Guatemala is a super popular travel destination in Central America. But if you’ve never been to Guatemala before, you might wonder: Where should I go? While places like Antigua and Lake Atitlan are definitely on the well-trodden tourist path, there is also a lesser-known up-and-coming beach destination: El Paredon.

If you’re thinking about spending a few nights in El Paredon, this guide is for you. We spent a wonderful few days in El Paredon, getting to know everything this sleepy seaside town has to offer. With our time here under our belt, we’ve put together this ultimate El Paredon guide for you, which covers everything we would have LOVED to know before arriving in this super cute town.

El Paredon is a part of our full Guatemala itinerary for 2 weeks, so check that out if that interests you!

Disclaimer: This blog post includes affiliate links, which means we receive a tiny commission – at no extra cost to you. Don’t worry; this doesn’t affect our recommendations whatsoever. It just helps us keep the lights on.

El Paredon: Why Should You Go?

We didn’t really know what to expect when we decided to go to El Paredon, but boy can we say we are glad we went! This chilled-out surfer town on Guatemala’s Pacific coast quickly became one of our favorite beach destinations.

Central America has no shortage of beach towns, but Guatemala doesn’t generally come to mind when thinking of beautiful beaches. Most tourists that come to Guatemala skip the coast and instead head to Costa Rica, El Salvador, or Nicaragua. While it is definitely true that most of the main attractions in the country are far from the ocean, it would be a mistake to visit Guatemala without making a trip to the coast. El Paredon is Guatemala’s premier beach town for tourists. This sleepy town is perfect for relaxing, surfing, lazing in the sand, and having a few drinks at a beach bar. 

El Paredon reminded us of a MUCH less developed version of Canggu, Bali, with far fewer tourists. Similar to Bali, this beach has black sand, huge waves, and lots of open space. 

Interested in a trip to the Island of Gods? Check out our itinerary for Bali.

How Long to Spend in El Paredon?

There isn’t a whole lot to do in El Paredon, but this is partially what we loved so much about it. As a fairly undeveloped beach town, you’ll likely spend your time transitioning from the beach to a bar or possibly taking a nap in a hammock. Many of the other destinations in Guatemala are activity-heavy and tiring, so El Paredon is a great place to end your trip and spend a bit of time relaxing. That said, you really don’t need a lot of time here. 

We would recommend staying for at least 2 days, but no more than 5 days, unless you REALLY enjoy surfing!

What to Do in El Paredon, Guatemala

So, once you arrive in El Paredon, how can you spend your time in this sleepy beach town? While this town is definitely not the busiest or packed with activities, there are still plenty of things to do to pass the time.

Take a Surf Lesson

One of the most popular activities to do in El Paredon is, of course, surfing. After all, it is a surfing town! In fact, El Paredon is known for its powerful waves and is considered to be one of the best surfing spots in the world!

Since the currents and waves are pretty powerful and strong, if you’ve never surfed before or don’t feel too confident, you should take a surf lesson. Many of the surf camps, hostels, and hotels dotted across the town will all offer surf lessons as well as surfboard rental, so just ask around for availability.

Generally, lessons will cost you anywhere between 150 and 180 Q. But you can also pay around 60 to 80 Q to rent a board if you’re a fairly confident surfer and swimmer.

Lounge on the Beach

el paredon beaching

Another super popular activity to do in El Paredon is to simply relax on the beach. This is what makes El Paredon such a perfect destination to end your travels in Guatemala. Guatemala as a whole is a country filled with adventures and activities, so being able to relax and simply enjoy the crashing of the waves will be a well-deserved rest.

The El Paredon beach is one long strip of black sand, so you can even go for a walk alongside the water in the evening.

Pro tip: Avoid lounging on the beach between 10 AM to 4 PM. The black sand gets unbearably HOT! We made the mistake of heading to the beach in the middle of the day, and we couldn’t enjoy it at all. Go in the early morning or in the late afternoon/evening! Alternatively, if you are adamant about going to the beach in the middle of the day, take some shoes.

Take a Booze Cruise

Although El Paredon might be a sleepy town, surprisingly, the town has a pretty decent nightlife. If you want to combine some partying with being on the water amongst the mangroves, go on a booze cruise!

