Whether you’re looking for a nap-worthy beach or a raucous jungle in which to string up your hammock, Guatemala has it. These spots for hanging out are the most coveted, as well as some of the most overlooked, spots to relax on your vacation to this Central American beauty.
Could a lake view really be so list-worthy? This one is. While there are many bustling tourist-friendly towns situated on the water, take a walk along the undeveloped coast between, and you’re sure to find some banana trees or an old dock posts begging for a hammock. Couple that with fresh air and surreal views of the half-dozen volcanoes ringing the caldera lake, and you’ll be resting slack-jawed for a day, or two, or five.
Do all those volcano views got you itching for higher ground? We know the perfect summit to camp atop—El Baúl. This lava dome is brimming with pine trees and spectacular city views below. Bring a cozy travel hammock built to add a little warmth and search for the fun built-in slides to aid in your descent (yes, really).
Ready for some hustle-and-bustle of the city but wanting to avoid the tourist crowds? Pop down to Xela, the country’s second-largest city. There, you can find cheap, quality Spanish schools and other travelers off the beaten path. Peak behind the conspicuous gates of any of the town’s hostels and you’re likely to find a gem. Most are happy to offer extremely discounted rates for travelers who want to string up their hammock in the quaint courtyard gardens.
No traveler to Guatemala (especially Star Wars fans) can leave without experiencing the wonders of Tikal. Set up your hammock in the jungle campground and snooze to the tune of howler monkeys and colorful birds the night through. Wake up before dawn to trek out to Central America’s most breathtaking Mayan ruins and watch the sun rise from the top of an ancient pyramid.
A trip to Guatemala isn’t complete without a bit of coffee education! Take one of the many guided tours leaving from the colonial beauty of Antigua or, for the more historically-minded and adventurous, head into the rural highlands near Colombia. There, you’ll find indigenous families who have been working on coffee fincas for generations and are eager to tell you their stories. Escape to Escuela de la Montaña, where you can sip local coffee all day from the comfort of your hammock (with perfect year-round weather to boot), and hear first-hand accounts of the role of coffee in the region’s tumultuous history.
Cloud Forest Mirador
Looking for a spot with spectacular views for some quiet reflection? Laguna Chicabal is an important center of Mayan spiritual life. Take a steep hike to the top before descending over 500 wooden stairs down to the sacred crater lake. Enjoy the sunshine before heading back up into the cloud forest where there are some picture perfect spots to pitch up a hammock on the mirador, boasting views of the lake below and volcanoes in the distance.
Want something a bit different? Head east towards the Caribbean town of Livingston, only accessible by boat down the Río Dulce. One of the most culturally rich towns in the region, the food and music are as diverse as its people. Relax in your hammock by the water while sipping on fresh coconut and rum (coco loco)—you’ll be in good company.
Turquoise Jungle Pools
Although a bit isolated, the turquoise pools of Semuc Champey are not to be missed. With a lush jungle overflowing with sights and sounds, the stunning beauty of the limestone bridges and pools, and endless hikes and caves to explore, most folks have a hard time leaving this hidden beauty. The park is open overnight, and hammock-camping is made all the easier with friendly nearby hostels that offer showers, snacks, and wifi should you need a touch of civilization.
Black Sand Beaches
If you want a beach all to yourself, head out to the Pacific coast. There, you’ll find enormous stretches of volcanic mineral sand with hardly a person in sight. This is the ultimate place to get away from it all and find luxury on the cheap. Pack a picnic dinner, stay overnight with your hammock beneath the palm trees, enjoy the sound of the waves, and start making plans for your return trip to Guatemala.
By Tess WolterstorffThere are many ways to sit in a hammock. How many of them do you know?