East of Puerto San José, it’s 13km to IZTAPA, a venerable little place that’s an important base for sport-fishing. Iztapa is Guatemala’s oldest port – Spanish leader Pedro de Alvarado built boats here that took him to Peru and back. There’s little sense of this historical past in Iztapa today but the sleepy little town does have a vague, faded charm and a nice setting on the bank of the Canal de Chiquimulilla. The sweeping black-sand beach is on the eastern side at a separate village called Pueblo Viejo – a bridge (US$2/car) spans the canal. There’s pretty reliable surf here with right-handers and an occasional hollow, and no crowds, with only a couple of local surfers.

Beyond Iztapa a paved road traces the 25km coastline from Pueblo Viejo to Monterrico through a littoral landscape punctuated with loofa farms. Patches of this coastline are being developed but there are still vast empty stretches of clean, dark sand to enjoy if you pull down one of the side tracks.

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

Guatemala features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

Go solo: the 20 best places to travel alone

Go solo: the 20 best places to travel alone

Solo travel can be one of the most rewarding ways to explore the world. Whether you'd rather spend it on a desert island or in a frenetic new city, here are th…

21 Dec 2016 • Rachel Mills camera_alt Gallery
In pictures: traditional dress around the world

In pictures: traditional dress around the world

The Sari, India Ostensibly the simplest item of clothing possible – a single length of fabric, up to nine metres long – the sari is also one of the worl…

02 Feb 2015 • Alice Park camera_alt Gallery
20 fascinating second cities

20 fascinating second cities

Barcelona, Spain It's usually the capital cities that get all the attention, but what about a country's second city? These are twenty of our favourite secon…

02 Oct 2014 • Rebecca Hallett camera_alt Gallery
View more featureschevron_right

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month