El Paredon is an up-and-coming destination in Guatemala. This isn’t the normal beach destination that you will see in other areas around Central America. It is truly a quiet surf destination in an unlikely place. When you arrive here it feels so remote but that is why I fell in love with this place. There aren’t a ton of restaurants, coffee shops, or hotels in the area. I do hope it stays like this in some ways as it is being built up quite fast by the growing popularity.
I stayed here for 4 nights back in March and it was a nice way to end our time in Guatemala. With its close proximity to Lake Atitlan (3 hours) and Antigua (2 hours), it makes it great for weekend trips. Our last night was on a Friday and we met multiple people coming from Guatemala City for the weekend. It can be a bit pricier than other parts of Guatemala but that is due in part to the location.
In most hostels, you will have the opportunity of staying at a beachfront property for a great price. If you are a big surfer and love relaxing by the pool, then I highly suggest you visit El Paredon in Guatemala.
How to Get to El Paredon
With how remote El Paredon is and seems, it is actually quite easy to get here. There are shuttles leaving every day from the popular locations in Guatemala. Below I will explain multiple options when coming from Lake Atitlan and Antigua.
Lake Atitlan to El Paredon
- The best overall way to travel from Lake Atitlan to El Paredon is by shuttle
- This shuttle takes 3 hours and you will have to get off and onto a boat for the last 10 minutes
- It is possible to go straight from San Pedro La Laguna instead of meeting in Panajachel but this isn’t suggested.
- If you leave from San Pedro, the shuttle will first go to Antigua then El Paredon whereas leaving from Panajachel is a straight shot
- The cost of the shuttle from Panajachel to El Paredon costs around Q180.
Antigua to El Paredon
- There are more options from here such as chicken busses or taking an uber
- Shuttle bus is still recommended for most travelers as it should be around Q100
- If you are up for an adventure then taking the chicken busses might suit you. You will have to transfer busses and then take a tuk-tuk when you get closer to town
- This doesn’t save that much money and a shuttle is still more cost-effective
- If you have a group of people then an uber can be a good choice. It will cost between $50 and $60 USD
- You will not have to get on a boat when coming from Antigua
Coming from Antigua will only take around 2 hours compared to around 3 hours from Panajachel.
Where to Stay in El Paredon
There aren’t as many accommodations to choose from in El Paredon as there are other popular tourist attractions in Guatemala. Because of this, it is advised to try to book well in advance if you want a specific place to stay.
Driftwood Surfer is by far the most popular hostel amongst backpackers. It has a pool (with a bar inside), a volleyball court outside, and pool tables. Personally, it didn’t seem like the best hostel to stay at when I visited it. The location is right on the beachfront but it was the same price as nicer hostels in my opinion. They do have a huge sea turtle conservation project that is a must to check out if you come during the sea turtle hatching season.
The Mellow hostel is a little bit pricier when compared to the other options in the area but for good reason. Located a little bit more inland than the rest (a 5-minute walk to the beach) it is a nice place to relax and get away from the beachfront party vibes. Don’t get me wrong though, people still want to party here. There isn’t much wifi anywhere in town but Mellow hostel would be your best bet for finding that. Day passes are available if you want to use their pool and aren’t a guest.
Cocori Hostel is another popular beachfront property that not as many people know about. This is where we stayed and we loved it! We got a recommendation from the owner of our hotel when visiting Semuc Champey. It costs only $1 USD more than Driftwood Surfer but has a much bigger pool and a relaxing daytime vibe. The dorm rooms aren’t bunk beds which I see as a huge plus.
Other Activities in Guatemala You Would Love:
- Hiking the Famous Acatenango Volcano Near Antigua
- Visiting the Unreal Pyramids of Tikal
- Exploring the Nature Park of Hobbitenango
- Taking Spanish School on Lake Atitlan
- Hiking the Active Pacaya Volcano
- Exploring the Many Hikes Lake Atitlan has to offer
My Suggested Travel Gear
Below is a list of some of my favorite hiking/travel gear I bring everywhere. Everything below is something I currently use and never leave my house without.
- KEEN Durand II Mid Waterproof Hiking Boots: I finally upgraded my hiking boots in 2022 and these are fantastic. They have top-notch ankle support and are super durable.
