El Paredon Guatemala: Ultimate Travel Guide

El Paredon Guatemala is a sleepy Pacific coast town with striking black sand beaches and impeccable surf. It’s the perfect place to relax and escape the busier towns and cities of southern Guatemala.

A lot has changed in El Paredon Buena Vista (its full name) in recent years. From a relatively unknown town with no mobile signal to a growing stop on the backpacker trail with boujee and unique properties, internet access and pools.

So, it’s only right that there’s a complete and up-to-date travel guide for 2024 to help you plan your visit.

This ultimate guide covers everything such as getting there, shops, restaurants and the WiFi situation. Plus, how to find the new and only ATM in the town and how to pick the perfect accommodation option for you…

Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission if you click through and make a qualifying purchase.

Looking along the pacific coast in El Paredon, the black sand of the beach is clearly visible

Where is El Paredon?

On Guatemala’s southern Pacific coast is the small town of El Paredon, in the municipality of Escuintla.

The nearest major cities are Guatemala City and Antigua. While the nearest towns are Sipacate and Puerto San Jose. See it on Google Maps here.

All About El Paredon

Driving towards the ocean from Antigua or Guatemala City, the volcanos and hills soon become the flat lands of the Pacific coast. Then, at the end of the road, you’ll find El Paredon Buena Vista.

The name translates from Spanish as the big wall, good view. Because, slightly along the coast from where the town is today, the black sand beach is near-vertical acting as a barrier between the river and the Pacific Ocean.

And of course, the ocean views are wonderful.

Not so long ago this small beach town was just a few dirt roads, a handful of hostels and an area with no phone service. Today, El Paredon Guatemala is still as rustic as beach towns come – but with a tarmacked road, phone masts and a growing choice of accommodation.

Travellers come to Playa El Paredon for 3 reasons: to surf, to relax and/or to party on the weekends.

Is El Paredon Guatemala safe?

Nowhere is 100% safe, all of the time. But, El Paredon must be one of the safest places in Central America.

As a small, sleepy town, crime is really minimal. You’re probably more likely to have your food taken from a hostel kitchen or your drink swiped at a weekend party.

Of course, where there’s tourists – rich by local standards – petty crime does seem to follow. Although often this is committed by opportunistic fellow international visitors.

The biggest danger in the town is the strong current of the Pacific Ocean. Even the most confident and able swimmers will find themselves struggling in the pull of the waves.

Looking over the cabanas of El Paredon

How to get to El Paredon Guatemala

The quickest, cheapest and most budget-friendly way to get to El Paredon Buena Vista is on a shared shuttle or by taking a taxi (if there’s a group of you).

You can make the journey from Antigua, Lake Atitlan or Guatemala City by chicken bus. But this requires changing buses and takes almost double the time – as well as being the same cost.

Shared Shuttles

From Antigua, Guatemala City and Lake Atitlan you can take direct shared shuttles to El Paredon. These are the quickest and most economical options.

Guatemala City to El Paredon

From Guatemala City, there’s an early morning service that runs daily.

  • Tickets for this can be booked online or by contacting a local agency in the city.
  • Booking in advance is a good idea as the shuttle won’t run if no one books.
  • Likewise, around holiday periods, shuttles do get booked up.

Check the latest prices, times and availability online for shuttles from Guatemala City to El Paredon using gottoGo’s travel comparison site. They’re a Guatemalan-based company who have worked hard to put a lot of agencies online to allow digital bookings – which wasn’t a thing just a couple of years ago.

Antigua to El Paredon

From Antigua, two shuttles a day run subject to demand.

  • During the week, there may only be one shuttle running.
  • And on Fridays and weekends, shuttles could be fully booked days in advance. Especially around holiday periods.
  • The first shuttle leaves Antigua at 9 am – and this is the more regular of the two shuttles.
  • The next one leaves at 2 pm. Both take around 2 hours.

Shuttles from Antigua can be booked online through transport comparison sites (see above why I recommend gottoGo), through the Facebook page of NEWay Tours or through your hostel in Antigua.

There’s no need to wander the streets of Antigua looking for travel agencies when you can book online!

Lake Atitlan to El Paredon

Services from Lake Atitlan also run directly to the coast subject to demand, either from San Pedro La Laguna or Panajachel.

Check out Xocomil Tours for their shuttles from Panajachel on Lake Atitlan to El Paredon. Or enquire with a hostel (even if you aren’t staying there), they’ll also be able to give you the current prices and departure times.

RELATED POST: Looking for a bucket list experience in Guatemala?

