Monterrico - Sunset

Monterrico – Guatemala – Information


JANUARY 2017:



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OVERVIEW:

I made my way from Antigua to Monterrico by Shuttle / Minivan.

In Antigua, I stayed in a BELOW GRANDPAcking Standard hotel: the La Quinta Lucia. It had a Shared Bathroom.Antigua - Quinta Lucia - Rooms Antigua - Quinta Lucia - Room Furniture Antigua - Quinta Lucia - Room Beds

I booked a Twin Room at the Quinta for 9 nights and paid an average of GTQ143 / night over the New Year period. It is normal for hotels to TRIPLE their rates on New Year’s Eve. It is, also, common for them to DOUBLE their rates on Friday and Saturday nights.

The Quinta room was comfortable enough and my room had a nice view out over an active volcano.Antigua - Quinta Lucia - View of Vulcano 2

The Shared Bathrooms were clean and there were 3 showers and 3 toilets on each floor.Antigua - Quinta Lucia - Shared Vanity Antigua - Quinta Lucia - Shared Toilet Antigua - Quinta Lucia - Shared Shower Antigua - Quinta Lucia - Window View

They provided free water all day and free coffee in the mornings.

It was time to move on to Monterrico …


ANTIGUA TO MONTERRICO:

There are many Tour Agents scattered around Antigua. They all seem to sell seats on the same Shuttle(s). The prices are not very negotiable.Monterrico Location Map

There is 1 Shuttle to Monterrico each day. A one-way ticket costs GTQ80. A return ticket back to Antigua costs GTQ120. It leaves at 8:00am and returns at 4:00pm. It seats 12 people … so book early.

More adventurous people can catch local ‘Chicken Buses’ and get from Antigua to Monterrico for about GTQ30 each … but you will need to take 3 different buses and it will take a lot longer.

At 8:00am the Shuttle drives around Antigua picking people up from their various hotels. This is meant to happen between 7:45am and 8:15am. I was the last pick up and they didn’t get to me until 8:30am. Needless to say, I got the worst seat.

We drove for 1.5 hours before stopping for a ‘comfort stop’ at a small group of shops next to the highway. We arrived in Monterrico at 11:30am.

The Shuttle goes to Johnny’s Place and drops everyone off there. The driver was kind enough to take me a couple of 100 metres further to where I was staying: the Hotel El Delfin.


ABOUT MONTERRICO:

The town of Monterrico is situated on the Pacific coast of south eastern Guatemala.Monterrico Map

Monterrico is known for its volcanic black sand beaches and annual influx of sea turtles, the town also serves as a major weekend beach resort for citizens of Guatemala City.

The town is growing more and more popular with foreign tourists who come to enjoy the laid-back atmosphere.


COMMUNICATIONS:

I still had my Tigo SIMcard that I bought on my trip to Livingston & Estor. I bought a 1 month ‘Mes Social’ pre-paid plan with 1.5GBs of data. The total price including the SIMcard was GTQ166.Antigua - Central Square 3

I topped it up in Antigua with GTQ100 and bought another 2GBs that lasts 1 month. I had to top it up again in Monterrico with GTQ60 so that I could buy another 1.5GB 2-week data package.

My Tigo card didn’t get a signal in Rio Dulce / El Golfete but I have had no problem with it elsewhere in Guatemala.


THE BEACHES:

East from Town Centre:

Walking 3 kms east from my beachfront resort, this is what I found:

Monterrico - Beach East - 1

The weekenders leave rubbish all down the beach. They just don’t care. In some places, you find empty glass beer bottles just left on the sand. Monterrico - Beach East - 2

Apart from the rubbish (which some of the locals try and tidy up) the black sand beach stretches for miles.The black sand gets VERY hot during the heat of the day. You have to wear shoes. I walked back to town along the coastal road.
Monterrico - Beach East - 4

West From Town Centre:

Walking 3 kms west from my beachfront resort, this is what I found:Monterrico - Beach - West - 1 Monterrico - Beach - West - 2 Monterrico - Beach - West - 3 Monterrico - Beach - West - 4

So, more of the same … a black sand beach stretching for miles with a mixture of old and (mostly) newer beachfront properties.Monterrico - Beach - West - 5

I walked home along the beachfront path.


