Most of Guatemala’s Pacific coastline is affected by a strong undertow, which occurs when big waves break on a shore with a steep profile. Because there’s nowhere for the water to escape, it retreats backwards under the next breaking wave, creating a downward force close to the shore. Unless you’re very confident in the ocean, it’s best not to mess around if the surf is big. By not getting out of your depth, you can use your feet to jump up into the oncoming waves and let their force push you toward the shore. If you do get caught in an undertow, don’t panic, as the downward force only lasts a second or two and you’ll soon surface. Catch a breath, duck under the next breaker, and then work your way steadily back to shore.

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