Then it doesn’t get much cooler than climbing the 4000-metre Acatenango Volcano to watch fierce lava eruptions from Volcano Fuego up close. Check out the different Acatenango hike options in this complete guide.

Or for a shorter day hike, consider the
Pacaya Volcano hike where you can roast marshmallows on volcanic rock!

Taxi or Uber

From Antigua or Guatemala City, you can also take a taxi or Uber to the coast.

But, these don’t operate on the coast. So there won’t be one available to take you back on the return journey.

Ubers are a lot cheaper in Guatemala compared with taxi prices. From Antigua to El Paredon, expect to pay around 480Q and from Guatemala City around 620Q.

These costs can be split by up to 4 people. Taxi prices can be around double this.

Find the best prices and the best dates with flight comparison sites like Skyscanner!

Make sure you use tools such as ‘Add nearby airports’ and set your departure airport as wide as possible (you can just put the United States) to see the cheapest places to fly from! Check prices for your trip here…

A cabana on the pacific coast with a thatched room and two floors.

Accommodation in El Paredon Buena Vista

BEST HOSTEL: Mellow Hostel
BEST FOR PARTYING: Driftwood Surfer
BEST HOTEL: Swell El Paredon

Gone are the days when there were just a couple of hostels and guesthouses. Now, you can pick from a range of high-quality, beautiful properties with a range of facilities (for a range of budgets).

If you’re wanting to visit over the weekends or during national holidays, I highly recommend booking in advance. A week in advance as a minimum is needed in the peak season. And, for weekends, as early as possible.

Although there’s more options these days, there isn’t an unlimited amount of beds. So, you don’t want to have to end up travelling miles along the coast to the next town because there’s nowhere to stay.

El Paredon Hostels

For hostels, the most popular options are:

  • MY TOP PICK: Mellow Hostel has tipis and rooms, meaning there’ll be something in your budget here. Located a few blocks from El Paredon beach Guatemala, the ocean is just a short walk away. Or, relax by the pool on a hammock. Book on Hostelword.com.
  • BEST FOR PARTIES: Driftwood Surfer is the party hostel of El Paredon Buena Vista. Located right on the beachfront, you can hop between the waves and pool all day long. On weekends especially, this hostel really comes alive and the social vibes go through the roof. Book on Hostelworld.com.
  • UNIQUE STAY: Cocori Lodge is one of the town’s unique properties. Featuring cute cabanas and even a room in a converted school bus. The rooms and dorms are basic but comfortable and some even have air conditioning. Relax by the pool, bar or on the yoga deck at Cocori Lodge. Book on Hostelworld.com.
  • BEST FOR BUDGET: Mi Casa is a beachfront hostel with twin, family and dorm rooms. It has a pool, restaurant-bar and hammocks for the ultimate relaxing stay. Free coffee and drinking water are also provided here. Book on Hostelworld.com.

To note, most hostels don’t have kitchens and don’t allow outside food to be brought in. This means that you’ll need to eat at their restaurant or eat in a restaurant in the town.

Hotels & Surf Resorts

With its rustic vibes, you won’t find any high-rise hotels or large resorts here. There are plenty of places not on booking sites that can be booked on-site if you’re happy to wait until you’re in the town.

MY TOP PICK: One popular option is Swell El Paredon, which offers a slice of luxury in this little town. The property boasts a pool, garden and terrace and all rooms have private bathrooms.

Similarly, Ka’ana Surf is just a few metres from the El Paredon beach with a beautiful pool and lounge.

A third stunning option is Hidden Wave Surf Resort, which has cabanas and tipis around a shared garden and pool. A unique aspect is that this property has a kitchen, perfect for those with dietary requirements or those wanting to save a little money. You can book directly on their website for the best rates or on Airbnb.


Another option is to book one of the many Airbnb properties in the town. Many of these are cabana-style homes with a living area, kitchen and separate bedrooms.

The cost can be higher but you can save money by cooking your own meals. Plus, buy your own drinks from the shops and keep them in the fridge rather than buying from the bar.

If you’re looking for a recommendation, I stayed in this lovely little cabana just a stone’s throw from the beach.

A vivid sunset over the Pacific Ocean. The sky is various shades or blue and orange. A single silhouette stands on the beach

Things to do in El Paredon Guatemala

Despite being a small and sleepy town, there’s still a handful of activities to do in El Paredon.

There are free activities and paid-for activities to suit everyone and every budget. From turtle watching and mangrove tours in the Sipacate-Naranjo National Park to local cooking classes.

Watch Sunset on Playa El Paredon

The black sand beach isn’t good for sunbathing. You won’t find any beach clubs or any sun loungers and parasols.