WHERE TO STAY:

Some cheap places can be found in and around town. They are not all listed in the (normal) online search engines. If you want to stay on the beachfront, you pay a premium price.

The most popular beachfront accommodation seems to be Johnny’s Place.

Accommodation-wise, this is typical of what you find … this is for 1 night at the beginning of February 2017 …

HOTELS & HOSTELS (Nightly Rates):

BOOKING.COM:Monterrico Booking
AGODA.COM:Monterrico Agoda

In the Peak Season, weekenders can fill up the hotels. This makes booking a room over Friday and Saturday night difficult … if you come in Peak Season, and want to stay a week or more, you are advised to book well in advance.

PLEASE NOTE: Hotel and Hostel search sites sometimes display prices EXCLUSIVE of TAXES. You may have to add up to 22% to the displayed price to get the final price.

VACATION RENTALS (Weekly Rates):

If you plan to stay a week or more, another good option is to use AirBnB or TRIPADVISOR.COM to book a Holiday Rental / Vacation Rental.

Holiday Rentals are usually rented by the week. A comparable search reveals the following … please note that these prices are in US$s …

TRIPADVISOR:

No Vacation Rentals within GRANDPAcker price range.

AIRBnB:Monterrico AirBnB

Vacation Rentals are, usually, displayed INCLUSIVE of TAXES but EXCLUSIVE of any Security Deposit (if required). BUT, the displayed price may be EXCLUSIVE of the host site’s Service Fees (which can add as much as 16%).

In S.E. Asia, I wouldn’t touch AirBnB with a barge pole … in my opinion and experience the accommodation that you find is an absolute rip off. However, in Guatemala they are definitely worth a look.

IN SUMMARY:

With this beach, you can stay anywhere … it depends on what you want. If you want more ‘action’ and ‘options’, stay closer to town. If you want peace and solitude, wander farther afield.

Most (if not all) hotels are found near the town centre. If you wander more than 1km away, you will be looking at AirBnB-type rentals.

As you can see, there are not many accommodation options within our GRANDPAcking Budget of up to US$25 / day.

It is hard to get long term discounts. The hotels are normally full at the weekends charging DOUBLE rates … so they do not need to discount.


MY ACCOMMODATION:

I was tempted to book a room at Johnny’s. However, their Twin and Triple rooms all had Shared Bathrooms … I wanted a Private Bathroom. Also, their Twin Rooms always seemed to be booked … so I was always looking at a Triple … I would have had a room over-crowded with unused beds.

A positive is that Johnny’s included a free Breakfast with their rooms (which is worth about GTQ25 per person per day).

I searched online some more and found the Hotel El Delfin. They had a ‘Basic Twin’ with Private Bathroom advertised at GTQ100 / night. I searched for them online and found their website. On their website you could book 3 nights and get a 4th night free. I booked 8 nights.Monterrico - Delfin - Reception Area

Both Johnny’s and the El Defin DOUBLED their room prices on Friday and Saturday nights. My El Defin room was GTQ200 / night on Friday and Saturday. With my 2 free nights, I ended up paying an average price of GTQ100 / night.

The Twin Room was advertised as ‘Basic’ … they were true to their word …Monterrico - Delfin - Room

The Private Bathroom was merely a Private cubicle tagged on to the end of the Shared Bathrooms (but included in with the Twin Room). There was no hot water in the shower.Monterrico - Delfin - Shared ToiletsMonterrico - Delfin - Shared BathroomsMonterrico - Delfin - Ensuite Shower Monterrico - Delfin - Ensuite Toilet Monterrico - Delfin - Room Furniture

The beds were concrete slabs with foam mattresses that had seen much better days … the foam sagged in the middle. I was lucky … I was alone, so I could put these 2 mattresses together to get something a bit more comfortable.

