El Paredon is an off-the-beaten-path destination located about a 2.5 hour drive from Antigua. The lazy beach town isn’t one that many people think to venture to when visiting Guatemala, as often popular tourist destinations like Tikal and Lake Atitlan fall further up on their lists. However, if you’re looking for some beach time, and a destination that will show you a different side of Guatemala, I highly recommend visiting El Paredon.
This sleepy village with only one dirt road through the town hasn’t quite caught on to all the tourists yet, but I’m going to bet it won’t be long until it does. With its lush mangroves, beautiful sandy beaches, and an amazing viewing spot for sea turtles and local hatcheries, El Paredon is a fantastic vacation destination.
How to get there
Like anywhere in Guatemala, the cheapest way to get to El Paredon is via Chicken Bus, aka their local transit. There is one bus a day that takes around four hours from the CENMA Bus Station in Guatemala City. Alternatively you can take a Chicken Bus from Antigua. You’ll travel to Escuintla where you’ll transfer buses to Sipacate. From Separate, take a tuk-tuk to El Paredon.
However, if you’re looking for a more comfortable ride, booking a tourist shuttle isn’t really that much more expensive and it’s likely worth it. There are two daily shuttles from Antigua (9:30am and 2pm), or from Guatemala City you can leave at 6:00am or 12pm with a stop in Antigua. It’s usually easiest to book shuttles through your hotels directly.
Click here for a great guide for getting to El Paredon.
Where to stay
Since El Paredon is very small, there aren’t a ton of options when it comes to where to stay. The most common option you’ll find is hostels lined with surfer dudes along the beach. I would highly recommend spending the few extra dollars and staying at Swell. Swell is a new hotel and it was absolutely to die for. Complete with private rooms, a restaurant, and a clean and beautiful pool to cool off in. Rooms start at $74 USD a night.
What to do
There isn’t a ton to do in El Paredon, which is fine when you’re looking for a laidback vacation. However, there are still activities other than laying on the beach for the more active traveler like myself. Here are some suggestions to add to your itinerary:
Guatemala is one of the top surf destinations in Central America. Book a lesson or rent a board to head out into the waves. Note that the waves are strong in this area, so it’s important that you know what you’re doing or you’re with someone that does.
There is one tour operator in El Paredon called La Choza Chula which offers several different tours and experiences that give back to the local community. One of those experiences is a cooking class with a local in their local home and kitchen. It was a super unique experience and the food was so tasty!
El Paredon is home to 10% of all mangroves in Guatemala and with deforestation happening at a rapid rate, organizations like La Choza Chula are helping raise awareness and protect what’s left of the mangroves. Head out on a tour to explore them!
Turtle Feeding Grounds
El Paredon is also home to one of only seven sea turtle feeding grounds in the world where you can spot turtles all year round. Head out in a boat with La Choza Chula and watch the turtles poke their heads above the surface as they come up for air. Truly a unique and magical experience.
Guatemala is one of the great places in Central America to watch little baby turtles hatching and heading out to the great big ocean. This is entirely dependent on when you are visiting, but when we were there in November we got to watch over 200 turtles head out to the ocean. Turtle nesting season is usually from June-November, with August & September being the peak months. The hatchery is located on the beach, and is donation based. Ask your accommodations for more information.
El Paredon was truly a beautiful, relaxing destination which was a perfect place to end our trip in Guatemala. Have you been to El Paredon? What are your tips? Share them below in the comments.