Plus, there are a lot of sandflies. Cover up or use repellent!

Instead, the beach comes alive just before sunset as visitors flock to the sandy shores to enjoy the last light. Bring a towel, a beer and a camera for maximum enjoyment.

Surf the Pacific waves

El Paredon is the surf destination of Guatemala and most people are out in the water around sunrise.

For first-time or beginner surfers, you’ll be able to find surf lessons through the different surf hostels and surf camps in the town. Expect to pay in the region of 180 to 200Q per hour.

However, the currents and waves aren’t the types that you should attempt to go out without a tutor. Bodyboard and surfboard hire are available by the day or week through the different surfing resorts along the coast.

Grab a day pass

If you’re staying somewhere that doesn’t have great facilities or you just fancy a change of scenery. Then grab a day pass for one of the nicer hotels or resorts and enjoy a day out relaxing by the pool with a drink in hand!

Popular options include Driftwood Surfer, Cocori Lodge, Mellow Hostel and Playa 14 (Catorce). The cost and what’s included varies between them all, so it’s best to contact where you want to go to find out more.

A freshly hatched baby turtle on the black sands of Playa El Paredon

El Paredon Turtle Release

From September to December, every morning at 5.45 am baby turtles are released into the wild from the Driftwood Conservation Project on Playa El Paredon Guatemala.

Meet on the beach outside Driftwood Surfer Hostel at 5.30 am. Then, the staff will walk the group along the beach to watch the turtles reach the sea for the first time.

The number of turtles released depends on the number that hatch. And that depends on the weather. Fewer turtles hatch when it’s rainy.

Unlike the turtle release on Playa Bacocho in Puerto Escondido, you don’t get an individual turtle here. Rather, you just watch the whole release make its way into the waves.

This activity is busiest on the weekends as that is when most people visit.

I visited on a Sunday and personally found it too busy for my liking but still incredible to witness. It seemed like weekend visitors were more fussed about taking photos and getting as close as possible to the turtles than caring about them getting to the ocean.

Many people were walking in front of the turtles and leaving footprints in the sand that the turtles then had to walk through. Which is hard when they’re only a couple of inches long!

Enjoy a unique experience with Chula Tours

Chula Tours is an arm of the La Choza Chula non-profit that is working in the community to improve education in and the environment around El Paredon Guatemala.

Tours include a boat trip to turtle feeding grounds and a salt farm, as well as fishing tours, cooking lessons and bracelet making.

There’s a minimum of 2 people needed for all tours and prices vary by activity. See their website for more information.

Additionally, the company has a small shop and office on the main road. Here, you can book tours or buy some of their sustainable products and gifts.

Chula Tours offerings in late 2021
Prices not current

Can you swim in El Paredon?

This will really depend on the conditions in the ocean when you’re there. But, the current is normally very strong with constant waves. It’s what makes it great for surfing.

Playa El Paredon Guatemala doesn’t have any lifeguards and even the locals don’t go swimming here. Generally, you’ll only see surfers in the water.

Surf beginners should make sure they take lessons with a teacher to ensure their safety. There’s plenty of surf camps in the town and many places offer board rental and tuition.

What you’ll find in El Paredon


El Paredon has a good collection of shops for a town of its size. There’s a Super24 small grocery store in the east of the town, which also sells beer, wine and spirits. Payment by card is accepted.

While to the west of the main street are a few locally-owned shops. These sell fruit, vegetables, meat and other items such as pasta, bread, eggs, snacks and more.

A couple of clothes shops, pharmacies and stationery shops can also be found in the town.

Prices are slightly higher than in Antigua or Lake Atitlan. In Guatemala, imported goods are typically more expensive than similar products in Western countries. Fresh fruit and vegetables are still cheap though.

Restaurants in El Paredon Guatemala

In addition to the restaurants that are part of hotels and hostels, there’s a handful of standalone eateries in El Paredon Buena Vista.

Head to the main road for popular local options that aren’t on Google Maps. Other highly-rated options include Soul Food Kitchen, Zicatela and Chef in Flip Flops Beach Haus.

Are there ATMs in El Paredon Buena Vista?

There is now finally an ATM in El Paredon! But, it runs out of money quickly and doesn’t get reloaded for weeks at a time.

It’s a 5B ATM and is located inside the Super24 store.

Don’t take the chance of running out of cash. If your stay is pretty short, try and bring all the cash you’ll need with you.

A growing number of places accept card payments, however, cash is still the norm. And those that do accept card payments typically charge a fee to do so.