I would advise GRANDPAckers to pay more for the better GTQ150 and GTQ200 / night rooms.Monterrico - Delfin - Better Rooms 1 Monterrico - Delfin - Better Rooms 2

The Defin is on a good part of the beach.Monterrico - Delfin - Beach East Monterrico - Delfin - Beach West

And the Deflin has its own swimming pool.Monterrico - Delfin - Pool

The hotels in Monterrico need to have a swimming pool because the sea is usually too rough and uncomfortable to swim in. The waves break hard and close to shore with a strong undertow. This beach is not suitable for young children. Hence, you need to get a hotel that has a pool.Monterrico - Delfin - Sunset 2


ACCOMMODATION SEARCH:

Have a look yourself:


Booking.com






TRANSPORT:

You can walk everywhere.


EAT:

If you wander up the main road, there are plenty of local cafes and restaurants to choose from.Monterrico - Main Street

You will, also, find a couple along the beachfront road.Monterrico - Beachfront Street

You will pay a 25-50% premium to eat on the beachfront.

BREAKFAST:

A ‘Gringo’ Breakfast at El Delfin costs GTQ40. This includes bacon and a bowl of fruit.Monterrico - Delfin - Gringo Breakfast GTQ40

A ‘Tipico’ Breakfast costs GTQ30.

The Delfin adds 10% to all food items as a tip to staff.

The Delfin provides free water all day and free coffee in the mornings.Monterrico - Delfin - Desayuno Tipico GTQ30

Around town, the typical price for a Desayuno Tipico/Rancho is GTQ25. Some are quite average and not as good as the El Delfin. Some do not include a free coffee.Monterrico - Cafe - Desayuno Tipico GTQ25

The best value for money one that I found was Wendy’s (GTQ25). You got the biggest Breakfast with a good chunk of cheese and 8 tortillas. Coffee is included.Monterrico - Wendys - Desayuno Tipico GTQ25

I found that, sometimes, being able to relax at El Delfin for Breakfast with a limitless coffee was worth paying the extra GTQ5-10 for.

LUNCH:

For a cheap Lunch you will need to get onto the streets.

The cheap options are a 1-piece Chicken Meal from the local ‘Guatemalan KFC’ or a ‘Comida de Dia’ (Meal of the Day) from a budget cafe. Both will cost you about GTQ20.

I found these Chicken Rolls (the Comida de Dia) for GTQ20 in a little open cafe on the road to Johnny’s.

Monterrico - Cafe - Chciken Wraps GTQ20

There are some street stalls selling Tacos if you want to save GTQ5-10.

DINNER:

 There are plenty of meal options around town for GTQ50 including a Seafood Civiche and Whole Fried Fish meals. You don’t find much (other than Nachos) for under GTQ40.

I found the Whole Fried Fish (GTQ50) and Prawn Ceviche (GTQ50) at Restaurant Calle Real reasonable value for money.Monterrico - Calle Real - Fried Fish GTQ50

The Ceviche had about 18 good sized prawns in it.Monterrico - Calle Real - Prawn Ceviche GTQ50

 Temporary BBQs set up along the road offering one piece of meat with salad and tortillas for GTQ20 per meal.

IN SUMMARY:

Expect to pay GTQ25 for a typical Breakfast with coffee. Expect to pay GTQ20 for a cheap Lunch. Expect to pay GTQ40 for a cheap Dinner.


DRINK:

The standard price for a 350ml bottle of local beer (like Gallo) is GTQ15 … almost everywhere.

You will find some places that do Happy Hour. Most end at 7:00pm. Some at 8:00pm. In Happy Hour, you might get some of the more expensive beers in 2-for-1 deals.

The local stores sell 5x beers for as low as GTQ25 … but most hotels do not allow you to bring in your own food and drinks.

