When trying to choose an ideal vacation destination, many people tend to focus on the sunniest, warmest, and prettiest locations. These places allow us to get away from the mundanity of our regular lives, relaxing in beautiful settings, with the sun beating down and warm waters running across our feet. This is why beaches are so popular with tourists; they allow people to feel totally relaxed and in touch with nature like never before. Recently, Central American nations have seen a surge in tourist numbers as more people begin to see just how much countries like Guatemala have to offer.

More ideas: Best Weekend Getaways, Best Day Trips

Bordered by Mexico and Belize to the north, Honduras to the east, and El Salvador to the south, with long stretches of coastline along both the Caribbean Sea and Pacific Ocean, Guatemala is home to some of Central America's most mind-blowing beaches. The country is also home to many rainforests and historic Mayan temples, making it a fascinating place to explore, but if you just want to kick back and relax, Guatemala's beaches will be perfect for you. Lots of wildlife can be seen along the Guatemalan coastline and there are great beaches to be found on both the Pacific and Caribbean sides of the country.

Best Beaches in Guatemala

One of the best things about Guatemalan beaches in their variety. This country is home to every kind of beach, from the classic, white sand locations of the Caribbean coastline to black sand beaches over on the Pacific side. Whether you're looking to surf, sunbathe, or something else altogether, you'll find what you're looking for in Guatemala. Read on to learn all about the best beaches in this Central American nation.

- Iztapa

Iztapa stands out among Guatemalan beaches due to the dark color of its sand. This kind of sand is rougher and grainier to the touch, but can be truly beautiful to behold, with Iztapa being a great beach to snap some excellent vacation photos and selfies to share with friends and family back home. The local waters are always filled with sailboats too, as Iztapa is one of the top fishing areas in the country. Plenty of charters and fishing tours can be reserved in the area, along with whale-watching expeditions for wildlife enthusiasts.

- El Paredon

If you're looking for a super surfing spot in Guatemala, El Paredon is the place to be. Not far from another great beach, Monterrico, El Paredon is a surfer's paradise, with lots of surf schools and surfing instructors standing by to help out newbies. The water can get pretty choppy at this Guatemalan beach, so it's definitely not for the faint of heart, but if you like to ride the waves then you simply can't miss out on El Paredon.

- Livingston

Livingston is one of the best Guatemalan beaches over on the Caribbean coast. Like a true Caribbean destination, this beach is lined with gorgeous palm trees and rich soft sands. The lively local town has a lot of fascinating history behind it and has developed into a popular place with backpackers looking for an authentic Guatemalan experience. The local people are very friendly here, like in many coastal towns, and you can get some good food and drinks in the town.

- Playa Tilapa

This beach is located on the northern part of the Guatemalan coast, not far from the Mexican border. Along with El Paredon, Playa Tilapa is one of the country's top surfing beaches, but it also offers a very calm, tranqul atmosphere, ideal for couples taking romantic strolls along the sand or small groups of travelers who just want to sit on the beach and admire the scenery. This is also a lovely beach to visit if you'd like to watch the sunset.

- Monterrico

Not far from Guatemala City, Monterrico is a highly popular touristic beach on the Guatemalan coastline. Beloved by locals and tourists alike, this beach can get quite crowded at the weekends or on special occasions but is relatively quiet and empty in the middle of the week, so it can appeal to every kind of beach-goer. Sunbathing is great here and swimming is possible too but the waves can get a little choppy sometimes and there are no lifeguards, so don't go too far out unless you're a very experienced swimmer.

- Champerico

The main thing that makes Champerico worthy of a visit is its pier, which has almost become iconic over the years despite quite a simple wooden structure on the face of it. Champerico’s pretty pier stretches out to sea and it's a great little spot to walk along and soak up some local culture, with the beach being a popular gathering spot for residents of the nearby town and surrounding villages.

- Puerto San Jose

This Guatemala beach can be found on the Pacific Coast of the country, with the local city being quite large and well-stocked with stores, restaurants, bars, and nightlife spots. It's a great place to stay for a few days and explore the local area, and the Puerto San Jose beach offers some gorgeous views and interesting opportunities for adventurers or water sport enthusiasts. Whale-watching tours can be reserved here, along with deep sea fishing charters.