In Guatemala, BAC ATMs didn’t work with our Monzo cards but 5B did. Though Starling cards worked in both. Withdrawing cash in Guatemala also isn’t cheap, with the lowest ATM fee being 31.20Q.


A family-run laundry operates in El Paredon on the main road, inside the Rinconcito de Dina restaurant. The clothes are dried on a washing line rather than in a tumble dryer. So, if the sun isn’t out, then it can take a day or two to get your clothes back.

I paid 50Q for what I’d consider to be a standard-size bag of laundry for two people. Our laundry wasn’t weighed, so I’m not sure how the cost is determined for larger or smaller loads.

Phone Signal

There’s two unmissable phone masts, providing signal all across the town.

I had a Claro sim in Guatemala that included unlimited social media. So I always used mobile data for checking socials and loading basic web pages on my phone.

Is there WiFi in El Paredon?

WiFi is much more common in El Paredon than it was just a couple of years ago. Most hostels, hotels and lodgings offer WiFi of some sort.

However, there is no wired internet in El Paredon. Instead, properties use mobile data from a special sim card and distribute this through the router.

As such, the speeds are low and not particularly reliable. In places where many people are connected to the same router and internet connection, you may struggle to get access.

If you need to make any important calls or work, I’d recommend buying a sim card with a large data allowance. You’ll be able to recharge your Guatemalan sim in El Paredon.

A painting of a turtle and fish on the side of Driftwood surfer hostel

Essential Travel Tips

Bring bug spray. The mosquitos and sand flies here are like nowhere else I’ve been.

But, no amount of bug spray will keep them away altogether. Try to cover up in the evenings and sleep with a mosquito net or under a sheet to minimise bites.

Bring something to soothe the inevitable bug bites. You’re never going to prevent bites entirely, so bring something to stop you from scratching your skin off.

I swear by an electronic, battery-operated bite pen that heats up the bite to stop the itching. But, you can also consider calamine lotion, anti-histamine creams or whatever works for you.

If there are any food items you can’t live without, buy them in Antigua and bring them with you. The shops don’t have much variety.

Is El Paredon worth visiting?

If you want to party, surf and/or relax, then it’s well worth putting El Paredon on your itinerary for Guatemala.

For parties, visit on the weekends. Fridays and Saturdays are lively and you can hear the party from a few blocks away.

Surfing is great all year round. Stay at a surf camp or surf lodge for the complete package. Alternatively, most hostels also offer equipment hire and teaching sessions.

For the ultimate peace and quiet, visit on a weekday. It’s a completely different world to the weekend, you wouldn’t even think it could be such a party destination.

If you’re after true luxury, then El Paredon probably isn’t for you. There are a lot of bugs and the facilities in the town are basic. If you’re wanting to lay on the beach all day, I’d also recommend not coming here. It gets very hot and the sandflies will eat you alive!

A riverside property in El Paredon

When to visit

With its year-round fierce Pacific waves and hot Central American temperatures, it’s always a good time to visit this small town.

Guatemala’s rainy season runs from May to October. But, this is typically short, sharp downpours rather than rainy days. In fact, some of the most intense lightning storms I’ve ever experienced were here!

The temperatures are consistently high all year round on Guatemala’s Pacific coast. Expect daily highs of between 32 to 34 Celsius (90 to 93 F), with lows in the mid-twenties at night (around 77 F).

The sizzling heat of this sea-level town means that it’s almost a ghost town during the day, as everyone looks to keep cool. Then, come sunset, the town comes alive as people gather on the beach to watch the sky’s illumination show.

How long to spend in El Paredon?

Most people visit for 2 or 3 nights over the weekend. Relax in the pool by day and party by night.

That said, I think you could spend a week in El Paredon before you start to get bored of the relaxing. A local agency runs a handful of tours and classes, so there are things to do in El Paredon if you’re easily bored.

If you’re coming to surf, then a week is also probably a good amount of time.

Two boats under palm trees on the river of El Paredon Guatemala

Travelling to Inland Guatemala

How do I get from El Paredon to Antigua or Guatemala City?

Shuttles run twice daily to Antigua – at 9 am and 3 pm. Journey time is around 2 hours to Antigua.

You can either book your shuttle with NEWay through their Facebook page and pay the driver on the day. Or, you can book and pay in advance online and in USD with gottaGO, then sit back and relax until it’s time to go!

You’ll be collected from your accommodation in El Paredon Buena Vista and dropped off at your accommodation in Antigua.

Alternatively, it’s possible to travel this route by chicken bus. But, the cost is the same and the journey takes twice as long.