Every Saturday, there is a booze cruise on The Black Pearl. This all-you-can-drink booze cruise costs just 225 Q and is a great way to party as the sun goes down.

Watch the Sunrise and Sunset

el paredon sunset

The El Paredon beach faces south, so that means you get the best of both worlds and can watch both sunrises and sunsets here! Whether you are a sunrise or a sunset person, they are absolutely gorgeous! 

Arguably, it’s definitely a much more popular activity to watch the sunset, as you’ll see quite a crowd of people gathering on the beach as the sun starts to lower. Plus, since El Paredon faces west, you’ll get a perfect sunset view on the beach here. Join the crowds, grab a beer from a nearby bar, and find a spot to sit down and simply enjoy the view. This is the perfect time to get those beach portraits with the golden light shining down on you as well, so don’t forget to bring your camera or phone! 

Party at a Beachfront Hostel

If you happen to be in El Paredon on any other day of the week besides Saturday (booze cruise day), you can still drink the night away at one of the beachfront hostels pretty much any day of the week. The main party hostels are Cocori Lodge and The Driftwood, but the main hostels take turns hosting events – and anyone is welcome

Explore the Mangroves

One of our main recommendations for those heading to El Paredon is to go kayaking or SUPing amongst the mangroves. Most hotels and hostels should be able to help organize this activity for you. But if your accommodation does not offer a tour, you can also book one directly with Black Sand Kayaks. Tours are between 175 (90-minute tour) to 1,125 (2-day expedition) Q per person.

On this kayak or SUP tour, as you drift down the river in Sipacate-Naranjo National Park, you’ll be able to see the various wildlife that call this habitat home. We spotted countless bird species and a couple of iguanas, and we’ve heard that you might even be able to spot some turtles here as well!

See the Sea Turtles

There are two ways to see the sea turtles in El Paredon:

  1. Help baby sea turtles to the sea at The Driftwood Surfer.
  2. Take a turtle and salt farm tour with El Paredon Tours.

If you want to help guide baby sea turtles to the sea, head to the Driftwood at 5:45 AM from September to December.

IMPORTANT: If you happen to see the baby sea turtles, do NOT touch them! Simply watch from a distance and admire them.

Alternatively, if you want to do a turtle and salt farm tour, you’ll need to book this tour directly with El Paredon Tours. In this 2-hour tour, you learn all about the turtles, the ecosystem, and the salt farms as well!

Do Some Yoga

One of our favorite activities to do when we’re in a chill destination is yoga. It’s a great way to get some good old exercise while traveling. And what better way to do some yoga than with the natural music of crashing waves in the background? Sounds pretty great and relaxing, right?

Both Swell Hotel and Cocori Lodge offer yoga classes every morning, and your accommodation might offer something for you too! If you’d rather do something alone, just head over to the beach to do some yoga as the sun rises.

Where to Stay in El Paredon

If you’ve decided to add El Paredon to your Guatemala itinerary, you’ll need to book your accommodation. El Paredon doesn’t have the most options, but there are a few popular hostels, so if you want to get your first pick, we recommend booking sooner rather than later!

Driftwood Surf Hostel

One of the most popular places to stay in El Paredon is the Driftwood Surf Hostel. This beachfront hostel is a big name in Guatemalan hostels for a reason. You’ll also quickly find a community here, as Driftwood has a fun and social atmosphere that is super infectious, no matter if you stay in a dorm or private room.

Plus, more than simply being a place to stay, Driftwood organizes conservation and community projects, such as a daily baby turtle release from September to December!

The best part about Driftwood? The hostel’s pig, Potato! 

Cocori Lodge

Rivaling Driftwood in popularity is Cocori Lodge. If you really want to have your pick in terms of types of accommodation, Cocori Lodge should be your choice. Here, you can choose from your traditional dorms and bungalows. But Cocori also has more unique stays, such as open-air bungalows, a two-story tiny house, or even a bus! Yep – you read that right!

Besides the accommodation itself, Cocori has an awesome atmosphere. It’s a hostel, surf camp, bar, and restaurant all tied into one neat package. While we personally did not stay at Cocori, we did enjoy their restaurant bar, which had surprisingly decently priced drinks!