- Petzl Tikka Headlamp: A headlamp for hiking is a must if you’re like me and love sunrise hikes. This is a great price for a quality headlamp and also has a good red light to not disturb others in the morning.
- Darn Tough Hiker Micro Crew Cushion Socks: I originally got these as a present but I had to buy more because these are the most comfortable hiking socks I’ve ever tried on.
- Grayl GeoPress Water Filter Bottle: You will never have to rebuy plastic water bottles. This is the best water filtering device on the market. It is excellent for hikers and travelers alike.
What to do in El Paredon, Guatemala
If you are wanting to visit El Paredon then you must know there isn’t a lot to do here. At the end of the day, this is a quiet beach town and the main activity would be surfing, chilling, and partying. There are some other cool activities in this area that you can do if those aren’t your thing. You might be wondering if El Paredon is safe. It is a very safe place to visit but you should always be careful of the street dogs.
This is easily the most popular activity that people come to El Paredon to partake in. The waves are amazing but only at certain parts of the day. Between the hours of 6 am to 9 am and 5 pm to 7 pm. Other than this it is practically not worth grabbing your board to head out there, which is sad. You will soon get used to it as you see no one else surfing during those other hours of the day. Go and grab a board from your hostel and start shredding!
Visit the Local Mangroves
Located a few streets behind the main area is a river that is surrounded by trees. This is a popular place to take a kayak or paddleboard to explore this area which is called the mangroves. You can book a tour through La Choza Chula. This is a non-profit tour company that is famous in El Paredon for its tours. Some of the other activities you can book through them include:
- Turtle Tour
- Guatemalan Cooking Experience
- Bracelet Making Class
As you will come soon find out, partying is very popular in this area of Guatemala. You may think to yourself that you want to stay at the “party hostel” but in reality, the whole town congregates in one area/hostel every night. Someone different is putting on an event each night and that’s where you will see everyone. I saw many of the same people night after night, which made this town seem very close-knit. Some of the events that happen are beer pong tournaments and trivia nights.
Walk the Beach of El Paredon
El Paredon is famous for its black sand beaches. Often times you will be sitting on the beach and only be able to see so far because of the darkness of the sand reflecting. It’s a wild feeling and very unique. It is nice to walk along the water to see the other parts of the area and to truly see how remote you are. Be sure to wear shoes as the sand gets extremely hot!
Relax by the Pool
After a morning surf or if you’re just waking up from last night’s party, it is never a bad time to relax by the pool. Many hostels in the area have pools but if yours doesn’t then you can easily get a day pass. Some of these days’ passes even come with drink vouchers. The weather in El Paredon was great every single day I was there. Not a single cloud in the sky so it was a perfect time to go for a swim.
Lay in a Hammock
This activity is one of my personal favorites. There is nothing like relaxing in a hammock in the afternoon while a breeze is cooling you off. Many hostels will have a set of their own as well as Airbnb’s. If you have a portable one then that is even better! There are some good spots along the beachfront where you can set it up.
Eat Local Food
Depending on when you come to El Paredon, there won’t be a ton of restaurants that you are used to having. We mostly ate at our hostel (Cocori) and they had amazing food. We were never disappointed. We did walk around and eat out a couple of times. One of those times we stopped at Zicatela and we loved it. I got the fish tacos which were amazing.
Watch the Sunset
What a perfect way to end your trip here than to watch the amazing sunset this area has to offer. In fact, you might as well watch it every night! People come from all around to flock to the beach and watch one of the best sunsets in the whole country. The sun gets extremely red and big. The sand becomes less hot which is also a great time to walk down the beach and explore. Many surfers come during this time as it is also one of the best times to go out.
My Final Thoughts on El Paredon, Guatemala
El Paredon in Guatemala is something I didn’t expect when visiting here. I know Guatemala from the many volcanos and the beautiful Lake Atitlan. You don’t really think about Guatemala having an amazing beach scene but it does. Whether you are a big surfer or looking to relax for a few days, I highly suggest coming here.
Thank you for reading my guide about El Paredon in Guatemala! I hope you can make it out this way when visiting this beautiful country.