If you need to travel to Guatemala City La Aurora International Airport, it’s best to contact NEWay directly to see if they’ll be able to drop you off there. Otherwise, you may need to take an Uber from the city centre.

RELATED POST: Visiting Antigua, then you have to check out Hobbitenango! Guatemala’s own Hobbit Land with fun games, awesome activities and epic volcano views!

El Paredon to Lake Atitlan

Shuttles do run from the coast to Lake Atitlan. The best way to book these is through a hostel based around the lake.

They’ll be able to give you the most up-to-date price and schedule as it really varies based on demand. Typically, the journey time is around 3 to 4 hours and the cost is 250Q.

Most shuttles run to and from San Pedro la Laguna. If you’re staying in another town, you’ll need to take a water taxi. Generally speaking, the last ones of the day are around 6 pm.

If you’re in San Pedro la Laguna, make sure you do the Indian Nose Sunrise Hike. Less than an hour’s walk from where the van drops you off, an incredible sunrise over the lake awaits!

El Paredon to Semuc Champey

To get to Lanquín – the nearest town to the natural wonder that is Semuc Champey – you’ll first need to travel to Antigua.

The journey from Antigua takes 10 hours. So, shuttles from Antigua to Semuc Champey leave early in the morning to travel during daylight.

As such, you’ll need to spend a night in Antigua first before taking a second shuttle to Lanquín. There’s no direct transport options.

Read this complete guide for more information on travelling from Antigua to Semuc Champey.

El Paredon to Flores

Night buses operate between Antigua and Flores. First, take a shuttle to Antigua and from there you’ll have time to catch a night bus the same day. In total, you’ll pay 110Q to Antigua and then 400Q to Flores.

Alternatively, you can fly from Guatemala City to Flores.

Flights to Flores operate 7 times a day and the flight time is just one hour. Prices start at around 660Q for a one-way flight. 4 kg of carry-on luggage is included in your ticket, a checked bag is extra.

If you have any questions or want any more information, drop a comment below and I’ll get back to you!

Information is correct as of December 2023 but is subject to change in future.

More Central America Travel Guides

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HONDURAS: Pulhapanzak Waterfalls, Honduras: Complete Guide To Visiting

EL SALVADOR: El Tunco El Salvador: Ultimate Visitor’s Guide

NICARAGUA: How To Get From Ometepe to Granada | No Stress, No Scams


Enjoy the black sand beaches and magical sunsets of El Paredon, Guatemala on the Pacific Coast.

4 thoughts on “El Paredon Guatemala: Ultimate Travel Guide”

  1. Marine Coulombe

    Hey! I found you page so informative thank you so much!
    I’m going to Guatemala for 3 weeks in June and I realized reading this post that I didn’t make the best itinerary, but everything is booked so there’s very little room to change things up. However, I was wondering if you could advise me on this detail.
    So my friend and I arrive in Guatemala and spend 4 days in Antigua. After, we’re going to Lake Atitlan for 5-6 days, and from there we go to Semuc Champey for a few days and finish with a week in El Paredon. After reading, I wished i had booked for 5 days only. Now I was wondering first if its possible to go from Semuc Champey to El Paredon directly or if we have to stay a night in Antigua. I don’t really want to do a night bus, can a private shuttle work? My other question was if it would be a good idea to come back to Antigua a day or two before our flight back or go directly from El Paredon to the airport with a private shuttle (again if its possible) as we would have to leave early in the morning to catch our 4h30pm flight.
    Thank you so much if you spent the time to read all of this, your advice would mean the world to me and I’m sure bring me some peace of mind!

    1. zoegoesplaces

      Hi, I’m not aware of any direct shuttles between Semuc Champey and El Paredon. Also, as far as I’m aware, the shuttles only run during the daytime between Semuc Champey and Antigua – it’s about 10 hours. I don’t think it’s possible to do all in one day unless you took a private vehicle but you’d need to contact agencies in Guatemala. Or try contacting hotels you are staying in as they generally know the most up-to-date transport information and have good contacts.

      Regarding El Paredon to Guatemala City, there are direct shuttles but I’m not entirely sure whether they go to the airport – contact NEWay Tours on Facebook to find out, they run those shuttles. If not you will easily be able to get an Uber in Guatemala City.

  2. Your post was so informative and helpful, question- I am staying a month at mellow hostel ( just to mellow out ????) bringing a hammock ( with mosquito net), do you know of any places with trees on the beach to chill in my hammock?
    Thanks so much!

    1. Thank you! I’m pretty sure I remember there being quite a few trees along the beach but I can’t remember how close together they were – and watch out for the sandflies!

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