Swell Hotel

Swell Hotel, a surf and lifestyle hotel, is another great option we highly recommend if you’re heading to El Paredon. However, keep in mind that this is more of a mid-tier accommodation option and does not offer dorm beds if that’s what you’re after.

If you’re looking for a place to stay that perfectly blends the rustic charm of El Paredon with an elegant touch for comfort, this is the place for you. They offer several accommodation options, each nestled underneath a traditional thatch palm roof, perfect for your Instagram photos.

Shanti Surf Camp

el paredon dog
We played with this puppy outside Shanti’s every day! And don’t worry; he’s very fed and plump thanks to the nearby restaurant.

Looking for a more high-end option in terms of accommodation? Check out Shanti Surf Camp, which offers 5-star rooms. The beautiful infinity marble pool is a great plus, especially in the middle of the day when you can’t go to the beach due to the heat. If you stay in Shanti, an amazingly delicious breakfast is included every day, made from organic products directly from local farmers. And if you’re lucky, you’ll find some really cute and friendly dogs hanging around just outside the property!

Shanti may not be in the most central location, but it is literally still only a minute’s walk away. And since it’s about a ten-minute walk from Cocori, you get a nice strip of beach that definitely does not get as crowded as other sections—even at sunset.

How to Get to El Paredon

Now that you’ve sorted out your accommodation, it’s time to figure out how to get to El Paredon! There are three methods of getting to El Paredon. We personally (like most other tourists) took a shuttle, but we’ll share some knowledge on how to get to El Paredon via private transfer and chicken bus as well.

Tourist Shuttle

As we’ve said already, we personally took the tourist shuttle to El Paredon.

From Antigua, the tourist shuttle takes just 2.5 hours to get to El Paredon (around 100-120 Q). If you head to El Paredon directly from Guatemala City, you’ll stop by Antigua first, so the whole journey will take around 4+ hours (around 185-225 Q). And finally, if you are going to El Paredon from Panajachel (Lake Atitlan), expect a journey of 4 hours (around 195-240 Q).

Tourist shuttles are not the most comfortable, but they are definitely much cheaper than hiring a private driver, and they get the job done. This was our preferred method of getting around Guatemala.

Private Transfer

If you’ve got some money to spare, you can also book a private transfer from your previous destination to El Paredon. However, this is going to cost you much more! We personally never really run into anybody who used private transfer to get around Guatemala, but we have inquired about it, and a transfer from Antigua to El Paredon will set you back around 1,100 Q. That’s about $150 USD! Pretty laughable price, right?

Chicken Bus

Things to do in Antigua

The final option to get to El Paredon is to take the chicken bus. We personally did not do this, but we have talked to other travelers who have not only traveled to El Paredon from Antigua by chicken bus but have also traveled the ENTIRE country by chicken bus. We totally applaud their dedication!

This is the cheapest way to get to El Paredon, but it will also be a pain in the butt (and not that much cheaper than the tourist shuttle, to be honest!). It can take around 6 hours to get to El Paredon from Antigua via chicken bus, so get ready for an absolute journey and adventure if you choose this method of transport. It will definitely make for a great story, that’s for sure!

Start your journey at the bus terminal in Antigua and take the chicken bus to Escuintla, which departs every half an hour. Then, at Escuintla, take the chicken bus to Sipacate, which departs every hour or so. And once at Sipacate, take a tuk-tuk to El Paredon. This entire journey should cost you around 100 Q, depending on how many transfers you end up taking.

Best Restaurants in El Paredon

When we were in El Paredon, our favorite activity was to jump around from restaurant to restaurant. While we only spent a few days here, we ate out for every meal, and we’ve determined the best restaurants in this surfer town. And this is coming from 

A quick note before we jump in: You’re honestly going to eat so well in El Paredon. This is the destination for you if you love seafood like us! But if you are vegetarian, don’t worry; pretty much every restaurant we went to had veg options.

