Monterrico, 77 mi/124 km south of Guatemala City and accessible only by boat through some swampy wetlands, is often referred to as Guatemala's best beach. Like all of Guatemala's Pacific Coast beaches, Monterrico has black sand and a strong riptide. Because of that riptide, an undertow and a lack of lifeguards, use great caution when swimming in the ocean. Monterrico isn't a particularly impressive beach town, but its increasing popularity is bringing about more lodging and dining options, as well as a respected Spanish-language school. It has a relaxed vibe and intriguing flora and fauna in the wetlands that surround it.

Monterrico is also home to the famous turtle races of the Tortugario Monterrico (turtle hatchery). On Saturday evenings September-January, place your bet on the baby turtle of your choice as it races to the sea against its baby-turtle peers. Proceeds benefit the hatchery, and releasing the turtles in groups increases their chances of survival.

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