Land of Eternal Spring
Beach in Guatemala
Guatemala is popular among visitors who are looking for a beach holiday. Although there are only 248.5 miles of coastline, there are many opportunities for beach holidays in Guatemala. From the distinctive black sands of Guatemala's Pacific Coast, to the secluded beach villages on the Caribbean, you will find the time and the space to relax in peaceful surroundings far away from city life.
Guatemala's coasts are comparatively undeveloped for tourism, especially on the relatively short Caribbean coast, but there are plenty of things to do for families, couples and singles alike. Guatemala's Caribbean coast has much to offer, such as sailing, fishing, swimming and some scuba diving. The Afro-Caribbean influences of Garífunas, descendants of former African slaves and the indigenous Maya, remain evident in the area's music, festivals and cooking. On Guatemala's Pacific Coast, one of the most popular resorts is Monterrico, which has several hotels and restaurants.
To get to the town you need to take a boat for a short ride through mangroves along the Chiquimulilla Canal. Monterrico is a great place to relax, eating fresh seafood and of course for swimming. The Monterrico Natural Reserve includes mangrove swamps and lagoons. Those areas are a great place for bird watching. The park also has a centre for the protection of protecting sea turtles and a small zoo featuring local animals. All in all, you will find some excellent opportunities for beach holidays in Guatemala.
Backpacking in Guatemala
The low cost of living in Guatemala means that a backpacking holiday is a great adventure and an wonderful way of exploring the country's varied scenery and unspoilt beauty. Guatemala is also a wonderful starting point for exploring the rest of Central America, as it borders Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador and Belize. There are frequent buses and mini buses in Guatemala to all of these countries from most major Guatemalan towns.
Although there are very few Youth Hostels currently in Guatemala, there are numerous low cost hopidajes (guest houses) and many hotels that are in the price range for backpackers. Affordable accommodation for backpackers can be found all over Guatemala, even in the most popular tourist locations. The average rate per person per night in Guatemala ranges from £5 during low season to £10 in high season and may include breakfast.
Camping in Guatemala
There are relatively few opportunities for camping in Guatemala, even though its stunning scenery might be made for a camping holiday. You can camp for free on the beaches in Guatemala, but you need to be aware of any dangers that may be present in the local area. The same level of vigilance is needed for camping inland in Guatemala, as there are very few recognised camp-sites. You also need to be mindful that the climate in Guatemala is very humid, making keeping yourself, your clothes and belongings dry quite a challenge. Guatemala is also prone to tropical storms and, in September, hurricanes could present a severe hazard. All in all, given the abundance of cheap hospidajes in Guatemala and other accommodation even in some of the most rural areas, you may be better seeking other sleeping options.
City Breaks in Guatemala
Guatemala's distance from the UK mean that it is not really suitable for a city break holiday, even though cities such as Antigua (Guatemala) in Guatemala would be a great destination for a short break.
Cruises in Guatemala
There are very few opportunities for cruise holidays in Guatemala, given its short coastline. Several Cruise companies have Caribbean cruises that visit other neighbouring countries, such as Belize and Honduras, or Puerto Quetzal on the Pacific coast, but there are very limited opportunities for cruising in Guatemala.
Culture and Arts in Guatemala
The culture and arts of Guatemala reflect the many centuries of rich and varied influences and styles. You may want to visit the mysterious and fascinating Mayan cities, such as Tikal in the Peten, or preclassic site of Abaj Takalik in the highlands, where the inscriptions on its ancient monuments echo themes found throughout Maya history in Guatemala.
Alternatively, you might enjoy the baroque churches, pantiled roofs and colonial architecture of Antigua (Guatemala) in Guatemala that are so reminiscent of old Spain. However, the many layers of Guatemalan culture are still very much alive, as you will see when you visit its traditional craft markets bristling with multi-coloured textiles,distinctive silverware and ceramics.
Cycling Activity Holiday in Guatemala
Cycling holidays are becoming ever more popular in Guatemala. Bicycles can be rented from towns such as Panajachel, Antigua (Guatemala) and Flores. There are also increasing numbers of organised cycle tours available in Guatemala, which are perhaps a safer, but more expensive option than cycling alone or with another person.
Such organised cycle tours in Guatemala include mountain biking through the highlands and deep jungle biking. Several tours combine cycling with other activities, such as hiking, kayaking, or visiting archaeological sites. Long-distance cycle rides in Guatemala can be hazardous, as the rules of the road in Guatemala are rarely adhered to strictly and most local drivers are not used to seeing cyclists. As a general guide, hiring a bike will cost between £3.50 and £4.50 per day in Guatemala.