Delicias del Mar

Delicias del Mar was so delicious that we went back several times during our stay in El Paredon! This is also probably the most affordable restaurant in the town, but that doesn’t mean the food was any less good. The food was incredibly fresh and yummy, and the service was quick and friendly. We highly recommend getting the fish or tacos here!

Yoli’s Local Cuisine

El Paredon - Yoli's
El Paredon - Yoli's food fish

This was the first restaurant we tried in El Paredon, and it was so good we went back a second time! You can’t go wrong with the food here, no matter what you order. But dare I say… Yoli’s has the best fish in town! The fish itself is surprisingly very meaty, and the seasoning is *chef’s kiss*.

Chef in Flip Flops

We would have loved to go to Chef in Flip Flops more than once, but we didn’t get there early enough. Just try to line up in front of the restaurant before 6 PM to get a seat before everything sells out! The menu is small and changes weekly, but they offer a meat option, a fish option, and a veggie option to cater to all tastes. Chef in Flip Flops is not the most budget-friendly restaurant, but it’s definitely a must-visit when in El Paredon. The food is just that good.

Cafecito Del Mar

Cafecito Del Mar is the breakfast spot in town, serving everything you could want, including smoothie bowls, smoothies, avocado toast, and more. We highly recommend getting an iced chai. We’re pretty picky with our chai, but this one was delicious and goes great with anything on the menu! Plus, the vibes are great. It kind of reminded us of cafes in Canggu, Bali.

El Paredon Packing List

If you’ve made the decision to add El Paredon to your Guatemala itinerary, great choice! But packing for El Paredon is a little bit different than packing for many of the other destinations in Guatemala. Many of the popular Guatemalan destinations are surprisingly cold, especially at night, due to the elevation, but this is not the case for El Paredon, which is at sea level.

So, what should you pack for your trip here? Well, here’s what we recommend packing:

  • 3-5 tops (depending on how long you plan to stay)
  • 1 pair of linen pants
  • 2 pairs of shorts
  • 2-3 bathing suits
  • 1 workout outfit
  • 1 pair of flip flops
  • 1 pair of sneakers
  • 1 hat
  • Sunglasses
  • 3-5 pairs of underwear

While a completely different destination, if you want some outfit inspo, check out our post on cute Southeast Asia outfit ideas, as both destinations are HOT, HOT, HOT.

Besides clothes, here are some items that we found useful during our stay in El Paredon:

  • Bug spray
  • Sunscreen
  • Microfiber towel

You should also check out our ultimate digital nomad packing list for a more general idea of what to pack.

Is it Safe to Visit El Paredon as a Tourist?

el paredon architecture

Absolutely! We felt entirely safe in El Paredon during our time here. We were able to walk around at night without feeling on edge. In fact, El Paredon is considered safer than a lot of the other beach towns not only in Guatemala but also in Central America in general. As per usual when it comes to a Latin American destination, some level of caution is always advised. Don’t dress too flashy, and don’t wave your cash around… basically, don’t turn yourself into an easy target for theft.

That said, the most dangerous thing to watch out for in El Paredon is the rip currents. The waves can also be pretty big in this town, so only venture out into the ocean if you are a confident swimmer. If not, don’t wade in too far! You should especially be careful if you’ve had a couple of drinks (I mean, who doesn’t enjoy a beach beer?). The water can be dangerous!

Our Top Tips for El Paredon

el paredon beach strip

So, besides everything we’ve already mentioned above in our ultimate travel guide to El Paredon, here are our other top tips to keep in mind when visiting this cute surfer town.

There Is Only One ATM

In the past, there were no ATMs at all in El Paredon, but this has since changed (thankfully!). Now, you can find an ATM in Super24, the tiny supermarket in town. However, with that said, I would still bring enough cash to last you your entire stay because you never know if the ATM may work or not. The machine sometimes even runs out of cash for days and weeks at a time. If that happens, you’re out of luck, as that’s the only ATM in the town!

Wifi Can be Spotty

Being a small coastal town with not much going on in terms of infrastructure, it’ll come as no surprise to you that your cell may not have the best service. This is the case when it comes to wifi as well. While most accommodation options will have wifi, you’re likely going to deal with some pretty spotty speeds throughout your stay. But that just comes with the territory, I’m afraid! 

