Monterrico: Black Sand Beaches
In the less traveled regions of Guatemala’s Pacific coastline, there is a stretch of black, volcanic sand beach known as Monterrico. If you’re looking for excitement and entertainment, this may not be the place for you. But, if you’re looking to spend a few lazy days in peace and quiet, lying in hammocks with the cool coastal breeze caressing your skin, then you couldn’t find a better place to do it than Monterrico. Backpackers, beach combers and savvy surfers have all come from around the globe for this little secluded piece of Paradise.
A Day at the Beach
The beauty of Monterrico begins before you even arrive, for the journey to the city is nearly as beautiful as the sights that will greet you on arrival. You’ll start out by driving into La Avellana, and from there you’ll take about a half hour boat ride through the mangroves, leaving behind the hustle and bustle of civilization and immersing yourself in the wonder and beauty of nature and tranquility. And you’ll find that once you arrive in Monterrico, much of that hustle and bustle is still far away. The people and the atmosphere of the city are all about authentic living. There isn’t a lot of pretense. There are just a few small, comfy beachside hotels, a couple of Spanish schools and an undersized crowd of beach enthusiasts like sunbathers, swimmers and surfers. Of course, keep in mind that the Pacific waters can be harsh and dangerous. The undertow is incredibly powerful, and the waves come crashing in quite hard. Venturing out in the ocean is only recommended for very strong swimmers, and could prove disastrous for young or inexperienced visitors.
Help Save the Sea Turtle
Perhaps one of the most amazing things you can do in Monterrico is actively help to save the local species of sea turtle. Animal sanctuaries throughout the city have stepped in to stem off the illegal trade in sea turtle eggs, and they’ve enlisted the visiting tourists and vacationers to help out. Because Monterrico’s economy is only barely stimulated by the tourism industry, many of the local people face a greater struggle for economic security and freedom. But, despite it being illegal, there is a highly lucrative trade in the pilfered eggs of these graceful giants. Some of the eggs are used in recipes; others are used for any other number of things. As a visitor to Monterrico, you can do your part to ease the burden on both the turtles and the local citizens. You aid the turtles by visiting the animal sanctuary, where you can actually actively, physically release a baby sea turtle out into the warmth and safety of the oceans currents. You aid the citizens by visiting the various affordable hotels and restaurants and bringing your money into their own local economy, helping them find more rewarding options than poaching.
If you’ll be staying longer than a weekend in Monterrico, there’s a chance that you might get a little bored spending day in and day out along the ocean shores. If that’s the case, you can set out on a journey for adventure by heading to the nearby cities of Santa Lucia or La Democracia. In Santa Lucia, you’ll stumble upon some surprising, mysterious stone sculptures hidden away deep inside the local sugar cane fields. These sculptures are eerily reminiscent of the Olmec carvings north in Mexico. In La Democracia, you’ll happen along an archaeological dig site, resplendent with a vast collection of enormous stone head carvings displayed in the central plaza. No one really knows the meaning or story behind these sculptures, but several experts believe that they are ancient fertility icons or guardians of the earth’s plentiful harvest.
Whether you find a new collection of sea shells and a new suntan or the wonders of hands on discovery of ancient artifacts, Monterrico is sure to supply you with a wealth of treasured memories