Disabled Needs in Guatemala
Guatemala will present a number of challenges for disabled people wishing to take a holiday there. Guatemala is a relatively poor country, which means that its infrastructure is not highly developed. Bus travel for disabled people in Guatemala would be difficult, because there are no wheelchair-adapted buses in the country. Many pavements in Guatemala, where they exist at all, are poorly maintained and there are no ramps at the entrance to buildings. You will also find relatively few lifts in hotels and other buildings with more than one storey in Guatemala.
Family Holiday in Guatemala
Guatemala is a wonderful family destination in that there are many different things to do what will entertain and engage everyone in the family, including the children. Most children will love Guatemala's rich and varied wildlife, so at least one visit to a nature park is a must! For those who enjoy the active life, there are opportunities for snorkelling, swimming and fishing on both of Guatemala's coasts.
However, some children may find too many visits to Guatemala's many archaeological sites a little boring, so it may be a good idea to think about the different activities you want to do as a family before you go. Children are highly regarded by Guatemalan people, so you are sure to be a hit with the locals! One idea for a family holiday in Guatemala is to stay with in a local community and help a project to improve life in the village. Such packages often include lessons in Spanish too.
Gay and Lesbian in Guatemala
Homosexuality is legal in Guatemala for people aged 18 and over. However, like most other parts of Latin America, Guatemala is still steeped in macho culture, so overtly gay and lesbian culture is often frowned upon. As a consequence there are very few places to stay that explicitly cater for gay and lesbian people in Guatemala.
The opportunities in Guatemala for socialising and night life are also severely limited for gay and lesbian people. There is a gay scene in Antigua (Guatemala), but it is anything but out in the open, the Casbah Club being one place that you might want to try. You will find some clubs, such as Eclipso and Pandora's Box, in Guatemala City. One US company runs adventure tours to Guatemala exclusively for gay men.
Honeymoon in Guatemala
Guatemala's exotic and tropical setting is a wonderful location for an unforgettable honeymoon. The volcanic highlands, the vast sweep of its black beaches, its mysterious ancient ruins and the vibrant colours of the rainforest bring honeymooners to a dimension of much needed relaxation far away from a period of hectic wedding preparations. The rich overlays of Mayan and Spanish colonial cultural influences make a honeymoon in Guatemala
an intriguing experience.
There are many activities for honeymoon couples in Guatemala, from adrenaline rush activities such as white-water rafting, caving, scuba diving, horse riding and cycling to visiting ancient Mayan cities to watching one of the many colourful cultural and religious festivals. With so many hospidajes, apart-hoteles and relatively inexpensive luxury hotels in Guatemala, honeymoon couples are bound to find accommodation to suit a range of budgets. Guatemala is a wonderful honeymoon location.
Naturism in Guatemala
Naturist or nudist activities are virtually unknown in Guatemala. The natural modesty and shyness of local people mean that such activities would be frowned upon. There is very little, if any, naturism practised by Guatemalan people and there are no naturist resorts in Guatemala. However, there is one US tour operator that offers a naturist sailing cruise to parts of Guatemala. A naturist holiday in Guatemala is therefore not recommended.
Party Holiday - Singles Life in Guatemala
Guatemala may not seem the obvious choice for a singles holiday, given the limited night-life, but in fact, there are lots of opportunities for single people who want to do some partying, but would like other activities too. Singles can book on a group tour with a number of tour operators that provide group holidays in Guatemala.
This is an excellent way of meeting other single people who share a sense of adventure and who like to explore the many different environments and cultures that Guatemala has to offer. Most of the people in these groups are aged between 25 and 35 and, whilst partying may not be officially included in the package, there are always plenty of opportunities for wining and dining with other people in your tour group. Guatemala is a good location for a party and/or singles holiday.
Safari Activity Holiday in Guatemala
Guatemala's rich and varied wildlife make it an ideal place to watch nature. You can wander in the rainforests in El Peten, listening to the howler monkeys, perhaps you would like to see humming birds sipping nectar from a banana flower, or you could watch turtles laying their eggs on the black sands of Guatemala's Pacific coast.
There is no shortage of National Parks and nature reserves in Guatemala, with over 30 protected areas, so the only problem you will have is choosing which ones you want to visit. There are two types of nature reserve in Guatemala Biotopos (Biological Reserves) and Parques Nacionales (National Parks). Some of the nature reserves in Guatemala are in very remote areas, but even if you do not want to travel into the wild, there are plenty that are within reach of towns and cities. Guatemala is an excellent location for a safari holiday.
Golf Activity Holiday in Guatemala
There are very few golf courses in Guatemala and those are almost entirely exclusively for members. The one exception is the newly opened golf course at La Reunion near Antigua
(Guatemala), which is said to be truly spectacular, and is flanked by the Agua, Fuego, Acatenango and Pacaya volcanoes as well as lush green fields. Guatemalan golf courses are amongst some of the best in the world, but would present a challenge to all but the most proficient of golfers.