EL DELFIN:

The Delfin has a pleasant beachfront Restobar … which did Happy 2-for-1 Coronas for GTQ35 and a couple of other ‘spirit-based’ specials.Monterrico - Delfin - Beach Bar

Monterrico - Delfin - Restobar View

One of the other things that attracted me to the Delfin was that they had a free Pool Table … I love my games of Pool. I had not played Pool for over 1 year (when I was in Hanoi). I had many a fun night on and around that Pool Table.


YOUR HEALTH & SAFETY:

There is no reason to feel unsafe here. But, as always, exercise normal levels of caution … don’t make yourself an obvious target.

The main problem is Petty Theft … which is a ‘typical’ problem in Central America.

You are advised not to walk the beach alone after dark. But, I saw no reason why (myself) … perhaps the warning is more targeted at single ladies.


WHERE TO GO / WHAT TO SEE / WHAT TO DO:

Not a lot. You come to Monterrico to relax.

The El Delfin has a band playing on Saturday nights … usually accompanied by Salsa Dancing. The bar at Delfin closes at a very reasonable 11pm.Monterrico - Delfin - Band

Johnny’s Place has a Disco two nights each week … this attracts the young crowd until the early hours of the morning. If you are staying at Johnny’s you will need to put up with the noise.

The fitter people can play Volleyball on the beach or in the pool.Monterrico - Delfin - Volleyball

Mangrove Tour:

The Mangrove Tour usually starts at 5:00am and costs GTQ75 … but I have heard that a crowd of people can get the cost down to as low as GTQ25 each. It takes a total of 2 hours and the early morning is the best time to catch the birds.

Three of us (Lynn, Rene, and I) decided to go at sunset. For this ‘chartered’ tour we paid GTQ100 each.Monterrico - Mangroves - 3Monterrico - Mangroves - 1

Our boat was small and only sat 4-5 passengers.

Our captain only spoke Spanish … so I had no idea what he was saying.Monterrico - Mangroves - 2 Monterrico - Mangroves - 4

You could see clouds of volcanic ash swirling in the sky.Monterrico - Mangroves - 5 Monterrico - Mangroves - 6 Monterrico - Mangroves - 8

We, mainly, saw Egrets … and a few flying fish.Monterrico - Mangroves - 9

The locals come here to fish. Monterrico - Mangroves - 11 Monterrico - Mangroves - 13 Monterrico - Mangroves - 14

We were taken through some natural tunnels in the Mangroves. Monterrico - Mangroves - 16

Boats still ferry cars to and from Monterrico.

It was a pleasant enough trip … but ‘average’ value for money.


MONEY / PRICES / SHOPPING:

There are shops around town selling the usual ‘tourist items’. Prices are better than some (because Monterrico is still, mainly, a Guatemalan holiday town) but not as good as back in the city.

ATMs:

There is 1 ATM in town at the Banrural. It is unreliable and can be out of action for several days … so, bring plenty of cash.

The cash withdrawal limit is GTQ2000 per transaction and you get charged a whopping GTQ45 by the Banrural ATM for the privilege.

Supermarkets:

There is a Supermarket in town but it doesn’t have many items. You are best to bring any ‘rarities’ that you need with you.


WHEN TO GO:

Monterrico Climate

Rainy Season is June through September .

Otherwise, Monterrico has a very stable 32 degrees all year round.


GETTING AWAY:

From Monterrico, I head to Lake Atitlan via Antigua.

I was going  to go south to El Salvador but I couldn’t find anything in north El Salvador to attract me … everywhere that I loked was in south El Salvador … so, I will go there later on my way to Nicaragua.

I will tell you more about that in a future post.


CONCLUSION:

It is nice to be on a beach in Guatemala … Guatemala is not known for its good beaches.Monterrico - Main Street Beach Entry

The beach at Monterrico is nothing special. But, the laid back ‘vibe’ is worth coming for.Monterrico - Sunset

A week here is enough.

TTFN


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