Guatemala from December to April. This is also the time when most Guatemalans living abroad take time to return home for festivities. Most North Americans touring Guatemala do so between June and August, which is another tourist high season.
WEATHER IN GUATEMALA
Like other Central American countries, Guatemala experiences tropical climate. The country experiences both winter and summer seasons. The winter season begins in May and extends to September when the country receives a significant amount of rainfall. Summer begins in October and extends to April when the country is generally hot and dry. Due to its geography however, the country’s different regions do experience different weather patterns.