If you are fortunate enough to gain access to a Guatemalan golf course, you would be in the company of the elite of the country and you would not be allowed to play without your own caddy. If you do want a golfing holiday in Guatemala several US companies provide packages that include entrance to some of the exclusive clubs. Guatemala has excellent, but few, opportunities for a gold holiday.
Shopping Holiday in Guatemala
Guatemala offers limited opportunities for shopping, except perhaps for people who have a special interest in ethnic clothing and textiles and Mayan handicrafts. There is very limited scope in Guatemala for buying the kinds of goods that are common in UK shops, although if you do find something you want, it will be a lot cheaper there. If you are interested in handicrafts and you would enjoy shopping in Guatemala's vibrant and colourful street markets, then this is the place for you!
Another advantage of shopping in Guatemala is that the relatively low prices there will mean that you will never be short of a bargain provided you are prepared to negotiate the price. Some of Guatemala's best craft markets are in Antigua (Guatemala), Guatemala City and Chichicastenango. Guatemala has distinctive, but limited, opportunities for a shopping holiday.
Scuba Diving Activity Holiday in Guatemala
Guatemala's short coastline means that there are relatively few opportunities for scuba diving in Guatemala. Most scuba diving takes place on Guatemala's Caribbean coast, but even some of the very few Guatemalan scuba diving clubs travel to neighbouring countries to do some of their diving. Hence, most people who visit the region will look to go scuba diving in nearby Belize, or Mexico. Guatemala has limited opportunities for a scuba diving holiday.
Well-being and Spa in Guatemala
Guatemala is becoming increasingly popular for spa and well being holidays, especially in Antigua (Guatemala) and the surrounding area where the hot volcanic springs provide a wonderful way to relax and detoxify your system. You can pamper yourself with a total package of healthy and rejuvenating treatments in a number of purpose-built resorts at much less in Guatemala than you would pay in the UK.
You may also want to try the local Guatemalan speciality – a clay bath – which is said to cleanse your body and recharge you with positive energy. Another option you might want to try in Guatemala is a traditional Maya steam bath. Many centres combine well-being treatments with cultural visits to Antigua (Guatemala), or local Mayan cities.
Touring - Driving holiday in Guatemala
Guatemala's exceptional mountain and jungle scenery and its exotic locations provide an excellent location for a touring or driving holiday. This is provided you can cope with poor roads low driving standards and unfamiliar rules of the road in Guatemala. There are a number of tour operators that provide planned self-drive holidays in Guatemala.
A three-week self-drive holiday in Guatemala is likely to cost in the region of £4,000. Prices usually include hotel accommodation and guided tours. For the independent traveller in Guatemala, hiring a car will usually cost more than £37 per day. There are both Guatemalan and international car hire companies that visitors can use to hire saloon cars and four-wheel drive vehicles. Guatemala is a good destination for a driving and touring holiday.
Winter Sun in Guatemala
If you desire a quiet and relaxing winter sun holiday you will find that Guatemala can provide both relaxation and warmth. In fact, if you go between late October and early April you will find the best weather because this is the dry season in Guatemala. However, at this time of year, you may find the weather overly hot in the jungles of the Peten, but the highlands should provide the perfect combination of sunshine, warmth and stunning scenery.
You will not be short of things to do and see in Guatemala during winter either because November, December and January are some of the busiest in this most festive of countries. November sees the festivals of Todos Santos (All Saints Day) and Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) in Guatemala. Christmas and New Year celebrations begin early in Guatemala with the Burning of the Devil ceremonies that take place throughout Guatemala on 7th December and the week long El Tributo a Santo Tomás (Homage to Saint Thomas) festival in the town of Chichecastenango between the 7th and 13th December.
A Guatemalan Christmas is not to be missed and the nine day celebrations proper usually start on 16th December with re-enactments of Mary and Joseph looking for an inn, culminating with the Misa del Gallo (Mass of the Cockerel) at midnight on Christmas Eve amidst the setting off of many fireworks. Fireworks are in evidence again a week later for the Fin del Ano (New Year's Eve) celebrations and January's week-long Pilgrimage to the Basilica of the Black Christ in the town of Esquipulas is well worth seeing. A winter break in Guatemala is for visitors who want to get away from the cold, darkness and wet weather and who want to see a very different kind of Christmas that blends Catholic and Indigenous Mayan festivities. All in all, if you can do with some warmth and the experience of a totally different environment, a winter sun holiday in Guatemala may well be a welcome getaway.