As you head east from Chiquimulilla  close to the Salvadoran border, a turnoff from the Pacific Coast Highway (CA-2) at Km. 144 heads south to the small village of Las Lisas, which has some nice beaches on the other side of the Canal de Chiquimulilla in Barra El Jiote. The town itself is unremarkable and the tourism infrastructure virtually nonexistent, though there are a growing number of hotels in the area that merit mention.
The only drawback is accessibility. To get to the beaches you must hire a boat from the main dock in Las Lisas at a cost of $13 each way, though you may be able to arrange pickup service from the area lodges if you call ahead. It’s about a 20-minute ride to the Barra El Jiote from Las Lisas.
As most of these lodges cater to sporadic visitors in these remote stretches of coastline, it’s always a good idea to call ahead and reserve.
Divers will want to check out Caleta Azul (Barra del Jiote, tel. 5715-2849 or 5715-4101, www.caletaazul.net , $145 d all-inclusive), fronting a nice stretch of wide, sandy beach. In the waters just off the coast are the remains of two sunken vessels, one dating to the 1950s, which scuba divers can explore with the help of the lodge’s diving outfit. The lodge itself features 10 rooms in comfortable thatched-roof cabanas with private bathroom, fan, a patio, and hammocks. There’s also a two-bedroom furnished apartment with air-conditioning.
Meals are included in the room rate and feature tasty Caribbean dishes, including seafood stews, served in an airy palapa structure with lovely sea views. There are also a bar and swimming pool. Other recreational options include visits to the surrounding mangrove swamps and deep-sea fishing. If you call ahead, the lodge can help you out with transportation from the boat dock at Las Lisas.
One of Guatemala’s most exotic hideaways, and the area’s pioneering lodge, Isleta de Gaia (tel. 7885-0044, www.isleta-de-gaia.com , $77–84 d), is spectacularly set on a sandy spit between the Chiquimulilla Canal and the Pacific Ocean. There are 12 attractive bamboo bungalows of varying sizes facing the clean, sandy beach or the lagoon; all are built around a nice swimming pool. The restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and serves excellent international fare in the $5–12 range. The service is second to none.
One of my new favorite hotels on Guatemala’s Pacific Coast is the lovely
Eco Hotel Playa Quilombo de Cucurumbé (Barra El Jiote, tel. 5206-7984 or 2232-6879, www.playaquilombo.net ), where room prices range from $20 d in a ground floor room to $47 for a bungalow. The comfortable and tastefully decorated rooms are built around a swimming pool and front a gorgeous, wide sandy beach. I like the newer construction and airy, tropical feel. The restaurant serves bountiful portions of good food, including lasagna, BBQ steak, and chicken fajitas. You may never want to leave.