Thinking of traveling from Antigua to El Paradon? El Paradon is my favorite beach spot in Guatemala and just a short ride from Antigua. In this post, I am going to go through how to get from Antigua to El Paradon, where to stay in El Paradon, what to eat and a few not to miss things to do.
Your options for beaches in Guatemala are pretty slim. Monterrico is the more popular choice, as it’s much more built up, with more choice of places to stay. But it is further away from Antigua and I decided on El Paradon because it was much less built up and more ‘tranquilo’!
Plus the surf is better!
Things you need to know about visiting El Paradon
- El Paradon it’s a black sand beach that you will pretty much have to yourself!
- There are only about 5 places to stay there (a few more options and it is growing)
- If you want to surf you need to either go early in the morning or after 5 pm
- There is little to no wifi in El Paradon
- Although there isn’t much choice in the way of places to eat, the food is amazing
- If you are looking for a quiet time out place go to El Paradon
- If you want a mix of quiet time and party time then you want The Driftwood Surfer
- It’s a place on the verge of becoming part of the tourist trail, things are changing quickly there and new hotels, shops, and restaurants are being built quickly.
- It’s one of the best surf spots in Guatemala, in fact, The Guardian thinks it’s one of the top 10 in the world!
Where is El Paradon, and how do you get from Antigua to El Paradon?
El Paradon is a small fishing village in Guatemala, with the Pacific Ocean on the South-Eas,t and the Sipacate Mangrove Nature Reserve on the North-West side. It’s a 2- 2.5-hour bus ride from Antigua to El Paradon and although I’m normally an advocate of taking public transport it’s really not worth. If you decide to take a Chicken Bus from Antigua to El Paradon it will take you a whopping 6 hours!
For the tourist bus, it’s around 100Q and you can either book through the accommodation you book to stay in El Paradon, or book through GuateGo.
Where to stay in El Paradon?
As mentioned earlier there aren’t that many places to stay in El Paradon (yet!). The most popular places to stay in El Paradon are:
The Driftwood Surfer (Party Place)
Surf House (Bit more upmarket but on the expensive side and always full)
Surf Camp (cheaper, not so nice and always full)
Casa Macano Surf-Yoga (If you want to have more of a retreat style stay I stayed here so see below for full review)
Soul Food Kitchen and Guesthouse (best Thai food in Guatemala! The owner is a pretty cool guy)
Swell Guatemala (this seems to be the cool place to stay these days)
Top Tip:Always book before you get there! As there aren’t that many places if it’s full you will be sleeping on the beach as you won’t be able to return to Antigua until the next day. I’ve linked to the places on Booking.com but those not linked you will need to call to book. You can also email but remember the wifi isn’t great there so it is always best to call.
Book your accommodation before you go
Unfortunately, I didn’t confirm a booking before I went and ended up wandering down the beach looking for somewhere to stay! This actually turned out to be a blessing in disguise as whilst wandering down the beach I stumbled upon Casa Macano Surf-Yoga.
When I visited here this place was actually called Finka Mistia. Since then the ownership has changed and it is now called Casa Macano Surf-Yoga. When I visited I was super lucky to stumble upon the place as it wasn’t online at all back then. Allen who was looking after the place (and still is) was so incredibly helpful and showed me up to their dorm room. When he told me it was only 100Q a night I couldn’t give him my money quick enough! The prices I’m sure will have increased by now but I would have totally paid more to stay here.
After being turned away by most of the other places in El Paradon who weren’t very helpful at all this place was a breath of fresh air. Although it had only just opened and was still a work in progress you can see the potential. I’m sure it is finished now and much better equipt.
So take my advice if you are going to El Paradon, book to stay at Casa Macano Surf-Yoga!
The Best places to Eat in El Paradon?
As I mentioned before there isn’t that much choice BUT it’s probably the best food I’ve eaten in Guatemala and the cheapest.
Yolis in El Paradon
This is a popular local food place that serves some really great fish! If you are going to eat fish in Guatemala, this is the place to do it! They also have incredible pancakes for breakfast and great smoothies!
Soul Food Kitchen in El Paradon
The owner Garry is really friendly and knows how to make some great food! In fact, it’s the best Thai Curry I’ve had outside of Thailand! Your options are Thai Curry, Indian Curry or Noodles. The restaurant moved since I went there and you can also stay in his guest house.
Pacifico in El Paradon
I think that’s the name anyway! I didn’t see the full menu but I have it on good authority that they have the best Pizza in Guatemala and I can safely say their breakfast waffle was the best breakfast I’ve eaten in a long time.
El Paradon Surfing – Where to surf in El Paradon
Firstly unless you are a good surfer and know what you are doing get at least one lesson before venturing out there on your own!
I sat and watch for most of the day from my hammock surfers being thrown around. This is not the place you can go in the water and play around. One of the guys staying in my dorm told me his friend broke his board the day before and so he was mostly bodyboarding because it was too crazy out there. Granted it’s not always like that, but still, issue caution when heading out.
- Board rental is about 60Q for 3 hours or 100Q for a day
- Surf lessons are around 100Q an hour
If you just speak to someone at our accommodation they will organise lessons for you. If you are staying for a few days you can negotiate a reduced rate for multiple lessons.
Two reputable organisations are El Paradon Surf Camp School El Paradon Surfing School (not online) and Pacifico Tours (not online)
What else is there to do in El Paradon?
- Mangrove Fishing Tour
- Turtle Tour
- Guatemalan Cooking Experiences
- Surf Lessons
- Bracelet Making Workshop
I took the turtle tour and although the turtles were pretty quiet it’s was a great tour and so interesting to find out more about the organisation.
How long to stay in El Paradon for?
I only have one night, which was not enough! I would suggest a minimum of 2 nights so you can take the time to relax as well as get a surf lesson and go turtle watching! If you want to stay a little longer I would recommend speaking to La Choza Chula as they have plenty of volunteer opportunities.
Want to hike Volcanos and Surf?
If you are a bit of an adventure junky then you could also book a Summit to Surf tour through OX Expeditions. This tour involves hiking Volcan Acatenango where you will camp for the night then when you arrive back in Antigua they will organise all of your transport and accommodation as well as your surf lessons.
So if you want my advice to give Monterrico a miss and head to El Paradon quickly before everyone else realises just how good it really is!
The only company I recommend for booking transport and tours in Guatemala (other than the individuals and companies I have named) is GuateGo. They are a Guatemala owned company who have painstakingly brought together all of the transport and tour options in one easy to use website. You can book transport in Guatemala with them here and Guatemalan tours with them here.
Planning a Trip to Guatemala? You might be interested in these articles:
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This post was proofread by Grammarly