With all that said, as digital nomads, we were still able to get some work during the day. I wouldn’t plan on doing your full load of work if you’re a digital nomad visiting El Paredon like us! If your accommodation doesn’t have great wifi, you can head over to some of the bigger establishments, such as Cocori, to get connected.

This is why we highly recommend coming prepared with data connection in El Paredon. We personally use E-sims from Airalo as they are quick to set up and offer high-speed connection, but you can also pick up a physical sim from a Claro shop in Antigua.

Use Bug Spray

We practically got mauled by mosquitoes during our time in El Paredon. While there weren’t any inside our Airbnb, whenever we stepped outside, we could always guarantee a bite. A bug spray cannot keep all of the bugs away, but it will deter a lot of them. So, even though they may not be the most pleasant thing to put on your skin, spray that bug deterrent on every inch of your body!

Top tip: You may need to top it up when you’re in a restaurant, as those pesky mosquitoes seemed to really enjoy nipping at legs from under the table whenever we ate!

Bring Food with You

As mentioned, there’s only really one small supermarket in El Paredon. You can find some other small markets scattered around the town, including a fruit and vegetable market, but you’re not going to have the options available to you in other larger Guatemalan destinations. So, if there’s any food you simply can’t do without during your stay here, buy it all beforehand and bring it with you.

One thing we were able to find at the Super24 was some Shin cup noodles, which we were pretty happy about. Other than that, pickings are pretty slim.

Be Careful When You Swim

We’ve already made a couple of notes regarding safety in El Paredon, but it’s worth reiterating: be careful when you swim! The waves can be large, and the currents can be strong, so you should only venture deep into the water if you are a strong swimmer. There are no lifeguards around, so it’s that much more important to be cautious.

In El Paredon, you’ll likely be dipping in and out of the water while drinking some beers or cocktails. If you do this, make sure you have people around you and look out for one another! We’ve heard of one too many drowning accidents, so be careful!

Cost of a Trip to El Paredon, Guatemala

When traveling anywhere, it’s important to take into consideration how much you’ll be spending. This is particularly important for El Paredon, as the one ATM in town doesn’t always work or may run out of money.

The biggest range will depend on the accommodation you book. You can book budget dorm beds in a hostel, rent out an entire villa, or anything in between.

  • Budget accommodation: $10 to $20 USD per night (78 to 155 Q)
  • Mid-range accommodation: $30 to $80 USD per night (230 to 620 Q)
  • High-end accommodation: $80 to $200+ USD per night (620 to 1,560 Q)

There’s less of a difference when it comes to food. Most local restaurants like Yoli’s or Delicias del Mar are incredibly budget-friendly. You can easily eat a whole meal for under 50 Q. On the other hand, restaurants like Chef in Flip Flops will cost a bit more, costing around 100 Q for a main.

Besides the accommodation and food, one last consideration when it comes to budgeting for El Paredon is the activities. Plan around 150 to 250 Q per activity.

FAQ

How Long Is the Shuttle From Antigua to El Paredon?

From Antigua, the shuttle takes around 2.5 hours to get to El Paredon. It’s a relatively short and easy ride without any stops in between.

Are There Mosquitoes in El Paredon?

Yes, there are, and they can be brutal! Don’t forget to pack bug spray with you when traveling to El Paredon, as the mosquitoes can get pretty hungry at night.

What Is the Safest Beach Town in Guatemala?

El Paredon is often considered the safest beach town in Guatemala. In fact, El Paredon is also considered one of the safest beach towns in Central America as a whole!

Is There an ATM in El Paredon?

Yes, there is an ATM in the Super24 in El Paredon. However, since there is only one ATM, and it may not have cash, it’s always smart to bring all the cash you need for your stay, keeping in mind many restaurants only accept cash.

Relax (and Party) in El Paredon!

El Paredon may not be the busiest tourist destination in the country, but this sleepy town has a lot to offer in terms of relaxation and a relatively decent nightlife as well! We were pleasantly surprised by El Paredon, and we recommend this town to everybody who wants to visit Guatemala and is looking for a good beach and warm-weather destination.

We really hope you enjoy your time in El Paredon even half as much as we did!

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