Along the Iztapa–Monterrico Road
Heading east from Iztapa, a smooth paved road travels along the coastline for about 25 kilometers to Monterrico. A bridge from in Iztapa’s Colonia 20 de Octubre ($3 per vehicle) transports you across the canal to Puerto Viejo, from where the road begins.
You’ll see loofah farms lining the side of the road and the occasional turnoff toward the beach, where numerous small hotels have begun to spring up on what is probably the finest stretch of sand on Guatemala’s Pacific shores.
There are rumors of a luxurious 18-hole golf course planned somewhere along this route in the not-too-distant future.
Accommodations and Food
Cayman Suites (Km. 10.5, tel. 5529-6518/19 lodge or 2362-1708/9 reservations, www.caymansuites.com.gt, $85–155 d) is set on a spectacular beach flanked by a kidney-shaped swimming pool and open-air palapa-roofed restaurant and bar. Its 22 rooms feature all the usual amenities, some with gorgeous sea views, and include deluxe rooms, junior suites, and spacious, fully furnished suites. All rooms have wireless Internet, DirecTV and fine hardwood accents. The restaurant serves excellent fusion cuisine and seafood. ATVs are available for rent.
Closer to Monterrico, at Km. 14.5, is Portete Beach Bungalows (tel. 5411-9271, portete [at] intelnet [dot] net [dot] gt), with two simple beachfront bungalows and a main house equipped with fan, refrigerator, private bath, and some decor. Each of the two bungalows can be rented for a weekend at a cost of $60 d. The main house is available for $133. There is a small restaurant/bar. You might be able to get a deal for midweek stays and have the place all to yourself, though you might have to bring your own food.
Should you need to fill up, there is a gas station at kilometer 17. A good place to stop for a snack or pick up any needed groceries is Las Garzas (Km. 17.5, tel. 4073-1399, 7:30 a.m.–9 p.m. daily). The owners of this friendly roadside minimart can help you get your bearings. They also serve snacks, including pizza and sandwiches, which you can enjoy in a pleasant outdoor patio with chairs.
The last place you’ll come to along this road is Utz Tzaba (Km. 21.8, tel. 5318-9452, info [at] utz-tzaba [dot] com, www.utz-tzaba.com), which has 10 rooms in a large main building as well as four bungalows. All rooms have tile floors, private hot-water bathroom, wireless Internet, air- conditioning, and ceiling fan. There are plans to install cable TV. The bungalows include two bedrooms and a living room and come fully furnished with minifridge, gas range, kitchen sink, and dining room table. There is a bar by the infinity- edge swimming pool with whirlpool bath and the hotel’s restaurant serves excellent meals, including sandwiches, pasta, and seafood in the $6–10 range. The lodge is closed yearly on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Call ahead, as it’s also closed for fumigation about every two months.
© Al Argueta from Moon Guatemala, 3rd Edition. Photos © Al Argueta www.alargueta.com